Peter Henshaw is probably one of the foremost motorcycle authorities around. He is the co-author of “The Encyclopedia of the Harley-Davidson” with Ian Kerr and the author of “The Encyclopedia of the Motorcycle” – each soon to be reviewed here.
Each of those books contains more than 440 pages and is physically huge compared to his latest offering, “The Essential Buyer’s Guide Triumph 350 & 500 Unit Twins,” which is only 60 pages in length, and measures only 5.5” x 7.75.”
Don’t let the size of the book deceive you; in this pocketbook-sized volume, Henshaw compresses an enormous amount of critical expertise on how to evaluate British twins built from 1957 to 1974 before purchasing one.
The subject bikes are Triumph 350 and 500cc parallel twins including the 3TA, 5TA Speed Twin, Tiger 90, T100A, T100SS, T100Tiger, T100S, T100T, T100C, T100R, TR5T, T100D Daytona Series 2.
Henshaw’s expertise on British bikes is used to shed light on the range of things to consider in buying a classic Triumph. Everything from common things most people would be aware of such as the need to beware of a bike with an engine that leaks oil and blows blue smoke to uncommon things that are unique to these bikes.
For example, Henshaw differentiates performance qualities among the single and double-leading shoe and the conical drum brakes found in this species of bikes. He also provides valuable insights into some of the issues unique to Triumph electrics and ignitions systems.
There is also a handy listing of parts that are potentially likely to require replacement to help estimate the cost of restoration. There’s even a chapter aptly entitled “Living with a Triumph Twin,” which provides a clear-eyed explanation of the difference between owning and riding a maintenance-intensive classic Triumph twin and low-maintenance modern bike.
After wising up the potential classic Triumph buyer on what to look for with regard to the bike before making the buy decision, Henshaw provides a chapter on one of the more potentially challenging ways to acquire the bike—the auction.
Then he talks about something often not included in buyer’s guides—proper documentation, so necessary to assure that the buyer is getting what he or she thinks they are getting. And, of course, there is a section on how to match up the condition of the bike based on the condition evaluation he explains in the book and pricing data sources to determine an appropriate price.
The book’s back cover carries what may be some truly sage parting words: “Stop! Don’t buy a Triumph 350 or 500 unit twin without buying this book first!”
- Title: The Essential Buyer’s Guide Triumph 350 & 500 Unit Twins
- Author: Peter Henshaw
- Published: 2014 Paperback.
- Publisher: Veloce Publishing, Parkway Farm Business Park, Middle Farm Way, Poundbury, Dorchester, DT1 3AR, England
- ISBN: 978-1-845847-55-5 MSRP: U.S. $19.95 U.K. £12.99