Wednesday, April 2, 2008
In the 1960's, despite internal opposition from those who felt it would dilute the macho image of the brand, Triumph produced two machines to tap into a strong demand that had been identified by Market Research for a simple and easy to ride shopping basket vehicle. An extensive marketing campaign was carried out, fronted by a pop star of the era,Cliff Richard, but despite this the 'Triumph Tina' sold in small numbers, and the similar Tricycle (for those unsure of their ability to balance) was even worse with only 10 to 15 sales. These machines had absorbed a large amount of development and marketing capital and when the expected demand failed to materialise both were quickly discontinued.
The Triumph Tigress was very different, available in either a 175cc 2 stroke single, or 250cc 4 stroke twin engine and selling well to the enthusiast market through the 1965.
The Tina was introduced to take advantage of the Scooter craze of the sixties, but was this a mistake. Triumph renown was for it's motorcycles and it should have stayed with them, spending their development budget on beating the oncoming deluge from Japan instead of this lame duck. The scooter design was common enough based around a steel pressed spine, and even the engine and rear wheel transmission unit was a fairly common layout as used on the Lambretta's of the day. The drive train was innovative and instead of a gear box, a infinitely variable belt system was used, based around a pulley which was built in two halves and was forced together by three large ball bearings rising up a ramp device under the effect of centrifugal force. This worked well, but it was the 2-stroke engine that did not. I spent hours kicking it over as you could not bump start it. The spark plug used to foul up and was a bitch to change or clean. There was a switch for starting mode so that the drive unit did not engage when the engine was started. The front suspension was adequate using rubber elements, while the rear used a single spring & damper unit. The seat formed the fuel tank which gave a reasonable range. As a nine stone teenage weakling there was sufficient power one-up. Forget carrying a passenger though, it was not up to it. The ride was comfortable and the brakes were good enough for the amount of speed that you could wring out of it.
Triumph Tina Engine Unit
Triumph Tina Frame Members
The last 30 odd years has softened the image and experience. I have seen a few in the passed few years and nostalgia takes over, but fortunately common sense keeps me from buying one. I would say that this is a collectors piece, but not a regular ride.
BRIEF SPECIFICATIONEngine Capacity 100cc
Valve Mechanism 2-stroke single
Fuel Consumption 100 mpg
Top Speed 45 mph
Dry Weight 143lbs
Transmission Automatic V-Belt
Electric's 6 Volt