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Bike of the Month
June 2024
1956 Triumph Tiger T110
By Mike Menezes

It was early spring of 1997 when I met an older gentleman while visiting a mutual friend. Over lunch we talked motorcycles and he mentioned the old Triumph sitting in his garage. He bought it new in 1956 but hadn’t ridden in years due to his declining health. Having owned a few Triumphs in my day I just had to check it out.  So there it sat in a dark corner covered in years of dust and dirt sitting directly over a good sized oil spot and right beside an equally neglected 1967 427 Corvette convertible, but that’s another story.


There I was hovering over a one owner 1956 Triumph T110 aluminum head 650! The original metal nacelle was long gone. On top sat an aftermarket 1 ½ gallon peanut tank that was half full of stinky old gas and painted in faded 70’s metallic green. The seat was falling apart at the seams and both tires were flat. A front end from a 1969 model was fitted to the neck with makeshift stops, a Bates headlight, no front fender and a homemade dashboard. The icing on the cake was a set of ape hangers and JC Whitney bobber style mufflers. While I’m taking this all in my new friend looks at me and asks if I wanted the bike…..Heck Yeah!! I exclaimed and he handed me the original 1956 pink slip with no money changing hands.


He told me the story of how the bike was stolen in 1969 by a young kid who rode it from Thousand Oaks to Victorville apparently to score some illicit drugs but ended up T-boning a car instead. The kid survived but the bike needed a complete front end plus a gas tank and mufflers. None of these items were readily available at the time for this model, so with help from the local dealer he did what he had to do.


I took it home that day and got to work. I had a used Sportster tank and Corbin seat in my parts inventory that kind of worked, and then found a front fender and OEM handlebar at a local British shop. It took a few weekends to clean it up and get it back in one piece. After lots of kicking and bad words I got it running good enough to ride the 10 miles back to his house where we celebrated with a beer, lots of smiles and a commemorative photo. That photo ended up on page 76 of the July 98 20th Anniversary issue of IN THE WIND magazine adjacent to an attractive bare breasted young blonde, but that’s another story.


A few years later our friend passed away so in his memory I had a laser etched badge made which I attached to the right headlight mount. Back in 2019 he would have turned 100 years old. For sentimental reasons I could never sell this bike and occasionally while riding on a scenic backroad I’ll reflect on how it came to be under my care. May he rest in peace.

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