Showing posts sorted by relevance for query Triumph tiger. Sort by date Show all posts
Showing posts sorted by relevance for query Triumph tiger. Sort by date Show all posts

Friday 15 April 2016

Triumph Tiger History

First gen Tiger from the late '30s
I've been finding out the history of Triumph Tigers from various places on the interwebs. The first Tigers were born just before World War 2 and were quickly put on hold when the war started. With rigid rear frames and girder front suspensions, these were 1930s bikes in every sense.

Tigers followed the steady evolution in motorbike technology throughout the Twentieth Century, and also followed some rather silly styling trends, like shrouding the mechanicals in 1950s aero inspired nonsense.

'69 Tiger made in the UK the same
year I was!  Nice high pipes!

Pam Anderson riding
a Tiger!
Things get interesting again in the 1960s, with late '60s Tigers, along with the British motorcycle industry in general reaching a zenith before being crushed by their own weight and a lithe, hungry wave of Japanese imports.

Through the long, dark tea time of the soul in the '70s and '80s (and while my parents and thousands of others fled the country) Triumph went down in flames along with much of British manufacturing.  In '83 John Bloor, a building contractor who was looking into the purchase of the derelict Triumph factory to build more homes ended up buying the brand.  After sitting on it for a while he rebooted it and built a new factory.  

It's one of the best examples of British manufacturing rising out of the ashes of old money and old ideas and embracing a more effective approach to manufacturing.  Without the conservative  establishments of aristocratic ownership and unionized labour Bloor was able to reignite British engineering and give it chance to shine again.  You might think that it isn't properly British if it isn't mired in limited social mobility and the kind of Kafka-esque bureaucracy that makes building something well next to impossible, but that was only a moment in Twentieth Century British history and doesn't speak to the engineering prowess of our little island.

After Triumph rebooted in the early '90s, the Tiger reappeared in '93 during the second wave of model introductions.  An early example of what came to be known as adventure bikes, the Tiger was a tall, long suspension, multi-purpose machine running a three cylinder engine.  

Having tapped into this trend while it was still only popular in continental Europe, Triumph's Tiger line has been a key part of their brand for the past twenty plus years.  If asked what bike I'd want to take around the world tomorrow, the Tiger Explorer is at the top of the list.

Tigers have been around, in one form or another, since before World War Two.  I'm looking forward to getting to know the one I found this month.


Monday 23 May 2016

Tiger Chains & Parts

Top gear at 4000rpm has me going
about 100km/hr, so it looks like I have
stock sprockets on the Tiger.
A one tooth more relaxed front sprocket
knocks a couple of hundred RPM off
the bike at 100km/hr and takes the
edginess off low speed throttle.

Chain & Agony: The Return

Now that I'm off a shaft driven bike, I'm back into the black magic that is chain geometry!  A trip to Gearing Commander has me working out the details of an '03 Triumph Tiger 955i's chain and sprockets.  The stock set is a 18T (eighteen tooth) front sprocket and a 46T (forty-six tooth) rear sprocket.  The chain is a 530-50 114.

A number of riders suggested a 19T (nineteen tooth) front sprocket to calm the bike down a bit.  The chain and sprockets are happy right now, but when it finally comes to a change, I think I'll go the 19T way.  Motorbike sprockets run backwards from bicycle ones - the smaller sprocket is attached to the engine, so the more teeth, the bigger the gearing.


The 530 114 chain on the Tiger has a pitch of 5/8 of an inch (the 5 is 5 x ⅛" - a 4 series chain would be 4 x ⅛" or half an inch of pitch).  Five-eighths pitch chains have a  roller diameter of 0.400".    The 30 part of the 530 refers to roller width, which in this case is 3 x  ⅛" or 3/8th of an inch.  A 520 chain would have a roller width of 2 x ⅛", or a quarter of an inch.  If you want to understand chain sizes, get a handle on that rule of 8 (all the numbers refer to eighths of an inch).
The 114 refers to the number of links in the chain (its length).

How to change a chain on a Tiger (video)
Triumph Tiger 955i parts list

<- 520 and 530 chains & sprockets widths compared

Tiger Changes of Oil

A fifty dollar US ($300CDN) magnetic
oil drain plug.
Triumph magnetic oil drain plugs.
(that's a metric 14mm width, 1.5mm distance between the threads, 16 mm long drain plug).

Entertaining Triumph oil drain plug banter (and the idea to put hard drive magnets on your oil filter, which is what I'm doing instead of ordering an expensive custom drain plug from The States).

The Tiger has been using a bit of oil (which is evidently within spec) but I don't know what the previous owner's mechanic put in it - putting in not Mobil 1 Synthetic (which Triumph states is the preferred oil) would be a great way to make money on an oil change.  If I swap in the good stuff, then I know what's in it.

I'm also putting on a K&N oil filter with a higher spec than the stock one and putting a couple of hard drive magnets on the bottom of it to catch any metal shavings dancing around in there.

I did the oil change yesterday. I've done thousands of oil changes (it put me through university).  If that oil was changed last fall I'm a monkey's uncle.  The Triumph filter on it had rust on it, the drain plug didn't look like it had been taken off any time recently.  Either the previous owner didn't do it, or his mechanic lied to him.  The oil was black and punky too, looking like it had been in there a long time.

With that all done I'll now look to see how much oil I'm missing every thousand kilometres (it's 3-400ml at the moment - but goodness knows what was in it or for how long).  The moral here is change the oil when you buy a used bike - you can't trust what happened before it was yours and oil is vital to keeping an engine running well.  I'm looking forward to seeing what new, correct oil does for the bike moving forward.

Other than keeping it shiny and lubricating cables and controls, there isn't much more needs doing.

It's supposed to be a beautiful long weekend.  I'm hoping to get out for some time on my very orange Tiger in my very orange Tiger shirt.

Tuesday 22 December 2020

Triumph Tiger 955i Steering Column/Triple Tree Maintenance

I finally got the top clamp of the 2003 Triumph Tiger's steering column off yesterday.  After undoing everything it did not let go of its own volition and I had to apply some heat to the central spindle and top clamp housing to let loose.  Nothing crazy, just grazing it with a propane torch until it warmed up nicely (nothing glowing) and then I was able to spin the top clamp in relation to the centre steering pin (the forks are out).

With the top clamp rotating (if it has been sitting in your Tiger for a while don't expect it to be loose), I was eventually able to persuade it upwards off the centre spindle with a rubber mallet.  The top clamp came off and the two nuts that hold the centre rod in place were accessible (they're visible but inaccessible under the handlebars usually).  For a 17 year old bike with over 80k kms on it nothing about these difficulties came as a surprise.

Those locking nuts are big'uns, 38mm!  The long centre post they're on means you're going to have a tricky time getting a ratchet on them (38mm long socket?).  They aren't tight though and I was able to loosen them with an adjustable wrench.

I supported the triple tree (the bottom half of the steering structure) with one hand while undoing the nuts but the bottom end didn't fall out - it's a snug enough fit and what grease was left in there was holding everything together.  A gentle tap on the centre spindle and it all came out the bottom smoothly though.  I don't know the last time anyone was in there, but I've had the Tiger for almost 4 years and thirty thousand kilometres so it was high time I got in there myself.  Judging by the stingy amount of grease in there I'd guess no one has done the steering on the Tiger before (factories are famous for being stingy on grease when manufacturing bikes).

The bearings still had some grease on them (the brown/grey stuff is grease), but not much.  No one's been in there recently:

... once I cleaned it up the bearings were in good shape and turned freely:

... even the tube that holds the steering column is nice and rust free.  After a good cleanup I reassembled everything with a liberal greasing using the Mobil HP222 stuff Triumph suggests.

That Mobil XHP 222 grease is what Triumph recommends.  I found it on Amazon.

Here are some torque settings for a 955i Triumph Tiger's steering system:

Triumph Tiger 955i Steering Torque Settings:

  • Steering Stem Nut:  65Nm (50 ft/lbs)
  • Fork clamp bolts (top yoke):  20Nm (14.75 ft/lbs)
  • Handlebar clamp bolts:  26Nm (19.2 ft/lbs)
note: there is no torque setting on the two nuts that lock together under the handlebar.  The directions I'm following say to hand tighten the top nut, then tighten it down a bit more to seat the bearings, then back it off a touch.  You then lock the second nut to the first.  The idea is to seat the bearings and keep everything a set distance apart so the bearings spin freely. Making them too tight will make for stiff steering and will wear your bearings out sooner.

Some other points of interest are these bolts that hold the horn and front brake lines onto the triple tree.  They're a bugger to take off and were another part that needed some heat to get moving.

The other complication that I should probably look at as a benefit is discovering worn wiring and cabling.  The back of the clutch cable and the ignition wiring are both wearing through and would have ended up causing annoying problems down the line, but I can resolve them as part of this maintenance pretty easily.  I'm going to slip some heat shrink electrical cover over both breaks and heal them up before they become a problem.

Next steps will be to reinstall a shock to line up the triple tree with the top clamp and then do the fork oil.  Once the shocks are serviced, I'll put the whole shebang back together again and turn to the back end where I've got to work my way through a swingarm removal and rear suspension service before putting that all back together.  I hope that goes as well as this with all the parts still being serviceable.  Trying to get parts in during COVID19 isn't always a sure thing.

It's coming up on Xmas here, so if I can have all that done by the end of February I'll be in good shape for the coming riding season.

Other big-spa checklist items on the Tiger are:  a coolant change, new brake lines and brake fluid changes and another look at the fuel injection system to see if I can clean the injectors and balance them better.  My work in the summer solved the stalling issue, but the bike feels a bit sluggish, though that might be because it's being compared to a Fireblade.

An old bike that I run high mileage on it means lots of work to do while the snow falls outside.  In this winter of our Covid-discontent it's good to have a lot of things to do in the garage so I don't go cabin crazy.

Possible needed-things list:
Triumph's 'thin wrench' is a basic
thing that seems astonishingly
for what it is.  DIY is
a possible alternative.

  • A narrow angle adjustable wrench:  CT has one that goes up to 3 inches (76mm, so it'll handle the 38mm locking nut).  I'm hoping my narrow angle vice grip will hold the bottom nut while I tighten the top one.You'd need the Triumph special thin spanner tool T3880140 for adjusting it with the handlebars installed, but I'm hoping I can sort it out while I'm in there and not need it.  Paying $60 odd dollars for a bit of machined steel is a bit rich.  I suspect I could get our metal-shop teacher at work to fabricate me a couple of them for nothing (I fix his computers for him so it's a barter exchange).
  • big enough electrical heat-shrink to cover the clutch cable rub through.  I think I have it and I don't want to use tape as it looks half assed.

Sunday 22 July 2018

Triumph ATLAK Meet Up

The day after my Kawartha Highlands Loop I made my way north into the fancy cottage country of the Muskokas looking for Triumph's ATLAK tour Southern Ontario stop.  It says Toronto on the poster, but Torrance is over two hours and two hundred kilometres north of that.  

A chance to ride the new Tigers was very enticing so I set off with high expectations.  I'd filled up on the way in to the cottage two days earlier then done the big loop around the Kawarthas the day before.  Just after 11am I set out on hot, July Saturday with the gas gauge just above the empty bar figuring I'd fill up when I came across a gas station on the 140+kms ride up there.

From near Bobcaygeon I made my way through Kinmount and Norland on the twisty Monck Road/County Road 45.  Still no gas in sight, but I was having a good time with the light and frisky Tiger.  By the time I headed north on the 169 past Casino Rama I was astonished that I wasn't stranded yet, and the fuel light still hadn't made an appearance.  I was through Washago and onto Gasoline Alley on Highway 11 and still nothing, but if I ran out of gas on Gasoline Alley it would have made a good story.

I finally pulled into a Shell on the side of the highway just past noon, still with no warning light on.  The 24 litre tank took just over 22 litres, so I still had some wiggle room.  At about 460 kms on 22 litres of fuel, the Tiger, with 250lb me and two panniers with tools and rain gear in them managed over 49 miles per gallon (4.8 litres per 100kms), that's within one mile per gallon of a Prius, and I wasn't riding it gently.  I'm not sure how much fun driving a Prius is, but it's never doing 0-60 in four seconds like the Tiger had been, and the Tiger isn't a black hole of resource production in its manufacture.

I pulled into Clear Lake Brewery in Torrance, just west of Gravenhurst, at about 1:30pm.  I'd missed lunch, but wanted to get there early and get signed in.  There in lay my only mistake on this trip.  I'd foolishly assumed that Triumph turning up with a bunch of Tigers would mean an opportunity to ride them.  I'd done this with Kawasaki previously, so it didn't seem like a crazy idea, and with details like, "Come spend a day at an event highlighting Triumph’s dynamic new ADV bikes – the class-leading Tiger 800 and technical juggernaut Tiger 1200.  Register today for an adventure of epic proportions. can you feel my confusion?  Surely an epic adventure implies an opportunity to ride, no?

After milling around for an hour and half in alternating patchy rain and then extreme humidity while watching Clinton Smout disappear on a variety of different Tigers, I was starting to wonder if I'd misunderstood the intent of this event.  A microphone was set up, but no one was using it.  We'd been handed out wrist bands and a swag bag of Tiger stuff, which was cool, but I was still waiting for someone to pick up that mic and start the thing.  A few people commented on my old Tiger (the oldest there by a decade, easily), but for the most part the majority of people showed up in like new, matching, name brand adventure wear on twenty grand, low mileage bikes and walked right by it.  They seemed happy to stand around talking a good ride, but that isn't my thing.

It was the last weekend of the World Cup on a summer weekend, so the Brewery was packed with people.  Trying to get a table, let alone something to eat (evidently what our wrist bands were for) wasn't likely without a big wait.  I finally overheard one of the organizers say, "it's just a meet and greet with a chance to see the new Tigers and talk about riding opportunities in the area."  The "epic adventure" was a show and tell?  After hearing this I was back at my Tiger in seconds getting packed up.

So close yet so far!
Before I left I figured I'd get some Clear Lake Brewery beer having never heard of it before, but the fridge in the entrance  was empty.  A quick trip  to the toilet and I was ready to make some tracks.  Someone had parked in front of me, but I backed the Tiger up the hill by the handlebars and saddled up.  Getting some Triumph swag and looking at the new Tigers was nice and all, but it wasn't what I thought I was doing that day.  I'm not a big fan of sitting around talking about motorcycles, I prefer to be riding them.

On the way in I'd noticed Muskoka District Road 13 cutting south around the lakes and rocks of the Canadian Shield out of Torrance.  It was well past 3pm and I hadn't eaten anything since that morning, but I knew steak was waiting for me at the cottage so I figured I'd just push on.  13 is a roller-coaster of a thing and a delight to ride.  Like all Ontario roads, some parts of it are so rough you're better off on a long suspension bike just to get over it, but other parts were smooth and very entertaining.  If you're in the area it's well worth the ride.  There's me talking about nice rides in the area for ya.

The highway portion of the ride was only about one exit long and I was back in Washago before I knew it.  I stopped at the massive LCBO off the highway (probably there thanks to Casino Rama being nearby) and finally got some beer, then retraced my route back out of Muskoka and across the Kawartha Lakes, this time with a full tank and no anxiety.  I ended up stopping once in Norland for a fruit filled tart and a small coffee before finishing the ride into the woods and back to the family cottage.

I've got no regrets in making the ride up to Torrance.  It was cool to see the new bikes but baffling to not get to ride them (unless you're Clinton Smout).  The ride up and back was entertaining and the Tiger hat is one of my son's favorites now, so that's a win.  Knowing then what I know now, I'd still probably have made the trip up there anyway, but it sure would have been nice to see how Triumph Tiger state of the art had moved along in the fifteen years since my bike came off the production line.

Sometimes it's the expectations that let you down rather than the thing itself.

Some photos from ATLAK:

The kit on hand had nice details like waterproof zips and looked like it would vent well.  None to try on though...

Toronto in a Toronto is really all of Ontario kind of way.  Torrance is over 200kms north of it...

... and from the ride back down Muskoka Regional Road 13 and home:

About to go flip the Roof's chin and go full face down on Gasoline Alley...
Muskoka Road 13 is a treat, but a bit rough in places.

Norland for a tart and some coffee...

2003 Triumph Tiger 955i Fuel Mileage Details:
22 Litre fill up - still 2 litres in the tank.
Gas mileage is: 21.14 kilometers per liter, 4.73 liters per 100 kilometers, or 49.72 miles per gallon.
Distance traveled since last time is: 465 kilometers. ~49.72mpg...