Triumph 350/500 Unit Construction Twins Bible 1957-1974

by MotoGusto Editor

Latest in the ‘Bible’ series by renowned automotive publisher Veloce is a soft-bound work on the Triumph 350 and 500 unit construction twins made by Meriden between 1957 and 1974. Although the primary author is shown as Peter Henshaw (who has written many other titles for the west-country publisher), the details and research has come from Justin Harvey-James who has spent the last ten years gathering the information and who is rightfully shown as the co-author.

Although there have been other works that have included information on the numerous models covered in the 160 pages, this latest work is described as the ‘most comprehensive book on these models’ to date. Certainly as you work your way through the five chapters before coming to one of the most comprehensive appendices of any book I have ever seen, it is hard to argue with the publisher’s blurb.

The smaller twins are often ignored, as riders and collectors seek out the larger capacity twins and triples which seem more glamorous, but these smaller, lighter machines have all the style of their larger siblings and provide just as much riding pleasure — I know as I have one in the garage. Another bonus is that they are often a lot cheaper to buy and run, and they really did play a key role in the success of Triumph in the world’s markets, especially in the USA.

In case you need reminding, the comprehensive range started with the original 350cc 3TA — basically a mild mannered tourer — and finished with the Daytona Tiger 500 (a modified version of which won the Daytona 500 race in 1967), and the TR5T trail bike. All of the history of the bikes that appeared in the 17 years the range existed are covered with details of model variants, advice on buying and living with a Triumph 350/500, technical specifications, and a list of useful contacts at the rear.

No book on the British motorcycle industry would be complete without a chapter detailing what might have been if management had allowed the engineers to productionise various ‘concept’ or replacement models that sadly never made it to the dealerships. So the BSA Fury/Triumph Bandit concept is covered and there is an interesting chapter, based on an interview with the late John Nelson (ex-Triumph Service Manager) detailing exactly how the Meriden factory operated.

Concept to delivery

Although not as comprehensive as his descriptions in his own works on the subject, he explains how a bike made it from concept, through to design, the materials chosen, and their acquisition right through to a machine’s production. He also explains the marketing process — and even the packing and delivery to a dealer. What is most interesting is how the engine and frames got their numbers and helps explain the apparent lack of sophistication of these that can be seen when examining a machine for authenticity.

Nicely laid out, the book is liberally spread with period images, advertising brochures, and quotes from magazine road-tests of the relevant period, which again all help with any restoration or research. This book will without doubt allow somebody to very accurately restore a bike to factory specification, but it is not in anyway a workshop, or restoration manual.

Despite majoring on the history of the bikes, there are also plenty of hints and tips for maintaining and modifying the bikes today at the rear. The specifications and information contained will allow you to accurately date and identify one of these models, making it a ‘must have’ for the owner. However, like most of these works, it is also a fascinating trek through history and a general good read; a quality publication and well worth the £27.50 cover price for any enthusiast.

Available from all good bookshops or direct from the publishers Veloce at

ISBN 978-1-845849-03-0

Author of this article: Ian Kerr MBE

#triumph350 #triumph500 #motorcyclebookreview #triumph #merdien #motogusto

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