Archive for the ‘triumph’ Tag

1969 BSA A65 Road Racer

Picture 32In 1969 BSA commanded 80% of all the Brit bikes sold here in the USA. Eighty Percent! Who woulda thunk? I, and I think most of us, would have pegged Triumph as the leader but not so say the statistics. What was it about BSA that made it that strong a seller in a time when the Japanese manufacturers were dominating the market? Was it styling? No. Was it performance? No. Was it reliability? Certainly not.  So what was it?

Picture 23Let’s find a bit of perspective here. BSA may have had 80% of the British bike sales here in the states but ‘Made in England’ motorcycles constituted a very small percentage of the total bikes sold here. So small that within a decade, they were all gone from the US market.

From the late 1950’s through the mid 60’s, the British were competing with the very popular Harley Davidson Sportster in the performance category. The Sportster was Harley’s ‘sportbike’, it had a  slight horsepower advantage, it had a new look (the peanut tank was quite stylish then), it had the Harley sound and, of course, it had the advantage of being made in the USA. BSA, Triumph and Norton all were better handling motorcycles but back then, straight line speed was king, not the ability to go around corners fast.

Each of the big three from the UK tried styling mods to attract the American market, Triumph  with the X75 Hurricane, Norton tried (and miserably failed) with their Hi-Rider chopper model and BSA tried with…well, nothing. Sure, BSA tried a few styling changes like a smaller slimmer tank, the oil in the frame design (which nobody was really happy about), and of course the ray-gun mufflers of the Rocket 3. Personally, I love the ray-gun mufflers but at the time they went over like a fart in church. Anyway, the Brits just faded away into the sunset. Today, Triumph is back in a big way and Norton is getting set to comeback this year with a new Commando and it is beautiful. I hope it succeeds.

I started my street bike life aboard a BSA so the brand has a certain spot in my heart that will never go away. Yes, it stranded me more than once with faulty electric’s, and yes, it leaked more oil in a month than any Japanese bike I’ve ever owned  did in a lifetime. It could be a bit (?) temperamental when it came to starting in the morning (or when it was hot and the bike didn’t feel like going anywhere), and it could vibrate the fillings out of my teeth if the carbs weren’t balanced properly, but…when everything was working as it was supposed to, what a joy it was to ride that Beezer. I was raised to ride the canyon roads, to believe in handling over horsepower, and the sound coming from a parallel twin was the sweetest sound in motorcycling.Picture 19

At one point in time (actually a couple of times) the Japanese manufactures realized that there was something about the British bikes that still captivated the American buyer. Yamaha did great with the XS650, designed to compete with the Triumph, Kawasaki brought out the W650 to head to head with the BSA and Honda tried with the GB500 single. The only one that succeeded over the long run was the Yamaha. Today, the Triumph Bonneville is a huge success because it looks like a proper English motorbike without the oil puddle underneath it.

Lately I have been thinning the herd of bikes in my barn and am starting to look for a new adventure…once I have finished the other four projects I have going, and am being drawn towards a BSA 650. I’m actually looking for one of the last designs more than the old chrome tank styles, mainly because I think they are probably going to be cheaper on the market(?). Today on ebay I found one that might just fit the bill.

On ebay today, there is a 1969 BSA A65 that has been set up for vintage roadracing. Remember, the A65 was BSA’s ‘roadracer for the street’. The A65 put out a very respectable 54HP and would top out at around 105MPH. This particular bike has been upgraded with Marzocchi forks, more modern rear shocks, and a Suzuki twin leading shoe front brake, which was a very good upgrade from the standard brake the BSA had at the time. The motor has been given some extra muscle by way of a 750cc kit But, here is the cool thing about this bike, it can easily be retrofitted with the electric’s to power a headlight, taillight and blinkers so you have a perfect cafe racer with almost no effort! The seller says that it does need some carb work but that’s no big deal. This could be a very sweet Sunday rider.Picture 30

Click on the pics below for more pictures and more info.

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Picture 171969 BSA A65 Racer

1961 Triumph Thunderbird

Loking at this bike, I can’t help but dream of jumping a fence whilst escaping from a POW camp or storming a small central California town sometime in the distant past before Sturgis was the Rubbie locale du jour. This Thunderbird (the bike not the wine) is hellaciously cool in an old-school sort of way. Plop the bike down in any black-and-white rebel/biker movie, and it would look right at home.

It is for sale on eBay, and the seller claims it was built into a cafe racer before he acquired it. I think he must be referring to the Napolean bar end that has been stuck on to the left side of the bars. Other than that, it’s really just a classic bike. There are 2 bidders who have taken the bike up to $1,625 with 2 days left, but reserve hasn’t been met as of yet.

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1971 Triumph Bonneville T120R Street Tracker

Here’s an interesting street tracker built on a Triumph Bonneville T120R. It’s got a rebuilt engine and transmission and an electronic ignition so it should be relatively reliable all things considered. One of the things I like most about this bike is the mix of modern aesthetic touches with its basic old-school sensibility. Most of this is centered around the handlebars, with the matte black finish and the aluminum/black grips, which go quite nicely with the glossy paint and chrome all over the rest of the bike. Yes, grippy rubber bits would be better on the bars from a functional standpoint, but it isn’t like this bike is a canyon carver given the low pipes. There’s more pics if you click through, but these were the ones I thought spoke best about this bike…

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1963 / 1978 Triton 750

Here’s a beautiful cafe racer that is the real deal. This full on Triton build is at auction on eBay with a current price of $6K with about 3 days left. I expect this bike to close much higher than the current price. According to the seller, it is a ground up rebuild with almost all new parts. It is missing the battery tray, so factor that in if you want this bike. Overall, a very beautiful motorcycle.

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2004 Triumph Bonneville T100 Cafe Racer

I know that I just posted another T100 that has gone through a cafe conversion, but I found this one and I really, really like it. While the lack of clubman bars or clip-ons is somewhat disconcerting, I buy the seller/builder’s explanation that these Norman Hyde M-bars are just plain more comfortable. And given the decent spec of the rest of the kit on the bike, I think we can forgive him that. And the overall look of the bike is just smokin’!

Some of the cool stuff on the bike includes the upgraded front and rear suspension, the horsepower upgrades (carbs and pipes specifically), and the overall low key cosmetic changes (seat, bars, and rear-sets). You can check out the listing for more details.

Currently, the auction is around $3,500 with just under 6 days left. This is an extremely well built bike with some top quality kit that will make the winner of the auction very happy. I think I will have to post a follow up after the close of the auction to see where it ends up…

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2005 Triumph Bonneville T100 Cafe Racer

Here’s a fairly unique motorcycle due to the modifications it has received. According to the seller, it started its current life as a salvaged-titled 2005 Bonneville T100. However, it has undergone a lot of modifications which make it fairly unique for such a late-model Triumph.

First up and most obvious on the list of modifications are the polished alloy seat and tank. These are both very nice looking pieces that are supposedly from The Tank Shop in the UK. I personally think that the seat could have been made slightly shorter and the bike would look a bit better, but that’s personal opinion only.

Next up are those cool mufflers slung under the bike. From D&D, they supposedly help the bike achieve 58 WHP on the dyno with carb jetting being done as well.

Lastly, the suspension appears to have been gone through with the addition of a longer set of ultra cool shocks with reservoirs. The front end has been fully Race-Teched with the addition of springs and gold-valve emulators. Overall the bike is about 2 inches higher off the ground with better sorted suspension all around. I have done something similar to my own motorcycle, and it really makes a huge difference in the handling.

The long and the short of it is that this is a nicely built cafe racer that should handle the twisties nicely while providing a reliable ride what with it being built in 2005. If you can live with the fact it’s been salvage titled (and if you think you can get it registered in your state), consider bidding on this bike. The current price is $3K with 2 days left and four bidders…


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1973 Triumph T140V 750 Cafe Racer

Here’s a beautiful, professionally built cafe racer that started life as a Triumph T140. It appears the bike has been entirely gone through with lots of new parts, including a full engine rebuild (top and bottom end), new ignition, custom exhaust and seat, new rims/spokes, etc. One of my favorite features is the polished aluminum tank. It and the red frame and fenders really make this bike stand out.

There are four days left in the auction for this bike, and it currently has 8 bidders who have taken the price up to $3,550 currently. Good luck if you are interested, as this is a truly magnificent bike that will make the new owner very, very happy…

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Why are they all Hondas?

I know, I know. This is something of a rhetorical question. But looking back through the posts over the last couple of months, most of the bikes I’ve written about have been from Honda. The CB750, CB550, CB350, and the CB350T have all been featured multiple times in various states of cafe build or disrepair.

I suppose it’s because so many Hondas were sold in the 1970s that they have become the ubiquitous cafe racer starting point in the United States. And so we have lots of aftermarket manufacturers supporting these bikes. Then it becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy…

I say bring on the other makes and models of bikes. Let’s see more Suzukis, Yamahas, and Kawasakis! Don’t keep that old Norton in your garage stock! And bring on the Beezers, Triumphs, and other older British marques! And while we’re at it, let’s build more Beemers and Ducks into classic cafe racers!

Sorry for the rant. It’s probably time for my meds…

1973 Triumph Bonneville Cafe Racer

Up for auction on eBay right now is this Triumph Bonneville that has been converted into a somewhat soft cafe racer. It’s got what looks like the euro-bend of the superbike bars, and a somewhat cafe-styled seat. The top-end is supposedly all rebuilt with new pistons and rings, and it has a new Mikuni carbs. This is a nice bike that can either be kept in this fairly classic-looking state. Or with a bit more effort, it could be fully converted into a cafe racer.

There were no pictures of a full-view of the left side of the bike, but a bunch more pictures of other parts of the bike in the listing…

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Catalog of 1967 Dunstall Parts

Up for auction on eBay, and ending in just over 6 hours, is this piece of classic Brit bike history. A genuine catalog of Dunstall parts from back in the day. Looking through this book of wishes (several more photos on eBay), you can dare to dream about buying a complete Metisse road or race kit for your twin cylinder BSA, Norton, or Triumph for a whopping £323. Okay, I admit it, that was probably a lot of money back in 1967. Actually, I found an inflation calculator, and it would currently convert to almost £2,000.

Be that as it may, this is a great chance to own a piece of memorabilia that might just give you some ideas about how your cafe racer should/could/would look given a time machine and a few pounds sterling…

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