Triumph Speed Twin

TRIUMPH SPEED TWIN CHANGES THE WORLD!
From their earliest inception through the 1930s, most classic British motorcycles were single-cylinder designs with a few V-twins thrown in for sidecar duty. But the problem with both these configurations is vibration and a lot of it. As bikes grew in displacement and power output and the engine speed (RPM) began to climb, the vibes turned wicked, impacting engine life and rider comfort. Many things were tried but nothing could quell the forces of that one big piston flying around the cylinder at high speed. Along comes Edward Turner, fresh off of designing the Ariel Square Four. Triumph had been purchased by Jack Sangster in 1936, and he also owned Ariel, and Turner came along with the deal. His first job was to address the vibration issue, and he took a totally new direction with it. He split the displacement into two cylinders rising and falling together on a 360-degree crankshaft. He called it the parallel twin and it became the 1938 Triumph 500 Speed Twin, and it literally changed the motorcycle world overnight.
TRIUMPH SPEED TWIN BECOMES THE MODEL
After its introduction, virtually every other British motorcycle maker wanted their own parallel twin (now being called the "vertical twin"). But World War II intervened and it wasn't until civilian production resumed after the war that this new crop of competing vertical twins. BSA was first up in 1946 with their 500cc A7 twin. It took until 1949 for the next batch of 500 twins, the Norton Model 7, the Matchless G9 and the Royal Enfield Meteor. By 1950, Triumph had already punched out the 500 to 649cc making the first Triumph 650. The race was on. As before, all the other British marques rushed to follow Triumph's lead, each boring and/or stroking their 500 twins out for bigger displacement. And it all started with the Triumph Speed Twin.
TRIUMPH SPEED TWIN EVOLUTION
When the Triumph Speed Twin was launched in 1938, it was a top-of-the-line sport bike. Just one year later, they were already hopping it up. With hotter cams and higher compression, the new T100 Tiger became the new hot rod Triumph, supplanting the Speed Twin as Triumph's top-line model. In 1950, the 500 got punched out to a 650 with the new 6T Thunderbird, which itself then became Triumph's premium model, permanently relegating the little 500s to second-class status. Then in 1953, the new 650 got the "Tiger Treatment" (ie: bigger cams, higher compression) and became the T110 Tiger, now the new hotrod Triumph and it's current reigning top-dog. In 1956, Triumph created the new alloy "Delta Head" and with it a new bike, the TR6, the new premium bike. Next up was the dual-carb 650 Bonneville, and it became Triumph's permanent premium model for the rest of its history. Each time one of these new models supplanted the last, the humble 5T Speed Twin got bumped further and further down the ladder. It was clearly Triumph's 'base-model' heavyweight twin. There was nothing cheaper or lowlier in the lineup.
TRIUMPH'S 'BATHTUB' BIKES
There was a trend in England to enclose bikes back in the mid-1950s due to the rainy riding conditions in the British Isles. It was meant to shield the inner working of the bike from the elements. Unfortunately, the moisture still found it's way in, now out of sight inside these enclosures, and did it's rust-thing anyway. Triumph jumped on board in 1959 with the 350cc Twenty-One and the 500cc Speed Twin. The bulbous bodywork quickly earned the nickname "Bathtub Triumph". Within a few years it became obvious that Americans hated the look and so with every passing model year, the 'bathtub' got smaller until it was gone by the final year of the Triumph Speed Twin in 1966.

Triumph Speed Twin YEAR-BY-YEAR


1938 SPEED TWIN

The second year of Edward Turners seminal vertical twin that set the standard for motorcycles for decades to come.


1946 SPEED TWIN

Right after WWII, Triumph got right back to making fast, styling parallel twins. It was a true market leader.


1947 SPEED TWINS

The feisty 500 parallel twins were among the fastest, best-handling motorcycles that money could buy at that time.


1948 5T SPEED TWIN
Minor changes & improvements, but largely carried over: rigid frame, telescopic forks, 500cc parallel twin & awesome performance for the day.



1954 5T SPEED TWIN
Mostly carried over from earlier 5Ts, but with sprung rear hub. Swing arm was coming...just not yet.



1956 SPEED TWIN

The Speed Twin evolved into the base model 500 twin, behind the Triumph Thunderbird and Triumph Tiger.


Check out these TRIUMPH BOOKS

COMPLETE BOOK OF CLASSIC & MODERN TRIUMPHS


TRIUMPH MOTORCYCLES IN AMERICA


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


TRIUMPH TRIPLES


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


TRIUMPH DAYTONA, SPEED TRIPLE SPRINT & TIGER: 885/955 1997-2005, Haynes Repair Manual


BSA & TRIUMPH TRIPLES GOLD PORTFOLIO 1968-1976


TRIUMPH TRIDENT OWNERS WORKSHOP MANUAL, by Haynes


TRIUMPH: A CENTURY OF PASSION & POWER


TRIUMPH BONNEVILLE, by Osprey


TRIUMPH TIGER 100 & 110, 1939-1961, by Roy Bacon


TRIUMPH TIGER 100 & DAYTONA


TRIUMPH BONNEVILLE, by Crowood


TRIUMPH by Don Morley


TRIUMPH TRIPLES & FOURS 1991 & 2004


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


TRIUMPH FUEL INJECTED TRIPLES 1997-2000


BOOK OF TRIUMPH TWINS 1968-1969, by Floyd Clymer


THE TRIUMPH STORY: RACING & PRODUCTION MODELS 1902-PRESENT


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


TRIUMPH BONNEVILLE 2001-=2008 ROAD TEST PORTFOLIO


HINKLEY TRIPLES & FOURS


TRIUMPH PRE-UNIT TWINS


HINKLEY TRIUMPHS: THE FIRST GENERATION


TRIUMPH BONNEVILLE BIBLE: ALL MODELS 1959-1983


TRIUMPH TWENTY-ONE TO DAYTONA: C CLASS 350 & 500 TWINS


ORIGINAL TRIUMPH BONNEVILLE


TRIUMPH 650 & 750 TWINS


TRIUMPH MOTORCYCLES & CUSTOM BIKES


TRIUMPH MOTORCYCLES


TRIUMPH, THE LEGENDS SERIES


TRIUMPH THUNDERBIRD SUPER PROFILE


TRIUMPH SPEED TWIN & THUNDERBIRD BIBLE


TRIUMPH BONNEVILLE T120/T140


TRIUMPH MOTORCYCLES FROM 1950-1983


TRIUMPH & BSA TRIPLES: THE COMPLETE STORY


TRIUMPH THUNDERBIRD, TROPHY & TIGER ESSENTIAL BUYERS GUIDE


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


TRIUMPH DAYTONA 1991-2006 ROAD TEST PORTFOLIO


TRIUMPH DAYTONA 2003-2009 ROAD TEST PORTFOLIO


TRIUMPH TIGER 100 / DAYTONA: DEVELOPMENT HISTORY


TRIUMPH, by Daniel Gilpin


BOOK OF TRIUMPH MOTORCYCLES ILLUSTRATED SHOP MANUAL 1935-1939


TRIUMPH: THE RACING STORY


TRIUMPH BONNEVILLE T120 1959-1974, by Roy Bacon


TRIUMPH BONNEVILLE GOLD PORTFOLIO 1959-1983


TRIUMPH TRIDENT SUPER PROFILE


ILLUSTRATED TRIUMPH BUYERS GUIDE, by Roy Bacon






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