Triumph TR6P Saint 649cc 1970
For years Triumph have built ·a machine which is known (occasionally, rather too well) to motor cyclists the world over – yet which never appears in the factory’s published range. It is, of course, the Saint six-fifty, currently escorting Highly Important Personages or other wide loads, or chasing baddies, in the hands of constables in about 250 police forces from Argentina to Zanzibar.
So what’s a Saint? Originally it was a kind of hotted-up 6T Thunderbird, but the specification has changed gradually over the years and the present-day version is (as the TR6P designation implies) a slightly cooled TR6 Trophy.
Different forces may want different things and so· one can’t be hard-and-fast about the Saint’s make-up. But in Britain at any rate, it usually has a 7.5-to-1 compression ratio (as compared with 9-to-1 on the Trophy) and an alternator specially modified to produce a high output at lowish rpm so taking care of two-way radio and other electrical extras.
There are a number of reasons for a low compression ratio. In many countries, especially in the Middle East, the octane rating of petrol is well down and anything higher than 7.5-to-l would cause detonation; in Britain, it enables a force to use commercial-grade petrol and so save the taxpayer the odd copper or two.
However, the main point is that police bikes spend very little time haring up the M1 after a Jag-load of jewel thieves; the rest is a matter of chuntering round city streets at 30 mph -or less if there is a slow-moving lorry -to be shepherded throu1,”h. For that, you need something soft and woolly.
The Saint is that, all right; just about the woolliest bike since side-valvers went out. On test, it ran smoothly and happily at 20 to 25 mph in top gear, and recorded the incredibly low minimum non-snatch speed of 15 mph in top gear. Still in top, it would accelerate steadily from 25mph, although if a really rapid take-off was required it paid to drop down a couple of cogs’.
The test model was kitted out with virtually everything except a radio set – Avon fairing complete with flashing blue lamp in the middle of the screen.