Many of our customers fall for ‘Old 56’ our Triumph bobber, previously featured on The Bike Shed blog and recent customer Simon was no exception. He was up for a custom build, but his mates all ride Harley’s and were pressuring him in that direction rather than British!
The stars must have been in line that week as we’d just taken delivery of a T110 tank with a nice film of rust and lack of symmetry via Ebay. It’s such a cool looking tank and the plan of squashing it down over the top of a Harley Sportster was hatched. A session with Photoshop and we had the buy in from Simon and a deposit. We seemed to have met the brief of Meriden meets Milwaukee pretty well spot on.
Originally, we thought the donor was to be a black engine, alloy wheel 883, but to keep the ‘old school’ flavour it really had to be spoked wheels. Within a couple of weeks we had a low mileage 10 year, bike in the workshop from local dealer P&P. The orange flame tank, massive fenders, hi rise bars and naked lady sprung seat were sold on Ebay which softened the financial side of the project a fair bit and gave Simon a warm glow. Always good at the start of the journey!
From an engineering and fabrication point of view, it’s a relatively straightforward build, but it was all about altering the visual balance of the bike, getting that spot on and giving it some attitude. The rear wheel was stripped of it’s 16 inch rim and replaced with a narrower 18 to balance more with the front 19 and give the bike a more ‘see through’ look. The rear was lowered and the front springs shortened to level the whole thing out. A pair of Avon Road Riders and ‘hey presto’ it’s looking like a proper motorcycle.
The only frame mod needed was to tidy up the ‘chainsaw’ subframe amputation from the original chop. Work then began on squashing the T110 tank lower and lower over the heads. Three days and a complete new tank base saw the job done, with adaptation to the Harley mounts and closing in the Triumph top tube cut out.
The original quote for the project relied on keeping the Harley hand controls and switchgear. It’s pretty bulky stuff and too modern for the look we were after, but would unfortunately have to stay. Now, good customers are the ones that not only get really excited about what you’re creating, but say “if you need a bit extra’ to make it even better, I think there’s a bit more in the pot”. Hand controls resolved!!
First off, the Biltwell Tracker bars sported Kustom Tech raw ally brake and clutch levers with Moto Gadget M switches in MG’s own machined mounts, but the mounts stuck out as way too big and modern so the bars were drilled and built up to take the switches directly. Worth every minute of the welding and fettling, the clean look of the bars really makes the bike, whilst still keeping a full set of controls.
As well as take the build towards the old style bobber that Simon originally liked, we’ve tried to ‘lighten the look of the bike as much as possible and on the right hand side we’ve machined away all the excess metal on the engine casings and chopped back the drive pulley cover which really shifts some visual weight and gives the ‘impression’ of a separate engine and gear box.
The seat, exhaust and baffles (it really does need them) and rear light were all made in house. The adapted powerboat air scoop facing forward gave some ‘running issues, but this was resolved by choking down the inlet with our patented baffle, a Sainsbury’s measuring spoon. It’s all been topped off with a speedo from Digital Speedo’s and a deep dished 7 inch classic ‘hot rod’ headlamp.
In terms of issue’s, pushing the tank down over the engine whilst still keeping the original bottom edge intact was the only real sweat.
We’re really happy with the bike and it rides beautifully. Shedding a load of weight has helped, but sorting the balance of the chassis and adding decent tyres has made a massive difference. And, it’s comfortable.
It’s been so successful as a build that we’re thinking of ‘son of’ and maybe even ‘daughter of’ Tiger 45, so get your order in now and we’ll see you at the Goodwood Revival in September!