The idea was simple: take the best engine and the best frame of the time, and combine them. In the 60s, that was considered to be Triumph’s Bonneville engine and Norton’s Featherbed frame. And so the Triton was born.
The Featherbed frame was applauded at the time for its handling.
Which is not surprising, since Norton designed it to compete in the Isle
of Man TT, before it found its way into production models. But many
preferred Triumph’s 650cc, parallel-twin mill to Norton’s vertical twin
engines. The Triumph engine vibrated less and was considered stronger
and more reliable. It was also easier to tune for more power.
Mounting it to the Featherbed frame required engine conversion
plates, so builders could experiment with the engine’s position, which
would in turn affect the handling. The Norton’s suspension and brakes
were often retained, and in some cases (when pre-unit Triumph engines
were used) its gearbox as well.
Most Tritons received Manx-influenced styling: solo race seats, rear
sets, clip-ons and sweptback pipes. What started as a shed-built concept
soon turned into a mythical marque, and today Tritons are considered
some of the most desirable vintage motorcycles on the road. Here are our
Freddie Cooper In 1960, Motorcycle News
bet English motorcycle racer Freddie Cooper that he couldn’t build a
race bike for £100. Cooper, an experienced builder (and the first man to
top 200mph on English soil), won the bet when he presented one of its
journalists with this Triton to ride at the Isle of Man TT.
It sports many contemporary parts: a Miller headlight and Lucas tail
light, John Tickle triple trees and headlight brackets, Manx clip-ons,
and Dunstall megaphones. The cylinder head is a 9-stud T120 item and the
rims are 18” Akront alloy. It’s probably the most authentic example of
both a Triton and a café racer that you’ll ever come across, and went
under the hammer at the 2012 edition of Wheels & Waves. If anyone
knows who bought it (and what it cost them), we’d love to know. [More about this bike]
Image by Benoit Guerry.
Britalmoto ‘New Triton’ Is it possible to build a
21st-century Triton? This example from Britalmoto is an emphatic ‘yes’.
It has the requisite Norton frame and Triumph engine—but neither are
from the 60′s. The owner had bought a modern Norton Commando 961 but
wasn’t happy with the engine and transmission. “He knew the potential of
the current Triumph twins,” explains Britalmoto’s Ivo Tschumi, “so he
asked us to transform his Norton into a ‘New Triton’.”
Ivo and his father Fritz fitted a Triumph Thruxton mill,
re-engineering the engine mounts and swingarm supports. They then upped
the engine’s capacity to 1087cc for a hearty 96hp at the rear wheel and
104Nm of torque. The Norton’s stock Öhlins suspension and front wheel
where retained, but the rear wheel was swapped out for the Thruxton’s.
Other upgrades include an EBC Racing clutch, QD Exhausts mufflers and
Brembo and Nissin brakes front and rear.
The tank comes from the 961, but the tail unit was replaced for a
slimmer rear end. As modern takes on classic concepts go, this one’s a
winner. [More about this bike | BritalMoto]
Image courtesy of and © Sabine Welte 2013.
Loaded Gun Customs The story goes like this: Chris
Keaton, owner of the Baltimore Tattoo Museum, wanted a Triton built. So
he contacted Loaded Gun’s Kevin Dunworth via Kevin’s tattoo artist
brother. Chris already had some of the parts needed—including an engine
built by Arno St Denis, a legend in vintage Triumph circles who worked
on the engines of racer Hubert ‘Sonny’ Routt.
The only problem was, other than the engine and the tank, most of the
parts were in a shocking condition. Kevin picked the least bent frame,
put it in a jig and set to work—re-aligning the rear stays, dropping the
swing arm pivot one inch and changing the head angle to 25 degrees. The
engine was mounted using Loaded Gun’s own Triton conversion plates,
with Mikuni carbs and flowed intake manifolds. Arno St Denis’ work had
included a lightened crank, dynamic balancing, a port job, 10:1 pistons
and a modified valve train—Kevin estimates the capacity at around 830cc.
Up front is a set of Atlas triple trees, Commando fork legs and a
Commando hub laced to a 19” Sun rim by Buchanan’s. The rear rim is a
matching 18” unit on a Triumph conical hub, and the shocks are from
Hagon. There are also Brembo brakes from a wrecked Ducati 916 and cro-mo
bars from Lossa Engineering.
Chris wanted a raw and unfinished look, so Kevin obliged: “The bike looked old and ridden as soon as we finished it.” [More about this bike | Loaded Gun Customs]
Image by Ken Driscoll.
Featherbed 865 Scandinavian mechanic Lars Lykkegaard
struggled to get the troublesome old 650cc Bonneville engine in his
Triton to behave. So, rather than attempt a potentially costly
renovation, he bought a 2010 Triumph Thruxton, ripped out the engine and
popped it into the 1954 Featherbed frame.
A friend of his then milled a bunch of custom parts for him,
including clip-ons, yokes, engine converter plates and brake caliper
brackets. Lars himself designed some brass bits: foot pegs, an oil
cooler and an ’865′ logo for the engine. He also fitted the Thruxton’s
forks (lowered 50mm) and wheels—rebuilding the latter with stainless
steel spokes. The exhaust is homemade, also using stainless steel. The
new engine’s fuel pump and filter have been concealed in the original
1960s tank, the ECU’s been remapped and the ignition’s been replaced by
Motogadget’s keyless M-Lock unit.
All this was done in a small home garage, during a chilly North European winter. [More about this bike]
CP Project One This strikingly elegant machine was the
first of the CP Project bikes. It’s also one of the most beautiful
motorcycles ever built. ‘CP’ comes from the initials of designers Frank
Charriaut and Vincent Prat, who were inspired to create a new kind of
Triton after visiting the Legend of the Motorcycle Concours d’Elegance
in California in 2008.
Charriaut and Prat decided to set aside the usual norms of British
café racers, and started sketching. The result is straight from comic
book culture: a motorcycle that would look at home in Batman’s garage,
and with the sensuous curves of Catwoman. To help translate the design
into reality, violinmaker-cum-bike builder Daniel Delfour joined the
project; another French guru, Momo, provided the finishing touch via the
exhaust system and deep black paint.
Shortly afterwards, Karl Lagerfeld cast the Triton as the star in a
promo film for his 2010 collections: Not surprisingly, it completely
upstaged its co-stars, the models Lara Stone and Baptiste Giabiconi. [More about this bike | Southsiders MC]
Image by Guerry & Prat.
The post Top 5 Triton motorcycles appeared first on Bike EXIF.
Saturday, March 15, 2014
For most people, stumbling across a genuine period Triton at a reasonable price would be a bit of a once in a life time moment. I suppose if you run a classic motorcycle workshop you probably get that kind of stuff all the time (yeah right!) so when the gents at Trojan Classic Motorcycles were given the opportunity to pick up this Red and Silver Triton from a deceased estate they jumped on it!
Once in the workshop the bike was given a full restoration, with the use of period parts where applicable. The bikes was stripped back and the frame buffed and polished back to new, all the chrome on the bike was polished and the alloy side covers had a good going over.
Upon bench testing and inspecting the engine it was discovered that the motor had been freshly rebuild and was running well. New shocks and a general tidy of the bike had it back together and running smoothly.
The ride is exceptional with plenty of power and handling from a 57 year old bike. The featherbed frame and Alloy 500cc Triumph engine combination lives up to its reputation as one of the best classic custom cafe racers of all time.
The finer details include:
- 1956 Triumph 500cc Alloy T100 Motor
- 1957 Norton Featherbed Slimline Frame
- Norton Gearbox, Lucas Magneto and Amal Monobloc Carb
- Akront Alloy Rims laced to Atlas Hubs running Dunlop K81's
- Road Holder Front Forks
- Dunstall Petrol/Oil Tank and Seat Combo
- Arion Pacific Industries Dual Spring Rear shocks
- Swept back headers with Dunstall wide mouth Mufflers
- Arion Pacific Industries Clubman Ace bars, Levers, 3" mirror, headlamp and taillight.
Saturday, March 1, 2014
Last time we touched base with Soft Tsingos she had just completed her amazing Honda CB550 Cafe Racer with the help of her father. This time round the tables have turned and it's Sofi's Dad's turn to step into the spotlight. Built in true Cafe Racer style his Triton is an accumulation of all the best bits he could get his hands on, pieced together with one thing in mind...good times.
The Triton Cafe Racer was built around a 1966 Norton Featherbed frame which has been fit with a set of externally sprung, Road Holder forks. The wheels are a mix of Norton (up front) and Triumph (in the rear) hubs modified to fit a John Tickle Racing front brake assembly. The period correct gauges come from Smiths and the tank is a genuine hand made unit imported to the USA from the United Kingdom.
At the heart of the Triton is a special blend of Triumph engineering. A '61 Pre Unit 650cc engine was chosen as the base and was treated to meticulous internal fine tuning and balancing. With power and reliability in mind a 9 bolt cylinder head assembly from a T120 was bolted in place and the internals from a 1960 T140 5 speed gearbox slid inside. Spark is managed by a Lucas Competition Magneto and fuel delivery is managed by a spanking new pair of Amal carburettors.
"The bike was built with parts sourced from all over the world. I wanted the bike to be as close to a traditional period Cafe Racer as possible while doing just enough to make it dependable and ridable. I spent endless hours sourcing parts, rebuilding and polishing. Making everything work together was challenging, but all worth it when I heard it run for the first time. It's easy to start and ride, with loads of smooth responsive power and a wonderful sound."
Unfortunately this story has a not so happy ending. Sofi's father, the owner of this beautiful Triton, has been battling with cancer for some time. It's a disease we all know about but don't often know how to help. Sofi however has decided to do something about it and has started the build of another Cafe Racer which she aims to raffle off to raise funds for researching a permanent cure for cancer. If you've ever considered donating to a worthy cause this is the perfect opportunity. To learn more about Sofi's project and to make a donation visit her website GT Moto - Cafe for a cause.
Images by Brandon LaJoie
first appeared in www.returnofthecaferacers.com
Saturday, December 14, 2013
Each week RideApart looks back at key milestones in motorcycle history, from technical innovations to significant model introductions to racing successes and, of course, some of the disastrous things we’d rather forget. This week we take a look at the origins of the Café Racer.
This is not intended as a complete history, rather a look at the highpoints in the café scene which is timely because in recent years, it seems that the term “Café Racer” can be applied to any old motorcycle that has been spray-painted black and fitted with pipe wrap. However, motorcycle enthusiasts who raced each other from café to café were the true Café Racers in the UK during the 1960s. The most famous of which is the Ace Café, in London, which is still in existence today.
There is also a suggestion that the term Café Racer was created as the riders were only pretending to be racers as, instead of using their modified bikes, they just parked them outside cafes to show off.
It may also be part of motorcycle folklore too, but it is rumored that these riders would apparently select a record on a café’s jukebox and then race each other to a predetermined place, with the objective of getting back before the record finished. This would then prove their bike was capable of hitting 100 mph.
Predominantly most of the early Café Racers were British bikes – Triumph, BSA, AJS, Norton etc and none of them were particularly quick. But, the objective of most of the riders at the time was to try and achieve the ton – or 100 mph. If you could demonstrate your bike was capable of going at that speed or faster you could call yourself a member of The Ton Up Club.
To get anywhere near the magic 100 mph, riders at the time needed to heavily modify their bikes. Fortunately in the 1960s the British motorcycle industry was still alive and kicking and there was a big British presence in motorcycle racing. Consequently, there were a lot of aftermarket parts for the Café Racers to choose from to upgrade their bikes.
It was, though, an expensive hobby, so over time as a rider added more and more parts the traditional Café Racer motorcycle, the look that we know today started to evolve.
Ostensibly for a bike to be a Café Racer it had to have a combination of some of these things: clip-on bars, swept back pipes, a racing seat, large carburetors, and a fiberglass or aluminum gas tank.
Fundamentally a Café Racer had to be light and powerful and able to achieve 100 mph. They often looked like stripped-down racers with anything that was considered superfluous or unnecessary or heavy taken off the bike.
As it was modified for handling and speed, a Café Racer often meant it was really not that comfortable to ride.
Other features that were adopted to make a bike a Café Racer included an elongated fuel tank (similar to Grand Prix racers of the 1960s) often with concave depressions to allow the rider’s knees to grip the tank, low-slung clip on bars and a single seat with a faired-in rear end.
Those narrow bars allowed the rider to ‘tuck in’, or to lie almost flat on the tank when riding for lesser wind resistance and a true Café Racer often had rear-set footrests and foot controls, which was again typical of racing motorcycles from that era.
Some owners took their bikes to even higher levels and designed and built their own fairings mounted on the bike’s forks or frame.
One of the best types of Café Racers from this era was actually a combination of two bikes. Enthusiasts who could afford it would use a Norton Featherbed frame and a Triumph Bonneville engine to get a fast, nice handling bike called a “Triton.” If your budget was a bit stretched, you’d still take the Triumph engine but use a BSA frame creating a “Tribsa.” There were other options too with Vincent engines used in the Norton frame with the bike called a “Norvin.”
Big budget Café Racers would also take a Rickman or Seeley racing frame, used in Grand Prix bikes, and adapted it to make a road racer.
As the Japanese manufacturers started to gain a foot hold in Europe and the rest of the world in the early 1970s, there were some great Japanese Café Racers created too, but the true pioneers of the café racer movement were the British bike owners of the 1960s.
Which would you have rather had to race: a Triton, Tribsa or a Norvin?
First appeared in rideapart.com