During the World War II, many of these bikes were used by the dispatch riders and because of this reason there are two foldable panniers. The bottom half of both the panniers were rusted badly and had to be fabricated using 16 gauge sheet metal. The tank looked fine but on closer inspection resembled a tea stainer. Water in the tank had done the job well and the entire bottom had to be patch welded.
As with all British bikes of that period, the 3HW also had 6 volt electrical system and starting was by magneto while the Lucas dynamo charged the battery. The armatures of the magneto and the dynamo had to be rewound and their field coils retaped and now the sparks were long and blue.
Unlike the modern bikes, where you just start and go, you really have to ‘ride’ a classic bike. Its true to the Triumph 3HW also. Starting is by the familiar decompress and kick drill that was common to all four-stroke 350cc and 500cc singles of that period. Riding is fun and you sit very much where the single saddle seat wants you to. There is very little place to maneouvre once you are seated. If you are looking for a soft ride, forget it. The Triumph has a very basic suspension system. The front has the girder forks with auxiliary tension springs and adjustable trailing links while the rear is rigid. The only form of damping that is available is springs under the saddle seat. While the ride is okay on smooth roads, it’s a bone shaker on rougher roads. Since the rear is unsprung, an unsuspecting rider can easily be thrown out of the saddle seat if the bike hits a pothole. It had happened to me a couple of times but the bike held its line. The 3HW has a low centre of gravity and this allows the rider to lean sharply into curves.
Vikas had sourced a Smith’s chronometric speedo from somewhere and it is doing a sterling duty. The speedo was not a standard fitment at that time. From the seating position, the speedo and the headlight seem miles ahead and it is a freeky sight to see the girder forks working overtime as the front wheel keeps bobbing up and down vigorously. The bike was originally fitted with an Amal carburettor but since a new one is hard to come by Vikas just fitted in a Mikuni from a Bullet 350 and it is doing yeoman service. The bike has been done up in metallic paint and lots of chrome but they are not period jobs. This is a military bike and had no chrome on it and was originally painted in drab olive green but Vikas decided that he was entitled to a little modification.
The speed of the 3HW is no embarrasment and on last month’s vintage run up the hills of Shimla, it left all the other motorcycles behind including a 1960s Enfield’s Bullet and a 500cc Norton 16H among others.
The feel good factor works to the limit when you ride this bike. Smiles from fellow road users are never in short supply , nobody wants to go one up on you and very few motorist honk like crazy from behind. Some well meaning friends have told me that the airfilterless carb makes a hissing sound and there are other clanking sounds from the body and engine too. Well these may be irritating sounds to them but to me there is symphony in this cacophony. And I am sure I am not the only bike fan who feels this way.