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This project, affectionately called Bonnie (how original), really started out as a good deal on a Maryland Salvage bike I bought with the sole intention of fixing for resale. She'd been hit in the rear and dropped, but a little tweaking of the swing arm, a new rear fender and seat, and a coat of paint did her justice.
The problem I had now was that from the first time I threw my leg over her, I was in love. I rode this bike all year long, procrastinating on listing it for sale. This Triumph was great, it was light and agile, quick, cool, and most importantly dependable. Sometimes you just get tired of carrying a bag of wrenches everywhere you go, especially when that process makes you late for work on a regular basis. As much as I loved it, however, it was kind of like those golf hats – it looked really cool but when you put one on you feel like a dork.
We had made the decision to outsource the engine rebuild on another project, so, while we were waiting I decided to do a little cutting and see what came out of it. I really like the style of those So-Cal british bikes, and thought a Hinckley version would be nice. It was hard at first to chop up a reliable new bike, but once the swing arm and rear section was gone, so was the reluctance. I made a weld on tail section for the stock frame in hopes of producing them soon. As far as I know, no one else is doing one, so I figured I'd kill two birds with one stone and use this bike for some R&D in the process. It is made of .120 DOM and has 1" of drop and 2" of stretch. I re-used as many of the stock parts as I could, which allowed for ease of assembly and a low-cost project.
The front end is from a 2003 gixxer and the trees were made in house. I didn't need the dual disk front, so I cut off one side as well as the fender mounts. This turned out to be the perfect fit for Bonnie, since the stock length was 2' shorter than the Triumph one, which allowed for the 1" drop and 2" larger diameter front tire. The bars are cheap dirt bike steel bars and I used a set of meridan triumph clamps I had under my bench.
The wheels both use the stock hubs, which I powdercoated black, and laced them to sun rims using Buchanan spokes and wrapped them with Avon rubber. The brakes are stock rotors and calipers, although I had to pull a few tricks out of the bag to make it all fit. The rear master cylinder linkage was inspired by Fab Kevin's X-15, and I used the bowl of an old Amal carb for the fluid reservoir. The pegs and foot controls are all stock, while the hand controls are from an R-1 Yamaha.
The stock pipes, as well as 2 sets of old british pipes and a Harley muffler, all gave of themselves to create the 2- into-1 exhaust. The seat is one of those twenty-dollar bates rip-offs, which I reshaped and did my own leather. The lighting was all pulled from my stock of random swap meet finds, and the rear fender was fashioned from an old Chevy spare tire cover.
I reused the stock tank as well, mostly because I wasn't looking for a full on custom bike, just a cool little version of a Bonneville. I cut the pinchwelds off, dished the sides a bit more, and added a rib and a badge to the top to mimic the mounting hole plug on the older brits. Paint again was kept very simple and done in the style of a 1949 Triumph. Adam at Shickel Corp. in Bridgewater VA did the powder on the frame.
I used the stripped version of the wiring harness I developed for the TT Deluxe, which coincidentally was inspired by this bike. The harness is a very clean version of the stock one which when removed looks much like a bowl of spaghetti.
Really, looking back this is really what I needed, a real breath of fresh air. I'm learning that sometimes when you get too serious about what you're doing, it's easy to lose sight of what you're doing, and that's simply creating a machine for the love of doing it. It was good not to have to stress over every fine detail, just build a bike, for you to ride, keep it simple, make it yours, and have fun. All in all I came away from this with a new insight, some new parts to manufacture, and a great ride that is still very reliable little scoot that doesn't make me feel like Mary Poppins anymore. — Jeremy Cupp, LC Fabrications