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Bike Tale - Posted 14th August 2015
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Triumph Triple Café Custom

If a traditional café racer is 'a light-weight, lightly-powered motorcycle optimised for speed and handling on quick rides over short distances', then Henry Gregson thinks he may have found its modern equivalent...

Think of a Triumph engined café racer and you will probably recall the rockers’ favourite machines: the Triton, Tribsa, Tricati or even Trifield. All of them were powered by a parallel twin engine based pretty much on the T120 Bonneville. In their day, these were the machines the café racer legends were built around, bikes constructed to get from A to B with as much style and speed as possible and great fun to ride.

Lancashire based Macca has his own take on the Triumph-based café racer special, but this one replaces two cylinders with three. The bike was bought around ten years ago and then modified to suit its new owner’s tastes. This is a bike that gets a lot of attention wherever it is parked.

Triumph Triple Cafe Custom
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Macca’s engine is from a 1997 Triumph T595 955cc triple. However, the frame isn’t a production item borrowed from another manufacturer, with the Triumph triple shoe-horned in. Instead it’s a beautiful custom made item which its owner tells me has been built in 316L grade stainless steel by builder Gary Russell. So does that mean this bike is a ‘Trussell’, maybe?).

The cycle parts are from a mix of manufacturers. Starting from the front… the forks came from a Suzuki GSX-R1100. The front hub is from a Yamaha XS650 and this is built into a 3 x 17” alloy rim using stainless steel spokes, then fitted with a Dunlop Sportmax tyre. Front end braking is taken care of by Yamaha Thunderace four-piston brake callipers and master cylinder, which are connected with Earles stainless steel brake lines. Topping all this off are a pair of custom made stainless steel clip-on handlebars and billet aluminium fork yokes.

Triumph Triple Cafe Custom

The swinging arm, like the frame, is manufactured from 316L grade stainless. The rear shock comes from a Ducati 900SS, with ‘tuned’ springing. The rear wheel hub is once again Yamaha, but this time it’s from an XTV750, and laced to a 5 x 17” alloy rim and with a Dunlop GP race tyre. Continuing the Yamaha association, once again the Thunderace provides the master cylinder and also the disc. Rear brake calliper is a Brembo four-piston and Earles stainless brake lines are used again The sprocket carrier, calliper bracket, disc adapter, wheel spacers and spindle are all one-off custom items.

The bike’s bodywork continues the custom mix-n-match theme. The petrol tank is beautifully fabricated from sheet steel which has then been fitted with a Ducati 900SS filler cap. The seat is a modified Ducati 916 unit in carbon fibre. This space-age material is also used to make the replica Triumph T595 fairing, and the replica Suzuki GSX-R front mudguard. The oil cooler cover is… surprise, surprise; stainless steel with Earles lines. The electrics are modified stock Triumph T595; the rear lights match the seat and came from a Ducati 916.

Triumph Triple Cafe Custom

The T595 Triumph Daytona was highly acclaimed when launched in 1997. It was a British bike that made a genuine attempt to compete head to head with the best of the continental sports bikes. Its DOHC fuel-injected, liquid-cooled, inline three-cylinder engine produced in the region of 130bhp and this, coupled to a six-speed gearbox and an excellent frame, made it a real favourite amongst riders. Macca’s Triumph engine remains in standard tune, even though the bike is in café racer trim. It even retains its original header pipes. The rest of the exhaust system is a custom built one-off unit which emits a sound that can only be described as sheer music – Macca could make his fortune selling CDs of it!

To achieve the desired café racer look, the bike’s orange coloured fairing has been modified; the original twin headlights reduced down to a single unit and different clocks fitted. The modifications do appear to have worked very well and the bike is a real eye-catcher which certainly achieves the desired effect.

Triumph Triple Cafe Custom

Out on the road, braking is said to be excellent while the handling is described as neutral. This does mean that the lines around bends need some pre-planning. The steering geometry is pretty much the same as a Ducati 916. The longish wheelbase does make the bike very stable, although steering lock however is limited. Thanks to the overall weight savings, the acceleration is described as ‘very good’. So let’s just say that the overall performance could lead to serious damage of the driving licence..

Triumph Triple Cafe Custom

As would be expected from its café racer styling, the bike is great fun to ride with that wonderful exhaust note encouraging an enthusiastic riding style and much use of the excellent gearbox. It’s a café racer in the traditional style but with a modern twist. I think it works very well and, of course, so does its proud owner!

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