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1960, 1961, or a 1962 Triumph T-120 #610450
07/27/15 9:17 pm
07/27/15 9:17 pm
Joined: Mar 2002
Posts: 838
Earth
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rick e. Offline OP
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Earth
If you could only pick one (UK or USA roadsters types) in standard Factory colors and trim, what one would it be?

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Re: 1960, 1961, or a 1962 Triumph T-120 [Re: rick e.] #610458
07/27/15 9:31 pm
07/27/15 9:31 pm
Joined: Jun 2007
Posts: 5,558
Maui Hawaii
HawaiianTiger Online content

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Posts: 5,558
Maui Hawaii
Hands down, the '62 is by far the best of the lot. I've had a 60 and and 61 two '62's The '60 was a total pile in my opinion. Not much good to say about it. Both '62's were good motorcycles with a huge amount of improvements made in a very short time between 60-62.

I thought this was common knowledge by now...
Just for clarification, here's examples of the bikes in question. There can be some opinions based simply on aesthetics, but there's no reason you can't paint a '60 like a '62 if that's what you like. The bikes are visually very similar from 60-62, otherwise.

1960 Triumph TR7


1961 T120 Bonneville


1962 T120R Bonneville




Cheers,
Bill


Last edited by HawaiianTiger; 07/29/15 1:01 am.

Bikes
1974 Commando
1985 Honda Nighthawk 650
1957 Thunderbird/T110 "Flying Tiger"
Antique Fans: Loads of Emersons (Two six wingers) plus gyros and orbiters.
Re: 1960, 1961, or a 1962 Triumph T-120 [Re: rick e.] #610592
07/28/15 8:31 pm
07/28/15 8:31 pm
Joined: Oct 2006
Posts: 2,390
Elburn, Ill. USA
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Irish Swede Offline
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Elburn, Ill. USA
I guess the factory photos of the '60 TR7 and the '62 Bonneville settles the question:
"What color was the 'TRIUMPH' logo on the tank badge?" for those years.

GOLD.

(And GOLD 'til the final year for that badge, 1965.)

P.S. I always liked the colors of the '61 Bonnie the best of those three years.

Re: 1960, 1961, or a 1962 Triumph T-120 [Re: rick e.] #610599
07/28/15 9:28 pm
07/28/15 9:28 pm
Joined: Jun 2007
Posts: 5,558
Maui Hawaii
HawaiianTiger Online content

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Maui Hawaii
The color of the '61 in the photo seems off a bit. It's called sky blue and this one seems to be a bit too green, I think. Anyway, the home market '62's were also sky blue and silver sheen with black tool boxes and oil tanks.

I've seen several original olympic flame '62 tanks and they were much lighter in color than this one, more of an orange actually. Still, the ones I've painted I laid on the flame a bit heavier and the color came out very much like this bike here. I took this pic off google image search. I don't know who owns it, but apparently they like the darker color as much as I do.

Cheers,
Bill


Bikes
1974 Commando
1985 Honda Nighthawk 650
1957 Thunderbird/T110 "Flying Tiger"
Antique Fans: Loads of Emersons (Two six wingers) plus gyros and orbiters.
Re: 1960, 1961, or a 1962 Triumph T-120 [Re: rick e.] #610600
07/28/15 10:14 pm
07/28/15 10:14 pm
Joined: Oct 2014
Posts: 73
Brooklyn, NY
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VincentEsposito Offline
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Brooklyn, NY
Are we talking performance wise or more in the aesthetic department? The previous owner of my '61 Bonnie had decided to paint over the sky blue with a standard black (he claimed it was BSA nos A65 paint) and changed the gold stripe to white, however the stock silver remains intact. The silver is fantastic! Likewise the TRIUMPH on the badge is silver, I'm guessing it's not the stock badge, but is definitely authentic. If I had to choose between the three, it would be 62. Also, correct me if I'm wrong, but didn't a majority of the seats come for the American models have a single color black seat? I think that bit is mentioned in Gaylin's resto guide.

Here's my 61. Yes I know there is plenty wrong but it's a decent base.

Last edited by VincentEsposito; 07/28/15 10:19 pm.

1961 Triumph Bonneville
1972 Triumph TR6R
Re: 1960, 1961, or a 1962 Triumph T-120 [Re: rick e.] #610609
07/29/15 12:58 am
07/29/15 12:58 am
Joined: Jun 2007
Posts: 5,558
Maui Hawaii
HawaiianTiger Online content

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HawaiianTiger  Online Content

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Joined: Jun 2007
Posts: 5,558
Maui Hawaii
As far as I know, the '60 had an all black seat then gray tops after that. Yours looks like a much later seat to me. And I don't think there is anything "wrong" with your bike. If you want it to be more like standard spec it's just a matter of buying the parts and bolting them on.

As far as performance is concerned, you could make a case for the '60 being the fastest of the three years because of the carb set-up, but those carbs could be a downright pain in the ass in normal riding so they were dropped pretty quickly.

For me, getting to where you're going in comfort trumps nearly anything else and the '62 comes in first place for that. More reliable and much smoother running than the first two. For my tastes, the paint scheme is tops too. Cycle World called it subtly elegant or something similar to that.

Better electrics plus a laundry list of practical improvements made it the best mechanically of the three, too.

Cheers,
Bill

Last edited by HawaiianTiger; 07/29/15 1:04 am.

Bikes
1974 Commando
1985 Honda Nighthawk 650
1957 Thunderbird/T110 "Flying Tiger"
Antique Fans: Loads of Emersons (Two six wingers) plus gyros and orbiters.
Re: 1960, 1961, or a 1962 Triumph T-120 [Re: rick e.] #610926
07/31/15 5:42 pm
07/31/15 5:42 pm
Joined: Jul 2006
Posts: 361
Kent, UK
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Nick_Smith Offline
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Posts: 361
Kent, UK
I like the smaller US tank than the UK-market one, which I find looks a bit podgy.

Had a 1960, with the non-braced duplex frame. I'm not that short, but the saddle height and shape meant it was like sitting on the blunt end of an ironing board.
Lots of annoying design quirks - external clutch cable that runs right across the gearbox oil cap, primary side gearbox adjuster that you couldn't adjust in situ, a light switch that I could never manage to find when I needed it riding along - those are just the ones I can recall.

That said, in the 1960 colour scheme, it was a superb-looking bike, which got admiring glances just about anywhere I took it.

Then again, a nice example of any of the years stated is a handsome machine.

Nick


"1967 TR6R"
Re: 1960, 1961, or a 1962 Triumph T-120 [Re: rick e.] #610932
07/31/15 6:53 pm
07/31/15 6:53 pm
Joined: Jun 2007
Posts: 5,558
Maui Hawaii
HawaiianTiger Online content

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Joined: Jun 2007
Posts: 5,558
Maui Hawaii
I should start a partial list of design problems/upgrades for the years 60-62. The vast majority of them can be incorporated into the earlier bikes making them better motorcycles in the end.

Everyone knows that the first '60 frames would fracture just below the headstock. A replacement frame was released near the end of the year incorporating an extra tube below the tank. End of frame breakages, apparently.

Electrics were a farce and if Triumph could have fired everyone at Lucas for the travesty of those electrics, they would have. Suppliers of electrics for motorcycles of that era were quite sparse, so they kept their jobs.

Headlight and taillight bulbs blew with predictable regularity. Some say vibration, some say voltage spikes from the alternator. The taillight was already rubber mounted but the headlight in one service bulletin was recommended to be replaced by a car type sealed beam.
Barring that, there was a mod to reduce charging from the alternator. Yep, it was too fierce! Batteries would boil over and ruin the chrome and paint on these bikes. Remember this was pre-zener years and the battery was the voltage regulator. A service bulletin was released describing how to partially de-magnetize the rotor and also how to install a jumper to combine all the coils together for charging.

Carbs were problematic even though the float was re-positioned between the carbs. If you've ever ridden a bike with this set-up you know about the frequent engine stalling and who knows how lean they were at full throttle.
The carbs would also spit back and stain the pearl gray tool boxes and oil tanks.(no air filters then) There was a service bulletin recommending retarding the inlet cam by a full tooth. No BS.

Tanks straps broke regularly. There were several versions released before they settled on the stainless steel strap that is available now. I guaranteed you won't find an original '60 tank strap. Rocking horse poo.

Petcocks were of solid nickel plated brass and tapered type. They're call big lever taps.
They leak and also stick either open or closed. A tap on the back of the lever is how you release them but you see a lot of levers broken off or seriously mangled by owners with little finesse. Flat lever taps that were used on Triumphs forever were installed sometime in '61 I think.

Vibration. At 50% the balance factor was WAY off for this frame. I found that using one long bolt and a spacer at the front motor mount instead of two short bolts tamed the vibration quite a bit.

First bikes had 19 inch rear wheels making tire choice problematic.The front brake was changed to full floating the next year making that brake much better if adjusted correctly.

Also the first ones had only one primary chain adjuster and with the extra BHP of this new twin there were a lot of problems with the gearboxes getting cocked in the frame from being loose(from the vibration?) and wreaking havoc. Broken and thrown primary chains were common wrecking the covers and sometimes even the motor. Thrown drive chains were common, too.

Vibration cracked mounting brackets all over the bike. In an attempt to solve this, Triumph rubber mounted the oil tank. It was very effective. The toolbox got "anti-vibration" mounts and to this day, I don't know what that is. There's a change in part number and one person thought that the mounting brackets were made in lighter gauge material allowing them to flex more. I have my doubts....

Crankshaft balance factor changed in '61 to 71%, then to 85% for '62. The crankshafts are recognizable from the shape of the porkchops that went from straight sided to pear shaped. I think they got it right as both of my '62's were pretty smooth. The '61 vibrated but it was livable, I thought, but the '60 was just ridiculous.

Rear shocks had their springs increased in rate from 100lbs to 150lbs making the bike's ride more firm and helping a bit with the handling. Most of the handling problems I suspect were due to frame bolts, engine and gearbox mounting bolts getting loose. If everything is tight, the bikes handle decently. Only thing is that you need to learn to use the throttle correctly in the corners to avoid the frame "winding up" and releasing under lateral loads. It could take the uninitiated right off the road.

In '62 the Chronometric speedo was replaced with a 140mph one. Nothing to do with reliability, but it sure was cool.

That's all I can think of at the moment. I know there's more.

Cheers,

Bill


Bikes
1974 Commando
1985 Honda Nighthawk 650
1957 Thunderbird/T110 "Flying Tiger"
Antique Fans: Loads of Emersons (Two six wingers) plus gyros and orbiters.
Re: 1960, 1961, or a 1962 Triumph T-120 [Re: rick e.] #610940
07/31/15 7:57 pm
07/31/15 7:57 pm
Joined: Oct 2006
Posts: 2,390
Elburn, Ill. USA
I
Irish Swede Offline
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Joined: Oct 2006
Posts: 2,390
Elburn, Ill. USA
Thanks, Bill.

I have read reports of the pre-unit swing-arm frame bikes having "less than stable" handling, and the
early Bonneville performance as "raw." Now I have an idea why. The lighter flywheel counter weights
("Cheeks," as the British called them) caused imbalances but allowed the engines to accelerate faster.
Triumph repeated the mistake on the 1966 and early '67 models. They corrected it again by 1968.

From 1954 to '61, it is hard to find an oil tank with the top front mount intact.
Just about all of them broke. Also, many broke the bottom rear mount loose from the tank itself.
A bigger top mount may have helped correct it. Rubber mounting certainly would have done so.

I have seen the bottom mounts of the battery mount/tool box broken off as well.
Some of these may have been broken by repeated contact of the front end of the chain guard banging on the tool box bottom
when the shocks were on full compression. I have seen evidence of this contact on two tool boxes and three chain guards.
A bit of re-radiusing on the bottom of the tool box would give enough clearance to correct it.

Although all of these conditions may have not been foreseen in the blueprints, they could have been corrected before 1962!

Re: 1960, 1961, or a 1962 Triumph T-120 [Re: rick e.] #610965
08/01/15 3:11 am
08/01/15 3:11 am
Joined: Jul 2006
Posts: 361
Kent, UK
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Nick_Smith Offline
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Nick_Smith  Offline
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Joined: Jul 2006
Posts: 361
Kent, UK
Thanks Bill - it's all coming back to me!

I don't recall many electrical issues (apart from finding the light switch under the nose of the saddle). but I don't dispute the general comments about the Lucas stuff.

The remote float was distinctive and 'racy' in appearance, but brought its own problems as you say.
It's puzzling to think that they originally decided you couldn't get two standard Monoblocs in there, but ended up doing so anyway (although there was never a huge amount of room at the top to run the cables nicely).

I didn't know about the dodge of retarding the inlet cam to stop the blow-back onto the tin-work: a rag sorted it out with far less effort.

Depending what you read (I think...) the frame breakages appeared in off-road events with jumps and rough terrain. That mine still had the unbraced version suggests that the notion of a 'service recall' wasn't about in 1960.

I don't doubt that mine had a repro tank strap, but I learnt to torque it up with a full tank, just to get the rubber parts to settle as much as possible - the sound of a loose strap vibrating on the top of the tank was atrocious.

As for the speedo rating, well, there's no harm in being optimistic, is there? Even with the 120 on mine, I suspected I'd have to ride it off a tall cliff to stand a chance of getting the needle to hit the stop.

Ultimately, while it looked stunning, it was increasingly a pain in the arse, so it had to go.

Nick


"1967 TR6R"

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