Triumph TR6 Oil-in-Frame

THE ALL-NEW TRIUMPH TR6 OIL-IN-FRAME
1971 was a very big year in Triumph Motorcycle history. That's the year they completely changed the frame, wheels, suspension, running gear and even the look of their best-selling Bonneville and TR6 lines of 650 twins. And just when a lot of people felt Triumph had finally hit its stride. The 1968 to 1970 650s were well-developed by this time, were fast and they handled better than just about anything else on the road. But they were up against fierce competition from Japan and they felt they needed to up their game, so in 1971, Triumph and BSA introduced bikes that were practically all new. I was working in a Triumph/BSA/Norton dealership at the time (just a kid in high school), and the general feeling was that the new bikes were a letdown compared to the 1970 models. Just about the only thing that remained more or less the same were the engines.
TRIUMPH TR6 OIL-IN-FRAME: A ROCKY START
In case you don't already know, why do they call it "oil-in-frame"? Starting in 1971, all Triumph and BSA 650 twins had an all-new twin-downtube frame that carried the oil in a 3-inch diameter backbone, instead of in a separate oil tank, as before. This had been a British practice on racing bikes for some time, as a way to cut weight and bulk. It was an elegant solution, in this case, but not necessarily one that most buyers were longing for. The biggest problems Triumph was having with its twins in the late 60s were with engine vibration, oil leaks, crappy electrics and poor reliability. Shouldn't they have concentrated their resources on those things, rather than a new oil-bearing frame? Alas, parent company BSA was clueless, as usual. They had just poured millions (that they couldn't afford) into a new tech center on a lavish estate set in the English countryside called Umberslade Hall, that seemed incapable of producing anything useful. When they finished the new frame, they sent the blueprints off to the factory without ever actually testing it. The new frames were built and sent to the production line, where they quickly found that the engines wouldn't fit! The scrappy Triumph engineers quickly re-engineered a new set of rocker boxes and headbolts. Even this required the engines to be installed with the rocker boxes off. What's worse, the engines came fully assembled, and had to have the rocker boxes removed before assembly. This problem wasn't remedied until the 1973 model year with the change to the new 750 barrels that were 2 fins shorter than before. This reduced the engine height enough to allow them slide into place unimpeded.

Triumph TR6 Oil-in-Frame YEAR-BY-YEAR


1971 Triumph TR6

Totally new oil-bearing frame, suspension, brakes, bodywork & running gear. Not very popular at first.


1972 TRIUMPH TR6

Mostly carried over from '71. Seat height is lowered & 5-speed becomes optional late in the year. Last of the 650s.


TRIUMPH TR7 750

In '73, the 650 TR6 was bored out to a 750 & became the TR7. It also got a 5-speed & front disk brake.



MORE TRIUMPH TR6 PAGES:
Triumph TR6
Triumph TR6, Pre-Unit (1956-1962)
.....1956
.....1957
.....1958
.....1959
.....1960
.....1961
.....1962
Triumph TR6, Unit-Construction (1963-1970)
.....1963
.....1964
.....1965
.....1966
.....1967
.....1968
.....1969
.....1970
Triumph TR6, Oil-in-Frame (1971-1972)
.....1971
.....1972
Triumph TR7
.....1973
.....1976

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British Motorcycles Triumph (Little Books)


Triumph Motorcycles in America


McQueen's Motorcycles: Racing and Riding with the King of Cool


Triumph Motorcycle Restoration


Illustrated Triumph Motorcycles Buyer's Guide: From 1945 Through the Latest Models (Illustrated Buyer's Guide)


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Last updated 12/7/17

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