The 1960 Triumph Thunderbird was similar in appearance to this 1960 Triumph T110 Tiger. Both had ‘bathtub’ bodywork, full fenders and the trademark headlight nacelle. But the Tiger was the higher-performance version, with bigger carb, higher compression & wilder cams. Note that this bike has a 1968-70 TLS from brake.
1960 TRIUMPH 6T THUNDERBIRD BY THE NUMBERS
All 1960 T-birds were designated “6T”, and all engine prefixes were also 6T. Engine & frame numbers ran from D507 to D7711, built from October 30, 1959 to July 21, 1960.
1960 TRIUMPH THUNDERBIRD – ENGINE & TRANSMISSION CHANGES
Starting with engine number D1564, the brass oil pump body was replaced with an aluminum casting. Within the primary case, the engine sprocket was reduced from 24 teeth to 23.
1960 TRIUMPH THUNDERBIRD – A NEW FRAME
All Triumph 650s got a new frame for the 1960 model year, replacing the notoriously flexy “whip iron” which had been in use since 1953. The new frame had 2 front downtubes & thus became forever known as the “duplex frame”. Despite being a big improvement over the old frame, the new duplex frame also had problems. There was a weakness around the steering head due to the new frame only having one backbone (tank rail). Under the heavy punishment of American desert racing, the frames began cracking in this area. The frame was quickly changed in production along with many recalls & dealer retrofits, all adding a second reinforcing tank rail, strengthening the area around the steering head. The problems went away, but the bad reputation of the duplex frame lingers to this day. New front forks based on the Triumph 350 models.
1960 TRIUMPH THUNDERBIRD – BODYWORK
Of course, the big news for the 1960 Triumph Thunderbird & its stablemate the T110 Tiger was the stylish new “Bathtub” bodywork, which enclosed most of the bike. It was a misguided trend in the late 1950s & early 60s in England to streamline & enclose motorcycles as a way to deal with the inclement English weather. It was a trend that never found its legs & within just a few short years it was over. But not before several British marques jumped into the fray, including the Vincent Black Knight, Velocette Vogue & the Norton Navigator, to name a few, all following Triumph‘s lead. The new 4 gallon fuel tank was supported on 3 rubber bumpers & held down by a central rubber-lined, stainless steel strap. The new oil tank located the filler cap inside the frame rail under the seat. And the new sheetmetal ‘bathtub’ bodywork enclosed everything. It proved to be unpopular, even in England and never sold well. And many of those that were sold had their bodywork replaced with more conventional gear because the owners didn’t like the enclosed look. So, finding an intact ‘Bathtub’ Triumph is rare today & their values are climbing fast among collectors.
1960 TRIUMPH THUNDERBIRD – WHEELS & TIRES
A new tool tray was installed under the seat. The front wheel was now a WM2 X 18″ fitted with a Dunlop 3.25 X 18 ribbed tire. The chromed front hub cover was restyled, reverting to its earlier concentric ring design. The spokes were 40X5 17/32″ 8/10G’s.The rear wheel also a WM2 X 18″ was fitted with a 3.50 X 18 Dunlop Universal tire. The rear wheel sprocket was reduced to 43 teeth on both standard & QD (Quickly Detachable) wheels. The rear spokes were 20 X 7-9/16″ 8/10G and 20 X 7-7/8″ 8/10G butted.
1960 TRIUMPH THUNDERBIRD – OTHER CHANGES
The air filter was not of rectangular shape bolted to the seat post & connected to the carburetor via a dog-legged rubber hose. Gone was the “hole-in-the-frame”. A new twin seat was hinged onthe left side, giving access to battery & oil. It was black with white piping. A new D-shaped brake light switch was used (Lucas #34181), acting off the brake pedal. The ignition coil was relocated under the seat behind the battery.
1960 TRIUMPH THUNDERBIRD – PAINT COLORS
For the 1960 model year, the Triumph Thunderbird came in one basic color combo: Charcoal Gray with White inserts. The tank badge was had white lettering over a black background. The front fender & side panels were Charcoal Gray, but the rear fender & front nacelle were painted black.