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Engine Size


2009 Triumph Bonneville 50th Anniversary   2009 TRIUMPH BONNEVILLE 50th ANNIVERSARY The Triumph Bonneville has been with us since 1959. That classic Bonnie evolved completely in 1963 with its conversion to unit construction. These were the Golden Years for the Triumph Bonneville, with record sales, blistering performance for the day, and serious street cred. Just …

1962 Triumph 650 Thunderbird 1962 TRIUMPH 650 THUNDERBIRD-A COMMUTER BIKE The Thunderbird was introduced in 1950 it was Triumph’s first 650 twin, and instantly became its fastest bike and its best-seller. But the introduction of the T110 Tiger, a hotter version of the 650 twin, in 1954 the T-Bird lost it’s top-shelf status. It happened …

1959 BSA A10 Pre-Unit 650 Twin 1959 BSA A10 Rocket 1959 BSA A10 ROCKET By 1959, both of BSA‘s big non-unit twins, the 500cc A7 and the 650 cc A10 had been in production for a decade or more and had been the recipients of constant and continuous improvement. This would break and they’d make …

1970 BSA A65 1970 BSA A65 Firebird Scrambler 1970 BSA A65 FIREBIRD SCRAMBLER The term “scrambler” was the word used back then for a bike that might be called a “dual-sport” bike today. In other words, on that can be ridden on the highway, and yet handle itself off-road. These bikes were great desert racing …

1939 BSA Gold Star THE 1939 BSA GOLD STAR IS FAST! The BSA Gold Star was introduced in 1938 in both 350cc and 500cc form. They were hand-built as high-performance machines. The BSA factory offered several performance modifications as options. Every bike was run on a dyno, and came from the factory with a printout …

1961 Triumph Cub 1961 TRIUMPH CUB BACKGROUND The 200cc T20 Tiger Cub was produced from 1956 through 1968 and sold quite well for Triumph. The original Cub was introduced in 1953 at the Earls Court Motorcycle Show in London England as a 150cc commuter, at a time when there was a very big market for …

1948 Ariel Square Four 1948 ARIEL SQUARE FOUR BACKGROUND The Ariel Square Four engine was originally designed in 1928 by Edward Turner, the man who later came up with the vertical twin for Triumph. In original form, it started out as a 500cc and was quickly expanded to 601cc. The Square Four was essentially two …

1967 Norton Atlas 750 1967 NORTON ATLAS HISTORY The story starts not with a Norton at all, but with the 1938 Triumph 500 Speed Twin, the world’s first “modern” vertical twin. The rest of the British motorcycle industry went nuts and rushed to field their own 500 twins. But WWII got in the way, putting …

A WORK IN PROGRESS In our efforts to complete our online index, and make this the world’s greatest website about classic British motorcycles, we’re building pages as fast as we can. The first thing we add are the pictures. Then come the specifications and then the history. So, if you see a page that just …

2007 Royal Enfield Bullet Sidecar Rig 2007 ROYAL ENFIELD BULLET SIDECAR RIG BACKGROUND Royal Enfield was another classic British motorcycle brand that started out in the late 1800s building bicycles. By 1899 they were dropping other makers’ engines into things and before long they were building motorcycles. Over the following decades they built a reputation …

1962 BSA A10 Pre-Unit 650 Twin 1962 BSA A10 – NEARING END OF NON-UNIT CONSTRUCTION In 1962 BSA was in the middle of a major retooling to begin production of the new A50 (500) and A65 (650) unit-construction twins, that were meant to replace the highly successful non-unit twins the 500cc A7 and the 650cc …

1947 Velocette KSS 1947 VELOCETTE KSS BACKGROUND The Velocette KSS debuted in 1925 as an OHC (overhead cam) 350cc air-cooled single. Being OHC placed it at the cutting edge of engine technology at a time when most machines still used side-valve designs or pushrods. The name KSS breaks down to the K for overhead cam …

1954 Vincent Rapide Series C 1954 VINCENT RAPIDE-NEARING THE END Vincent built its reputation on it’s robust 499cc Comet single. Prior to the war, they figured out that if they doubled it, they could create a 998cc V-twin and the series A Vincent Rapide was born. Few were built prior to World War 2, which …

  BEST EVER The 1970 Triumph Bonneville T120 was not only the high water mark in Triumph 650 development, and the year that most people favor as ‘the best Triumph Bonneville ever built’, it was also the last year before the dreaded Oil-in-Frame bikes arrived, and all the problems with cash-strapped owner BSA began to …

1956 Ariel Square Four 1956 ARIEL SQUARE FOUR – NEW & IMPROVED The Square Four went through a major revision in 1953, with a new cylinder head and manifolds, prompting a new sub-model designation, Mark II, which ran from 1953 through Ariel’s final year, 1959. Prior to 1953, both cylinders on each side shared just …

1946 Triumph Speed Twin 1946 TRIUMPH SPEED TWIN – IN WAR & PEACE World War II had been hard on England. British motorcycle manufacturers like Triumph and BSA, did well during the war selling side-valve singles to the Army and lots of other stuff. But, war is hell, right? In 1940, the Germans bombed the …

1967 Triumph Daytona 500 1967 TRIUMPH DAYTONA – WHAT’S IN A NAME? Triumph derived the name of this bike from Buddy Elmore’s win at the 1966 Daytona 200 at Daytona Beach FL riding a Triumph T100T Tiger 500 twin to Triumph’s first-ever Daytona victory, with an average speed of 96.6 mph. By 1967, it was …

NEW MODEL DESIGNATIONS Starting with the 1961 Triumph Bonneville, the T120 model designation was followed by either an “R” for Road models with low pipes, or a “C” for the Street Scrambler with high pipes. Changes in the new bike were minimal, yet the steady process of development and improvement never abated. Of course, again …

1958 BSA Gold Star 1958 BSA GOLD STAR BACKGROUND By 1958, the Gold Star was well-sorted and had turned into a fine machine. All Goldies were special to begin with, each engine being hand-assembled and dyno-tested at the factory. A copy of the dyno test was included with each new Gold Star. They were powerful …

1971 BSA A65 BIG CHANGES FOR THE 1971 BSA A65 For the 1971 model year, BSA and Triumph changed virtually every item on their big 650 twins, with the exception of the engines. A new frame had been designed by BSA’s hopelessly misguided Umberslade Hall tech center. Instead of focusing their limited resources on fixing …

1965 Royal Enfield Interceptor 1965 ROYAL ENFIELD INTERCEPTOR BACKGROUND Royal Enfield hopped up its 692cc Constellation and created a new model, the 700 Interceptor in 1960, for sale in the US and Canada markets only (on England). They’d just lost their contract to rebadge Constellations with Indian Motorcycle regalia then selling them in the US …

1959 Ariel Square Four 1959 ARIEL SQUARE FOUR- IT’S FINAL YEAR Alas, the world was changing, and with it the motorcycle market. The Ariel Square Four designed decades before, was keyed to another age, one where acceleration and all-out top speed weren’t as important as smoothness and reliability. Hence the Square Four engine was built …

1970 BSA A65 1970 BSA A65 Firebird Scrambler 1970 BSA A65 FIREBIRD SCRAMBLER The term “scrambler” was the word used back then for a bike that might be called a “dual-sport” bike today. In other words, on that can be ridden on the highway, and yet handle itself off-road. These bikes were great desert racing …

1955 Vincent Rapide Series D   1955 VINCENT RAPIDE-LAST OF THE LINE Vincent built its reputation on it’s robust 499cc Comet single. Prior to the war, they figured out that if they doubled it, they could create a 998cc V-twin and the series A Vincent Rapide was born. Few were built prior to World War …

SLOW STEADY REFINEMENT The 1965 Triumph Bonneville T120 650 was again more or less a carry-over from 1964, which itself was a carry-over from 1963. Changes were minor and evolutionary in nature, aimed at refinement, improving reliability, performance and ease of production. Model designations were also carryovers: T120R was the road machine with down pipes; …

ABOVE: 1980 Triumph Bonneville T140E in Steel Gray & Black. SLOW SALES HURT CO-OP By 1980, what was left of the “Triumph magic” had evaporated. Large numbers of 1979 Triumph motorcycles were still sitting unsold in dealer showrooms & factory warehouses. For the first time since the end of WWII, the home market (Britain) was …

ABOVE & BELOW: This 1978 Triumph Bonneville is a T140V, which still has the Delta-style head with splayed intake ports & Amal Concentrics. Later 1978 Bonnevilles were T140E’s, with parallel intake ports & MkII carbs. This color scheme was popular in 1978. A sign of the times: earthtones were in, even for motorcycles seats. SMOG …

1970 Norton Commando ABOVE: The 1970 Norton Commando came in a new guise: The Norton Commando Roadster, or Type R. A new tank & seat, conventional rear fender & those voluptuous upswept pipes! Establishes the ‘Commando look’ in the public mindset. NEW ROADSTER The 1970 Norton Commando line grew to three models, then shrunk back …

ABOVE: This 1971 Triumph Bonneville was restored to ‘better-than-new’ condition. It won “Best of Show” Award at the Clubman’s All-British Weekend 2011 motorcycle show. TOTALLY NEW, BUT BETTER? The 1971 Triumph Bonneville was a totally new bike. Only the engine carried over from 1970. Not since the 650 twin went unit construction in 1963 had …

ABOVE: The 1959 Triumph Bonneville had the big fenders and nacelle of the Triumph Thunderbird. Not a popular move with Americans, many of whom swapped it out for the more svelte TR6 bodywork. ALL NEW BIKE When it was introduced, the 1959 Triumph Bonneville 650 was one of, if not THE fastest motorcycles you could …

1973 Norton Commando ABOVE: 1973 Norton Commando 750 Roadster was more or less the “standard” Commando. BACK ON TRACK After the dismal finish of the 1972 model year, thanks to the Combat engine, 1973 was a good year for Norton Motorcycles. The entire model line had benefited from the engine fixes developed to counter the …

1962 TRIUMPH BONNEVILLE -MODEL DESIGNATIONS The 1962 Triumph Bonneville again came in two basic model designations: T120R was the Road version, and T120C was the Street Scrambler/Off-Road version (what later might have been called an Enduro). Most of the bike was strictly carry-over from 1961. Of course, this was the last year for the non-unit …

MORE POWER, SCOTTY! By the release of the new 1966 Triumph Bonneville T120 650, Meriden had had a few years to sort out the teething problems of the new frame and unit-construction engine, introduced in 1963. Most of the changes up to this point had been incremental, but now the real work was starting: how …

ABOVE: This 1975 Triumph Bonneville is rarer than you might think. While it looks very similar to the 1973 & 74, very few were made due to the workers strike. MERIDIAN CO-OP FORMS The ’75 Bonneville is practically non-existent. So few were produced that it hardly counts as a model year. The Meriden factory workers’ …

COMPETITION FROM ABROAD The 1969 Triumph Bonneville had its work cut out for it. It seemed like the Triumph Bonneville was getting faster every year, and good thing too, with new arrivals from Japan like the 1969 Honda 750/Four & the Kawasaki 500 triple. The merry men at Meriden found a few more horses hiding …

ABOVE: The 1981 T140ES Executive was a factory touring bike, with sport fairing & saddle bags (panniers). MORE SPECIAL MODELS The 1981 Triumph Bonneville attempted to address dwindling sales with what had become “Limited Edition”-madness. Not that it was a bad thing, they turned out some pretty nice bikes. But, the problems Triumph was facing …

ABOVE: 1979 Triumph Bonneville in T140D Bonneville Special guise, with Dark Blue & Silver paint scheme. SPECIAL EDITIONS HELP SALES Triumph motorcycles’ new owners, the employees, known as the Meriden Co-operative, or the Co-op for short, had hit on a new idea almost by accident: a limited edition special. 1978 had been the 25th anniversary …

2009 TRIUMPH BONNEVILLE THRUXTON BACKGROUND The 2009 Triumph Bonneville Thruxton has a rich heritage. The classic Triumph Bonneville 1959-1983 was easily Triumph’s biggest name, then and now. After the death of the old Triumph (by this time the worker-owned Meriden Co-Op) in 1983, British developer-billionaire John Bloor bought the brand out of receivership with plans …

MODEL LINE-UP The 1967 Triumph Bonneville T120 650 continued to be developed and refined in incremental steps, sometimes one forward and two back. Model designations carried over from late-1966, that is, the TT Special now had it’s own stand-alone model designation, the T120TT. This went along with the traditional T120R Road version, and the T120C …

A WHOLE NEW MOTORCYCLE! The 1963 Triumph Bonneville was essentially a brand-new bike. Not quite designed from a clean slate, but nearly every part was new and/or improved. Gone were the days of adjusting the primary chain by loosening the gearbox then swiveling in its mounts, only to have to readjust the rear chain afterwards. …