A tale of 2 Triumphs

Triumph T10 (Tina)

Those that have followed our buying British campaign will know that, about 4 months ago, I bought a new Triumph Explorer motorcycle. However, I also own another Triumph and have done for about 3 years. My other ‘iron horse’ is a little known 1960’s Triumph scooter called a T10 (originally called a Tina). In the 3 years that I have owned this 99cc beast I have been tinkering with her on and off (mostly off) trying to get  her back on the road.

The reason I mention this little scooter is because the two bikes I now own epitomise Britain’s engineering  at the times that they were made. The Triumph Tina was developed in the early swinging 60’s as a proposed antidote to the burgeoning cool of the Italian Vespa’s and Lambretta’s flooding the U.K market at the time. It launched tp a flood of publicity and at great expense, which included a campaign fronted by non other than Cliff Richard. Basically Triumph invested every penny they had in bringing it to market but in their eagerness to beat the Italians at their own game they had one issue… it did not work.

I am sorry to say that the Triumph Tina rolled off the production line with an innovative, but deadly, new automatic clutch. This newly patented, British engineered part had a tendency to seize unexpected at speed. This resulted in numerous magazine test riders and members of Joe Public being thrown off their seats. This lead to an extensive product recall that cost Triumph dearly. They tried in vain to relaunch the Tina two years later as the T10 (the one that I have). Firstly to correct the clutch issues and secondly to rebrand it – the Triumph brand had become a bit of a laughing stock for producing the female-orientated scooter. But this remedial action came a little too late and the Triumph T10 and it’s failure could likely be blamed for sending the firm into administration.

Throughout the 1960’s, 1970’s and 1980’s Britain produced swathes of poorly constructed vehicles, the legacy of which arguably tarnished the reputation of our engineering sector until very recently. Britain now now produces more cars than Germany and is second only to France in the league of European car production. Britain’s engineering has bounced back but sadly not quick enough to keep many of the well know British brands under U.K. ownership.

triumph-tiger-explorer-1Thankfully though the Triumph brand has endured. Despite a tumultuous recent history, they are stronger than ever and they certainly deserve their current position as market leaders for motorcycles. My Triumph Explorer has the most outstanding build quality of any bike I have owned (which is a lot!!!). In fact this particular model boast 10,000 miles between services, which is one one of the main reasons that I went for this model. The company that built my Explorer is certainly a different animal to that which built the T10 50 years ago. Triumph’s future as a British brand is strong and they fly the flag well for British engineering across the globe.

However, if there is one way in which my little T10 wins over the monsterous 1200cc Explorer it is in it’s charm. The T10 has bags of character and is totally lovable. But they both have their place in my garage; one as a useful and reliable tool the other as a quirky but beautiful machine… that is destined hurt me.

As an aside: when I first bought my T10, as a whim, of Ebay 3 years ago I found no information online about these little scoots. So, I built and now manage the worlds first and now biggest (because there is only one) website and forum dedicated to Triumph scooters – www.triumphscooters.co.uk. This forum now boasts members from around the globe and, in 3 years, has helped preserve 100’s of the scooters from the scrap heap. I am proud to say that this site that I created is helping to preserve an important piece of British engineering history.

– James


  1. Angela Harding says

    Really enjoyed this blog …I always had a soft spot for Triumph before the ‘Tina’ I think of Tigers!!! thanks Ange

  2. Aside from the clutch I seem to recall the scooter bit was somewhat superior to the imported jobs. Not so reliant on pressed tin!

  3. david Kneale says

    which years model were recalled? i have a 65 Tina.Somebody mentioned a problem if the bie was rolled backwords it could fire up! any truth in that?

    • Hi David – I have not heard that about them firing up when rolled backwards. I does not make much sense that it would do that. Some of the early Tinas (not T10’s) were recalled due to the auto clutch jamming. The early models had round weights which would stick and throw the rider off. They were exchanged for triangular shaped weights. I would check which you have before riding it.

      • John saltmarshe says

        I had a Triumph t10 1965 scooter bought new from kings of Oxford in Leeds.It had endless problems and the Auto clutch did jam at top speed very nearly throwing me off.Triumph tried to say it had not been serviced even though it was only 4 months old and had done less than 2000 miles.Under warranty it needed a new flywheel magneto,and had a leaking petrol tank replaced.Nevertheless when running it was very smooth and sweet and handled nicely.50 years later I confess to having a soft spot for it,although it did persuade me to change it for a Bsa Bantam!!

Leave a Reply

Visit Us On TwitterVisit Us On FacebookVisit Us On PinterestVisit Us On YoutubeVisit Us On LinkedinCheck Our Feed