Surfside’s Back-to-Front Triumph Bobber

“I decided to embark on an ambitious, old-school bobber-build with a special focus on the major design and fabrication challenges that would give this bike the old school appeal with a slightly different personality,” said Trevor Love from Surfside Motorcycle Garage.

THE engine was sourced in sections with the 1969 Tiger bottom-end matched with a 750 cc top-end. These were chosen as the stud pattern allows the head to run backwards which was integral to the design. The 650 bottom-end was completely dismantled, measured and checked; new bearings and seals were installed; the gearbox, primary and clutch were all refurbed. The crankcases were aqua-blasted spotless and then given a ceramic black coating. The bottom-end was then meticulously rebuilt. A new 750 Bonneville top-end was procured and installed with new pistons, valves, springs, etc. After much head scratching and doing handstands to get our heads to think backwards, the reverse head cam timing was nutted out.

All the external engine covers were polished and then fitted — yee haa, we had a complete power-plant for the steed.

How to feed the beast next…

A set of 32 mm Dellorto Pumper Carbs (striped, cleaned and also ceramic coated) were chosen to feed the beast. To accentuate the reverse head and suck the fresh air in, Trev felt a set of polished, extra length velocity stacks were required (got to be careful not to suck in the cat into these babies).

After a lot of rolling, twisting and shouting, the fabrication of the rear-facing exhaust pipes was finally complete. They were then also ceramic coated. To kill the proverbial two birds with one stone (and because no one else has done it before) the exhaust also wraps the old school tyre and 18-inch rear wheel up as the rear guard.

To get all this mechanical conglomeration to run, a Boyer Bransden battery-less power-pack and ignition system was employed (all fitted discreetly under the fuel tank and hidden in various frame cavities).

Rizoma, three-in-one, rear taillight/ind/stoplight units were employed and fitted to the rear-est part of the frame and internal wiring to keep it all hidden. A secretly located rear number plate holder was also incorporated. A set of Rizoma indicators were purchased for the front-end to warn of impending Triumph-ness turning. While looking for suitable steel bits to mount said indicators, I found a box of springs. Vowla (indicator mounts were then fabricated). A small Bates headlight custom mounted to the triple clamp finished off the electrical side of things.

The frame was sourced through eBay and came from Canada. As supplied, it had a bolt-on oil tank for different applications (ugly as sin) so I cut the middle down-tube, modified the oil tank to operate standing up, and welded it into the frame as an integrated component to keep it all clean.

The next problem., where to put ya feet. Hmmmm, much pondering… ah, Big Bruce the Brass-man, he’ll cobble up some pegs. A phone call and a couple of drawings later, brass pegs were attached to some alloy brake and gear levers and then a fancy mounting system fabricated to connect it all to the frame.

The standard Bonnie forks and front wheel were used. No extra rake on this baby; we wanted to keep it nibble. Some steering stops were welded to the frame, a side-stand bracket fabricated and then welded to the correct position. A side-stand then had to be found… let’s make one from chain… Yep, that works.

Next, brake pedal to rear brake arm attachment. Mmmm, more beers, more thinkin’… rods, arms, pivots… hello, there’s an old bit of cam chain laying around… damn, not long enough.. do a drawing of the concept, a couple of sprockets and a long enough piece of industrial chain. Fabricate the sprocket mounts and weld them in the appropriate positions on the frame. Holy sheet — it works (and looks cool). Another never-before-seen bit of thinking to solve an ugly problem.

The chain theme also came in handy to solve another problem — the seat mount. A primary chain was found, welded solid and the solo sprung seat found a mount. The seat was dog-poo brown so off to our friendly auto trimmer and back she came black and beautiful.

Because of the forward facing Dellortos, the tank wasn’t a simple bolt on and connect the taps. The original fuel tap holes were welded up and new tap fittings welded to the front of the tank.

Once the fabrication of the tank mounts was complete, it was time to paint both it and the front guard. Ahh, but what colours and scheme? Well, old chap, it is British. At first we contemplated using a Pommie flag and lacquering it to the tank. But in the end, we employed the services of David Brown, a local painter and perfectionist. Once we told him our previous flag idea, he said leave it to me. The artistry and colour scheme when we got it back suited the old girl perfectly. Understated but classy retro.

Many hours, beers and bills have gone into this bike and the end result is a fantastic one-of-a-kind old school machine that exudes old school tech and new (old man thinking) know-how.

Surfside Motorcycle Garage, 42 Winbourne Road, Brookvale NSW 2100; 02-9905-4755.

words by Trevor Love; photos by Huck Finn

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