Triumph Tiger Cubs: part two

Last time, Paul Henshaw recalled his first adventures aboard Edward Turner’s Sports Cub. Turns out this was one of those formative experiences which lasts a lifetime…

Sometime later after it’d been restored to full working order, I blew a big hole in the bottom of the Sports Cub’s crankcases, with both conrod and piston exiting onto the road in many pieces. A friend sold me an abandoned Tiger Cub scrambler project which gave me the next engine for the Sports Cub. It wasn’t great; assembled from various bits and the blown-up engine.

Next, I spotted a sad-looking Super Cub in someone’s vegetable garden. I was 14 years old, had some more money and bought it for £50. It burst into life and ran well. An oil change produced about one pint of oil and two pints of water but there were no smoke or rattles… although I soon found the frame to be bent. Super Cubs weren’t anything to get excited about and it ended up donating its square, side-points engine to the Sports Cub. Once transplanted it immediately started smoking for some strange reason, but it kept running and even produced a charge.


All through these years, BXS 487 plodded on. Other bikes came and went, and then a new Cub appeared on my horizon. This was the machine which started it all; the one I heard in the woods years before. It was based on a Trials Cub with heavyweight forks and kicked-up rear frame loop, slim fuel tank, high level exhaust, single seat and plastic mudguards, 18” and 21” wheels and a rear sprocket like a dinner plate. Step forward, 972 KTG. It cost me £80. It too was fitted with the square-side points engine, but this one looked a bit odd with an oval head attached. It ran OK and was pretty handy on the dirt. BXS 487 had developed a knocking noise the engine, so was put away…

By the time my 17th birthday had passed, I learned of another so-called Sports Cub for sale. This machine was about five different colours and cost me £140 – times were starting to change, prices were going up. It was registered as CUM 557, or so it appeared, and it was horrible to say the least. Riding the 35 miles home, it seized on a steep hill and there was no charge whatsoever going into the battery. This Cub had stiff, squeaky, rusted chrome-plated heavyweight forks, a bent and twisted frame, one ordinary rear shock and one Sports shock which was an inch longer, and a wobbly 3TA front wheel. I rebuilt the motor with a 9:1 piston, ‘R’ cam, big-valve oval head, massive (relatively speaking) Monobloc carb and the highest gearing I could get my hands on. It reached nearly 90mph… quickly followed by some nasty noises and silence. Time to fit another engine. Ho hum.

By now the Trials Cub was looking scruffy, so its good (if rather tired) side-points engine was rehoused in the multi-coloured nightmare. Sorting the wiring on the Sports Cub was easy, as every wire on it was red (ho, ho.) A friend would borrow the Cub on occasion and together we racked up 18,000 miles on it in a year. During that time I noticed the letters and numbers on the numberplate and in the logbook were the same but the opposite way around. I assumed there was a misprint in the logbook and sent it to the DVLC to be corrected.


Meanwhile, a traffic warden issued me with a ticket for parking outside a fish and chip shop. A summons followed for ‘parking CUM 557 illegally’. Just in the nick of time, the DVLC informed me the logbook was correct and the numberplate was wrong and it should read 557 CUM. I sawed the numberplate in half and swapped the halves around. I replied to the summons saying I would happily pay any outstanding fines, provided someone could reunite me with the vehicle which was missing. This must have really annoyed someone because I was done for not notifying of a change of keeper and received a £5 fine. I fought the law and the law won!

Meanwhile, I was sprucing up the Trials Cub. A fully rebuilt engine with a brand new crank assembly was put together in readiness, using the Super Cub engine from the Sports Cub which had no documents. This engine was rebuilt as-new and took pride of place in my bedroom for a year or more before I got around to using it. Because the Trials Cub was actually still complete and working when I decided to restore it, I used another frame and forks for its next incarnation and painted these. I also had wheels and lots of other bits.

Just as the Trials Cub was about to emerge, all done up with a different frame and engine, the engine loaned to the multi-coloured nightmare (557 CUM) began to rattle. So that was removed, stripped and rebuilt with all the good bits left from the first Trials Cub engine rebuild – an apparently good crank left over from the totally rebuilt engine and a few new bits here and there. 557 CUM was to all intents and purposes scrapped, but I kept the bent frame and logbook. A completely ‘new’ Trials Cub emerged by default during this process and this bike became UMF 18F and is still with me, as are a good few others.


I now had the first Trials Cub engine rebuilt, as well as the rolling chassis I bought it. The rolling chassis was tidied up and reunited with this engine, although all the fancy trials bits were now on another machine. So the former Trials Cub now emerged as a Sports Cub clone, using the forks, wheels and subframe from my first Sports Cub and complete with a 9:1 piston and a few other goodies. 972 KTG was back in business! Intended at first as just a field bike, this machine now made a nippy little road bike and like the others, is still with me.

TO READ MORE from Paul about the nuts and bolts of running and riding Tiger Cubs today, read his article in RC208/August – available mail order or as a digital issue

NEXT TIME: the recent rebirth of BXS…


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