Jim Alves’ 1954 ISDT Triumph 650 twin

alves-650cc-isdt-triumph

The restored motorcycle now resides at the National Motorcycle Museum (Photo – National Motorcycle Museum)

About the 1954 Jim Alves’ 650cc ISDT twin

This Triumph, with registration PNX 388, was ridden by off-road legend Jim Alves in the 1954 International Six Days Trial. He won a Gold Medal at the arduous event, held in central Wales that year. Jim was with Alan Jeffries the Triumph Factories leading works rider during the 1950’s

Triumph had an excellent record in the ISDT, providing machines used by the British Team to win major awards five times between 1948 and 1953. Team riders had to ride in two separate engine capacity classes, so Triumph fitted some of its 500cc Trophy twins with bigger engines for the event. Prior to 1954 the 650cc Thunderbird unit was used, but PNX 388 was built by installing the new 42bhp 650cc Tiger 110 engine designed for fast road work in the swinging arm frame first seen at the 1953 ISDT. The two-into-one exhaust is tucked high and the centre stand further rearward than usual, to maximise ground clearance. Other typical ISDT touches are a ‘nail catcher’ to prevent front tyre punctures and an air bottle for rapid tyre inflation. T-bars on the wheel spindles aid fast repair work, while a bag on the fuel tank carries tools and maps, and back-up control cables are already in place. The production Trophy TR6 based on the Alves bike appeared in Triumph’s catalogue for 1956. Rugged agility and lusty power made it a strong seller, especially in America.

Luckily there is a lot about the development of the Triumph Trophy Twin, and the career of Jim Alves who was a top rider for the Triumph factory for much of the 1950’s, in the Triumph Trophy and Tiger Bible by Harry Woolridge from whom we have borrowed the below 2 images of Jim’s 1954 Bike

Photo from Triumph archives of the Jim Alves Triumph Trophy Twin 650 that took him to the SIver Vase team win in the ISDT 1954

Photo of the other side of the Jim Alves Triumph Trophy Twin 650 that took him to the SIver Vase team win in the ISDT 1954

Picture of the 1948 British Silver Vase winning team Jim Alves is on the right hand side of the trio

Photo of Triumph’s succesful team L 2 R Jim Alves, Bob Manns and Bert Gaymer ISDT 1949

Jim Alves with the ISDT winning Triumph team at the ISDT 1953

The Triumph Trophy was Triumph’s bold statement of 1949 introduced as a classic dual purpose motorcyle that was capable of being a serious off road racing contender at that time.

Photo from the EMAP archives of the Triumph Trophy of 1949 with 18″ rear and 20″ front tyres

Thanks to Kevin Gosling who restored one of these bikes who clarified front wheel sizes and comments “Rigid TR5 should be 20″ front wheel. That is what all the parts book show and this size wheel went for the first year of the swinging arm TR5′s. for some years 20″ tyres were hard to get hold off so users rebuilt the wheels as 20″. No problem now though in obtaining 20″ tyres”

The brochures below confirm that 20 not 21″ front wheels were specced by Triumph for the Trophy

Images of scanned French Triumph Catalog 1955 – Triumph Trophy

Image of scanned Triumph Catalog advert for Triumph Trophy 1952

Photo of a dockside scene 1950 A freight ship called Coventry City, a US dock with trucks loaded up with crates of Triumph Motorbikes long before containerisation… so answers on the back of a postage stamp please…. British Industry and the motorcycle.. where did it all go wrong?

Find out more about the fantastic off-road classic the Triumph Trophy with the great book the Triumph Trophy and Tiger Bible by Harry Woolridge. Buy online at Amazon The Triumph Trophy Bible

4 thoughts on “Jim Alves’ 1954 ISDT Triumph 650 twin”

  1. Kelvin GOsling said:

    Nice site, but surely RIgid TR5 should be 20″ front wheel. That is what all the parts book show and this size wheel went for the first year of the swinging arm TR5’s. for some years 20″ tyres were hard to get hold off so users rebuilt the wheels as 20″. No problem now though in obtaining 20″ tyres. For future viewers reference can the site preparer check this and correct if necessary. Again great site. I have just completed a rebuild of a October 1954 TR5.

    • iPø∂i$†å said:

      Kevin thank you for your post and comments. Much of the material early material originates from Taff Isaac’s first speedtracktales.co.uk site, more modern material is usually connected to a blog entry. My reason for involvement was only to try to find a public home for some old images of the ISDT I had when I found the old site abandoned I then ended up owning it. Agreeing to take it on meant a reformat of layout on wordpress and then restoring the old data however there were so many areas still lacking material or images were untitled I invested time to fill the gaps supported by a small group of helpers on the old site. We have no appointed checker and much of the old material is taken at face value and when corrections are offered they are gratefully received. Amongst those helping are ISDT experts like Brian Catt and the VMCC knuckle in from time to time. If the details of the Triumph are wrong my apologies. We are of course gathering new material and this is usually validated before inclusion. If you see other errors or inaccuracies please drop a comment on the page involved. I have limited time to do this and if anyone reads this with writing skills and time to help who would like to become a contributor, I can arrange an account for that person to create and edit pages if they would like. This is not so much my site it belongs to the ISDT community I am simply the guardian / librarian / curator.

  2. Jim Alves was my Grandad’s Cousin

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