1970 Triumph T100C (Driving pleasure, Limey style)
In the summer of 2013 things were going along nicely: RetroTours were running near capacity and I began to think about adding another British bike to the fleet. There were some interesting 650’s and 750’s around but money was tight during the recession and the high prices being asked for the big British twins put them out of my reach. I had become enthralled with half liter bikes at around that time and started looking instead at 500 Triumph twins on ebay. You know, just to suss out the market. Of course they were cheaper than 650’s but not really all that much cheaper. Asking prices for decent 500 Daytonas, Tigers and Trophies were beyond budgetary constraints and selling prices seemed too close to the high prices being commanded by 650’s. For many weeks I just watched. Then I found a listing for a 1970 T100C with a very reasonable opening bid.
It was the sort of listing that I look for. The photos were not very flattering since no front tire was fitted; it was rolling on the bare rim. Also the paint was dull and the description was very brief and to the point. The machine looked close to complete but it hadn’t run in years and the original very cool scrambler pipes were gone. Down pipes and Daytona mufflers were installed in their place. I contacted the seller and asked for a compression check and he quickly responded: 140+ psi on each side. I started to get a good feeling about the bike plus, it was close enough that I could pick it up myself and not incur shipping expenses. I put in one low bid which I was sure would not be enough to win the auction. I think you can guess what happened next; I was the high bidder.
The bike was located on the North Jersey Shore and Lynn and I made a day of it in the borrowed company pick up. The seller was an interesting gentleman with a number of interesting old bikes and cars in his barn. The T100C was together but it looked like someone had done a ‘dry build’: everything was in its place but all the nuts and bolts were just finger tight. A few minor bits were missing but soon located thanks to the power of the internet. As I was cleaning and tightening components I found New Jersey sand packed into hidden nooks and crannies: this bike has seen off road time in the Pine Barrens, probably way back in the 70’s. COOL!
Only a few hours were needed to clean out the single carburetor and set up the ignition system and just like that I had a runner. Once I was sure the motor and transmission were in order I overhauled the front and rear brakes. For some reason an 18” front rim had been installed in place of the original 19” hoop but I decided to leave that for the time being and concentrated instead on replacing the swing arm bushings, the steering head bearings, the fork seals and the battery.
With about 30 hours of labor invested I had my economical T100C ready for a RetroTour and she successfully completed three tours in 2013. Overall the people who rode the bike were impressed and I must agree with period testers who claimed that the 500 was nearly as fast as the 650 but noticeably smoother and more nimble, and in some ways more enjoyable. Sometimes less is more! Before next season I plan to shore up some oil leaks, change to taller gearing and perform a few other minor upgrades but I am pleased to have this enjoyable bike in the RetroTours fleet and I hope you will join us soon to experience Fahrvegnugen, Limey style.