The 1963 Triumph TR20 Trials Tiger Cub.

 

 

 I will start this page by just recalling the page from my 70 years story and then looking at the Triumph TR 20 Trials in a bit more depth, but keeping to the bikes as they rolled out of the Triumph factory at Meriden and not create the page for specials...

 

It really is 50 Years since I had my Brand New Triumph TR20 trials Tiger Cub....

 

This was the first four stroke trials bike I owned , and like most young lads or even older folk, we had to use our trials bikes to get to work for the week, before using it has a trials machine at week ends.

Now I had a problem, well I still have, I was always late to rise in the morning and this made me late for work.

So the bikes I owned were always thrashed to try and get me to work on time.

Not a good Idea on a New bike that was not run in.

Into about the second week of owning the Cub, it seized on the way into work.

Bert Shorey said to me "You have been canning it Kid haven't you". "No Honest Bert, I haven't". Was the reply.

Anyway, the bike was loaded onto the back of the Austin A40 pick-up, by Dan, and trundled off back to the Triumph factory for repair.

A week later the bike returned, collected again by Dan, and with a new engine fitted, and a few more mods that the factory had done too.

The engine had apparently picked up swarf from somewhere, and this had blocked the oil pump. So it was not My fault? "Well I had been Canning it".

After month of ownership and enjoying the ride of a proper four stroke trials bike, even though the energy transfer Ignition was already a pain at times.

 

Then the Inter Centre trials Championships came along, this was 1963...

 Well I was not that good a rider yet. So I passed my bike onto a good friend to use it in the trial. Well they all were good friends in the Banbury NOBAC club.

Anyway Ted Freeman was without a bike to ride for the event ! Francis Barnett contract I seem to remember.

So he rode the  Triumph TR 20 Cub, and loved the ride on the little bike.

 

 

 

 As you can see Ted was a stylish rider, and deserved his ride on a works bike has well as mine for the day, and I learnt a lot from watching him ride it ...

 

The venue for the trial was Edge Hill quarries, and you can see how loose the Hornton iron stone was in them days, just like shifting sand.

~~~~~~~

 

By the end of the year  I was awarded the "Jack Wright  Rose bowl" for best novice rider in their first year of trials riding.

I also received a copy of "Trials Riding" by Max King, and have it today.

Although the spine has masking tape strips holding the little book together, with the use it has had.

I will be passing this onto my grandsons to use when they are older.

 

 

As you can see from the picture using the bike to commute at this time of year was probably the best option of transport to do the seven mile journey to work.

And the bonus was that with no lights fitted at this time, I was allowed to leave for home on my return journey before lighting up time.

I did have a shock one night though I can remember, and proved how useless the brakes were, when the black image of a sheep jumped out in front of me, and I had to prove I could ride a trials bike?

Up on the pegs immediately and take avoiding action.

~~~~~~

 Happy days.

 

 

October 2015.

Just found this tiny snap taken with a Brownie box camera I think, in 1963.

Left to right : Father and Grandmother, on the C15, gran was about ninety at the time I seem to remember.

My aunt who had just inherited the farm, with the cat, that I forget its name...

Then me sat on the Triumph TR20 Cub holding the

"Jack Wright Memorial Trophy"

Then the dog Toby, missing his deceased master, and then Mother who had to put up with all of us, and the latest fad by me to become a world class trials rider!

I take it that it was my brother behind the camera.   Happy days.

 

There was someone else who had an out of the factory TR20 Trials Cub, soon after I had mine, and I got to be good friends with him then and in then again in later life.

Well he used to come along to North Bar Garage to collect the parts for his bike sent from the Triumph factory. Dan or Bert used to go to Triumph's on a weekly basis, and it was more convenient for Chris to collect the parts he needed for his Cub after work,in the evening and pick them up from the garage, as we were open until ten O'clock every night of the week for the petrol sales.

The guy I am talking about is, the late Chris Leighfield, who in 1972 moved to Australia.

I am just about to do a page on the guy. What a Trooper and a blueprint for all of us!!!

 Here he is riding the TR20 Cub in the 1964 Bemrose trial.

 

 

They were like that "Honest, Guvner"! straight out of the factory.

 

Just looking at the pictures, can you see how messy the routing of the front brake cable was, and this straight out of the factory!

We have come a long way chaps. But do we get more pleasure riding the "Trick" bikes we have come up with today, pretending they are the same has came out of the factory?

This page will continue to just look at these Factory built Machines

 

 

This is the Triumph TR20 Trials Tiger Cub we have just rebuilt to be in the same condition as mine was all of those years ago in 1963...

 

So,what am I going to do with this page?

Well I am going to specifically look at the Triumph TR20 trials Cub as they were when they left the factory between 1962 to 1965...

And look at the positive points about the little bike, and also the negative faults and the limitations, to there use as a winning trials machine...

The Works riders at the time would be allocated one of these machines direct from the production line, and were told to ride the bike without touching it, and without any cosmetic changes to the appearance.

So how did they get on?

 

 

Photo Courtesy Deryk Offroad Archive...

Triumph Works ride John Giles was one of the first to get a grip of the little Cub, and his results must have boosted the initial sales of the machine...

 

 

Photo Courtesy Deryk again Offroad-Archives...

 

Scott Ellis on his works Cub in 1964, and visibly the only changes has been to fit braced steel handle bars, and remove those very sharp, and trials-suit ripping, tank badges...

 

 

Photo Courtesy Offroad Archives...

 

Murray Brush flying the J.A. (Jock) Hitchcock's Dealer bike from Kent...

This Triumph dealer was one of the biggest outlets for the TR20 Cubs at that time, and its riders like Murray will have benefited to a certain amount of works support...

Murray later with his mate developed the alloy parts that were fitted to the last works Cubs, and sold by Comerfords...

~~~~~~~

So shall we start with the faults that were apparent with, and on the machine, or do we state the advantages of owning a Triumph TR20 Cub in 1962-65...

first...

Lets do the good part first.

What you must realise that this was the early sixties, and before the turn of the decade, most trials machines sold were large and heavy, and the factories only really ran these machines as their showcase, although smaller mostly two-stroke machines had actually done very well thank you, they did not have the same image as the big four-strokes...

Although the BSA/Triumph group had also the C15 T just coming on stream as an over the counter trials bike, given a choice, most young riders seemed to plump for the lighter Triumph Cub.

What I thought was a big advantage was that it was a four-stroke engine and not a two. Whether it was the Greeves that I had owned previous that had put me off of two strokes I still don't know, and don't forget I was working on big four-stroke tractor, and truck engines at the time, real man's machines...

The Cub just seemed to suit me the first day I rode it, and I had spent all day practising with it on my trial ground...

 I could find and control grip better than with the Greeves, and although the forks were skimpier and did twist, I seemed to be able to get more positive steering from them, or was it that the throttle control of the little four-stroke was the key?

 I can remember to this day riding along my stream and up the small waterfall step, and although it felt like the forks were twisting all of the time, I also felt in full control...

So the combination of the light weight and the peppy little four-stroke engine is what made the Trials Cub to me the best machine on the market, and don't forget I had ridden most machines owned by my NOBAC mates on most Sunday mornings, as comparisons...

You can see what I thought, so we better get on with the faults.

Well you can see that the front forks were perhaps a bit of a problem, in that they were quite lightweight and did tend to twist, the damping and travel could have been a lot better, but basically these were road forks from the Triumph T21 350 and not designed for off road use. the BSA C15 had the C11-12 fork type fitted that were a lot more substantial.

The forks were upgraded in 1964-5 and were stiffer with outside the stanchion springs fitted and more like the BSA...

photo.

 

Photo Courtesy Offroad Archive...

You can see with this shot of 1959 Scottish Six day winner on a Cub, Roy Peplow riding what I think is his 1965 Works Triumph Cub, and the last one from the factory, that this machine has the updated Triumph front forks fitted...

~~~~~~~

We will move to the rear of the little machine next, and you know what is coming!

And if you live in the West Country you would have had more of a problem, yes mud...

Fitted with a four inch back eighteen inch tyre, there was not a lot of clearance near the front of the swinging arm, and mud and leaves would some times jam the gearbox sprocket as well. Clearance on the steel production chain guard was also tight and caused problems with the relatively small chain...

 Mud would also ingress into the rear brake hub and stop this working, but did they ever work.

First job on a Monday lunchtime at work at Young's, would be to remove the back wheel and brake plate, and then blast the lot with the old "Steaming Jenny"boiling steam cleaner...

Sticking float on the Amal Monoblock carb was another small issue but, this was the same on what ever they were fitted too.

The major problem with the Cub was as you all know that Lucas/Triumph Energy Transfer ignition...

It should have been good all Lucas technicians said, it was simple, it was but a lot of the time it did not work, you could set the points gap to either get it to start and not run properly, or just the opposite the bike did not want to start but eventually when you had got enough kicks in to charge the magnet, it would when running not be too bad.

 The short kick-start lever was half the problem, in that it would only kick as far as the reversed footrests, so limiting the amount of stroke. This was later solved with the dog-leg  lever that missed the pedal.. Chris was gifted one of these from the factory, but I did never get one.

Back to the ET well there were two crucial parts to this system, well perhaps three, for you did have to make sure everything was earthed very well, not good with a wet and muddy trials bike.

The rotor timing magnets needed to be spot on and this setting was more than crucial as the the point that it passed the wound coil was when it fired the strongest spark, and this has to coincide meticulously with the opening of the points that then releases the energy into the specially wound coil. Any deviation, and you don't get the spark. The biggest culprit for this variation is, and was, the bob-weight  advance retard mechanism, when this moves it alters the dwell point and causes a weak spark...

 All the Triumph Works trials boys, solved this problem with the use of an ark welder, they just welded the bob-weights solid, and set the timing to how the Cub ran best...

I will try and do a drawing for you to explain how this ignition system works.

Drawing...

 

This is from the Lucas Manual, and explains how the Energy Transfer system worked, and how critical were the settings, to get the electromagnetic pulse to fire just at the right moment, both the primary windings, (coil in chain-case) and the secondary windings in the external coil, to get that increased in the HT windings also in the external coil to release the spark to the plug at the right moment... Simple?

~~~~~~~

The clutch could give problems if not serviced regularly, and also the gears, I seemed to remember it was third that was the problem...

 The oil pump was not that great, and the engine oil needed to be kept very clean, and changed regularly, these oil pumps were upgraded in 1965 to a more robust unit, in most Cubs...

 

Got to have a break now but More later...

Courtesy and Credit Offroad-Archives...

Here is another photo of the later front forks, and looks to be one of the last Triumph TR20 Cubs from the factory production line...

 

More Later...With how some alloy parts started to creep onto even the last factory machines...

 

Photo Courtesy Offroad-Archive...

 

Gordon Farley, the man that took the Crown, of British Trials Champion away from Sammy Miller, who had held it for eleven consecutive years.

Riding here one of the last generation of Works Triumph TR20 Cubs, now fitted with most of the alloy parts developed by Murray Brush and his business partner. Fuel tank, oil tank, top yoke, and both brake plates, and also, air cleaner and fork gaiter shrouds...These parts were later sold by Comerford's, and Gordon would later ride for them on one of the "Comerford Cubs" ...

20/01/2021...

 

Deryk has just come up with these two superb shots of this works TR20 Cub

ONX 493...

Over to you Deryk...

Here's another Cub - This was a works bike ridden by Artie Ratcliffe and Ray Sayer - the rider is Blackie Holden.

 

 

Photos Courtesy Deryk Wylde...

This little TR20 Triumph Cub must have had more results to it's credit, than most others of the breed... And a winning machine in several capable hands..

 But the best part is, look how Standard it is...Only the solid foot rests to replace the reversed road going pegs...

 

 

Blackie Holden also very much a winner on this ex Works ...

Triumph TR 20 Cub machine...

 

More later...

updat2021...