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1961 Triumph Speed Twin

1961 Triumph Speed Twin

The British home market had been hungry for cheap transportation after WWII, and commuter motorcycles helped fill that role. But England being…well, England, was wet and rainy and to prevent rust an owner needed to wipe his bike down each night after getting home from work. This was a chore that most came to hate. The British motorcycle industry responded with what are now called “enclosed bikes” as a way to make them easier to clean. Unfortunately, the gunk still found it’s way into the new enclosures and rusted them from the inside out. Triumph had its swing at this fad, and it started with the 1959 Triumph Twenty One (350) and its big-sister-bike, the 1959 5T Speed Twin (500). Both had bulbous sheetmetal enclosures over the entire rear section of the bike, along with a huge full-valance front mudguard (fender) and old fashioned headlight nacelle. The look quickly spawned the nickname “Bathtub Triumph” and the name stuck. 55-odd years later, that’s still what we call them today.

Unit construction was all the rage in England back in the 1950s. Essentially, non-unit construction is when the engine, primary case and gearbox are all separate components that are bolted together in the frame. It was the old way of doing things, but it was time to move on. Unit construction meant taking all these separate components and “unitizing” them, that is placing them all in one common casing. Hence the term “unit construction”. The first bike to benefit from this was the 350cc Twenty One, which converted over in 1957. Next up was the 500 twin (5T , TR5 and T100) in 1959, making this 1961 Triumph Speed Twin a bit of a pioneer. Their big 650 twin, once sharing components with the smaller non-unit 500 twins, was now a stand-alone engine design. It took until the 1963 model year to redesign the 650 twin into unit-construction.

1961 Triumph Speed Twin SPECIFICATIONS

Engine type:
Fuel system:
Engine output:
Primary drive:
Final drive:
Suspension, front:
Suspension, rear:
Brake, front:
Brake, rear:
Dry weight:
Air-cooled OHV 360-degree parallel twin
498cc / 30.39 ci
1 – Amal Monobloc carburetor
27 HP @ 6300 RPM
Multi-plate, wet
4-speed, right-foot shifting
Telescopic forks, hydraulic damping
Swing arm w/2 shocks
7-inch SLS drum
7-inch SLS drum
55.1″ / 1400mm
350 lbs / 159 kg