If you look at the photographs from the 1950s everyone looks healthy, and after a couple of weeks of owning the 1956 Triumph Thunderbird I’m beginning to develop a theory as to why. Petrol was in short supply, the motorcycles you could actually get to run were reluctant to stay bolted together and, the public transport industry was still yet to work out that monorails are a really bad idea. People either walked, or if they were keen to impress on a first date, they pushed their bikes to the Cafe and then posed nonchalantly whilst they got their breath back.
In keeping with a true retro experience I’m getting used to pushing this bloody thing. It is however, giving me plenty of material for my new book. Its likely there will be much more swearing in this publication, compared to my previous volume, which covered the history of the MV Agusta F4. Although that book was mainly about which banks were easier to rob in order to enable you to afford the MV Agusta service and running costs.
I was determined to get her running and spent a fair amount of time remaking the plug leads and cleaning up the connections. Having finally encouraged a reluctant spark plug to live up to both aspects of its name, I went to get myself kitted up whilst I left the Pre Unit motor to decorate my garage floor with random splashes of fluid from various orifices.
In a scene that would be eerily familiar to an SR71 pilot, I note that it is necessary to get my feet soaked in leaked fuel before I climb aboard the bike. The Triumph 6T motor and the SR71 Blackbird are remarkably similar in age and they both leak similar amounts of essential liquids. The Triumph is also much faster than the Blackbird to 15 kph, after that the twin jets give the aircraft a slight advantage.
I ease the clutch in, engage first, and add a whiff of throttle, the motor sounds good and a quick check reveals there is still enough oil left on the inside of the bike for a quick ride. After a shit week, I’m smiling again. Two kms down the road however and my week continues as it started. A new and interesting noise heralds the start of my next work out session.
For completeness I’ll try and recreate the sound for you ….”skkkssssssssss, clunk, skksssssss tinkle, bang, pop pop pop pop (repeat)….” For the uninitiated this is what it sounds like when the right hand side exhaust pipe falls off of a 1956 6T whilst travelling at a heady 50kmh. The grin retreated and the grimace returned and was accompanied by a couple of extra wrinkles on my previously flawless complexion. Picture attached is a file picture because I was too knackered to get my camera out after a further push.