Triumph Tiger Cub

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Triumph Tiger Cub
Triumph Tiger Cub 200 T20.jpg
Manufacturer Triumph Engineering Co Ltd
Parent company Birmingham Small Arms Company
Production 1954-1956
Predecessor Triumph T15 Terrier
Engine 199 cc (12.1 cu in) single cylinder OHV, four-stroke, alloy head, Amal Monobloc carburettor, earliest Amal 332 1954-57 or Zenith 17MXZ/CS5 1958-61[1][2]
Bore / stroke T20 63x64mm, T15 57x58.5mm
Compression ratio T20 Sports 9:1, T20 and T15 7:1[3]
Top speed T20S 74 mph (119 km/h),[2] T20 66 mph (106 km/h) (as tested, averaged)[4]
Power T20S 14.5 bhp (10.8 kW) (claimed) @ 6500rpm
T20 10 bhp (7.5 kW) (claimed) @ 6000rpm
T15 8 bhp (6.0 kW)[3]
Transmission 4-speed manual gearbox to chain drive
Brakes 112mm (5.5 inches) front, 112mm (5.5 inches) rear
Tires 3.00x19 1954/55, 3.00x16 1956/65, 3.00x18 from 1966[1][4]
Wheelbase 49 in (1,200 mm)
Fuel capacity 3 Imperial gallons
Oil capacity oil tank 2.5 pints, gearbox 1/3 pint (200 cc), chaincase 1/2 pint (300 cc)[3]

The Triumph Tiger Cub was a 200 cc (12 cu in) single-cylinder British motorcycle made by Triumph Motorcycles at their Meriden factory. Based on the Triumph T15 Terrier 150 cc, itself a surprise announcement just before the 1952 show,[2] the 200 cc T20 Tiger Cub designed by Edward Turner and launched at the Earls Court show in November 1953[5] competed well against the other small-capacity motorcycles of the time, such as those using Villiers two-stroke engines.


Triumph Terrier T15 150 cc with plunger rear suspension and contact breaker points behind cylinder

The first T20 Tiger Cub (1954-1956) was derived from the 150 cc Triumph T15 Terrier (1953-1956) with the same frame and forks.[1][2]

The earlier version of the Cub used the Terrier's plunger rear suspension frame, but from 1957 this was updated to a more-modern pattern of rear swinging-arm with twin suspension units.[2] The ignition points were positioned in a 'distributor'-type device on the crankcase behind the cylinder.[6] A later development in 1963 was to site the points at a more conventional location on the end of the camshaft, accessed via a chrome cover below the base of the cylinder.[2]

The Sports Cub designated T20SH featured slimline mudguards, no rear panelling or headlamp nacelle and with a higher compression ratio and other engine modifications was timed at 74 mph mean maximum by Motor Cycle magazine.[2]

Off-road versions produced with high level exhaust, altered suspension and studded tyres, were designated TS20 Scrambles Cub and TR20 Trials Cub.[7][2]

The last model made was the T20 Super Cub, which, for economy of production cost,[8] used a basic frame and other parts common to the BSA Bantam D10 including larger diameter wheels with full-width hubs.[4] Launched in November 1966, it was discontinued in 1968,[9] being briefly replaced by the 250cc TR25W 'Trophy', based on BSA's B25 'Starfire'.

Unloved design features[edit]

The top frame tube of the Tiger Cub was lower than normal, leaving the headstock poorly supported. Some rigidity was recovered by internal bracing of the petrol tank. A plain bearing on the timing side main bearing sometimes wore rapidly.[10] The primary chain ran in a shallow oil-bath but if the level dropped, the chain could suffer lubrication failure and stretch. The chain was not tensioned - and even worse, the primary chain case on early models was a slightly 'waisted' shape. A worn chain could strike both the inside of the cover and the crankcase itself, making the oil-level even more difficult to maintain in the future. Another common complaint was that the Cub would travel at highway speed (50 mph) for 1/2 hour and then stop unexpectedly. Some attributed this to overheating, but a cure was never found.[11]

Legislative boost[edit]

In 1961, the driving licence law for Triumph's home market in Great Britain was changed, restricting learner motorcyclists to a maximum of 250cc.[12] The Tiger Cub became one of the most popular ways of getting onto two wheels.[citation needed]


  1. ^ a b c Motor Cycle Data Book, Newnes, 1960. p.80, p.154
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h Motor Cycle, 30 July 1964. Readers report on Triumph Tiger Cub. "The Cub's ancestry dates back almost 12 years—to November 1952 when Triumphs introduced a "stimulating, last minute eve-of-show surprise", the 149 cc Terrier. This was followed, a year later, by the first of the Tiger Cubs, with a 199 cc engine in the Terrier's plunger-sprung frame. Here we are dealing only with Cubs from 1957 onwards, when the pivoted-fork model was introduced." Accessed 2014-01-29
  3. ^ a b c Motorcycle Mechanics (magazine), March 1972, p.30. Engine analysis: Triumph Cub Accessed 2014-02-06
  4. ^ a b c Motor Cycle, 9 March 1967. Super Cub road test Accessed 2014-01-28
  5. ^ Motor Cycle, 9 March 1967. Super Cub road test. "Baby brother, sizewise, of the Triumph family, the Cub has been with us now for just over 13 years". Accessed 2014-01-28
  6. ^ Motorcycle Mechanics (magazine), October 1967, p.52. Spark Sense: "Owners of the Triumph Cub or BSA C15 often write into us about routine maintenance of the contact breaker unit (or distributor as it is commonly miscalled)". Accessed 2014-03-10
  7. ^ The Motor Cycle, 15 March 1962. "Quickest way to the top! The new Trials Cub. The new Cub Scambler". Accessed and added 2014-08-08
  8. ^ Motor Cycle, 9 March 1967. Super Cub road test. "One of the ways in which the cost has been kept down is by using a similar frame for the Cub and the BSA Bantam". Accessed 2014-01-28
  9. ^ Kemp, Andrew; De Cet (2004). Classic British Bikes. Mirco. Bookmart Ltd. ISBN 1-86147-136-X. 
  10. ^ Estall, Mike. The Triumph Tiger Cub Bible. Veloce Publishing. ISBN 978-1-904788-09-6. 
  11. ^ Estall, Mike. The Triumph Tiger Cub Bible. Veloce Publishing. p. 110. ISBN 978-1-904788-09-6. 
  12. ^ [1] UK Government History of road safety, the highway code and the driving test, section 3.19 Retrieved 2014-02-09

External links[edit]