Swap To 6 Speed From 5 On '96 Thunderbird? Easy As It Looks?

dearborn

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In current UK magazine Classic Bike Guide, there are 2 mentions of swapping to the six speed transmission gearset. I have constantly found myself reaching for another gear on my '96 Thunderbird with the 5 speed transmission. Looking intently at a factory Triumph dealer repair manual, it says, "On models equipped with a five speed gearbox, 6th gear and the splined bush are replaced by a sleeve". The diagrams seem to show the same shift drum, same forks, etc, the only difference appears to be the added gear and the splined bush.
So, since I have to replace a worn shift fork anyway, and I will have it apart, do I only have to add the extra gear and splined bush in place of the blanking sleeve to have a functioning 6th gear?
Used complete gear sets are pretty cheap on Ebay; $50-$100. Wear/damage is usually on 1st/2nd gear, not on 5th/6th "high" gear.
Looks like there is a LOT of interchange on the gearboxes of this '95 thru '99 or so era.
Anybody have any experience with this?
 

hemibee

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I have no experience with this swap but I'll be interested in watching the topic.
 

Baldeagle

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Doug sadly I have no experience of the swap.
When I first got my America I found I was always looking for another cog so concur with your feelings.
I did some research and found a cheap and easy solution for me was to change from an 18 to 19 front sprocket,cost was about €25 so cheap and an hours work.
The swap sounds like a great idea but a lot of work,good luck with finding the info you need and look forward to hearing of your progress.
 

dearborn

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I got this bike cheap to fix&flip to make a few dollars for other bike/car projects. Had led a hard life, been dropped on L/H side, mild damage, filthy and serviced poorly. Speedo was smashed reading 28k miles. Funny thing is; once damage was fixed with used Ebay parts, a complete servicing and running well, the more I rode it, the more I liked it! Now has lower "superbike bend" 'bars, carb rejet, Speed Triple intake boots, valve adjustment, braided stainless brake hoses, '95 Kaw ZX9 rear shock, wheels trued, new tires, etc, etc with more planned as funds permit, (fork springs, Gold valves, etc). Bike has a gearbox issue on 1st-2nd gearchange, likely a bent or worn shift fork, so at some point it's going to have to come apart, though being gentle changing gears will delay things for a while.
There appears to be quite a bit of interchangeability on these bikes, particularly internal engine/gearbox parts; shift drums, shift forks, etc., all appear to be very similar, but it's hard to be sure. Studying parts diagrams online, on both the 5 speed and 6 speed, looks like the "output" gear set HAS the 6th gear in place, on both, but the "input" gear set on the 5 speed, per the factory Triumph dealer service manual, (don't ask how I got one!), "On models equipped with a 5 speed gearbox, 6th gear and the splined bush are replaced by a sleeve" (on the input gearset). There are a couple of 5 speed gearsets for sale on Ebay and the blanking sleeve can be clearly seen.
Online parts diagrams are a pain, nearest Triumph dealer is hour and a half slog across town and wants to sell you a new bike, a made in Thailand twin, loaded up with accessories, not help you fix old one that's 20 years old but still running. I need to do a lot of research on this. SOMEBODY somewhere has done this, UK?, Oz?, Germany?. Will post updates/info as found.
 

Baldeagle

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Thanks for the further info,will do a bit of digging this side of the pond see if I can find anything helpful.
I just posted about the proliferation of new bikes in another thread and totally agree with you.
The world is tied up with the latest,biggest,fastest,throwaway etc.which has led to no such thing as aftercare service.
Don't want to hijack but just one example: last year we bought a high end Bose Bluetooth speaker system,it worked for a weekthen failed,on return to the retailer,no replacement sent away for repair which took a month,very unhappy but that's French consumer law and nothing further I could do.
 

Mad On Triumphs

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I have also thought that my Thunderbird could have done with a 6th gear, but I think that I've just accepted it for what it is. But as you'll be having yours in bits in the near future, then why not upgrade it with another cog. I don't know of anybody that has done this mod, but as you said, someone somewhere has done it. Good luck with it, and if you can take a few pics of your progress along the way.
 

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I agree that changing the front sprocket can make a noticeable difference and may give you what you want for much less cost and fettling.
But if you're successful in changing the transmission, please keep us up to date.
 

dearborn

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Looking through factory dealer service manual, it seems nearly all Triumph bikes, (as of 1997 date), have exact same gearing! Does this mean gearsets, etc, are interchangeable?
 

dearborn

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After spending a LOT of time with Triumph FACTORY/dealer workshop manual, gearing on triples (up to 1997 date of manual), is IDENTICAL save for addition of blanking sleeve, etc, for 6th gear delete! So, swap to 6th gear parts should be a drop-in. Bought a super clean Sprint/Tiger complete gearbox, showing nearly zero wear on shift forks, gear teeth, etc, off EBay for $30!!!! Now making a list of seals, gaskets, new clutch etc, to order before tear down. I like to have all things on hand, if possible, before starting a job as things grow legs and run off to hide when left apart. Owned this bike about 4/5 years, 1-2 gearchange has always been weak, (thanks to previous owner!), wanted to fix this since day one. Winter project!!
 

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Great! Continue keeping us updated, please.
 

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triumph david

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I am interested in this too, keep that info. coming!
 

dearborn

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Working on making garage better weather-tight. Insulation, electrical, lighting, etc. COLD out there!
 

CarlS

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You are definitely having some cold weather.
 

Wire-Wheels

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Working on making garage better weather-tight. Insulation, electrical, lighting, etc. COLD out there!
This has been a priority with me this year as well. Got some heat in last spring. I am currently moving my mechanical tools over to the heated space. Not getting much work done on the bikes until I'm finished moving my tools. ...J.D.
 

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triumph david

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JD, know what you mean, that cold weather just kills my finger tips, even 40 degree + cold wrenches keeps me moving slow!















=
 

Wire-Wheels

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JD, know what you mean, that cold weather just kills my finger tips, even 40 degree + cold wrenches keeps me moving slow!


With a bad knee and a bad hip moving everything from one building to another is taking me a while. Had to stop and fix a defective curcuit breaker as well. The bikes are on hold right now. At least the heat is up and running in there ! What a blessing :) ...J.D.
 

dearborn

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For the "hot house flowers" out there- Many years ago, when I was admittedly a good deal younger, (I was 39), after a divorce, I was left with empty pockets, my clothes, my tools, my trusty Norton Commando and a horrible credit rating. So, the motorcycle became my only transportation- for three years!. Mind you, we're talking Michigan here and winter eventually came. Ritual was; ride it to work, get home and thoroughly wash and clean the road salt off, lube EVERYTHING!
That bike has spent more time slithering along on snow covered roads behind salt trucks than most bikes ever spend in a lifetime. Worked about 10 miles away. Girl friend lived about 50 miles North, made MANY trips warm when I left, (ahem), salt and ice encrusted back at home. Got pretty good at "flat tracking" sideways. Got good at selecting cold weather gear. (Tip; a good rainsuit can keep you quite warm!). Thing is, the constant daily maintenance led to, eventually, a much improved bike! In actuality; 1st winter, I had no option. 2nd year, my friends continually asked, "You gonna ride all winter?" "Sure!" says I. 3rd winter- I did it to show what a hard ass I could be. Now, at 70, I still ride the Norton or my "breathed on" '96 Triumph Thunderbird triple in 30-40 degree weather, but NEVER when the roads are salty. And here in Wayne County, (Detroit), they use, on average 70,000 tons of road salt per year.
Used to work in a Pontiac car dealer with a body man who had a "summer" Triumph- a nice '68 Bonneville, and a "winter" Triumph- one of those ugly mustard yellow '71s with semi knobby tires. Never knew him to own a car.
 

CarlS

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I guess I am one of those "hot house" flowers". :D I admire your couirage and skills to ride in those cold, salty, slippery conditions. However, that is not for me. I don't even want to drive four wheels, 4X4 in those conditions! I prefer my semi tropical climate with no snow or ice. I will get my salt while riding on the beach!. BGRIN
 
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