A Triumph of Man’s Ruin

Sheridan’s goal was to build a traditional and period correct 1960’s bobber.

WHEN I WAS a car nut, I was always into old American classics and hot rods, so when I transitioned over to bikes, naturally I was always going to be interested in the traditional styled choppers and bobbers, the kind you saw in the early 60’s.

I was lucky enough to pick up this Triumph chopper after a ton of money had been poured into it by the previous owner to freshen up the engine and brakes.

The bike was originally built back in the early 90’s by Splitpin from Triple Cycles in Bayswater for a customer who wanted a 70’s style chopper. It had a coffin gas tank, a horrible little angular seat and various other now out-of-style faux pas, but the bike was extremely well built and detailed, so in my view, it really only needed a bit of a make-over.

Unlike most Triumph choppers and bobbers which use a stock front frame loop with a hardtail rear bolted on, this one is running a custom frame which was fabricated over on the east coast, so proudly Australian made! The front half is a copy of the Triumph design but is a little shorter with a slight up-stretch and more rake in the neck, while the rear-end has been widened with the axle position stretched back six inches with two inches of drop. One of the more unique features is the BSA style loops at the rear-end and the neater more functional Harley style axle adjusters.

The engine is a December 1972 T140V which makes it one of the very first of the 750 cc engines to leave the factory, and is backed by a right-side-shift five-speed gearbox. As far as I know, the engine is stock internally, and is now running a pair of brand new Amal 930 carbies.

The ignition has been upgraded to a Microtech system with the battery eliminated entirely, as the only powered luxuries are a headlight and tailight. Obviously, this means the bike is kick start only, but it usually fires up on the second kick.

Body-wise, the only changes I made were to give the front fender the flick, ditch the horrible square tailights in favour of a single bullet style light, and swap the gas tank.

The new gas tank is a three-gallon dished tank from Indian Larry which I’d not seen used on a Triumph before. The dished in sides was more of a 70’s custom trick, but the short round shape along with the low tunnel and Frisco mounting makes it right at home on a 60’s style chop. Local frame builder, Tom Foster, helped out with new frame mounts to accommodate the tank swap.

Next was the seat which I always like to make a major focal point on my bikes. Hot rod and bike building guru, Ben Forster, helped me roll up a nice new curved seat pan which is very comfortable and keeps the seating position as low as possible. I had custom car king and graphic designer, Glenn John, design up the ‘Mans Ruin’ artwork for the seat (which is also the name of the bike), before sending the whole lot off to Port Macquarie in NSW to motorcycle seat trimming expert, Kansas Charley, for the hand-tooled leather trim.

Ryan Clayton from Custom Modifications in Malaga was responsible for the paint, and sprayed a perfect gloss black base before the very difficult and messy task of bombing the shaped areas with the massive coloured metal flake I supplied. I wanted a colour that I hadn’t seen before, something different and almost ugly, so when I found this olive/lime green colour called chartreuse in the colour charts, I was instantly hooked.

As soon as the paint was dry, Tony Gatani (aka Von Kustard) cruised into the paint shop and laid down the fantastic pinstriping job on top of the gas tank before everything was buried in countless layers of clear.

While the paint was being taken care of, I had plenty of time to look at other details, so the stock front-end received new fork tubes and we added some rubber fork gaiters for both the period look and to protect the new fork seals.

Andy Brown of Palace Cycles welded up the new handlebars which we made by chopping up a few sets of old 7/8 inch handlebars I picked up from the wreckers for a few dollars.

The hydraulic hand controls for front brake and clutch are Brembo items with the fluids pumping through braided lines.

The wheels use stock Triumph hubs and disks, although the spokes are stainless. They were laced in by Spoke Wheel Services in Midvale back when the bike was first built, and again when I had them replace the dented and rusting rear rim. The front is a 19 x 2.5 inch rim wrapped in an Avon Speedmaster tyre, while the rear is a 16 x 3 inch Harley rim wearing a Shinko double white wall tyre, which are pretty much the tyres a chopper like this would have been running back in the day.

The bike rides like a champion — being so light it’s real fast, and being so low and narrow, the handling is sharp and you can squeeze and split between almost any gap which is prefect for blasting through crowded city streets.

I think I’ve achieved my goal of coming up with a traditional and period correct 60’s bobber although I admit that I still need to change the modern air filters for some aluminium velocity stacks to finish it off to the last detail. That minor oversight didn’t stop the judges at the Rockers Rumble from awarding the bike Top Traditional Chopper so I guess I’m on the right track.

I have to say a big thanks to all the guys who helped out, most of whom are local Perth hot rodders who freely offered their time and services: Ben, Tom, Glenn, Phil, Trevor, Gary, Craig, Tony, Ryan, Andy, Charles, and Todd from the Bike Garage in Wangara who sourced all the new parts I needed from the USA.

Words by Sheridan Brown; pics by Brian White

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