Saturday, January 8, 2011


When I said that this thing is practically building itself, I may have exaggerated a little...

The handlebar came from my Norton, it's the one I found on it when I bought that bike as a total wreck.

Obviously not a stock item, I put it aside until it presented itself again and asked to be part of this bike.
Once all the controls were mounted on it and the whole thing was clamped onto the top yoke I knew the build was heading in the right direction and that the bike would have that OLD look I wanted.
More of a gentleman's touring bike than an out-and-out sports bike, I wanted this to look elegant and understated, the type of thing you might miss at first but that, if you look closely, reveals itself as a beautiful ride.

The "cocktail shaker" mufflers are straight from the 60s. There aren't any markings on them so I don't know exactly who made them and although they are a common sight in the States, they're pretty rare over here.
They were given to me by a fat old bloke who was just throwing them away because they were dented and had lost their shine. Not much I can or want to do about the dents (which I think are cool within reason) but the shine? really? They look ok to me.... thanks fat old bloke!
Chronologically, these were the first parts of this particular bike to have materialised.
Obviously at the time I didn't even think I'd be using them for this bike and frankly I didn't know if I ever would use them at all, but it would have just been a shame to throw them away.

The rims (original Dunlop items) are off an OIF Triumph Tiger that a good friend of mine restored and customised to suit his needs.
He decided to have alloy rims on his bike and so put the original ones aside. I heard he had them just lying around in his basement and that he was just not going to do anything with them and since I needed a couple of rims for my bike anyway...
When I asked him how much he wanted for them he looked insulted and told me to just get my ass over there; he then gave me the rims all cleaned up and packaged. Like I said, good friend.

This pretty much dictated (because of the hole pattern) that the hubs and spokes would have to be the conical type fitted to OIF Triumphs and BSAs, and while I realise that most people will only consider the older type rear hub and a tiny spool hub at the front - with no brake - I'm quite happy to say that I really like the look of the conicals!
There, I said it. Oh, and they work.
And I didn't stop there, oh no! As if the conical hubs were not enough of an affront to good taste, I chose to go for an OIF fork too! Oh the audacity!
The thing is, I like the idea of fork and wheels coming from an OIF onto the DB frame - I like the look of them, they're modern by British standards whilst remaining hopelessly obsolete. Perfect.
Peppe, the guy who is ultimately going to build this rad thing had a fork and a complete front hub/brake so that was very lucky. The top yoke was missing but I eventually found a good second-hand one in Holland.
The bottom yoke with the steering stem was in good shape.

Now for the rear conical hub. WOW, for something that's allegedly ugly as sin you guys really hunt these down with a passion!
What I mean is, they are HARD to find, as apparently a lot of people building Tritons and the like, use the rear conicals to mimic the appearance of the original Manx rear hub.
I called I don't know how many spares dealers in the UK and US and always got the same answer, sorry, all gone, haven't had one in sometime, you're building a café racer aren't you? (....nnnnot quite).
Eventually I found a spares supplier I hadn't come across before and even though I had already begun making plans to switch the whole rear wheel set up to a much earlier Triumph/BSA/Norton/Anything, I thought I'd give them a try just to see.
They replied to my e-mail saying yes they did have one, complete with spacers and in good condition, would I like to have it sent over? Oh yes please!
I was so, so happy to have found this inexplicably rare item.
When it arrived in the mail I knew that the rear end of the bike was basically taken care of and a lot closer to being on the road where it belongs.

Together with it came the brake plate, another crucial component.

The fuel tank is another one of those things that just found its way onto this bike without me really making a conscious decision to have it there.
Originally, yet another friend had bought it thinking it would look swell on his Shovelhead. It didn't.
The thing sat in his garage for a while, weighing on him, probably more annoyed at having misjudged a piece than for the money he'd "lost".
I bought it off him as one of the last items on the list, when I already had a good idea of what I wanted the bike to look like. I guess it was a happy coincidence that it was available from a friend who wanted to get rid of it.

The problem is, there are so many cool, funky tanks around that this one really looks a bit bland compared to some, even with all that chrome!
For a while I considered trying to find some sort of bizzarro frisco tank with a long filler neck and a killer psychedelic paintjob but in the end I decided to stick with this one, after all, it's a classic.
It's the "export" or US-type fuel tank Triumph used in the 60s, not sure why this particular one is all chromed though.
The paint job is going to be a mixture of different looks from BSA, Royal Enfield and others that somehow all meshed together in my head. It might even get a chromed trim/strip after it's painted. On the one hand it might make it look more refined, on the other hand it could be "too much". We'll see. 

To me the kickstand really sums up a lot of the aesthetic I was after. It may sound strange but there is very thoughtful design even in a seemingly simple piece like this.
It's the clamp-on concept, the design of the pivot, the spring's anchor point, the smooth curve of the metal as it flares out and shapes itself into the support piece, which has a knurled pattern to grip that slippery British countryside grass, or worse still, the treacherous terrain in the colonies.
And last but not least it's the thick, gummy, polyurethane paint, none of this modern powder-coat poppycock. Ladies powder their noses, frames should have proper paint all over them and it should be deep and black, like the North Sea at night.


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