A bit of history and some stories about vintage bikes for sale

Posts tagged “vintage Triumph motorcycles

1971 BSA Rocket 3

BDSA Logo 5Ok, lets face it, this was not BSA’s finest hour in some people’s opinion. The Rocket 3 was a rather late answer to Honda’s market changing CB750-4, but still the Rocket 3 is an incredible motorcycle.

By 1971 BSA was trying everything they possibly could to sell bikes, sadly this version of a great bike went over like a fart in church. They painted the frame a dull grey, they made the gas tank smaller (you could only go about 75 miles before you started pushing) and it was kick start only…where’s the magic button? and of course, you always knew where you left your bike parked because it marked its spot with a bit of Castrol. Oh and did I mention the brakes? Think of Fred Flintstone? Ok,enough of the downsides, there is a lot of ups to the Rocket 3.
BSA  Rocket 3Yes, the Honda CB750 had a disc brake up front, yes it had an electric starter, it could go more than 75 miles on a tank of gas, and yeah, it was comfortable. But…the Rocket 3 was faster, handled better and had a soul that the Japanese four couldn’t match. That soul, sadly, didn’t transfer into sales however.

Picture 15Over the course of its production run, the BSA went through the ugliest gas tank every put on a motorbike to the one of the coolest set of mufflers ever put on a motorbike (the”Ray Gun Muffler”) and yet still retained the power and handling that made it great.

Interestingly enough, more people are more familiar with the Triumph Trident than the Rocket 3. Same motorcycle, different badges (Triumph was part of the BSA group at the time). If you believe that, you would be wrong. Here’s what made the BSA better. The frame was fully welded versus the Triumph’s ‘lugged and brazed’ frame (Schwinn bicycles use lug and brazed construction), one reason why the BSA handled better. Number 2; The motor was tilted forward in the frame 15 degrees where the Triumph was straight up, this gave the Beezer better weight balance and more responsive handling.

In 1971 Dick Mann won the Daytona 200 roadrace on a Rocket 3. Interestingly enough, he previously won on a Honda CB750. This was the Rocket 3’s swan song.Picture 21

Given the choice, I would pick a BSA Rocket 3 over a Trident every time (don’t tell my friend Ted…who loves his Trident more than well, more than just about anything?) And, think about this…a motorcycle that I would give up my entire collection for (I’d still have to finance the balance for one…) the Triumph X75 Hurricane, uses the BSA motor.

Picture 16So, I found a really nice ’71 Rocket 3 on ebay today and it is one of those that has the grey frame and the small gas tank, but hey, I like it. The bike is a semi-restored model, which means it still needs a few bits and pieces, but is a good runner. 11,100 miles on the clock and has the usual oil drips but this is a really cool bike that will be great fun to ride for a long time. You would be amazed at how smooth a well sorted triple really is. I would have no problem throwing a tank bag and a set of soft saddle bags on and heading around the country on this bike.

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

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Picture 121971 BSA Rocket 3


1972 Triumph Bonneville Custom

Picture 2This is really one of the coolest motorcycles up for sale now. It’s not so much about the bike, which is very cool indeed, but it’s more about the owner and why it’s being sold.

Customized Bonneville’s are probably more common than stock versions on the road these days. Vintage Bonnie’s and new generation Bonneville’s are perfect platforms for a builders creativity. Cafe’ Racers, Bobbers, Choppers, Street Trackers and genuine racers…the Bonneville is perfect.

The particular Bonneville I found today on ebay belongs to skateboard industry mogul Tony Hawk. I met Tony back in the early 1980’s. I was running a major surf and skate shop in Southern California when skateboarding was huge and Powell Peralta was the hugest of the huge. We had planned a skateboard demo, ‘The Bones Brigade’ in the parking lot of the shopping center one our stores was in. The shopping center, nor we, had any idea how big this was going to be. Hours before the demo was scheduled to start the parking lot was filling up skateboarders, and truth be told, creating all kinds of havoc. You couldn’t get into the supermarket without having to dodge a crazed fifteen year old on a skateboard…or three of them or twenty of them, it was nuts.

Picture 5When the team showed up…in a pretty stylin’ limo I might add, we had to hustle them into the shop, lock the door and order pizza, like I said this way beyond anything we had planned…it was nuts. Two hours later and a parking lot full of skateboarders surrounded by police, helicopters from local TV stations above and a shopping center manager none too happy with us, the demo became a none event. But it did make the 6 o’clock news! We had to get the guys out one way or another, so it was out the back door, over a wall and into an old, beat up VW van…mine. We all laughed but there was hell to pay later on from all sides.

So what has this got to do with motorcycles you ask, nothing really except for who is selling the bike and why. Tony Hawk is a legendary character in one world, skateboarding, and not really known in our world, motorcycles. But Tony is also known as a philanthropist. Tony has spent a lot of years working with ‘at risk’ kids through the Tony Hawk Foundation. He gets them involved in activities, like skateboarding, to keep them headed in a positive path. This particular Triumph Custom is being sold to continue the work of the foundation.Picture 3

About the bike, I look at it as somewhere between ‘bobber’ and cafe, it’s minimalistic for sure and everything has been done right. I wouldn’t expect anything less from Mr. Hawk. On ebay, there isn’t a lot of information about the bike so you might want to ask a few questions. I don’t know if it’s a rider or just something you park in your living room, but if it were me…ride it…but, park it in the living room. Of course you would need your significant other’s approval and an oil drip pan…it is English.

Click on the pics below for more info and beautiful pictures of this stunning motorbike. This Triumph is beautifully built, the pictures show more than just art on two wheels, a true craftsman built this Bonneville. Take your time and truly appreciate all the details.

Picture 9As a side note here, all too often skateboarders have gotten a bad rap and sometimes it is deserved, but I have spent the vast majority of my working life with surfers,skateboarders and motorcycle riders and 99.9% are really good people, Tony Hawk and all the work he does for disadvantaged kids is a great example of what good there is in sub cultures. And…to see great skateboarding, get the movie “the Search For Animal Chin” The Bones Brigade at their best.

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Picture 131972 Triumph Bonneville Custom


1973 Triumph T140 Bonneville

Picture 10The Bonneville was, and actually is again, Triumph’s flagship motorcycle. In the Meriden days was it the best? That is a matter of opinion. The Bonneville was fast, it handled great but, it was a bit finnicky…tuning wise. Some liked the Trophy better because of its single carburetor (easier tuning), better low end torque (friendlier rideability), and it was a bit less expensive. But, The Bonnie was King. As high performance British twins went, the Bonneville sprinted past all others, particularly in sales.

Then ‘The Rising Sun’ stepped into the picture and the British Motorcycle Kingdom was in jeopardy. Other makes just rolled over and went away but Triumph stood firm. However, everything Triumph did was in the classic ‘too little, too late’ syndrome. It’s really sad because the T140 was/is a great motorcycle, but trying to keep up with Honda’s CB750 was a losing battle.

Triumph, over the next ten years, did everything they could to keep going with the Bonneville. They survived a workers strike that shut down the factory for a year or more, then modified the bikes to satisfy American regulations (the left side shift and blinkers) and upped quality control…no more oil puddles under the bike. All kinds of limited edition models showed up on dealer floors including the Queens Silver Jubilee Edition.Picture 15
Even though Triumph kept working hard at appealing to the American rider, they just kept falling behind and by 1983 they threw in the towel.

I have owned two T140 Bonneville’s over the years and have loved them both. The Bonneville is light, it has a low center of gravity, it handles as though it knows you want to turn before you do. The T140 Bonnevile in all it’s iterations (well except for the TSX model)Picture 16
was well worthy of more than being a second class citizen in the motorcycling world. Horsepower trumped handling…oh, and so did reliability. English motorcycles could not escape their reputation for leaving you stranded as from home as you could be, not to say that a good number of Japanese bikes were really all that much better.

So, today I found a very nice 1973 T140V (the V stands for 5 speed transmission) on ebay. It is a runner according to the seller and cosmetically it looks good…not great. That’s OK. It has been repainted, looks good in the photo’s. The owner has also upgraded the ignition to a Boyer Branson electronic ignition which makes a world of difference on these bikes and a few other few improvements that help the bike. And, a set of lower handlebars make it just that much more rideable…and cooler looking.

This is a good motorcycle and seems to be selling at a fair price. Click on the pic’s below for more pictures and a bit more info.

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Picture 91973 Triumph T140 Bonneville


1968 Cheney Triumph 500

Picture 10Starting a racing career in the California deserts in the 1960’s was great! These were the days that on the starting line were legendary names…Bultaco, CZ, Maico, Husqvarna, Ossa, Penton, Sachs, DKW, Zundapp and probably a half dozen others that I can’t remember right now. But, also were the heavy weights…Triumph, BSA, Norton, even Harley Davidson (yes, the big motors, not the little Italian jobs, even though there were plenty of them as well) and believe it or not once in a while a BMW?! The Japanese were making serious inroads into off-road competition as well, I rode a Honda SL350 for two years in Enduro’s and desert races. And then to add even more fun to these event were the ‘sidehack’ racers. Talk about nutballs!?Picture 14

This was a period in time where innovation and experimentation ruled in motorcycling. Off-road racing had the Rickman brothers and Eric Cheney building better chassis’ than the OEM, Flat Track had Champion and Track Master, Road racing had their fair share of custom builders as well. This was a time to take a good motor and make it handle better. This may not be considered the ‘Golden Age’ of motorcycling to some, but to my generation, yeah, it was.

Picture 15I found a cool Cheney Racing framed Triumph on ebay today and it got me to thinking and remembering…and doing a bit of research. My step-dad’s best friend Stan Hughes had a really cool Cheney/BSA single that I thought was the hardest motorcycle in the world to start, I think I’m still right on that one (but I did learn the secret to easier starting…a few years later). I never got to ride the bike very far but I do remember how good it felt. Everything seemed to just fall into place (ergonomics) and the bike steered with almost no effort. And, on top of all that it was beautiful.

There is a good amount of Eric Cheney’s history on the web, he built the frame for British MX Champ John Banks’ BSA, he developed ISDT (International Six Day Trials) for Triumph from 1968-71 and many other racers. Most of his frames were built around the BSA Singles of the time but also built kits for the Triumph twins. A Cheney framed bike was a prized possession.

Picture 9Eric passed away a few years ago and his son took over the business. You can still get a Cheney frame built to your specs! How cool is that!

The bike I found on ebay is in very good condition, I don’t think it runs but the seller believes it’s an easy fix to get it going (weak spark…Lucas electrics?). If you want an interesting vintage off roader this is a good choice. And the Triumph 500 motor is a blast to ride!

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

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Picture 71968 Cheney Triumph 500


1973 Triumph T100R Daytona

Picture 11In my mind the T100R Daytona is the best motorcycle Triumph ever built. Well, that is until I got my ‘New Generation’ (Hinckley) Daytona, which I love oh so much…100,000 plus miles so much. But I have a good perspective here, I have owned an original T100R Daytona and would love to have another at some point in life.

I actually grew up riding Bonneville’s and loved them but when I picked up a 500cc Daytona and got it running right (thanks to Jack Hately) I knew this was the perfect motorcycle. Then. At the time I was riding a 1972 Kawasaki H2 750 triple, it was blindingly fast and a lot of fun to ride but handling was marginal at best. I wished for the handling of my old Brit bikes but loved the speed of my Kawasaki. When you’re young, speed is king. With the Daytona, I was brought back to reality, Thank you Doug Hele.

A little history of the Daytona is due here. In the 1960’s the 500cc class was the premier racing class, yes Harley Davidson was allowed to race 750’s but that was because they were still using side valve motors…rules that seem to bend their way. Doug Hele at Triumph created the T100T for Buddy Elmore to race at Daytona that year and he and it won! They did it again in 1967. After the first win Triumph put the bike into production (slightly modified of course) and gave it the name Daytona.Picture 5

The Daytona was a light, quick handling and a fast motorbike. The standard Triumph 500 had good low end torque and power and was easy to ride, the Daytona however was a vastly different ride. Riding a T100R you realize immediately there isn’t very much get up and go at the low end of the RPM range but just above 3500rpm…hang on baby! The 500 went from feeling like an anemic 350 to “find me a Bonneville to chase down, I’ll show him who’s king!!”. A Triumph Daytona brought out the rider in you, you had to be part of the machine to truly ride it like it was built to be ridden.

The Daytona was light (371lbs), put out an impressive 41HP and had a top speed of just over ‘The Ton’ (100mph). It was also very reliable for a high bred machine. In 1969 Triumph upgraded the Daytona’s engine with better engine bearings, a stronger valve train and beefier connecting rods. Later models also got the genuine race cams. The T100R Daytona is one very special motorcycle.

I found a Daytona on ebay this morning that may be a very good bike to have. This bike, according to the seller, has been in storage approximately 28 years, there is no indication of mileage, and he says it would ‘reconditioning’ before riding. Ok, most bikes that have been sitting for a number of years need a little love. Here is what I saw about this bike though. First and most obvious, it has been repainted, the ’73 did not come in plain black, and the side cover / oil tank decals are missing. Second, it’s missing the air filters (no big deal, you can get them on ebay easily), the seat looks to be original but the Triumph logo on the back is not there. I’m nit-picking here a bit but I think the seller should be asked a few questions before bidding on the bike. The good part is that it is a complete bike and the price is very reasonable for a Daytona.

The Triumph T100R is a truly great bike and I wish I had the money, the space and the time to have another one. Like this one.

Click on the pictures below for more info and more pictures

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Picture 101973 Triumph T100R Daytona


1959 Triumph T110

Picture 2What’s in a name? The Triumph T100 got its moniker because it would go 100 mph, the T110 because it went 110 mph ? Actually, ‘The Motorcycle’ magazine in Great Britain was only able to get it up to 109 mph but some others claim they got it up to 114 mph…so calling it the 110 seems a pretty good compromise. And, the T120 Bonnevillle (next in line) got its name from a T110 (a highly modified T110 mind you) that went 214.17 mph on the Bonneville Salt Flats. As legendary radio broadcaster Paul Harvey would say, “and now you know…the rest of the story”.

Picture 1The Triumph T110 was first debuted in October of 1953 at the Paris Salon. It was the first Triumph to have a swinging arm rear suspension, (quite an improvement over the plunger rear end), it had a higher compression ratio, different cam and bigger carburetor than its predecessor. The first T110’s came with the cast iron barrels and head but was quickly switched over to the newer, lighter, better alloy head. With all these improvements the new T110 was a great sporting motorcycle. In a few short years however, Triumph brought out the twin carb, lighter, faster Bonneville and the T110 became the ‘red headed stepchild’ in the line. But really, the T110 with its single carb and good (by British standards) reliability, was the better choice for daily riding.Picture 4

I found a beautiful Triumph T110 on ebay today that is in such a condition that I would not want to change one thing. This particular bike seems to be a bit of a mongrel that came out pretty much right? The seller says it’s a 1955 T110 with a 1959 Bonneville motor and it’s titled as a ’59 T110. It doesn’t really matter, your local DMV will be able to work it out…unless you’re in California.

This Tiger is a rider not a show bike and that’s a great thing. The owner had done all the good services, a bit of upgrading and in general taken good care of the bike. A lot of times I comment that a bike would be a good candidate for the Cafe’ treatment but this particular bike…leave it just as it is. I like the solo seat but the seller also offers up the stock dual seat…nice.
Click on the pics below for more info and more good pictures.

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Picture 81959 Triumph T110


1963 Triton Custom Cafe Racer

Picture 1The great thing about true motorcyclists is that they never just let things be. We want our bikes to be faster, different looking, better handling…we want it to be ours. In years past we would cobble bikes together with parts from other bikes regardless of what brand it was, I’ll find a way to make it fit on my bike.  If it worked, all the better. It was true creativity. Sometimes it worked and sometimes, well…not so much. Those of us that have cobbled bikes together at one time or another stand back, look at our creation and ask ourselves…”what was I thinking and how much tequila inspired this thing?”  But over the years there have been genius designs that really did take parts from here and there and actually make something better than its original design. The Triton, to me, is the best example of making a motorcycle that truly is ‘greater than the sum of its parts’.

The Triton is quite simple really. Take a quick revving, lightweight, reliable and easily hot rodded  motor, stick  it in the best handling chassis with the best suspension and brakes and you my friend have a perfect motorbike. There is no Triton factory, these are all custom built.

The original Tritons used a pre-unit Triumph motor, a Norton Slimline Featherbed chassis and suspension, the Norton gearbox and occasionally some Manx parts. The beauty of building bikes like this is that you could build it to whatever level you like. Some are elaborate, some are junkyard dogs, it doesn’t matter…they are Tritons. You can still find the parts to build your own Triton or you can buy one that someone has already sorted out.Picture 3

I found a really beautiful Triton on ebay that, even though it’s price is nearly through the roof, could well be worth the money for a serious cafe racer. Notice I didn’t say collector, there is nothing I find worse than having a wonderful motorcycle that is made to be ridden (and in the case of a Triton, ridden hard) tucked away in someone’s ‘collection’. Ok, off my soap box and back onto this beautiful Triton.

The bike has had a complete rebuild the motor is a 750 Triumph with new high compression pistons, hotter cams,Mikuni carbs, a new front end and stopping power provided by a great (but heavy) 4 leading shoe front brake off a SuzukiGT750. The seller is asking a lot of money for it but this is one of the few bikes I find that is actually worth the money…I just wish I had the money.

Click on the pics below for more info and more pictures. This is a beautiful motorcycle.

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Picture 61963 Triton Custom</a><img style=”text-decoration:none;border:0;padding:0;margin:0;” src=”http://rover.ebay.com/roverimp/1/711-53200-19255-0/1?ff3=2&pub=5574881880&toolid=10001&campid=5336495545&customid=1963+Triton+Custom&item=190772380809&mpt=[CACHEBUSTER]“>


1968 Triumph T100C Trophy

triumph logo When I bought my first Triumph T100 back in the early 1980’s I instantly fell in love. I had been riding Bonneville’s for years but all of a sudden the ‘Baby Bonnie’ was for me, the perfect motorbike. It was light, nimble, loved to rev, and was just too much fun to ride. The T100 was everything I loved about my Bonneville’s and less…less being more here.

A good friend, who was also a Bonneville fan, took my little T100 for a ride one day…five hours later he brought it back. He too loved the smaller size and the lighter weight but what got him was how the little 500 loved revving. Tim and I had both ridden Triumph ‘Desert Sleds’ years back and he still had one of his and rode it occasionally but now, he wanted a 500 to ride in vintage races.Picture 11

A month later, give or take a few days, Tim showed up at my house aboard a pretty ratty T100C, Triumphs scrambler version of the T100R. Knobby tyres, upswept exhaust pipes on one side, single carb and wider bars…looked like a lot of fun to me. Tim let me take it for a ride, I brought it back in less than 5 hours, and was absolutely in love again. The bikes were so different, but so much the same. Both T100’s love to rev but the ‘C’ model a little less so than the ‘R’ but the ‘C’ had more low and mid range power which gave it more of a ‘dual sport’ feeling. The single carb motor was smooth and torquey, and the brakes were almost as good as my Daytona model. The T100c didn’t have a tach but you don’t really need one on this bike, when it stops making power…shift. Simple.

Cycle magazine gave the T100C a good review saying it was equally good on tight bumpy trails and in sand. Tim did eventually strip it down, the bike went from 350 lbs down to a svelte 290 and became a much better ‘sled’ than his 650.Picture 3

Today while cruising ebay I found a very nice, not perfect but very nice, T100C Trophy Scambler. The bike has 9407 miles on the clock (not too much really), has been upgraded with an electronic ignition, got some tyres and brakes and is a good runner. It really only needs a couple of things…the heat shields for the exhaust and a good cleaning. This is a super fun motorcycle and the seller is asking a very reasonable price. If you want to treat yourself to a nice Christmas present, this is it. Make sure you check it with the wife first. Click on the pic’s below for more info and more pictures.

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Picture 71968 Triumph T100C Trophy


1983 TRIUMPH T140 TSX

Picture 4It’s 1981 and I’m looking for that ‘West Coast’ look, but I want a Triumph. I could buy a new Bonneville and I guess I can do it myself but I only have enough mechanical skills to check the air in my tires, and I don’t enough money in my bank account to have a dealer or customizer to do it for me…what’s a poor guy to do?.

In the 70’s and 80’s we lived with basically three categories of street motorcycles; the standard, the chopper, and the touring bike. Most all of us had ‘standard’ motorcycles and more than likely, the ‘UJM’..Universal Japanese Motorcycle. Some people took the ‘UJM’ to both ends of the spectrum. Choppers were made out of Honda 750’s and touring bikes were made out of that same CB750. It was an era of great creativity. And, great marketability.

During that time period, the aftermarket grew at a pace that hasn’t been seen since and the manufacturers were taking notes. Custom this, chrome that…you could make your bike look any way you wanted. Kawasaki got into the cruiser look right off the bat with the LTD series, even the Brit’s and Euro’s got into the ‘Cruiser’ look.

Picture 14There are good examples of the bikes from the continent that fit the look but more often they came out as ‘WTF’? Note the Norton Hi-Rider to the left. Triumph Motorcycles America (TMA) started noticing that dealers were doing a lot of customizing in house so, they went to the dealers to find out what they were doing so that the factory could build it. Customers were going after a certain look, the ‘West Coast’ look. Triumph was taking notice that the European market was also adding that look. After all the market research was done along came the T140-TSX.

Take your standard T140 Bonneville, stick on a kinda fat 16″ rear tyre, move the rear shocks back a bit on the swingarm to lower the back end of the bike. Next, bob the fenders some, add a stepped seat, some cool Morris alloy wheels, shorty mufflers and…voila, the ‘West Coast Look’.Picture 1

The sad part of this story is that just as Triumph was addressing the new look of motorcycling, they went broke. There were other models of the TSX in the works including an 8 valve motor that would have bumped up the performance significantly and kept Triumph in the game. But there is good news for those that did buy one of the few TSX’s…it’s a really good motorcycle and is now worth a lot of money!

Picture 2I found a really nice example of the TSX today on ebay. It’s a 1983 model (TSX’s were actually made in ’81 and ’82 but as was rather common at the time, bikes were titled when they were sold, not based on when they were made) with only 2691 miles on the clock. This TSX is factory original and in great condition. The seller says it runs and shifts perfectly, it does have the original Avon tyres (which you will want to replace), the owner put in a new battery but I would guess that a good carb clean is in order as well.

The TSX is definetly a rare bike and one that didn’t stray too far from being a Triumph Bonneville at heart. Look at what Triumph has done in its new incarnation Bonneville’s and you can see where the TSX had an influence on the future.

Click on the pic’s below for more info and more pictures. This bike is a bit pricey but considering it is a great example of an era and there are so few of them in the world, it’s worth it. And here is an added little bonus on this bike, the kickstart lever is an option item. Triumph had more faith in their electric starter than the rest of us and they knew it.

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Picture 81983 Triumph T140 TSX


1970 Triumph T100R Daytona 500

This is a motorbike that every Brit Bike lover NEEDS to own at one time in his or her life. The Triumph T100R Daytona, aka…the ‘Baby Bonneville’. The T100R is actually so much more than just a ‘Baby Bonnie’ trust me on this one.

Over the years I have owned a few Bonneville’s; 650’s and 750’s, but only one Daytona 500 and that is the one I miss the most. When I first got my little Daytona I took it straight over to the best Triumph mechanic I knew to get it running and running right…Jack Hately. Because the bike had sat outside for quite a while the carbs needed to be rebuilt, the electrics gone through, tires and brakes replaced. The work on the T100R cost more than the bike!!?? and I hadn’t even considered the repainting yet! One other thing Jack advised was getting a stock Triumph mufflers to replace the JC Whitney models that were on the bike. With complete faith in Mr. Hately I found a set of mufflers in my step dads pile of orphaned parts bikes and handed them over to Jack for the final tune up. Two weeks and a lot of money later, I rode away from Jack’s shop with a huge grin on my face…and a very pissed off wife looking at the checkbook.

Calling the Daytona a ‘Baby Bonneville’ is almost an insult to the T100R. The Bonneville is a spectacular motorcycle no doubt but…the Daytona is lighter, quicker handling, more rev happy and was the first Triumph 500 to push past the ton!! Top speed was right around 110mph…fantastic! The Daytona was the bike that really could say to the Bonneville “anything you can do I can do better” and get away with it. But here was the problem in the USA… we always believe ‘bigger is better’, look at Triumph’s current Rocket 3!? So, the T100R didn’t sell all that well here. Better than the Bonneville? No. Different than the Bonneville, yes. More fun than the Bonneville, without a doubt!

I rode that Triumph Daytona everyday. It started easily, was light (around 350lbs), and would turn on a dime and give you nine cents change. At that time, for me, it was a truly perfect motorbike. Sadly, about three years later, somebody decided that they liked the Daytona more than me and took it from my garage.

I found a nice little T100R Daytona this morning on ebay that would make a very easy winter project. A 1970 model with 22K miles on the clock and really only needs a few things to be perfect. Get the stock mufflers! The bike will run so much smoother and don’t forget the original style pill box air cleaners. Give it a good paint job or don’t worry about the looks and just ride the wheels off it.

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



1970 Triumph T100R Daytona


1973 Triumph Trident

I have written before about my fondness for the Triumph Triple, I’ve told stories about my friend Ted Toki and his Trident and I have put quite a few miles on the T160. To this day, I still have a Triumph triple, albeit a more modern version, that I won’t give up for anything.

There is a lot of interesting history that comes with the Trident. This was a motorcycle that while being designed and developed was actually ahead of its time. The design and development started back in 1961. At that time there were single cylinder motorbikes, twins and fours, but no three cylinder models. One of the biggest issues with singles and twins of the era was vibration; bone numbing, eyeball shaking, teeth rattling vibration. Norton attacked the problem by developing the ‘Isolastic’ engine mounting system which really worked quite well. Triumph designers came up with the idea for a three cylinder machine with a unique firing order that would quell the vibrations.

Many people believe that the 750cc Trident was originally designed as a ‘Daytona and a half’ (the Daytona being the 500cc twin), but that’s not true at all, the Trident motor design is unique unto itself, more can be read about that on a number of different Triumph websites.

The Trident was and is a great bike and, if all had gone according to plan, it truly would have been the first multi-cylinder superbike on the market, but…squabbling and internal politics slowed bringing the bike to market. This was at a time when Triumph and BSA were living under one corporate umbrella and sharing a lot of the resources. Again there is a lot of interesting information about this time in British bike history out there. One of the things that I found most interesting, even back when I was riding a Trident, was that most people thought that the BSA Rocket 3 and the Trident were the same bike, just badged differently…au contraire. They are very different motorcycles. Now, originally they were supposed to be the same bike rebadged and with a few other minor changes to differentiate the two, but the boys at Small Heath (BSA’s home) didn’t like that idea and wanted something they could call their own and that’s when everything started slowing down.

We have all heard the expression that goes something like ‘there’s nothing sadder than unfulfilled potential’ well, the Trident is one of the great examples of that saying in the motorcycling world. Because of the internal politics causing the bike to be a year late in being brought to market, Honda trumped the Brit’s with the much more sophisticated and, less expensive, 1969 CB750 four cylinder machine. And, on top of that, the first year Trident was probably one of the ugliest motorcycles ever built…period. The design team apparently spent way more time at the pub than they did in the design studio. The slab sided gas tank caused the new Trident to be dubbed the ‘shoebox’ tank design. The mufflers were also derided, called the ‘Ray gun mufflers’ or the ‘Flash Gordon’ mufflers, now, some may call them ugly but I love ‘em and on top of that, they actually gave the engine better performance than the models that followed.

Fast forward a couple of years and BSA goes belly up and Triumph forges on. The Trident continues for few years getting better and better, but is way behind the Japanese Superbikes. The Triumph handled better, and Meriden went back to traditional styling for the Trident. Now, here is a bit of irony for you…BSA didn’t want a rebadged Triumph for their triple, but when they went under there were still a lot of the BSA engines lying around and Triumph feeling the need to do something unique to try to capture some of the US market with the Trident, brought in designer Craig Vetter (of Windjammer fairing fame) to design a motorcycle based on the British three cylinder bike. The result was the X75 Hurricane. Less than 2000 of these models were built and here is where the irony comes in…it is a BSA Rocket 3 badged as a Triumph. The X75 Hurricane is currently one of the most sought after bikes amongst collectors and enthusiasts.

All of this brings me to the bike I found on ebay this morning. A 1973 T150 Trident that is mostly all stock and is a good runner. This bike was bought and then taken apart (not down to the engine internals though), gone over, refreshed and put back together. The bike looks good, it has a set of lower bars vs. the ‘buckhorn’ style that would be original. It is a right side shift, proper for a British motorbike, and kick start only. And so far a good value. But there is more to this bike.

This Triumph Trident is being auctioned off to benefit the Jacobs Journey House in Tempe Arizona. Jacobs Journey Ministries provides shelter and help to the homeless and disadvantaged in the Phoenix and Tempe area. Before recommending this bike and where the money will be going I did some research and did find out that these people do good work in their area and are well worth supporting. So…if you are looking for a cool British motorbike, especially a Trident that has been set up nicely and runs good, click on the pics below for more pictures of the bike and the process that Seth went through freshening up the T150 and, a little more info. The ad does not say if it runs but I contacted the builder, Seth, and he assured me that it runs great. And one more thing…whoever wrote the ebay listing is the worst speller I have ever seen…actually, we all got a good chuckle reading the listing. Don’t let that take you away from a bike that can help a lot of people.




1973 Triumph Trident


1952 Triumph Thunderbird frame and engine

I started my motorcycling life on big bikes riding my step dad’s Triumph Thunderbird. I even crashed it once, right in front of him…you can imagine how things were in our house for the next few days, weeks, months…But, it was that motorcycle that infected me with the British bike disease. I have had many Brit bikes since that time and still ride one. I am a sick person.

That Triumph T-Bird taught me more about motorcycling and motorcycle maintenence than just about motorcycle I have ever had. I learned how to rebuild a sprung hub, cut my own cork clutch plates and how to troubleshoot and fix the electrical system (there are a lot of jokes about Lucas electrics that could fit in here but you have already heard them all).

While about as far from home as I was going to get one day, my trusty (?) Triumph 500 decided that it had had enough fun for one day. Over to the side of the road I went and started started staring at the electrical system with a truly blank stare. Now, remember this in the day before cell phones…way before, (as a matter of fact, most houses still had rotary phones?!) and I didn’t bring my carrier pigeon along for the ride that day. I won’t make that mistake again…While sitting there pondering the world of English electrics I heard the rumble of a thundering herd of motorcycles. It was a group of Hells Angels members out for a Sunday ride. When they pulled over near me you can imagine what I was thinking. As it turned out, I was helped by a couple of Hells Angels members that happened to know a lot about my little Triumph. These two guys stayed with me while the others continued on and got my bike running better than it had for quite a while. It was a bit scary at the beginning but these guys were so helpful, we ended up riding the rest of the day together and I bought them lunch to say thanks.

But, I digress. Lets gets back to what I found on ebay…the starting point for a truly rare Vintage Triumph. This is really more than a winter project, probably two or three winters. If you’re lucky. It is really only the engine, trans and frame. But….there is so much you can do with this start. Bring it back to stock (that’s going to be a LOT of work), make it a true old school chopper (a lot of it easier to do than go stock), or a vintage racer (flat track or roadracer), or it’s just another motorcycle project that your wife looks at as ‘another piece of junk taking up space in the garage’ and looks at you with that look of “my mother was right, I should have married Irving Shcnickelfritz, the accountant”.

Now, most importantly, you’re going to need the sprung hub. The hub had what was politely known as a suspension built inside, a couple of springs that gave the rear axle about an inch of travel? It worked after a fashion. But it is correct for this motorcycle to have no matter what route you take to finish it. And I would certainly want the way cool headlight nacelle. That headlight had all the instruments but it was actually made to house the bigger 7″ headlight. And you’re hoping that it stays on when you need it (back to the Lucas jokes). The more I look at it, I would do all I can to make a stock T-Bird again. But…and this is a big but, it would take a lot more than one or even two winters to do that. Ah, what else have you got to do on those cold Minnesota nights?

A couple more little interesting things about the Thunderbird. The T-Bird was born out of the 500cc Speed Twin, it was bumped up 150cc that gave it 8 more horsepower. At that time, post WW2, here in America big twins ruled the roads and to compete the brits had to make their lighter, better handling motorcycles more powerful. Enter the Thunderbird. The bike went from the twin carbs of the 500 to a single SU carb for better fuel economy. One way to tell if you have a genuine Thunderbird is if it has a hole in the downtube behind the engine that connects the carb to the air box. Most of the parts of the bike that we would normally expect to be chomed are painted because metal treatments like that were being saved and used for the Korean war effort machinery.

There are a number of good resources for old Triumph parts here in the US and England. I found four right here in California and two in Australia, my guess is that England is a treasure trove of parts to bring this skeleton back to life.

To get started on your next life long, exasperate the hell out of your wife and friends click on the pics below for more info (not much really…how much can you really say about a frame and engine? But you might want to ask the seller if the dog comes with it?




’52 Triumph Thunderbird frame and engine


’74 Rickman Zundapp Six Days

I love Rickman motorcycles. Don and Derrick took good motorcycles; Triumphs, Honda’s, Kawasaki’s, Montessa’s and made them better. Right now the current owners of the Metisse name are marketing a Steve McQueen Triumph Desert Replica…for some serious cash!!! I mean take out a second mortgage kind of cash….

But…years back you could get a Rickman framed Hodaka 100cc, a Zundapp 125 and a 250cc Montessa. The Rickman versions were light, handled far better than the factory originals and, would certainly give you the edge in any race. If…you had the talent and skill.

This is whole ‘nother story, but look at the Moto 2 class (formerly the 250cc Gran Prix) in roadracing and next year the Moto3 (formerly 125’s) they are all running spec engines, (Honda, quite a marketing ploy if you don’t mind my saying…)

I have done a lot of research on Rickman framed motorcycles over the years but never much about Zundapp…so while researching this particular motorcycle I learned a lot about the German company. While working at a motorcycle dealership, I asked most of the people there if they knew of Zundapp. You can imagine the blank stares I got. I have to admit here that I knew the name but nothing of the company. It’s pretty interesting.

Did you know that before motorcycles, Zundapp made bombs for the German military. They built their first motorcycle after WW1 in 1921, then later on, worked with Dr. Ferdinand Porsche to develop the Volkswagen. Zundapp built bikes ranging from 50-800cc’s and then after World War Two, like many European motorcycle builders, switched to small displacement bikes only. Easy transportation and economy were the key factors in transportation Europe at that time.

Think about this for a moment, after World War 2 we, the United States, were building and importing the biggest motorcycles we possibly could…Harley Davidson’s, Triumph’s BSA’s…and Europe was scaling everything down to be economical because of the cost of fuel. Not much has changed has it?

Ok, back to Zundapp. After WW2 Zundapp brought out the Bella Scooter, a very cool little classic European scooter. Zundapp was still building big bikes, but that market was dying rapidly. The last of the big (598 cc…the model601) was discontinued in 1951. After that time the company only built little scooters and mopeds and Zundapp finally closed up shop in 1984. They were bought up by a Chinese company, Xunda, and eventually, and still. making small bikes using Honda engines. And one more little thing about Zundapp…they are heavily involved with Enfield India. They are building small bikes for the world market.

This Rickman Zundapp I found on ebay is a pretty cool bike but there are a few questions. What color should it really be??? Some say red is the right color but some histories say light blue…quite a debate I find. Here’s the deal, it’s a really cool little bike that if you want to ride lightweight vintage enduros you can’t go wrong. You only need to acquire a few parts…headlight, tail light lens, speedo, and, if where you ride they require them.. blinkers. There might be a few other things you may want to get but all in all this a very unique motorcycle that has a great history.

To find out more, click on the pic’s below. I wish I still rode Enduro’s, this would be fun.




’74 Rickman Zundapp 125


’78 Kawasaki KZ 750 Twin

I have written about these bikes before and every time I see one I want to buy it. There is just something about these Kawasaki Twins that really get me going. I know they’re heavy, kinda slow, don’t handle all that great, but…they really work great.

Kawasaki a couple of times has tried to go toe to toe with the British twins, Triumph and BSA with their W650 and neither time were successful. The first go ’round back in 1966 was a pretty dismal failure, looking more like a BSA 500 twin but performing something more like, well, anything but a BSA 500, it was a sales disaster. Kawasaki made the W1, W2 and W3 versions for a number of years but they never really caught on here in the US.

In the mid 1970’s Kawasaki tried it one more time, but this time instead of trying to mimic the classic British Twin, they opted for a more modern design all the away around. My feeling was that they saw the success of the Yamaha XS650 and said to themselves (in Japanese) hey, if they can do it, we can do it? Hence the KZ750 Twin was born.

The KZ750 is a great platform for just about any kind of riding you want to do. Daily commuter, solo traveler, custom, and of course my favorite way to set up this motorcycle…cafe racer.

The big (by vertical twin standards) handled it’s vibration issues pretty well with a counterbalancer and rubber engine mounts but it is important with this model to keep your carbs in balance. I know some owners that have junked the stock carburetors in favor of a pair of flat slide Mikuni’s and tell me that that one change made the motorcycle come to life. Well, along with a period appropriate Kerker exhaust system…

It’s not a true classic now, but I really do believe that the KZ750 will at some time become a relatively valuable collector bike. I guess that most any old motorcycle will find a niche somewhere at some time…I’m betting on my newly acquired Yamaha SRX to fall into that category?!

I found this very nice KZ750 on ebay this morning and even though the opening value may seem a bit high, I don’t believe it is. It’s a 1978 model B with only 12,000 miles on the clock. It is completely stock except for the mirrors and grips. The chrome and paint are all in excellent condition. This one really nice example of a really good motorcycle for just about any riding you would want to do. My suggestion, place a bid at the last minute, fly out to where the bike is and ride it home. But, winter is coming so do it soon! Click on the pics below for more info and more pictures.

Now it’s time for me to work on my little SRX…




’78 Kawasaki KZ750


BMW R75/5 Cafe’

In the early 70’s the Honda CB750 and the Mighty Z1 from Kawasaki were truly dominating the sportbike world (a term that really hadn’t been coined at the time).Triumph had the Trident;BSA the Rocket 3; Suzuki,the GT750. European bikes were there but not dominant. Enter the BMW R75/5.

THe R75/5 was relatively light at 463 lbs, finally came with 12volt electrics (those actually showed up a bit earlier but was now standard), had both electric and kick starter (the gentlemans kick starter, you actually stand next to the bike not straddling it, and simply push down the starter lever. Smooth, easy and very gentlemanly.

Most of my riding friends nowadays have Airhead BMW’s, I have one as well. And, most of them ride /5 BMW’s. They are reliable, classic looking, good handling and as compared to the CB750, which was what they (BMW) were after. The /5 series less sophisticated but in many respects more soulful than it’s Japanese counterpart.

I found this 1975 R75/5 semi Cafe on ebay and loved it instantly. My friend Bill Stermer of Rider Magazine, has one very similar to this one. THe Hannigan fairing is a beautiful design. It is amazing how much this fairing, racy as it may appear, makes a long ride more comfortable. Krauser bags because a /5 is designed for traveling,new shocks, Dyna electronic ignition (which I really need to put on my R90S…) rebuilt Bing carbs, a Corbin seat and new tires. This bike has only 27K miles…barely broken in by BMW standards.

For BMW, the R75/5 was truly a landmark motorcycle. Yeah, it was more expensive than it’s Japanese competitors but it had and still has, a feeling and sound that makes you feel like you are riding a motorcycle not a sewing machine on wheels. It may top out at 110 MPH, a few short of the CB750, but the feeling of those two big pistons pushing you along with a vibration that can’t be described until you feel it yourself, the clacking of the valves opening and closing, the distinctive exhaust note that only an Airhead BMW can give, truly magical.

There are a couple of great websites that can help you if you decide to become an Airhead.
www.5united.net
www.bmwdean.com
www.bobsbmw.com the best source for airhead parts

This is a great motorcycle and a really good value…this is really a fly and buy motorcycle. Click on the pictures below for more info.

BMW R75/5



’52 Triumph TRW500

Now, who wouldn’t feel really cool riding around on a genuine military issue Triumph? I’d love riding around on one of these. My friend Jeff, has a BMW sidecar rig that is about as close to a military rig as they come without being full military. All he needs to make it the real deal is an authentic paint job and a couple of machine guns. Considering what he does for a living and traffic issues, I would imagine the machine guns are a little higher on the priority list than the paint job. And don’t ask me what he does for a living cuz I won’t tell. Well, maybe if you ask real nice…Anyway, there are a lot of riders out there that have great collections of all things military and a Triumph TRW500 would be a perfect addition.

There isn’t a whole lot of information available about the TRW500 out there but there is some. The British military during WW2 knew that a motorcycle was the best way to get around. BSA came up with a bike as did Triumph. Triumph was the winner. Here’s how it worked. The military wanted a sturdy reliable motorbike but it also had to be quiet, better to be sneaky behind enemy lines, the twin that BSA came up with was too noisy as was the basic Triumph twin. Side valve motors were deemed the better choice. Triumph had a prototype ready, they slid it into an existing Trophy 500 frame.

The bike was originally designed in 1943 but it wasn’t put into production until ‘The Big One’ was over?! So as you can imagine, a large portion of the 15,000 or so TRW500’s were just sitting in a warehouse. In 1948 Triumph started selling these military vehicles off to foreign countries. Pakistan, Nigeria and Canada were just a few of the countries buying these bargain basement vehicles. Most of the TRW500’s that you find here in the US of A came out of Canada, probably not too many arrive here from the mountains of Pakistan. The sales of these motorbikes carried on through the early 1960’s.

I found one of these gems on ebay yesterday and it’s a pretty neat bike. It comes with 7278 miles on the clock, and almost all the good military stuff. It just needs the saddlebags. There are a couple of dings on the bike, as any good military bike should have…war wounds is what you would call them and needs a battery. Other than those things it’s a rider. The owner has a video up to show the bike running. This is one of those motorcycles that you can ride to any bike gathering place and be guaranteed you’ll have the most interesting motorbike there.

Now, you may be saying to yourself, “yeah neat bike, but parts for this thing don’t exist”. Wrong World War Two breath! There is a great source of parts for this Triumph, http://www.burtonbikebits.com These guys have a great supply of parts and knowledge available. This really would be a fun motorbike to have.

Click on the pics below for more pictures and info. I don’t think the bike comes with machine guns though…sorry Jeff.





’52 Triumph TRW500


’68 Norton Fastback

I would have to say that the worst Norton motorcycle ever built had to be the ‘Hi Rider’ . Whoever thought this was a good idea had spent way too much time in a pub after watching a few really bad ‘Biker’ movies. Worse yet, somebody in marketing and management went along with it. No wonder Norton went out of business. Okay, it wasn’t the Hi Rider that killed Norton, but it certainly was one of the nails in the coffin. This isn’t about the Hi Rider, but it is about models that were not so well received by the motorcycle buying public.

Every motorcycle manufacturer has laid its own share of eggs. Without going through a whole list (which is a whole ‘nother story of its own..actually a whole book!!) I’ll toss out just a few. Now, before I get into this list, it’s not about being a bad motorcycle, it’s only about how it was perceived in the market and how it sold.

One of the first that comes to mind is the Vincent ‘Black Knight’. A dud back then, very valuable today. The Harley Davidson XLCR, still the red-headed stepchild of the Harley lineage. Even the original Superglide went over like a fart in church. The Honda GB500? A great motorcycle but not the right bike at the right time and way over priced. Today a GB500 in good condition is selling for 2-3 times its original selling price (when dealers were begging you to buy one!). And think about this, the Triumph X75 Hurricane languished in dealer showrooms because it wasn’t ‘ a traditional Triumph’, today…good luck finding one for sale.

There are a number of great motorcycles out there that are just a bit of a missstep in the marketing department, and yet they become classics or cult bikes. One of these is the Norton Fastback.

The Fastback is, in my opinion, one of the very first ‘factory cafe racers’. Powered by the 750CC Commando motor, handling provided by the ‘Featherbed’ frame, engine vibration quelled using the new ‘Isolastic’ engine mounting system…(it really worked well. If you had ridden a pre-Isolastic Norton then got on the new model, you would immediately feel the difference), the classic Roadholder forks, all in all a great bike. But, some were put off by the new styling. The Fastback was the first bike to come out of the Norton Villiers marriage and though magazines liked the motorcycle, all had a tough time with the styling. The tank, seat. tail section were, well…not quite normal. It didn’t have the standard look and it didn’t quite have the Manx style, it was somewhere in between. Personally, I like it. Well, truth be told here, it did take me a while to like it…kind of like good Scotch.

So today I find a ‘nice’ Fastback on ebay. Nothing too special, it’s a runner, comes with an aftermarket tank and exhaust but the originals come with the bike so you can have it whichever way you like, it has been upgraded to an electronic ignition (which helps with the ease of starting and general rideability of the motorcycle a lot), the intake has been modified to a single carb which also helps general rideability but does rob the Commando engine some of its power and, the owner says it has a later model frame because the original frame had structural (weld) problems. OK, which frame is it?

This bike seems to be a good way to get into the Norton family without having to drain your vintage bike savings account too badly. Click on the pic’s below for a bit more info and a bunch more pictures.




’68 Norton Fastback


Rickman Triumph

I have written plenty about the Rickman brothers and their motorcycles so I won’t go over all that again. They have a great story that if you are interested in Iconic motorcycles and motorcycling people you should read. From Motocross to Roadracing, the Rickman Brothers were and still are, very influential.

Today I found a very nice Rickman Cafe Racer based around a ’73 Triumph T140 750. The motor has been rebuilt, upgraded with an electronic ignition…points and condensors can be a bit annoying at times. The bike rolls on new Excel aluminum rims ( I would have gone with classic Akront’s…) and new rubber. It’s a nice bike and even though I think it’s a bit pricey, in the collector world, it’s not. This would make a very nice rider not a collector piece. I like it without the fairing actually. A very classic Cafe Racer. Click on the pics below for more pictures and a some of the Rickman story.





Rickman Triumph


Time to sell motorcycles

Hey, it’s cold outside. And…all those Christmas bills are piling up. Time to unload a motorcycle or two. Each morning after my first cup of tea and the first round of the news cycle, I sit down at my computer, check the racing news, see how my favorite riders are doing in the Dakar Rally, and then cruise through ebay. I need a few parts for my various Cafe Racer projects, the Benelli 250 that I received as a gift the other day, and to see what might be interesting to pass on to you.

This morning I found a bunch of bikes covered in snow. This got me to thinking / questioning, when is the best time to sell a motorcycle? There are a lot of answers to that question and it mostly depends on what kind of motorcycle you are trying to sell. My day job as a motorcycle salesman…one step ahead of a used car salesman and insurance agent…gives me a bit of insight here.

During the winter, the bike (street or dirt) is sitting there, you haven’t ridden it for a while, maybe a long while, and you’re thinking “I gotta pay off Christmas bills” or, “My wife says I have to clean out the garage”, or, “I need more room in my basement for that vintage BSA I want to slide in here without the wife knowing…”. Whatever the reason, this is the second most popular time to sell a motorcycle.

Lets look at this from another angle, the buyers angle. Somebody looking for a motorcycle or a winter motorcycle project sees this as the best time to get a bargain. They’re right…and the seller knows that too. Buyers do have the upper hand this time of year, but that will end in about sixty days. When that first good thaw hits, it becomes a sellers market again. There are some great values out there, now, so this is a great time to buy a snowbound motorcycle. You can pick up that winter project that will keep you from having to watch American Idol or, if you live in an area that is not snowbound you can pick up a cool scoot to ride ride now at a really good price.

So now you’re asking yourself, “if this is the second best time to sell a motorcycle, when is the first?” When the first flowers of spring pop up through the snow and riders get excited about riding again, then my friends the price of that new dream ride of yours just went up a few hundred dollars.


Pair of Triumph’s

Triumph motorcycles have a cool factor that none others have. Take the movie ‘The Wild One’, everyone looks at that movie and thinks of all the bad guys riding Harley Davidson’s… and, at the time Harley did have the ‘bad boy’ image going full speed. The Brit’s however, had more of a ‘poof’ image going for them. Well, Marlon Brando didn’t ride a Harley, he rode a Triumph into Hollister California.

Next, you add the coolest of the cool, Steve McQueen. He rode Triumphs everywhere. Desert racing, on the street and in one of the greatest movies of all time…’The Great Escape’…( I have always wondered why Steve was riding a Triumph and all the German’s were riding BMW’s??? OK, before I get blasted here, I know it was Bud Ekins that did the jump over and into the fence not Steve…). Triumph’s really are cool. You don’t see BSA’s in the movies do you?

I found a great deal (maybe) on ebay this morning for a pair of Triumphs. For very reasonable money you can add two running, nice Triumph’s to your collection, a ’68 Bonneville and a ’69 Trophy. Both appear to be in really good shape, mostly stock, and both have had some service and upgrades done. The Trophy has a sidestand issue, appears the the frame tab is gone or damaged but that is an easy fix. The Bonnie has only 8900 miles, while the Trophy has 18,000 miles on the clock. Hey, I’ve told you before that Trophy’s are the better riders. The seller says that both are currently on the road so that is a good sign. But I wonder…this is a really good deal for two bikes..is there something that the seller is not saying? There are only a few pictures and not much info but you can contact the owner and ask some good questions. If all things check out, this could be your Christmas present to yourself. Click on the pic’s below for a bit more info and the contact. Looks pretty good to me.

Oh, I forgot…the ultimate in cool factor for Triumph…Fonzi jumping over the shark in the TV show Happy Days…just kidding, Triumph got more screen time on Happy Days than anywhere else. I wonder if that helped, or hurt, sales?



Pair of Triumphs


’70 Triumph Trident

When I think of Triumph Tridents and BSA Rocket 3’s I have wonderful memories and recall past dreams. I look back at trips with my friend Ted Toki and his purple Trident, that little Hawaiian could make his Triumph really fly; my step uncle’s Rocket 3 with the ‘Ray Gun’ mufflers, and a guy named John ( I can’t remember his last name ) that had a really ratty Trident that always seemed to run on only two cylinders. John would just ‘happened to be out riding, saw I was home and wondered if I could help (?) him find the problem’…I finally did one day and I never saw him again.

Triumph/BSA are actually credited with creating the first ‘modern era’ Superbike with the three cylinder bike. The bad part for them was that it took so long to get the bike to market that by time it showed up, it was already outdated…enter the Honda CB750. Triumph/BSA did their best to upgrade the bike over the first few years, styling and performance wise, but it was too little, too late.

A last ditch attempt, well maybe not ‘last ditch’, was to hire a designer/enthusiast to create a Trident that would truly stand out. Craig Vetter and the X75 Hurricane. This is the motorcycle that is at the very top of my Christmas list.

So…considering the X75 Hurricane is probably out of Santa’s budget this year maybe just a regular Trident will do. I found a nice one on ebay today. It’s a semi Cafe Racer…clubman bars, different pipes (very good looking reverse cone style), thats about all in the cafe mode, but it’s a good start.The ad says only 451 miles??? I think not and the owner can’t confirm the figure. The bike shows a bit more age than that but, it is in very good shape regardless of mileage. It could use a bit of TLC and the reward will be well worth the effort. Tridents are great motorcycles, just change the oil religiously, use premium gas, keep a close watch on the electrics and you’ll have a motorcycle that you can enjoy for many years. Besides all that, a Triumph triple has a beautiful sound.

Something that is interesting to me is, that when Triumph was reborn in 1991, it was the Trident triple that brought them back to life. Click on the pics below for a very clean Trident at what I think will sell for a very reasonable price.




’70 Triumph Trident


’72 Triumph T100R Custom

Something happened here. I saw an ad for a Triumph T100R, the Daytona model, which I have owned one of. The ad and the picture showed a nicely done bobber bike but…where’s the Daytona? This Triumph T100R has gone from a dual carburetor motor, drum brake and normally suspended motorcycle to a single carb, disc braked and plunger style frame custom. It looks good.

The builder did a nice job with this bike. Personally, I would have stuck with the drum brake for the look, but the disc is better for riding. I wonder what kind of frame this is, it looks good and I think the plunger rear end is very good looking…but not all that comfortable for riding. I really only have one problem with the bike, the mufflers. Those big ‘ol silencers look like they came straight off a T140. They’re a little too big for this build, but that’s just my opinion. All in all though, a pretty clean bike, and going for a very fair price.

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




’72 Triumph T100R Custom


’69 Triumph TR6 Trophy

The best of the Triumph 650 twins. That’s just my opinion. The TR6 did everything that was expected of it and then some…it’s not every motorcycle that can jump a barbed wire fence you know. Yes, it was a Triumph TR6 that Steve McQueen (Bud Ekins) jumped the fence on in the Great Escape. The Trophy was also well loved here in Southern California for its off-road capabilities. Through the 50’s and 60’s, the TR6 was the king of the ‘Desert Sleds’. I tortured a Trophy in a few desert races, my step dad and his brother built a reputation for themselves, and not necessarily a good one…,racing a TR6 sidecar rig in the Mojave. They had much bigger ‘huevos’ than brains back then.

The Triumph TR6 Trophy was the movie star motorcycle. Steve McQueen rode one, Clint Eastwood, and of course…’The Fonz’. The TR6 had all the right looks…just like the aforementioned stars. When you ask most any motorcycle rider that has a few grey hairs on his head, what is the first bike that comes to mind when you say Triumph, the answer will 99% of the time come back, the Bonneville. But it was the Trophy that was the better seller and the true workhorse of the line. The TR6 gave the rider all the same great handling of a Bonneville and almost the same power, but, came in an easier to tune and maintain package. And, quite a bit less expensive, the Bonneville name alone was worth quite a few more dollars.

I came a cross a really nice ’69 TR6 today on ebay that has a mild cafe racer treatment and a couple of nice upgrades. I like the nickel plated frame, the Euro style handlebars,the high pipe exhaust and the disc brake up front…all very nice. This Trophy is a well taken care of Triumph that, even though has not been used as a daily rider could be. These are sweet handling, reliable and comfortable bikes. What more could you ask for. Well, a suspension tweak, a Boyer ignition….but that’s about all. Click on the pics below for more pictures and a bit more info.



’69 Triumph TR6 Trophy


’71 Triumph T25 SS & T models

Double your pleasure, double your fun with Doublemint gum…or a pair of Triumph T25’s. Yep, two for just about the price of one. The Triumph T25 is really only a BSA B25 rebadged, but that’s ok. These little 250’s are really fun to ride. They’re relatively light, easy to start, handle good and for the most part, very reliable. And you can get two of ‘em!

What’s the difference between the SS and T models? The SS is the ‘street scrambler'; road tyres, a hugger style front fender. The T model is the trail model (they call it the Trail Blazer); semi knobby tyres, high front fender and I think, final gearing is different as well. Both of the T20 models are open for lot’s of modifications. You can take one of these and make a very competent dirt bike out of it…it only weighs 320 lbs and that exhaust has got to weigh most of that?! Really, it wouldn’t take all that much to make this a very fun off roader. The SS model is so ripe for the cafe’ treatment…dump the exhaust, upgrade the suspension and do the regular cafe tweaks and you have one rockin’ little canyon carver.

In the first paragraph I said the T25’s are “for the most part, very reliable”, well…maybe I exaggerated a bit. The little 250’s are very happy revving motors and seem to work best at high (that’s a relative term here…) rpm’s, but along with those high revs come problems. The T25 and the BSA B25 have a tendency to have valve train issues along with lower end frailties. There are two things you can do to lessen these issues. #1, don’t rev it up real high…(duh) and, #2, fix the problems before they happen. There are a number of good websites that have good fixes and sources for parts…there are plenty of parts out there and not all that expensive.

I found this pair of T25’s on ebay this morning for a very reasonable price. You get both a Street Scrambler and a Trail Blazer..how much fun. Hey, I know…the his and hers models!? That way you can convince the wife to let you bring them home??? I’ve tried that one more than once and I can’t think of one time it actually worked, but…your mileage may vary. The Trail model is ready to ride today and the SS was ridden a year ago and needs just a bit to put it back on the road. While looking closely at the pictures, the SS has the better twin leading shoe front brake while the T model has the older single leading shoe front…the single is fine for casual off road use but the newer brake is MUCH better. Doesn’t diminish the value of this pair in the least. All in all if you like smaller bikes and want something a bit different, a T25 is a great choice. Click on the pics below for more info. These really are fun motorcycles…surprisingly so.




’71 Triumph T25 SS & T


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