Triumph Tiger Cub: which to choose?

From: Classic Bikers Club – Aug ’13
“The Triumph Tiger Cub was a funny machine in many ways, chiefly in that it (in conjunction with its smaller but very similar sibling, the Terrier) was Triumph’s only plunger-framed motorcycle and only single cylinder, too…
The first 150cc Terrier was delivered in 1953, the Tiger Cub coming the next year. The first year ones had a high-level exhaust pipe, interestingly, though that was short lived. What wasn’t short lived though was an obvious and explicit link between the Triumph ‘babies’ and the bigger models in the range; the Terrier was amaranth red, a la the Speed twin, with the Cub finish echoing Tigers 100 and 110.
Over the years, there were a dizzying amount of Cub variants, with French Army and Bermudan among the stranger ones, alongside the more expected ‘competition’ jobs; trials and scrambles were both listed, while in the States many were converted to long, short and dirt track spec. They were used for road racing too, and even record breaking.
The Cub has remained a model that’s well loved, its ‘cheeky charm’ undimmed by the passing of time. For whatever reason, they were a ‘cute’ model which always raised a smile – and still do today.


Model description and production years follow.

1955 Triumph Tiger Cub T20
One year on from launch, the high-level pipe has been replaced though there were still 19in rims front and rear. Essentially, the Cub was just a bored (63 from 57mm) and stroked (64, up from 58.5mm) Terrier, with different mudguards and paint finish.

1958 Triumph Tiger Cub T20
The swinging arm actually debuted in 1957, with the most notable 1958 differences the mouth organ tank badges and the deeply valanced rear mudguard. The 16in rims had come in 1956 on the plunger framed version.

1962 TS20 Cub Scrambler
The competition potential of the Cub was examined early on, with many finding favour with trials riders in particular, though others were used on the dirt tracks in the US and there was the rarest of all Cubs, the Scramblers – less than 400 were built.

1962 Triumph Tiger Cub T20SH (Sports Home)
Based on the SL (Scrambler Lights) and SS (Street Scrambler) versions the SH bowed to British sensibilities with low handlebars, and fitted with a 9:1 compression ratio piston, R cam and close ratio gears. A large Monobloc carb’ was fitted too.

1963 Triumph Tiger Cub T20
The side-points engine made its bow in August 1962, with the partial rear enclosure having been implemented for 1959. This was essentially the standard ‘whole’ Triumph Tiger Cub’s final incarnation, running through to 1965.

1966 Triumph T20B Super Cub
The Bantam and Super Cubs were parts bin specials – the Bantam Cub using a BSA Bantam D7 rolling chassis, the Super Cub a D10 later D14. Most Bantam Cubs were made 1966, ‘Supers’ 1967, with a few trickling out as late as 1969.”

2 Comments to “Triumph Tiger Cub: which to choose?”

  1. Good in the day.. and good enough. But destroyed by the new-fangled Jap bikes when they arrived.
    IMO.. Triumph have a serious shortcoming, and I don’t believe it’s an oversight on their part.. they have NO small cc bikes on their playlist. I believe this is a serious error on their part.
    I’ve said before about the riding schools in the UK.. Triumph should be flooding them with modern small cc bikes and snapping them up with smart deals when tests are passed.
    As Mr Honda said.. “start them with us and they will stay with us” [or something like that,!]
    With China and the Pacific Rim lot flooding the UK with small bikes and bringing in mid and larger models too.. this has an uncanny look of the 60’s as it was for UK makers then. Remember Honda arrived in 59 but struggled to get really established until about 63 by which time they had begun to reel in world road race titles with Redman et al.
    Honda struggled because of the Japanese behaviour in WW2.. there was a very real resistance to those “beasts”. Dealers who took on even a couple of bikes were more than frowned on. In some places where there had been very real activity with local battalions involved in the far east etc.. feelings were and remained for a long time, RAW .
    The modern parallel in my view is that the UK motorcycle manufactory collapsed in the main because it could offer nothing in the low cc’s that could could compete against the elec’ starters and fab’ brakes etc.. a Honda CB72 was every youths dream and desire.. our grey porridge hadn’t a chance. And then came the Black Bomber.. yikes.!
    Remember AMC had collapsed by ’65, RE upped sticks and sold out same[ish] time, BSA the worlds biggest.. sought refuge within the reformed BSA Triumph group, going down the endless slippery slope toward AW Benn MP.. what a mess. Then Norton Villiers, and finally dear old Velo’ in winter 70/71.. all less than 10 years.. buggered !
    I’m most definitely NOT a doom monger, but remain astonished that Triumph hasn’t moved on this.?
    Funnily enough in the face of BMC Motor groups intransigence as to the provision of basics in cheap cars.. heaters, wipers, wheels etc.. that age group of UK motorists flocked in droves to the then new Datsun.. who gave their buyers everything.! And so the door was opened to the Orient. traitors eh.?
    And Triumph quietly move their product lines to Thailand..where the Bonne’ is built today, tho’ Triumph here in the UK clam up when the issue is mentioned. The effect on sales to the “old boys/ classic crowd may well be seriously dented, were it to be broadcast.
    My deeply unpleasant dealer gets really cross at the mention.. ooooooh dear.!
    Ah well, no doubt it’ll sort out without my input.. but I have been there.. seen that. Now and then.? Or should that be then and now..?

    • I’m giving this subject much thought… Erik Buell was on the right track before HD swallowed him up. Triumph are in a magnificent position to clean-up with newcomers. A 500cc single. Modularized for city, race, light green landing… I need to get pencil to paper and devise this one up… I know Honda are all over this. And what next? A classic British marque built by the Germa… Oh wait…. Mini…. Ummm…


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