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

Posts tagged “vintage Triumph motorcycles

1969 Triumph Tiger Cub and more…package deal

I found a very interesting collection of bikes on ebay this morning…Ok, it’s just a guy clearing out his garage. We’ve all had to do that over the years either because we ran out of room for the new motorcycles we wanted or more than likely because our wives were tired of having to look at what she considered junk and couldn’t get to what she was trying to get to.
Screen Shot 2015-09-24 at 8.49.28 AM So, this guy has two interesting motorcycles and one that goes on the front bumper of a motorhome bound for Florida. First is a 1969 Triumph Tiger Cub, a simple little 250cc motorcycle. The Cub was unreliable, period. It had lubrication issues, bearing problems, a weak triple tree and of course Lucas electrics. But still an interesting little motorcycle.
Next up, a Honda VT500 Ascot. In my view this is the gem of the bunch. Truthfuly the VT500 wasn’t the most powerful bike of it’s era or genre, yet…it worked. Now I have to say, it has one of the most ugly headlight setups I have ever seen. I would instantly change it! Except the wiring harness would probably be an absolute nightmare…a good Saturday project.
Screen Shot 2015-09-23 at 5.22.47 PMThe VT500 didn’t have all that much horsepower (54…That seems plenty for having a lot of fun?!) but what it did have was a nice tight chassis that gave the bike really fun handling. It was styled after the FT500 Ascot single (which I raced for years) but came with a 6 speed tranny, shaft drive and a little more comfortable ergo’s. My old friend Mike Eaton (one of the greatest surfboard builders ever!!!) had one. I got a chance to ride it on the twisty roads of Point Loma in San Diego and had way too much fun. This is a great bike.
Screen Shot 2015-09-24 at 8.38.06 AMNext is a 1972 Suzuki Rover. Put it on the front of your motorhome and hang out at the KOA’s across the country on your way to visit the Grandkids in Florida. Actually, this could be a really fun little trail bike, however, it went over like a fart in church. Didn’t sell. But hey, everybody can use something to take up space in their garage. You could probably hide this little bike behind all the other junk your wife doesn’t know about (yeah right).

It’s a pretty interesting package deal. Click on the pics for more info and pictures. And by the way, this seller is by far the worst picture taker I have ever seen! Do not let him or her come to your wedding!!!

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Screen Shot 2015-09-23 at 8.13.11 AMTriumph Tiger Cub and more


1973 Triumph T100R…Daytona

Screen Shot 2015-09-01 at 7.11.56 AMIn my almost 50 years of riding motorcycles I can honestly and truthfully say that there are only two motorcycles that I miss more than any of them all. The sad part is that they both left at the same time…stolen out of my garage while I was making a balony sandwich. No kidding, in the time it took me make a sandwich somebody came into my garage and stole 2 motorcycles. My Kawasaki H2750 and Triumph Daytona 500.Screen Shot 2015-09-04 at 10.40.08 AM
I originally bought the Daytona when living in New Mexico for my then wife to ride. She rode it a bit and decided that she really didn’t like it all that much. Lucky me! it’s now mine!!
The T100R, although smaller and less well known than the Bonneville is the better of the two. Why?Screen Shot 2015-09-01 at 7.13.12 AM
The Big (at the time) British Twins were and, still are, wonderful. Plenty of power (for the time), decent brakes (?) and precise handling (!). But the 500 had an agility and happiness feeling that the bigger bikes didn’t. The Daytona was more intuitive, it knew where you wanted to go before you did.
How did it get the name ‘Daytona’? From winning the 1966 Daytona 200. It actually started as the T100T, just a a regular old 500 but…a whole lot of work later it’s winning races. A whole new top end, tuning the bike for speed. It worked. Thanks in total to Doug Hele.
As we came into the ’70’s so did the Japanese. The Suzuki GT500, the Honda CB450, the Yamaha TX500 and the Kawasaki triples…the Brits were left in the dust…or two stroke oil smoke.
Up until 1969 not much had changed with the T100R but then it got higher performance goodies and things that would help …better bearings in the bottom end, connecting rods etc. That was the year I had. Yes it still leaked oil, it used oil like guys in the 1950’s used Brylcream (a little dab ill do you) but it was a motorbike that once you understood it it was magic. I miss that bike…a lot.
I found a beautiful one on ebay today. It’s been restored but not ‘over restored’. The Daytona comes with a very cool ‘Cafe’ style seat, different handlebars and it all works well. The even better part here is that the original stuff all comes with it, sweet. But, ride it as it is.
Honestly there is only one motorcycle that I have owned (and still do) that has given me the fun factor that my old Daytona gave me. It’s my 1989 Honda GT650 Hawk. I lock my garage nowadays.
Click on the pics below for more info and pictures

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Screen Shot 2015-09-01 at 6.59.00 AM1973 Triumph T100R Daytona

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