BSA Sunbeam and Triumph Tigress. A grumpy kitten

Scooters were conceived as gender-neutral means of mass transport. Many Italian advertisements therefore featured beautiful young ladies. But there were also members of the standing-urinating kind who were scooterists. Rob Bakker and his fiancé, for example, went to Spain on a scooter. We found a nice BSA Sunbeam.

Scooters in Europe

There was still some consternation at the border. His colleagues had stuck an 'L' extra on his license plate with typical Amsterdam humor. With a 'UL' number, Rob had something to explain, despite the fact that the French customs officials missed the subtlety of the joke.

Of course, every classic enthusiast thinks of Italy first when it comes to scooters. But the phenomenon was widespread. Scooters were also made in our country, such as the Bema from the 1950s. Bema was highly original for “Ben Maltha” and in 122 produced scooters with 197 and XNUMX cc Villiers blocks. It was special that the sheet metal consisted of glass fiber. The ANWB tested another Bema scooter with sidecar.

There were also real 'motor scooters'

But not all scooters were brave-smelling two-strokes. BSA also ventured into that market.
De Triumph Tigress, also sold as the BSA Sunbeam, was a scooter designed to steal the hearts of motorcycle enthusiasts. The BSA group's entry into the scooter world was announced in October 1958 by Edward Turner.

The 250 cc model would have a cruising speed of 100 km / h with a very economical thirst. A prototype 250 cc BSA Sunbeam was displayed at the Earl's Court Cycle and Motor Cycle Show in 1958. Manufacture began in late 1959, but delivery difficulties were acknowledged due to labor recruitment issues, although the group was claimed to have a production capacity had of 50.000 machines per year. But that was theoretical.

Conceived by Edward Turner. Who else?

Edward Turner's design was based on Triumphs long experience building fast motorcycles and sold under two brand names to take advantage of established distribution networks. This badge engineering was one of the last uses of the Sunbeam brand. The differences between the BSA and Sunbeam Triumph Tigress were purely cosmetic - the first in polychromatic green paint, also two-tone red and cream, with a BSA badge; the latter in shell blue or mimosa and ivory (two-tone) with Triumphbadges.

The technique

The scooter was available with a 250 cc four-stroke twin (10 hp) or 175 cc two-stroke single-cylinder engine (7,5 hp). Both engines were forced air-cooled and tuned low to keep gas mileage low.

The two-stroke was a development of the BSA Bantam engine. But the four-stroke was a completely new parallel-twin with a regular gearbox. The contact breaker powered two ignition coils. The drive to the rear wheel was done with a fully enclosed chain in an oil bath. Both versions had four foot-operated gears. Some of the 250 twins were equipped with an electric starter and a 12 volt (not 6 volt!) Electrical system.

The 250 twin sold well and had a top speed of 100+ km / h. This happened under the joyful guidance of efficient suspension and good handling and despite the fact that it only had soup-plate-sized 10-inch wheels. Weight was low compared to other scooters (100/110 kg). The only problem was a bit of an English problem: the build quality: it was sometimes said that a Tigress was a pleasure to own as long as someone else paid the repair bills.

End of story

Production of the 250 cc four-stroke model was discontinued in 1964, the 175 cc two-stroke model in 1965.

Later in the XNUMXs, despite internal opposition from those who felt scooters would dilute the brand's macho image, Triumph (owned by BSA) another scooter and a tricycle for 'shoppers'. The Triumph Tina and the Ariel 3 tricycle (BSA also held the rights to the Ariel brand) were intended to tap into the non-existent market segment that would be there for a handy 'rolling shopping basket'.

Also read:
- More articles about classic engines
- BSA A65. A nice machine, a bad start
- Triumph Bonneville. A memory
- Bitri: a Dutch scooter
- Honda Spacy. A little bit weird




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  1. In the past a good friend has also restored this scooter for Taxi Ruys Veghel
    later miscellaneous cars and motorbikes and scooters pass to Mr. van schaaik from
    Branbant who had a museum with various models

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