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1955 Triumph T100
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Edward Turner’s Triumph twin may be the most recognisable classic motorcycle of all time. Mick Knowles’ T100 is an award-winning example...

If you're looking for info on the modern Triumph T100, read our review here...

Mick Knowles isn’t afraid of a challenge. When he bought his Tiger 100 for the princely sum of £350 it was in ‘really rough’ condition, with a home-made double-adult sidecar attached. The sidecar itself was a thing of wonder, as Mick explains; ‘the nose was at an odd angle and the gentleman who built it discovered that when he turned at an extreme angle the handlebars fouled the sidecar body. So his answer… was to move the handlebars a couple of inches to the right: problem solved! The seats were out of a Mini and the front one had to be removed to get into the rear. Various pieces of flat wood were used to attach the rear of the chair to the bike’s mudguard – prior to restoration I needed to weld up more than twenty holes!’

This isn't Mick's T100.... 1951 Triumph T100

If only we had a photo of the bike in its ‘before’ condition. That would be really worth seeing… especially as Mick’s efforts have turned the 500 Triumph into a concours champion. The judges at the Weston Park Transport Show awarded the Best RealClassic prize to Mick, reflecting the hours of work which have gone into refurbishing this shell-blue beauty.

And this isn't Mick's T100.... 1954 Triumph T100

‘It needed a total nut and bolt restoration’ says Mick. ‘I rebuilt the engine myself and did the paintwork, and had the frame powder-coated. New pipes and silencers came from Armours, and the wheels were rebuilt with stainless rims and spokes by Central Wheels. Around 95% of the fittings are now in stainless, too. So I can recommend Steve’s Stainless, Len Craig, and RK Leighton for the saddle.

‘The only accessory I added is the rear carrier. I’m not sure what it originally came from but it has been modified twice! It was first fitted to my A10 – gone to another owner – and now it’s on the T100.

And *this* isn't Mick's T100 either.... Triumph T100 Brochure

‘Touch wood, the T100 has been totally reliable. There’s a slight noise in third gear but it doesn’t seem to be broke so I’m not going to fix it… It’s the only bike in my stable that I know will start first or second kick, and it usually takes me to shows and events, or for a Sunday ride-out.’

The T100 was created as the sports version of the ubiquitous Speed Twin and from the very start the Turner twins were blessed with an engaging, tractable motor and a chassis which made strong men break out in a cold sweat. No sooner had Turner tweaked the Speed Twin to produce the 100mph Tiger than development engineer Freddie Clarke took the honours in experiencing the first high-speed, lock-to-lock steering weave. That’s what you get if you build a 500 twin which weighs just 350lb… and it would take Triumph about three decades of gradual refinement to resolve the problem.

By the time Mick’s T100 was built the company had progressed to telescopic front forks, then the sprung rear hub, and finally the swinging arm chassis which arrived in 1954 plus a bigger timing-side main bearing and modified crankcase, and an 8-inch front brake. At this point in development the front end was still pretty weak and the brakes weren’t that great – the very last pre-unit twins of the late 1950s and early 60s are the best to look for if you’re seeking top performance. Or, as Mick says; ‘if you want to go really fast then you should buy a plastic fantastic!’

Finally, Mick and his Triumph T100... Mick Knowles’ 1955 Triumph T100

He’s happy sticking with his T100. ‘If you’re thinking of buying something similar then go for it. They’re not cheap now, but the styling and smoothness of the engine are wonderful. Every single ride puts a smile on this pensioner’s face!’

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Show Off!

You don’t have to own a newly restored machine in order to win a RealClassic concours award, because we’re always on the look out for high mileage or well-modded machines as well as concours-class classic motorcycles. So you’re very welcome to enter your old bike into a RealClassic display.

The next RC-sponsored event is the Malvern RealClassic Bike Show, on Sunday 2nd November 2008 at the Three Counties Showground, Malvern in Worcestershire. All kinds of classic motorcycles are very welcome, be they rare or everyday; rapid or just plain reliable.

If you’d like to show your classic bike at this event then you can apply in advance for a pass or simply ride in on the day. The show starts at 10am and exhibitors can enter the site from around 9am. See www.ClassicShows.org

T100 bits on eBay.co.uk

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