|The motor with probably the best performance and tuning capability in the 1960's was the Triumph twin designed by Edward Turner, in the twin carb 650cc T120R version used in the Bonneville. However the Cognoscenti knew that the Triumph had its handling problems. "Handles like a pregnant camel with a hinge in the middle!" was a complaint aired in one of the Link magazines readers' letters. The best-handling frame of the day was the famous "Featherbed" Norton, used for the Manx, the ES2, the Domi 88, 99 and 650SS. However, the Norton engine was generally not as reliable or tunable as the T120R, Paul Dunstall's machines being the exception that proved the rule. So the bright lads with some engineering capability decided to combine the best of two worlds :-) The photo on the left shows Jupp Jathes' Triton, still magnificent, even in 1999.|
|The result of transplanting the Triumph motor into the Norton Featherbed frame was the Triton, the best-handling reliable and (relatively) oil-tight cafe-racer around and the subject of much admiration. The Ace Cafe and the 59-club hosted many Tritons, no two of which were identical. Each was the expression of what the individual builder thought was the best of both worlds, and I never saw one which appeared to be built on a limited budget ;-) The photo on the right shows a very clean and tidy example, with open meggas for the road!, which I photographed in Peel (I.O.M) in 1995.|
All of the Tritons I ever rode had the magnificent handling of the
Featherbed Norton, but could rev their motors higher (thanks to E3134 cams) and
considerably more reliably than a 650SS Norton motor. They were, and still
are, a JOY to ride, as demonstrated here by 4-year old Michael Gockel.
His father "Triton"-Paule rode this one to victory in a 1998 vintage
race at the Nuerburgring, trouncing such worthy opponents as G50 Matchless
and a number of Manx Nortons.
Such was the popularity of these machines, that they were even assembled commercially, for example by Dresda. This was done for those riders with a big wallet but either no time or insufficient engineering ability to build their own Triton. You can still buy a Triton today, in concours condition, from Dresda. Of course, you should really build your Triton youself, and there are instructions on how to build your own Triton even nowadays, on the web of course.
The Triumph motor was a favoured object for tuners. Small shops produced 4-valve heads, to allow increased revs via lighter valves thus avoiding the problem of valve-bounce. Weslake produced a good cylinder head here. Probably the most important modification was the Morgo oil pump, which more than doubled the throughput and increased reliability no end.
Years later, people were putting the Commando engine, preferably in Combat tune, into the Featherbed frame, giving a Norton Atlas. But I still prefer the Triton!