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1955 Triumph TRW 500 cc Twin Cylinder Military Model

1955 Triumph TRW 500 cc Twin Cylinder Military Model

Between the World Wars the British War Office felt it would be an advantage to have a standard military motorcycle for the forces, instead of the variety of modified civilian machines previously used and a small unit was maintained to test and evaluate any such models manufacturers submitted. In the twenties and thirties a number of machines were tested and found wanting and only once was a design approved by the War Office for production. That was a 500cc BSA twin with OHV valve gear, which was surprising as hitherto the War Office had showed preference for side valves.

BSA only agreed to produce it if they were permitted to market a civilian version, which they did. However, it did not sell well, being rather expensive even when enlarged to 750cc for sidecar work. These military special V-twin BSA's were in use by all services in modest numbers as the probability of another war loomed and in view of the tremendous quantities that would be required, plans on another universal service machine had to be scrapped in favour of modified civilian models, mostly plodders as the specification stipulated a maximum speed of about 65 mph. OHV models had to be de-tuned.

No sooner were hosilities over than the idea of a standard services model was revived. Twin cylinders were now favoured as being quieter (but with side valves) and BSA and Triumph produced prototypes. The Triumph was chosen but cost too much for the services budget. However, Triumph had a very successful 500 ec OHV multi purpose lightweight Trophy model developed for the International Six Days Trials and the side valve twin, designed for the prototype, would fit into it and cut cost.

The authorities agreed the compromise and the TRW, with various colour schemes, gave excellent service to our forces and those of many other countries around the world. Only machines supplied for the Royal Signals Display Team had the deluxe finish seen here. When sold off after service, TRWs became popular with Vintage and Classic riders as very pleasant lightweight tourers, with off road ability and because fo their ancestry, a number have been fitted with OHV twin Triumph engines to produce lookalike Trophy models.