When you hear the name “Triumph,” the first thing that springs to mind is most likely motorcycles.
But in the 1950s and the 1960s, you could buy Triumph scooters designed by none other than Edward Turner.
If you didn’t know, that’s the same man who designed many other Triumph motorcycles – including the aforementioned T6 Thunderbird).
In this post, we’ll talk about these Triumph scooters and some of their exciting quirks.
Also sold as a rebadged BSA Sunbeam, Triumph first displayed a prototype of the Tigress at the 1958 Earl’s Court Cycle and Motorcycle Show. Then, one year later, it officially entered production.
The scooter was available both as a 250cc four-stroke and a 175cc two-stroke.
The two-stroke model used a remodelled version of the BSA Bantam engine, while the four-stroke models had an entirely own engine.
But even though it sold well, the Tigress suffered from poor build quality, reflected in the following statement:
It [the Tigress] is a joy to own, so long as someone else is paying the repair bills”
Because of these build quality issues, Triumph discontinued the 250cc Tigress in 1964, and in 1965, the two-stroke 175cc model met the same fate.
A few years later, in 1962, Triumph Tina made its debut.
Primarily marketed towards women, the Tina featured a 100c two-stroke engine, a CVT transmission, and a carry basket that could be mounted to the handlebar.
The latter was purely intentional since Triumph intended it to be a “shopping basket vehicle” that was easy to ride.
Despite this, the Tina scooter sold poorly and was plagued by mechanical issues – particularly for its drivetrain.
It wasn’t rare for the CVT belt to slip off, which often caused the entire transmission to seize up, disabling the scooter completely.
Also, the scooter’s special drive switch would cause instant acceleration if it was set to “on” when you started the scooter.
This could cause an accident – one that didn’t even spare Edward Turner.
At one point, Mr. Turner had a mishap with the starter motor, which caused him to crash into a curb and break one of his ankles.
In 1965, Triumph introduced the T10 – which was essentially a redesigned Tina.
Despite this, it had a few interesting features – such as how the “drive” setting activated automatically as soon as the rider sat on it.
This switch was innovative but also caused an infamously embarrassing incident during its press launch.
What happened was that the aforementioned drive setting had not been adjusted for the test rider, who weighed less than the current weight setting.
So when she sat on the scooter seat, the engine didn’t turn on.
In The End…What Happened to the Triumph Scooters?
None of these Triumph scooters were particularly successful and didn’t cause Piaggio to hold any emergency meetings.
After the T10 was discontinued in 1970, Triumph stopped making scooters and focused on what they knew best – motorcycles.