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1981 650 Triumph Thunderbird

1981 650 Triumph Thunderbird

Postby ashman » Mon Jan 09, 2017 5:09 pm

One of the best motorcycle I have ever owned and to this day sorry I ever sold it, in 1982 I wanted to buy a new Triumph and was set on a new Bonny but when I walked in the shop as soon as I seen the blue and silver Thunderbird I fell straight in love with it and it was $400 cheaper, it was made for the Amercan market with the pennut blue and silver tank, they also had one of the Euro model that had the bigger tank with a red and black paint job but didn't look as good.
This bike was such a dream to ride, it had the same bore size as the 750 Bonnies but 10mm shorted stroke, single carbie and drum rear brake, it was very light and started first kick every time, I ended up fitting a Joe Hunt maggie to it as I had a few problems with the points set up, yes it didn't come with electronic ignition, I owned. this bike for over 9 years and well over 250,000 ks, it never let me down in all them years, but before I sold it I did a complete top end rebuild, new valves and reboar but didn't look at the bottom end at all, this was a everyday ride, I also done a lot of long distant riding as I was single when I owned it.
Because of the shorter stroke it was so smooth to ride at any speed and it had no problems cruising between 120ks and 140ks all day even two up and with the Joe Hunt maggie was so reliable, the only problem I did have with it was the chrome peeling off the rear rim which got replaced on warranty at the time, when I did any traveling I replaced the small tank with a larger bread box tank that I was given.
I was told that the Thunderbirds there was 5 of them on the production line when they closed up shop when they were having problems, although mine was for the Amercan market they never made it there, I had argument with a local British bike shop once I told him I had a Thunderbird but he told me none ever made it to Australia, I was buying parts for my Norton at the time and I made a bet with him if I go home and bring it up to him and prove him wrong he have to give the parts for nothing, he was so sure of hinself and away I went a hour or so later I walked out of his shop with parts in hand and a big grin on my face, but he kept true to the bet, he asked if I imported it myself but told him I brought it from Morgan and Whackers who were the main Truimph dealers in Brisbane at the time, I also brought my Norton new from them years earlier.
I still have the orginal sales posters when I brought it hanging in my shed beside the sales poster I got with my new Norton at the time and everytime I look at it I wish I still had it, a few years ago I seen one for sale but the 650 motor was replace with a 750 motor, if it would have had the orginal motor I would have brought it.
Just throught I share my memories of that bike, I had a lot of fun on that bike and a lot of adventures.

Ashley

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Re: 1981 650 Triumph Thunderbird

Postby grandpaul » Tue Jan 10, 2017 7:46 am

Only photo I could find as you described it...

Image
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Re: 1981 650 Triumph Thunderbird

Postby auldblue » Wed Jan 11, 2017 2:33 pm

I am pleased you liked your tbird , I tried to buy a yellow/gold one from Les Cooper in April 81 after I had passed my test spent an hour and a half in his office and left about half three in a hurry to milk the cows he did not seem to want to sell me the bike. Spoke to an Irvine boy about four years ago who had a similar story about the same bike only he told him to buy a t160, and he did and still has it.

So maybe I should have been more persistent and bought the bike cos she sure was a beauty.

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But it's roads belong to commando 750's
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Re: 1981 650 Triumph Thunderbird

Postby ashman » Wed Jan 11, 2017 2:44 pm

Thats the one Paul, I have a few old pics of my bike but they are on my old computer which has died on me, it was one of my best bikes I have ever owned, we don't realize how good they were till after we get rid of them, it was my only transport at the time when I was converting my Commando to the Featherbed frame, had no car I used it in all sorts of weather and rode it every day did a lot of 1000 mile runs on it visiting a good mate that move innerstate got married then a few more trips to visit the mate with the wife on the back.

My mate Don who got me into Nortons and Featherbed framed Nortons tryed so hard to get me to sell the motor out of it and was willing to give me a 750 Bonnie motor to replace it, but when Donny wants something he must have had a good reason as he was into building Tritons for racing, I never gave into him of course, it was because of the shorter stroke that he wanted it, when riding up steep climbes it always pulled like a train, it use to surprise a few of my mates when climbing the ranges on their Harlies, the Trumpy pasted them with ease and as soon as we got into the twisties thats where it came into itself and would leave them for dead, it was a very light bike to ride and the only mods on it was koni shocks, short reverse cone mufflers and the Joe Hunt maggie, only rebuilt the carbie once in 9 years and all I did was to replace the needles and jets from wear.

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Re: 1981 650 Triumph Thunderbird

Postby ashman » Mon May 01, 2017 3:18 pm

I have a chance to buy another one its on ebay and have spocken to the owner, no one has put a bid in for it as the price is a bit high, the owner brought it in 1985 and has owned it for 31 years now, but its not the USA model its the UK model but with the same motor, it has a peanut tank on it and is painted black with gold strips, if it don't sell I will be interested as only about 500 were made but not sure if that is true, it also has a Joe Hunt maggie which I like as my old one I had a JH fitted.
I was telling him about my old one and how reliable it was, he said his is the same, starts first kick every time, does a lot of long distant riding and travels and has never missed a beat in the 31 years of riding it, so will be going to check it out in a few days time, I sent him pics of the orginal sales poster I got when I brought it new that shows all the models for 1981 which is framed and hanging in my shed with my orginal Norton sales poster.
The funny thing about this he told me who he brought it off way back in 85 from the orginal owner and its the same person who I worked with for a few year in the late 80s, so maybe this is a good sign that its meant to be in my hands, who knows till I check it out.

Ashley

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Re: 1981 650 Triumph Thunderbird

Postby Tiger Shark » Thu May 04, 2017 1:04 am

Ashley, that is a nice looking machine!!! I have been watching it since it first appeared and he has dropped the price so good luck with it. I have enough Triumph's right now and reserving the last spot in the shed for another Norton. Cheers.

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Re: 1981 650 Triumph Thunderbird

Postby Fast Eddie » Thu May 04, 2017 10:21 am

Tiger Shark wrote:I have enough Triumph's right now and reserving the last spot in the shed for another Norton. Cheers.


That's not possible sir.

What you have is a too small shed...
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Re: 1981 650 Triumph Thunderbird

Postby ashman » Thu May 04, 2017 3:22 pm

Tiger Shark wrote:Ashley, that is a nice looking machine!!! I have been watching it since it first appeared and he has dropped the price so good luck with it. I have enough Triumph's right now and reserving the last spot in the shed for another Norton. Cheers.


I have always regetted selling mine but being retired now I must go easy with my money but I haven't called him since my last call but I am still intrested will give him a call tonight if he still has it, it be worth more money if it was the US model as they never made it to the US at the time when Triumph were having all their troubles, I would always find a place for it in my shed, but when I told my wife about it, well you know what look she had in her eyes, but I always told her from day one my bikes are more important than anythink else :roll:

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Re: 1981 650 Triumph Thunderbird

Postby Fast Eddie » Tue May 16, 2017 11:44 am

Interestingly, there are 3 or 4 Thunderbirds for sale in the UK currently. It seems their 'classic status' is growing as they're all being offered at the £7k mark.

So they do appear to be a good investment. Maybe that's just the encouragement you need...?!
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Re: 1981 650 Triumph Thunderbird

Postby ashman » Tue May 16, 2017 4:11 pm

I didn't go and have a look at it, I wanted to so badly but being retired at a younger age after taking a redundancy from my job of 31 years and I don't really want to go back to work I decided my money would do me better for other things in life, I have 2 Nortons, 2 Honda dirt bikes and my 4 year old Thruxton to keep me happy and I wouldn't be in the dog house with the wife, so it was wise for me to let it go and spend the money on my Manxman project bike thats I started then let it sit for 4 years now.

Ashley

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Re: 1981 650 Triumph Thunderbird

Postby Tiger Shark » Tue May 16, 2017 11:25 pm

Fast Eddie, I might need to be creative with the shed I have?? ( Her car might be evicted lol ).
Ashley, that T-bird is still there and I missed out on a Commando I was bidding on so perhaps I should hop on the balus and go look at it!!!

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Re: 1981 650 Triumph Thunderbird

Postby Fast Eddie » Wed May 17, 2017 11:51 am

Ash, you really aren't thinking straight...

Sell a dirt bike.

Sneak off and buy Thunderbird whilst wife is out shopping, or doing laundry, or similar.

Park Thunderbird in space left buy sold dirt bike.

Wife none the wiser.

Ash has a T' Bird again.

Life is good.

Simples.
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