THE TRIUMPH TR7: BORN OF TROUBLED TIMES
were in serious financial trouble. Parent company
had managed 'to snatch failure from the hands of success," taking a Triumph from incredible success in the late 1960s to the brink of insolvency by 1971. Through bad management, questionable backroom dealings (Sangster seller off all the company assets at bargain-basement prices) & the onslaught of the Japanese (mainly Honda), Triumph suddenly found itself woefully outclassed by its rivals. Throughout the 1960s, the hot Triumph 650 twins,
the T110 Tiger,
and the legendary twin-carb
were widely-regarding as the fastest motorcycles a 'normal person' could buy (ie: not expensive like a Vincent Black Shadow), the superbikes of their day. Then the Honda 750 Four arrived, and suddenly the old vertical twins were losing their relevance. BSA not-so-quickly responded in 1971 with a whole new range of 650 twins, for which they designed virtually everything new except that one major component that needed changing: the engine. Instead, they created an entirely new all-welded steel double front downtube frame which carried the engine oil in its large-diameter backbone/seat post. There were new forks, new wheels & brakes, new bodywork, switchgear, the works. However, the 3 major things the bike really needed to be competitive with the Japanese were painfully absent: Electric start, 5-speeds & a front disk brake.
TRIUMPH TR7 MUCH-IMPROVED
1971 Triumph TR6
launched amid major design & development problems - the engine wouldn't fit in the new frame! The entire top end needed to be redesigned to make it work. That wasn't all; the seat height was over 34 inches, too tall for most riders. It took until the 1973 model year for Triumph to sort out what was now called the Triumph TR6 Tiger.
TRIUMPH TR7 750 WITH 5-SPEEDS
In 1973, the Triumph twins &
Triples (Triumph Trident)
finally got 5-speed transmissions & a front disk brake. 5-speeds had been optional since 1971, but were now standard across the line. While the 649cc TR6 Tiger remained, a new punched-out version was introduced called the TR7 750 Tiger. In fact, these early machines were bored from 71mm out to 75mm for a displacement of 724cc. However, later in the 1973 model year, a new cylinder casting made it possible to increase the bore again to 76mm for a displacement of 744cc. The 82mm stroke remained unchanged on all models.
TRIUMPH TR7 BY THE NUMBERS
Starting in 1971, all single-carb 650 & 750 twins were called "Tigers". Other than a brief one-year appearance in 1960, when the name TR7 was used to describe left-over
that were being sold alongside
1960 T120 Bonnevilles.
Otherwise, the TR7 name didn't appear again until the 1973 model year as the big-bore single-carb Tiger, as the TR7P (Police) & the TR7RV (Roadster w/5-speed). Early-1973 724cc Triumph TR7RVs had engine & frame numbers running from KH17122 to XH21715. Later 1973 TR7P Police bikes with 744cc ran from GH35388 to GH35466. And the 744cc TR7RVs ran AH23727 to GH35387. From Model-Year 1974 until its demise in 1983, the only single-carb big twins were the Triumph TR7 Tiger, gone forever was the
(With one exception: in 1983, the final year of
production, one last 650 was briefly built under the name Triumph TR65, meant to be an entry-level version.)
TRIUMPH TR7 - RIDING OFF INTO HISTORY
While the twin-carb
always stole the spotlight, the single-carb 750 Triumph TR7 and its
predecessor was judged by many to be the better bike. While producing marginally less horsepower at max rpm, in real-world practical terms, the Tiger was just as fast at the Bonnie. And the single carburetor delivered much better drivability at low speeds. Two cylinders breathing through one throat makes for higher vacuum & more even pulses, both very good for carburetors. So they pull harder at low engine speeds & in the higher gears when vacuum usually drops. This becomes even more pronounced when you raise your final gearing (lower numerical ratio, ie: smaller rear sprocket). And of course one carb is always easier to tune than two. I've had both, and while people love looking at those twin carbs, the TR7s usually ran better.
A year-by-year breakdown of the Triumph TR7 is coming soon. We're adding content constantly. Thank you for your patience. Please keep checking back, as this site continues to grow into the world's greatest website about Classic British Motorcycles.
SAVE THE BONNEVILLE!
Did you ever wonder what really
happened to Triumph? This is the behind-the-scenes story of the Meriden Workers' Co-op, written by John Rosamond, the welder-turned-Company Chairman. From the factory takeover in '73, and the formation of the Co-op in '75, through their endless struggles to continue to produce Triumph Bonnevilles, despite constant setbacks & opposition, until its slow death in 1983. The book is loaded with amazing photos & information you won't find anywhere else. This is not hearsay either, this is the real deal right from the source. I lived through this stuff myself, working as an apprentice mechanic in a Triumph/BSA/Norton dealership in 1971 when the first Oil-in-Frame Triumphs arrived to a lukewarm response. There were lots of ups & unfortunately more downs for the cash-strapped Co-op, but the scrappy Brits soldiered on & even came out with some stunning new models (like the Diana watercooled DOHC 4-valve twin, the contra-rotating balance shaft Bonneville, the 8-valve TSS, Anti-Vibration frames with rubber engine mounts & more), all outlined in the book. It's a MUST READ for anyone who mourns the loss of the British Motorcycle Industry as a whole & of Triumph in particular.
You can order the book by clicking on the picture of the book cover, above.
MORE TRIUMPH MOTORCYCLE BOOKS
TALES OF TRIUMPH & MERIDEN
TRIUMPH MOTORCYCLES: TRIUMPH ENGINEERING CO.
TRIUMPH WORKSHOP MANUAL, 1935-1939
TRIUMPH WORKSHOP MANUAL, 1937-1951
TRIUMPH WORKSHOP MANUAL, 1945-1955
TRIUMPH MOTORCYCLES: FROM SPEED TWIN TO BONNEVILLE
TRIUMPH MOTORCYCLES - HINKLEY RENAISSANCE
SAVE THE TRIUMPH BONNEVILLE
THE INSIDE STORY OF THE MERIDEN WORKERS' CO-OP.
STORY OF THE TRIUMPH BONNEVILLE - MOVIE
TRIUMPH 650 & 750 TWINS
ESSENTIAL BUYERS GUIDE TO TRIUMPH BONNEVILLE
TR BONNEVILLE 2001-08
TR BONNEVILLE, PORTRAIT OF LEGEND
TR BONNEVILLE: T120/T140
TRIUMPH MC RESTORATION
HAYNES TR TRIPLES & FOURS
TRIUMPH 21 TO DAYTONA
TRIUMPH TIGER CUB BIBLE
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