Beginning with the 1937 500-cc Speed Twin, Triumph has maintained a long history of vertical twins. By the late 1950s the engine size had grown to 650-ccs, and their bikes were some of the best performing in the world. Spotted for sale in Southern California by yours truly is this gorgeous 1969 TR6 Tiger which recalls an era when tires were skinny and the exhaust notes were fat. The Tiger shared its 650-cc twin, with integral gearbox, with the faster Bonniville. And while that bike had a pair of Amals, the TR6 maintained just a single carb. That meant a bit less horsepower and performance, but made for a simpler bike to maintain, and what many considered a better all around machine. This matching-numbers machine is in excellent condition right down to its Made in England frame stickers and rubber tank guards. With an asking price of $7,500, it ain’t cheap, and you can find modern Triumphs for similar cheddar that don’t suffer the foibles of lackluster drum brakes, skinny tires, and that have the brake and shifter leavers on the sides you’re likely used to. But those modern retro bikes lack the authenticity and grace of the real thing. This ’69 comes from the end of the era of great Triumph motorcycles. By the late ’60s, the British government was attempting to unload military engineers into the private sector, and managed to get industrials like Triumph to go along because they promised infusions of cash to go with the slide rule geeks. Unfortunately, these were government men, not passionate motorcycle wrenchers, and the bikes from the ’70s turned out to be pretty crappy, eventually condemning Triumph to collapse. The present company, founded after Triumph Engineering LTD went into receivership in 1983, threw out all of that and started with a clean sheet, saving only the name. The modern Triumph motorcycles are a homage to the earlier era, of which this bike is a concrete representation. They couldn’t build something like this today, lacking emissions controls, decent brakes and with gaskets that are more hypothetical than actually in their function. And the new Triumphs are better in every possible way, with perhaps the exception of their soul. While this bike may not be as competent, nor as safe as one fresh off the assembly line, it’s still a preferable choice to me. If flush with discretionary cash, I’d give this TR6 a long, hard contemplation. It would be worth it to me, even if I rarely rode it. It would be enough just to have it in the garage so I could go out there on cool evenings, a pint of Guinness in hand, and marvel at its beauty. Of course, the dulcet note of that modest-sized twin would mean that, every now and then, we’d both have to leave that garage and get some exercise.