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11th November 2004 2004

The Triumph Speed Twin and Thunderbird Bible
by Harry Woolridge

Jeff Clew used to commission motorcycle books for a living, and he's written more than his fair share of the things, too. So when he recommends this new Triumph bible, you can take him at his word...

The Triumph Speed Twin and Thunderbird Bible - From AmazonFew will deny the standard of restoration of classic motorcycles has been steadily rising in recent years such that it is now virtually at its peak. Because of this, the hardened few who serve as concours judges at the major classic bike shows are finding it increasingly more difficult to arrive at a firm decision and be as sure as they can that they have got it right. It is by no means uncommon to have machines finished to such a high standard that their overall appearance is well above that in which they would have been originally delivered to dealers' showrooms. Indeed, some outshine even the few that were specially prepared at no small cost by their manufacturer for display on the company stand at the annual Motor Cycle Show.

Only too often a concours judge's final decision will rest on how close a machine's specification is to that when it originally left the factory, by looking for the slightest deviation from originality. What has been the greatest stumbling block so far has been the lack of detailed machine specifications to clarify some of the grey areas on which restorers and concours judges are most likely to disagree.

Fortunately, this situation is now being resolved by the publication of reference books written by a former factory employee, or an author who has spared no effort in researching factory records. The latest book of this kind is an excellent example, containing a highly detailed account of the changes that took place on a year-by-year basis during the complete production run of the Speed Twin and Thunderbird models. Ideally qualified to research and write this book, Harry Woolridge worked for the Triumph Engineering Company for 30 years, such that Triumph enthusiasts will have no qualms about the authenticity of its content.

The mass of information contained within the 144 pages of this book is well laid out and easy to follow, with many good quality instructions and some nostalgic full-colour copies of Triumph catalogues. Also included is a brief history of Edward Turner's revolutionary Speed Twin, and an account of the launch of the Thunderbird in September 1949. That three standard production models covered 500 miles on the banked circuit at Montlhéry at an average speed of over 90mph was an outstanding achievement.

I had the privilege of commissioning Harry's earlier work on the Speed Twin, published some 15 years ago, and I can confirm that this greatly enlarged edition is much more than an update. Not only is it now in larger format but also better presented on good quality paper, with the added benefit of the inclusion of similar detail on the Thunderbird model, and a bonus from the addition of colour.

To anyone owning either of these models, I see it as an essential purchase, especially when no effort is spared while rebuilding either model as closely as possible to its original specification. Owners will also find it an invaluable source of reference over the years, to be consulted again and again.

Jeff Clew

The Triumph Speed Twin and Thunderbird Bible by Harry Woolridge

  • published by Veloce, ISBN 1 904788 26 2
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