1954 Triumph Thunderbird

ABOVE: The 1954 Triumph Thunderbird and the 1954 Triumph Tiger were "sister-bikes", in that they were very similar in appearance. In this era of Triumph Motorcycle history, the Tiger was always the "hot rod"-version, with higher compression, wilder cams and bigger carbs, be it in 500cc form as the T100, or 650cc form as the T110. The 6T Thunderbird line then, was given milder tuning and was relegated to touring and commuter duty. We don't have a photo of a 1954 Triumph Thunderbird, so we were forced to use this lovely Tiger T110.

1954 TRIUMPH THUNDERBIRD - A BIG YEAR
1954 was a big year at Triumph Motorcycles, in general. Finally the archaic rigid frame and troublesome sprung rear hub were ditched for a proper swing arm frame. Not a moment too soon, either. AMC, Royal Enfield & the BSA Gold Star were already running swing arms and Norton was about to introduce the swingarm-equipped Norton Dominator with the legendary Featherbed Frame. Triumph had some catching up to do. This would prove to be a year of change for the Triumph motorcycle line.

1954 TRIUMPH THUNDERBIRD & THE NEW TIGER T110
1954 was also the year Triumph introduced the hot new Triumph Tiger T110. The new top 650 model was the high-performance variant and it's development trickled down to the other models. The Tiger T110 featured higher compression, wilder cams and a bigger carb, and still ran a magneto, offering much more performance. The 1954 Triumph Thunderbird, once the flagship of the Triumph Motorcycle line & the fastest bike they produced, was now marketed as the detuned, commuter (or 'plodder') version, although the two bikes continued to be styled almost identically.

1954 TRIUMPH THUNDERBIRD - RESTYLED
The 1954 Triumph Thunderbird was extensively restyled, as were all Triumphs, with a new look that somehow retained its historical relevance with Triumphs past. They looked great! A new color, Shell Blue Sheen (pictured here on the 1954 Tiger T110) was striking on the new bikes.
1954 TRIUMPH THUNDERBIRD DETAILS
This 1954 Triumph Tiger T110 shows the new Shell Blue Sheen paint color. The '54 T110 differed from the 1954 Triumph Thunderbird in that that Tiger had a hotter engine and it retained the magneto & dynamo, whereas the T-Bird had the new-fangled alternator & coils.

1954 TRIUMPH THUNDERBIRD - SOUPED-UP 650
Performance also got a big shot in the arm for the 1954 Triumph Thunderbird. The entire Triumph 650 line got a stiffened crankshaft with increased shaft diameters, larger conrods and a new crankcase with larger 1-1/8" MS11 ball race on the timing side. Revisions to the primary cases were made to accommodate the new Lucas RM14 3-lead alternator.

1954 TRIUMPH THUNDERBIRD - NEW SWINGARM FRAME
The new swingarm frame shortened the wheelbase by 1-inch, to 55-3/4". It was a single front downtube with the swing arm pivot mounted to the saddle tube and nothing else. The vertical saddle tube flexed like a torsion bar, allowing the swing arm to move sideways. This would end up being a real problem on the higher performance Triumph Tiger T110 & much later on the first year 1959 Triumph Bonneville. Because of this tendency to weave, the frame gained the nickname "Whip Iron".

1954 TRIUMPH THUNDERBIRD - GEARING
The engine package was also made more compact by pushing the gearbox closer to the crankcase and shortening the primary cases. The primary chain was down to 70 links. Out back, the lower half of the chain guard was deleted. The gearbox cases were modified along with a new adjusting (rotating the gearbox in its mounts as the only means of adjusting the primary chain tension) and clamping system. The gear indicator pointer was also dropped.

1954 TRIUMPH THUNDERBIRD - RUNNING GEAR
Front fork springs were lengthened to 20 inches and rear shocks were 3-position slim-bodied Girlings with 110lb springs early in the year, with 125lb springs mid-year on. A centerstand appeared for the first time ever on a Triumph motorcycle.
ABOVE: Again, our pretty Tiger T110 sits in for a 1954 Triumph Thunderbird. The new swingarm rear suspension and Girling shocks are visible here. One key difference in appearance between the Tiger and the T-Bird is the primary covers. The 1954 Triumph Thunderbird had an alternator which required a larger bulge in front than this.

1954 TRIUMPH THUNDERBIRD - NEW BODYWORK
The new frame called for many new parts, including a new oil tank (claimed to be 6 pt, but was actually only 5) which also housed the battery tray, air cleaner & tool box. As always, the 6T Thunderbird came with well-valanced fenders, a new stepped two-place seat & headlight nacelle.

1954 TRIUMPH THUNDERBIRD - COOKING MODEL
With the introduction of the red-hot T110, the 6T T-Bird was no longer the top model. Starting with the 1954 Triumph Thunderbird, it became relegated to what the Brit's call a "cooking model", or basic commuter, and sidecar duty, pretty much from then on for the rest of its career. Until the arrival of the Triumph TR6 in 1956, then the Triumph Bonneville in 1959, the Tiger T110 was the 'hot rod' model, chruning out 42hp and easily breaking "the ton" (100mph). This all lead to overheating problems in the T110 that didn't affect the 6T as much, because of its lower performance. The changes that were made to the T110 to solve its problems trickled down to the rest of the line, including the 6T Thunderbird.


1954 Triumph Thunderbird SPECIFICATIONS

Engine type

Displacement

Bore & Stroke

Compression

Carburetor

Ignition

Engine output

Primary drive

Primary sprockets

Clutch

Gearbox

Ratios, overall:

1st, bottom

2nd

3rd

4th, top

Final drive

Final drive sprockets

Frame Type

Suspension, front

Suspension, rear

Brake, front

Brake, rear

Tire, front

Tire, rear

Wheelbase

Seat Height

Ground Clearance

Fuel capacity

Dry weight

Air-cooled OHV vertical twin, non-unit

649cc / 40.0 ci

71mm X 82mm / 2.79" X 3.23"

8.5:1 (US & export); 7.0:1 (UK)

1-SU Type MC2

Lucas magneto

34 bhp @ 6500 rpm

1/2" X .335" X 5/16" chain, 70 links

24T X 43T

Multi-plate, wet

4-speed constant mesh, right foot shift


11.9:1

8.25:1

5.81:1

4.88

5/8" X .400" X 3/8" chain, 101 links

18T X 46T

Brazed lug, rigid

Telescopic fork, hydraulic damping

Swing arm, 2 Girling dampers

8" SLS drum

7" SLS drum

3.25" X 19"

3.50" X 19"

55.75" / 141 cm

31" / 77.5 cm

5" / 12.7 cm

3 Imp gal (US); 4 Imp gal (UK & export)

395 lbs / 179 kg


MORE THUNDERBIRD PAGES:
Triumph 6T Thunderbird
.....Pre-Unit Thunderbird
.....1950
.....1951
.....1952
.....1953
.....1954
.....1955
.....1956
.....1957
.....1958
.....1959
.....1960
.....Unit-Construction Triumph Thunderbird
.....1963
MORE TRIUMPHS:
Triumph T120 & T140 Bonneville
Triumph TR6
Triumph TR7
Triumph T110 & T110 Tiger
Triumph 6T Thunderbird
Triumph 5T Speed Twin
Triumph T150 & T160 Trident
Triumph X-75 Hurricane

Check out these TRIUMPH BOOKS

COMPLETE BOOK OF CLASSIC & MODERN TRIUMPHS


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TRIUMPH MOTORCYCLE RESTORATION


TRIUMPH MOTORCYCLE RESTORATION, PRE-UNIT


TRIUMPH BONNEVILLE & TR6 RESTORATION GUIDE: 1956-1983


TALES OF TRIUMPH MOTORCYCLES & THE MERIDEN FACTORY


TRIUMPH 650 & 750 TWINS OWNERS WORKSHOP MANUAL, 1963-1983


TRIUMPH BONNEVILLE: ESSENTIAL BUYER’S GUIDE


TRIUMPH BONNEVILLE: PORTRAIT OF A LEGEND


ILLUSTRATED TRIUMPH BUYER’S GUIDE, by Roy Bacon


TRIUMPH BONNEVILLE, 2001-2015


TRIUMPH: PRODUCTION TESTERS TALES FROM MERIDEN


TRIUMPH MOTORCYCLE RESTORATION GUIDE


TRIUMPH OWNERS HANDBOOK, UNIT-CONSTRUCTION 350 & 500, Kindle


TRIUMPH ILLUSTRATED WORKSHOP MANUAL 1945-1955, by Clymer


TRIUMPH TWINS & TRIPLES


FACTORY-ORIGINAL TRIUMPH TWINS, 1938-1962


TRIUMPH BONNEVILLE & TR6, by Timothy Remus


TRIUMPH MOTORCYCLES: FROM SPEED TWIN TO BONNEVILLE


TRIUMPH MOTORCYCLES: THEIR RENAISSANCE & THE HINKLEY FACTORY


TRIUMPH PRE-UNIT TWINS OWNERS WORKSHOP MANUAL


TRIUMPH THRUXTON BONNEVILLE 1959-1969


TRIUMPH MOTORCYCLES ILLUSTRATED WORKSHOP MANUAL 1937-1951, by Clymer


TURNER’S TRIUMPHS: EDWARD TURNER & HIS TRIUMPHS


TRIUMPH TWIN RESTORATION, by Roy Bacon


TRIUMPH TIGER CUB & TERRIER 1952-1968, Haynes Repair Manual


TRIUMPH 675 DAYTONA & SPEED TRIPLE REPAIR MANUAL 2006-2010, Haynes


CLASSIC MOTORCYCLES: TRIUMPH


TRIUMPH BONNEVILLE YEAR BY YEAR


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TRIUMPH RACING MOTORCYCLES IN AMERICA


TRIUMPH MOTORCYCLES


TRIUMPH, by Roy Bacon


TRIUMPH 750/900 TRIPLES & 1200 FOURS 1991-1999, Haynes Repair Manual


TRIUMPH TROPHY BIBLE


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BSA & TRIUMPH TRIPLES GOLD PORTFOLIO 1968-1976


TRIUMPH TRIDENT OWNERS WORKSHOP MANUAL, by Haynes


TRIUMPH: A CENTURY OF PASSION & POWER


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TRIUMPH 350 & 500 1957-1974 ESSENTIAL BUYERS GUIDE


BONNIE: THE DEVELOPMENT OF THE TRIUMPH BONNEVILLE


TRIUMPH SINGLES: EARLY DAYS TO 1974, by Roy Bacon


TRIUMPH: RETURN OF THE LEGEND


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THE TRIUMPH STORY: RACING & PRODUCTION MODELS 1902-PRESENT


TRIUMPH 350 & 500 TWINS 1958-1973, Haynes Repair Manual


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TRIUMPH PRE-UNIT TWINS


HINKLEY TRIUMPHS: THE FIRST GENERATION


TRIUMPH BONNEVILLE BIBLE: ALL MODELS 1959-1983


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ORIGINAL TRIUMPH BONNEVILLE


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TRIUMPH MOTORCYCLES


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TRIUMPH MOTORCYCLES FROM 1950-1983


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TRIUMPH TIGER CUB BIBLE


ROAD RACING HISTORY OF THE TRIUMPH 500 UNIT TWIN


EDWARD TURNER: THE MAN BEHIND THE MOTORCYCLES


SAVE THE BONNEVILLE: THE INSIDE STORY OF THE MERIDEN WORKERS CO-OP


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TRIUMPH DAYTONA 2003-2009 ROAD TEST PORTFOLIO


TRIUMPH TIGER 100 / DAYTONA: DEVELOPMENT HISTORY


TRIUMPH, by Daniel Gilpin


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TRIUMPH: THE RACING STORY


TRIUMPH BONNEVILLE T120 1959-1974, by Roy Bacon


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ILLUSTRATED TRIUMPH BUYERS GUIDE, by Roy Bacon






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