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Purists do like a UK bike. The UK tank '66 on looks a bit bulbous to me. Although similar, the up to '65 looks better because the tank emblems are larger.

I have a re imported 1967 Trophy 650 and the tank still has a rack but is smaller than the corresponding UK bike. The only other differences on mine is that the front wheel is 19" instead of the UK's 18" and it has the wide bars. I think the T120 is the same for my year but the US one has an even smaller tank with no rack. The 69 and 70 UK bikes have the biggest tank but no rack. The US 69/ 70 T120 has the smallest tank again.

I don't think the insurance is any different on my re imported bike. You may get less for a US bike but then you pay less too but sometimes a posh one is dear.

You pay a fair bit extra to have two carbs but the splayed head with them fitted does look good.

I don't know why the '69 is the holy grail. They are all the same apart from a few detail differences that don't make any difference when you are riding the bike around English country lanes on a sunny Sunday! You can get away without the nitrided cams, even, and maybe earlier bikes have had new cams anyway.

A 650 is pretty powerful after a 3TA. If I put mine on full throttle it feels like my hands are going to slip off the bars and it is low compression and worn. Mind you I am very light because I have had coeliac disease for years!

Dave

Last edited by dave jones; 05/15/21 12:27 pm.
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Originally Posted by dave jones
The UK tank '66 on looks a bit bulbous to me.

You should see the tank on my 3TA! :-)

Originally Posted by dave jones
I think the T120 is the same for my year but the US one has an even smaller tank with no rack. The 69 and 70 UK bikes have the biggest tank but no rack. The US 69/ 70 T120 has the smallest tank again.
I don't dislike the US tank on the 69. I would probably change the handlebars though as I am not so keen on the (slightly) chopper look.

Originally Posted by dave jones
I don't know why the '69 is the holy grail. They are all the same apart from a few detail differences that don't make any difference when you are riding the bike around English country lanes on a sunny Sunday!
Based on price, the 69's and 70's seem to be at a premium, with a big jump from the earlier ones. I had heard that the changes in 69 ironed out all the problems of the earlier ones, but as you say, are those fixes noticeable today? I should really get a 66, as that would match my age! (The 3TA is the same age as my wife!!!)

Originally Posted by dave jones
A 650 is pretty powerful after a 3TA. If I put mine on full throttle it feels like my hands are going to slip off the bars and it is low compression and worn. Mind you I am very light because I have had coeliac disease for years!

No issue with me being too light! I had a CBR600 for a few years and a few times that nearly caught me out with being too relaxed with my grip! I've grown out of that though (honest), so won't be looking to cane the bike!

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As a kid I had a couple of 3TAs that had been converted to 500. A step up from L plates on a C15. Subsequently, I bought a '69 T100T that superficially was in nice nick, but engine-wise proved to be anything but. A mate of mine had a '69 TR6 which I very much admired. I remember riding his bike and thinking how much more effortless it was than my Daytona. The Daytona had the performance, but you had to ring its neck to get it. Since then I had a T100S (a very sweet bike) and a few years later when I was a house owner, skint, and prices had shot up, built up a 3TA out of bits with a T90 bottom end, but it seemed a bit gutless. Now got a '65 TR6, a nice torquey bike. However, I think that a nice T100 would be a great around town bike, as the 650 seems a little less weildy than the C class bikes.

As previously said by '69 they'd got most things right. However, with the earlier bikes you can 'improve' them with 6CA points (or EI), 2LS, decent tyres etc. Garden gate tank badges have a charm of their own. I'd buy on condition rather than year or price. My uncle says that the wrong price today can be the right price tomorrow, which makes sense in a rising market. Or probably, more eruditely, I think it was Sir Henry Royce who said that good quality is remembered long after the price is forgotten. You only have to look at the price of the bits to see how much it costs to put right something that's wrong.

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Hi Peter,
Originally Posted by Peter Williams
any downsides to buying a US model?
None I've ever encountered in over forty years. 1960's/'70's/80's, Triumph exported the vast percentage of its bikes to the US.

Originally Posted by Peter Williams
Does it effect insurance? I think on Bennetts web site they qualify an "import"
Bennetts are simply trying it on. The bikes were exported from GB in the first place. smile All my Triumphs are US versions, no other insurer considers them "imports"; use another insurer, there's plenty of 'em.

Originally Posted by Peter Williams
Does it effect resale value (would seem not based on the bikes I see advertised, but do the "purists" want a UK bike?
If a buyer wants a "UK" bike, he/she buys a "UK" bike; if a buyer wants a US bike, he/she buys a US bike? Given the number of British businesses importing old bikes from the US, can't be a major issue?

Originally Posted by Peter Williams
Any issues with parts being different?
The vast majority of parts weren't different, Meriden was actually pretty creative with just two or three tanks painted differently, a couple of different exhaust systems, a couple of different handlebars and a few odds-'n'-sods.

Originally Posted by Peter Williams
Originally Posted by dave jones
UK tank '66 on looks a bit bulbous to me.

You should see the tank on my 3TA! :-)
Bear in mind the 3TA tank is only about a gallon smaller than the "UK" T120/TR6 tank, but on a smaller bike.

Originally Posted by dave jones
I have a re imported 1967 Trophy 650 and the tank still has a rack but is smaller than the corresponding UK bike. The only other differences on mine is that the front wheel is 19" instead of the UK's 18" and it has the wide bars. I think the T120 is the same for my year but the US one has an even smaller tank with no rack. The 69 and 70 UK bikes have the biggest tank but no rack. The US 69/ 70 T120 has the smallest tank again.
This is slightly confused, not helped by the figures Meriden published at the time. Dry-frame unit 650's have three tanks sizes - smallest (2.75 US gallons/2.25 UK gallons) was on the US T120R and TR6C, TR6R tank is 3.75 UK gallons (4.25 US gallons), "UK" T120 and TR6 tank is only slightly larger at 4 UK gallons.

Originally Posted by Peter Williams
I don't dislike the US tank on the 69. I would probably change the handlebars though as I am not so keen on the (slightly) chopper look.
Mmmm ... before reserve is probably less than 2 gallons, might end up being a bit irritating? Have to say, the T150 "US" tank is essentially the TR6R tank and that's a 'nice' practical size.

'Bars, imho wait 'til you have the bike, pre-'73 'US' 'bars are nowhere near "chopper", at least compared to those inflicted on the '73-on OIF twin owners.

The thing I personally dislike more about the pre-'73 'US' 'bars is the width - not brilliant normally and, manoeuvering in a tight space, one bar end can be a long way from the rider. I've improved the '71/'72 version on my T100 by lopping and inch or so off each end, but that wasn't restricted by the screw holes for the pre-'71 horn/dipswitch.

Ime also, the contemporary "UK" 'bars are a weird shape.

Hth.

Regards,

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Peter- The US 66 is a very nice looking bike ( white tank with stripes).

As you say they may have "ironed out the problems" on a 69 but when you look at it the differences aren't really worth the extra money. You can fit nitrided cams to any bike along with the TLS brake but my single leader 8 inch is good enough. Nothing else is different, really. You can also paint a bike any colour you fancy!


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Don’t beat yourself up about it Peter, my dear old dad used to say “there’ll always be a better one come along”, I never used to believe him but he was right.

I was a UK purist when I started looking a couple of years ago but soon learned that it was restricting my choice. I believe about 80% of Triumphs were exported to the US and thank goodness they were, without that market and the subsequent repatriation of bikes we wouldn’t have the spares availability and expertise we have now.

As regards practical differences between UK and US spec bikes around the year you’re looking at I think most are cosmetic (might only be fuel tank and handlebars?) and they don’t de-value the bike at all. The US ‘bars on my bike make it much more comfortable for the recreational riding I do now and my backside tells me when to stop for a break, not the smaller fuel tank. The ergonomics with UK flat ‘bars and forward footrest aren’t great.

As regards insurance I’m with Carole Nash and they haven’t raised any issues with it being a US model, I think they’re more concerned about imports which weren’t originally available in the UK.

Keep looking and enjoy it, I would absolutely include US market bikes in your search.

Chris.


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The lost opportunity means that Peter W can now pursue a proper Triumph 650 with a single carb. The price differential compared to a T120 could contribute to the purchase of another bike, perhaps a 500 single? Just a thought!

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Originally Posted by Dibnah
The price differential compared to a T120 could contribute to the purchase of another bike
Errrr....Let me run that one past my other half!

Quote of the weekend in my house "Why do you want another bike, you don't ride the one you've got as it's always in bits!" Grrrrr!

Difficult to argue though...damn 3TA playing up again! But that's for another day.

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Exactly, you need another bike to ride while fixing the first one. You know it makes sense.


72 Tiger 650
72 Commando 750
74 Trident
84 BMW K100RS
A fleet of old cars
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Hi Peter,
Originally Posted by Bikeosaurus
you need another bike to ride while fixing the first one.
Ye-ea-ah ... be careful using this on your missus, it could come back to bite you ... I used this 'logic' when buying my second T160 (luckily my money and no-one to argue then) ... doesn't always work in practice, you can have two Triumphs in bits at the same time ...

laughing

Regards,

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Conversations with "loved ones" before purchase? No. Also, "loved ones" should be kept out of the lock-up, best tell them that it's dangerous.

The aim should be to have an operational motorcycle available on any day suitable for motorcycling; therefore spannering on days that are suitable for motorcycling should be avoided. A motorcycle with 100% reliability = only one operational motorcycle required when the riding season commences (assuming fair weather motorcyclist).

With classic Brit bikes bought on a budget, five is probably the minimum number required to ensure that an operational motorcycle is available on every day during an extended spell of good weather without emergency spannering. Five also allows the owner to sample a wide range of designs spanning several decades

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Hi, The boss is always right! If a man is in a forest all by himself & speaks.... Is he still wrong? Of course he is! That’s the reality of like.

It’s also a reality 650 is a great riding bike. Properly sorted very reliable & pretty trouble free. I stand by Triumph is the least worse British bike.

Bonnie is the iconic Triumph. No question about that. For various reasons the 68-70 are very popular.

Speaking of Tigers they are basically single carb version of same motorcycle. After dealing with both of you don’t care about speeds over 90 mph Tiger is the better bike. Only one carb to deal with. Easier to access intake valves for adjustment. Fuel milage is the same. Really dealing with the carbs is only difference. That’s no big deal really.


The TR7RV ‘73 & newer are great bikes also. Rear disc on later years is a bonus. These are all 5 speeds which work really well. Put a retro kit on late bike they look like a dry frame bike to most people.


A Tiger is not an iconic name so you pay less for it& sell it for less. It’s what you want

A well tuned Tiger will out run a Bonnie that’s in perfect tune. If higher performance is a goal Bonnie has the edge.

For some reason I find if you get the new bike first, the old bike sells for more money. Like it puts buyer in diagramed of mind.

I can’t imagine you’d regret getting 650 or 750. Plus they have the power for 2 up riding even up the steepest hills & 70 mph. 60 - 65 mph 2 up on the flats modi’s loafing. My wife & I do it often. Her backside is good for 60-80 miles. We ride in hills & freeway up the hills. I know what these bikes can do in real life.
Don


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Hi again,

Does anyone know where I can find the correct colours to years for Bonnevilles? I have found sites that show most of the US models but not the UK ones.

Specifically 66, 67, 68 & 69, if anyone knows those ones?

Many thanks
Peter

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1970 T120R - 'Anton'
1970 Commando - 'Bruno'
1967 T120R - 'Caesar'
1968 Lightning - 'Dora'
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The colours were mainly common T120 to T120R but as the tanks were 2.5 gal for the R and the 4 gal for the UK then the schemes/layouts were different and the site link Hugh posted, although of a UK restorer, are virtually all US schemes and not the UK schemes.

Best source for the UK schemes are Google with some eye for false restorations and the UK brochures

But again a lot of US brochures and few UK ones

http://www.classicbike.biz/Triumph/Brochures/Brochures.htm

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So, I've only gone and done it!

Proud owner of a 1968 T120. Original UK bike.

I have to say most of the "Things to look for" tips went out the window when I actually went to look at the bike. I did ride it and made sure it sounded ok, changed gear and pulled well.

Last owner had it for 20 years (as did the one before that). Sadly the last owner passed away from Covid and the bike was sold though a dealer. Bike looks like it was looked after though and used regularly. One of several bikes the previous owner had, apparently.

Few things to do on it. I've already fitted a new chain, as that was pretty worn. Needs new shoes at the back - not worn through but low and a broken spring rattling around in the drum. Front tyre barely legal, so getting that done next week.

The bike pulls well up to around 65 mph but then runs out of steam a bit. Will give the carbs a clean, check the timing, valve clearances etc to see if that sorts it. No fun if there's nothing needs doing.

Electrics are all original, as in no EI. Might look toi change that at some point. There are a few "Halfords" crimp connectors here and there, so may need a bit of work on the loom over time too.

Anyway, thanks for all the tips offered previously. I will check them off now I own the bike!

Peter

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If chain was worn check the sprockets. They may be worn as well.

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HI Peter, Congratulations!!! These are nice bikes. Run great & ride very well. Not to mention quite good looking.

Well serviced points work good & will allow starting with low/dead battery. '69 is a good year. Easy to change clutch cable, Alternator wire is easier to deal with in my mind. Has the improved cable routing on front brake. The front brake actually will stop bike. Easy to set point gap & timing too.

Lack of power at speed?? How much. Is normal or not? Generally the higher the rpm the better they pull up to 90 or so. Modern fuel may cause a bit lean.

I'd start by verifying gas cap vent clear by blowing through it. Next is verify banjo screens are clean. With banjos unscrewed, turn on taps one at a time & you should see a good strong stream through each tap. Some taps don't flow much and also the screens may be clogged. Some (many?) run with both taps on. Of course no reserve then & if down to reserve flow is only through the reserve tap. Bonnies can use fuel quickly when working hard at speed or head wind. Figure 40 per US gallon. I've had personal experience running out of gas both taps open riding 2 up. No warning, like you shut off the key. I've seen this happen to a few new owners now.

Before diving into carbs, you might consider marking your grip & taking a few test rides & seeing what it does at different throttle openings. Here's a link.

https://static1.squarespace.com/sta...2/1481956877861/Amal+MK2+Carb+Manual.pdf

I print the few needed pages on road testing & what bike does. I refer to them during road test.

New these bikes wanted octane. I know fuel in UK is costly. Try to get highest octane you can. We have E10 here by law. Going a step richer on main jet & often needle clip tends to make bike run better. That's where the road testing will come in. A clear understanding of the straight part of needle is important. If you are on straight part of needle, clip position doesn't matter. Main jet doesn't matter unless you are on the effect of the main jet. This is where only the grip marking will tell you.

Again congratulations on your new bike. It opens up a whole new world of riding. A roads never a problem. If much of your riding is high speeds, a 20t trans sprocket will calm the RPMs at speed. Not too much loss of acceleration. Give it some miles then decide. Long trips on the bike become fun with the larger motor. 2 up, no problem. Before covid my wife & would do lots of 60-100 mile rides. That's about all her behind can take. 300 miles is just right for solo ride. 650s can do the miles. Well maintained very reliable & mostly trouble free.
Don


1973 Tiger 750
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