Time has transformed Triumph’s 650 twin from a rip-roaring record breaker into a mellow old machine!
Before the second World War, the Triumph 500 Speed Twin and its hotrod brother the Tiger 100 had been strong sellers for the American importer, Johnson Motors.
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These bikes were very British in look and feel: great for off-road riding and competition but high revving and frisky compared with Harleys. What was needed was a bigger capacity bike which retained all the verve of the smaller Triumphs but emulated the torque of Harleys.
Edward Turner at Triumph needed little convincing, and in 1949 produced the 650cc Thunderbird. This was not simply a bored out Speed Twin but a significantly revised engine, albeit with extremely strong links to Turner’s original 500.