It’s frustrating when practicality gets in the way of romantic nostalgia. Remember the heady days of propping a piece of wood on a brick and pedalling at it with the vigour of a seven year old? Sometimes that’s exactly where such activities should remain, as memories. The same could be said for kickstarts. They are satisfying proof of man (or woman) taming a mechanical beast and somehow bikes with a magic button just aren’t the same. But sometimes they can be better.
Owner of this beauty is Robby, a gent who’d been lusting after a Triumph since his first days on a motorcycle many decades ago. Unfortunately midway through his racing career a nasty crash rendered Robby’s kicking leg below par so he settled on the style of a Bonneville from his birthday in 1964 and sought a custom builder to combine sentiment with modernity.
12 months of researching styles, components and custom builders and a decision seemed imminent. Thankfully the Bike Shed London 2015 poster was the final impetus to push Robby over the line. He jumped on the blower to Shaun & Carl from Down & Out Cafe Racers to discuss the project.
Down & Out know their Trumpets having turned out a fair few over the last couple of years. As a result they’ve been through all the expensive faffing around R&D stages and no longer need to sit on a stool staring at a project hoping problems will fix themselves. They’ve also surrounded themselves with a collective of local specialists to ensure not only a proper bike rolls off the bench but that it stays off the bench. The whole point of using new or nearly new donors is that the customer rides a bike as reliable as the stock one fresh from the dealership.
Machining a bunch of intricate components from billet is very cool and admirable but on a small scale rarely cost effective, and let’s face it the custom industry has become so competitive that punters know what costs what and builders know where to spend budget. Welsh outfit Motone produce gorgeous components like ‘carb’ tops (Modern Bonnies run fake Kehins with the injectors inside), micro switches, relocation bracketry, gear shifters etc that negate the need for costly in-house machining. Think of them as the Roland Sands of the valleys.
Shaun likes clean controls so wiring here is hidden inside a pair of LSL bars, controlled by the Motone switchgear. The time they save by fitting parts from the stock shelf means they can concentrate on fabricating their own line of components. Their stainless headlight brackets are very neat indeed, I’m sitting next to Dutch’s D&O Bonnie and despite being the most critical bugger in the ‘Shed I can’t fault the welding and machining.
Alloy mudguards, stainless brackets, rear loops, seats, wiring looms, exhaust systems are all manufactured in-house, in relatively large quantities for a custom workshop. Not only can you order parts for your own bike but waiting times are short enough to satisfy even the most impatient of clients. One of their most successful developments of late is the 16 inch wheel conversion. The super-fat Firestones would foul the stock fork set up if it weren’t for the bespoke triple clamps manufactured by Fastec Racing. Three inch rims and Deluxe Champions aren’t going to set any lap records at Brands Hatch, but that isn’t the point. As far as stance goes, these D&O Bonnies don’t half look good.
All of this efficient whiz-bang technology and production process needed tempering so Arnie at Pro Custom worked his magic with a retro Old English White paint scheme. The result is a very content Robby, who finally has a his dream Triumph and can spend his time riding it, rather than trying to start it, wiping oil off the garage floor or skinning his knuckles on weird-sized, rusty nuts & bolts. We hope that he’ll ride down to Tobacco Docks in May for all to see.