Tag Archives: Triumph

David Beckham Overlanding Triumph – Brazil, S America

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Last year, in the run-up to the football world cup, David Beckham and a couple of his mates decided to take a bike trip into the heart of the Amazon rainforest. 32 years as a footballer meant that David had never really embarked on any kind of adventure holiday. Of course, he had travelled the world, but nearly always in his professional capacity, and invariably on a tight schedule. This was to be the first time he would visit places where nobody knew his name.

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For the trip, the boys didn’t ride the kind of BMW or Yamaha off-road bikes that one might have expected. Too obvious, and too Charlie and Ewan. Instead, they mounted themselves on modern, customised Triumph road bikes. Much cooler. And much more retro. The bikes were worked on both in the UK and Brazil and, in truth, the exercise involved taking bits off as much as putting bits on. An all over black paint job, the removal of mudguards, a custom exhaust and seat, and a new set of off-road tyres was all it took.

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Despite the apparent unsuitability of the bikes, they held up well in even the toughest of conditions, demonstrating perhaps that modern Triumphs are just as rugged and dependable as their famous antecedents. Recently, Motolegends decided to make a replica of the Beckham bike and better yet, decided to give it away in a competition.  This is their build story: They acquired a donor bike, a 2001 model, from a local ex-policeman. Even though it was over 10 years old, it had been meticulously looked after, and so presented an excellent starting point for the project. The build was actually incredibly simple, and although the end result is quite dramatic, the work is well within the scope of any budding , ‘bike-shed’ mechanic.

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Part one was the strip-down. Off came the mudguards, the indicators, the rear grab rail, the exhaust, and so on. What was left was treated to a matt black paint job that included the wheels, fuel tank, engine casing, cylinder head and, handlebars on. The wheels were re-shod with Metzler Karoo 3s as per the original bike; rubber fork gaiters were added, the seat was re-trimmed, and a new rear mudguard and number plate holder was fabricated. The pièce de résistance, and the most expensive single part on the bike, was the Arrow exhaust. But it only comes in a metal finish, so it was sent off for a black ceramic coating. A bracket was fabricated, to allow it to hang correctly off the side of the bike.

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Final touches involved moving the rear brake master cylinder to a new location, as the rear brake positioning couldn’t have been at all convenient on the original bikes. Discrete indicators were then fitted front and back. On the Amazon bikes there were no rear indicators; just front ones. The end result is a bike that somehow seems more than the sum of its parts. There are hugely complicated and intricate builds out there that sometimes fail to hit the spot. With the baffle removed, the bike sounds far better than a Bonneville has any right to. Being lighter than the original, it handles well, and the Metzeler tyres give a purposeful look, without any real detrimental effect as far as rideabilty and comfort are concerned. This bike is simplicity itself, yet has an undeniable wow factor to it.

Motolegends are running a publicity competition and will give their bike to the winner; details on how to enter competition: http://www.motolegends.com/beckham-bike

BMW R1150 GS; Or, a tale of a biker’s two mistresses.

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The BMW R1150GS is an unashamedly plain yet capable bike. Designed under the Gelande/Strasse concept to be a genuine multi-surface all rounder. With it’s shaft drive power and air-cooled boxer engine it personifies straightforward design and engineering. The world of plaid shirts, yellow visored Bell helmets, retro British customs and Californian sunshine is the very antithesis of this machine and it’s origin. To be honest, I spend a lot of my social media time ‘liking’ pictures of newly glamorous vintage Triumphs and Indians. In the UK the Bike Shed Motorcycle Club, Spirit of the Seventies, Sideburn Magazine, et al are getting an awesome new energy into British motorcycling. I think the US ‘Moto Lady‘ is inspirational for encouraging women to ride – and that’s a GREAT thing! Sometimes I look for local bike projects to get a custom project on the go. Obviously in a well equipped yet comfortable barn/man-cave. Perhaps I could get a tattoo.

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Note the overall awesomeness. Don’t get this so much in the UK!

However; once my garage door is open and the leaden English sky falls on an old german bike, thoughts of a custom scene fade away. It’s a good bike for the UK. The garage still throws up some confusing questions for me. Why do I own a BMW? Of all bygone industries and misplaced national pride, I firmly believe British motorcycling to be one of our great pieces of heritage. But there the BMW R1150GS is; mocking me. “Well, at least it’s not Japanese” I tell myself. Not that that should make a great difference but BMW, and Germany, didn’t mass produce clones of original British bike legends, destroying a whole industry and sport in the UK. Perhaps it was our fault for not remaining competitive, or loyal, or intelligent enough to realise what was happening.

It would be quite easy to mistake me for a reactionary senior citizen at this point, given to rants about the past and being generally resistant to change, any change.

I’m not. I’m 36. It’s just that, for once, I value something from the past more than the present. In the Baudrillian sense the British motorcycle has a sign, sentimental, economic and functional value for me.

But, I own a BMW. Because why? Well, in the Baudrillian sense again it’s because I value it’s function and economic value more than what it represents. So I’m on the right (read sensible) side of the decision; own efficient, sorted bike and kit, dream about custom bikes on sunlit tarmac. If you’re reading this and live in the UK you will know what I mean. That morning commute in the cold rain on crap roads covered in cars. Those weekend blasts in which you get through the traffic areas to reach the dwindling number of good biking roads. Your bike is most likely a capable all rounder as well. But it shouldn’t stop you having a dream. They can’t take that away from you – no sirree.

Motorcycling and the Man; now who are we?

An unfortunate truth is that motorcycling is essentially selfish. It is, in fact, one of the most selfish activities one could do. Even with a pillion only one person is riding the bike. Bikers are almost all romantics, we are idealists who share a common image of independence granted by two wheels. For some the motorcycle comes to represent individual agency itself; roaring out of the garage, sticking up two fingers to the stresses of modern day living and riding off to freedom and adventure.

Whenever bikers gather together there’s a tiny anarchic feel to the event. Biker meets and gatherings have a unique sense of liberation from the cares and mores of society that arriving on two wheels brings. Not exactly a Hell’s Angels’ run out to Berdoo, California in the ’60s, but something not exactly mainstream either. In fact that reminds me of Hunter S Thompson’s great opening paragraph to his ‘Strange and Terrible Saga’ of the Hell’s Angels:

HellsAngels04“California, Labor Day weekend . . . early, with ocean fog still in the streets, outlaw motorcyclists wearing chains, shades and greasy Levis roll out from damp garages, all-night diners and cast-off one-night pads in Frisco, Hollywood, Berdoo and East Oakland, heading for the Monterey peninsula, north of Big Sur. . . The Menace is loose again.”

The social roots of the Hells Angels; thirties depression, deeply affected and disaffected WWII veterans, itinerants and the rest of the ‘1%’ clan, have never been forces of change in the UK. The values the HA represented came over in parts;  the whole has only a limited total following.  Parts of the image have become mainstream however; the individual, the open road freedoms and the slight touch of anarchy.

It could have gone either way back in the seventies; British motorcycling was in the doldrum latitudes but the British marques were hugely famous internationally, Triumph, Norton, Enfield, BSA et al. The advent of Japanese sales competition and gathering interest in international motorsport changed the pattern. British motorcycling split, an old guard of now ‘Classic’ bikers and a new generation of bikers gathering status through speed, statistics and racing pedigrees.

Meanwhile, on the European continent giant trailies roamed; less affected by the UK and US dynamics. In the end this dual sport bike love would prove to have the longevity and stamina to go the distance; giving us the Paris-Dakar Rally, the BMW GS series, the big KTM twins and the Ducati multis. Japan’s industry answers to these multi role machines were less convincing; the Tenere and Africa Twins being the exceptions that prove the rule.

So I make that three gangs; ‘Classic’;

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‘Race’;

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and ‘Adventure’.

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Each has it’s own styles, smaller, inner groups and values.

There’s probably one notable emerging new group; ‘Customs/Cafes’.

wpid-Photo-19-May-2013-1203.jpgIt’s an international scene, driven from Oz by the Deus brand, picked up on internationally with, interestingly, Triumph as an newly cool brand worldwide and latterly re-emerging in the UK.

So who are we? Well, we’re all individuals with unique influences and ideas. The best of us will make new scenes come alive, bringing new life to that ancient and most powerful magic; the song of the road.

Video: Icon take the Triumph Tiger 800 off-road – | Motorcycle News | Bike News | Motorbike Videos | MCN

4239.02-TRI_PortlandDakar_Inset_RAT1Ever wondered how good a Triumph Tiger 800 really is off-road? Well, just… just… watch this.

Undoubtedly the best advert Triumph’s ever had, and they didn’t even have to shoot it themselves.

Sit back, crack a beer, enjoy this epic odyssey from US gear brand Icon. If you don’t want a Tiger 800 after this… I’m impressed!

via Video: Icon take the Triumph Tiger 800 off-road – | Motorcycle News | Bike News | Motorbike Videos | MCN.

Ted Simon, Jupiter’s Travels

Ted Simon speaking in 2012;

“A long time ago I heard Truman Capote describe his idea of a short story as, “a scrap of lightning that briefly illuminates the landscape.” The image is so vivid that it has stuck with me over many decades, and I can’t think of a better model for Journey Insights. Ideally they should be short and unpretentious. They should deal with a single event such as an incident, a meeting, a confrontation, a revelation, but within the telling there should be something that illuminates the landscape, and that landscape could be the local environment or culture, the journey of which it is part, or it could be the human condition. Some Insights may stray a long way from this prescription, but whatever it is it must be simple, honest and genuine, and to write something honest and genuine is already a triumph.” 

Ted is the original Jupiter’s traveller. On his trusty Triumph he showed us all how to travel simply, and as a co tributing and whole part of the local cultures he visited. He remains a strong inspiration for me and us all.

His blog is linked on the right – have a look!