Reference: Triumph Tiger 100s: which to choose?


1939 Triumph Tiger 100

The Tiger 100 was more blatantly aimed at ‘sporting’ motorcyclists though like the machine which spawned it, it was an immediate hit.

Its combination of docility and high performance was a motorcycling watershed moment; a Tiger 100 was easy to start, flexible to ride but still capable of near-100mph performance.

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The model remained in Triumph’s range for more than 40 years and has made a comeback in recent years.

For many, the Triumph Tiger 100 is the best Triumph twin of all, with the prewar model perhaps the pick of the bunch; indeed, one prominent vintage exponent reckons that the prewar Tiger 100 is the best motorcycle ever made. 

The beauty is that blend of performance and flexibility, a given to many of us brought up on modern bikes, but in the 1930s, a novelty.

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Combined with a lack of vibration compared with the bigger engines, it means if one can have just one motorcycle to do all, the Tiger 100 is perhaps the one. 

Pre-war: 1939
The start of the dynasty. Based on the Speed Twin, it shared the same 63mm x 80mm bore x stroke, though compression ratio was up to 7.75: 1. One of the lovely details was the two-part ‘cocktail shaker’ silencers – a silencer and open megga in one. Finish was black cycle parts, with chrome and silver (with blue lining) tank.

Sprung hub: 1949
Main change postwar was the adoption of telescopic forks, though there was also a smaller headlight and the option of the sprung-hub rear wheel and, for 1949, the adoption of a headlamp nacelle. The parcel grid was a 1949 option, while the tank changed – to chrome ‘bars’ – in 1950.

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Pre-unit: 1959
An alloy cylinder barrel had appeared in 1951 while the swinging arm frame came in 1954, the same year as a new 8in front brake and the shell blue paint finish. The ‘mouth organ’ tank badges came for 1957 the same year the twin carb ‘Delta head’ (as shown) became an option.

Bathtub: 1961
Introduced in 1960, the unit model really was a case of ‘all change.’ There was the gearbox/engine unit – based on the 350cc – with its 69mm x 65.5mm bore and stroke, new finishes (black and white initially, then black and silver shown), new frame etc. – it was 50lb lighter than its predecessor.

Bikini: 1963
By now, there were different variations on the theme – this is the Tiger 100SS, with bikini sidepanels. Notice, by now, Triumph was shying away from the 1950s-esque styling… the ‘bikini’ was short lived while the nacelle had gone with the Tiger 100A. Forks were by now two-way damped and featured gaiters.

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Off-road: 1968
Another variation on the theme. By now, the C had replaced the earlier SC (C for competition) and was in the range alongside the regular (single carb S, then twin-carb T Daytona and for US R) models. Production was to finally finish in mid-1973, though late-on some engines were used in the TR5T, with a BSA B50 frame.

Visit the Mortons Archive for more information and online search options concerning Triumphs, or speak to our archivist Jane Skayman on 01507 529423 with your requirements. Email [email protected] bike

Other articles in the 'which model' series:
? Ariel Square Fours
? BSA A10s
? BSA Bantam
? BSA unit singles
? Cammy Norton Singles
? Norton Commando
? Norton ES2
? Triumph Thunderbird
? Velocette LE

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