TRIUMPH CHOPPERS


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TRIUMPH CHOPPERS - THE 'OTHER' CHOPPER
When I was growing up in the late 1960s & early 70s, people were chopping everything with two wheels. Certainly there were a lot of Harley choppers running around, but in those days, it seemed that many Harley riders were of the outlaw biker variety. Honda's "You meet the nicest people on a Honda", had not yet been fully realized in society. And of course, young guys like me didn't have nearly the money it took to break into the world of Harley-Davidson motorcycles. So we chopped anything, whatever we had. But, and this is a big "but", Triumphs had to be the second most common chopper on the roads, in those days. Oh, there were plenty of people who chopped BSAs, Hondas & just about everything else. But second only to Harleys, the most common Old School Choppers were by far built out of Triumphs.

OLD SCHOOL TRIUMPH CHOPPERS:

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OLD SCHOOL TRIUMPH CHOPPERS - 1973 TRIUMPH 750 CHOPPER
So, let's take another look at our headline bike. It started out life as a '73 Triumph Bonneville, but now has a rigid frame, super-long springer front end, tiny front drum brake (purely for looks), stepped seat with sissy bar, cruising pegs, Z-bars & upswept exhaust with "Fishtail" tips. Very old-school. This would have been just about the ultimate Triumph Chopper in 1970. It would have drawn crowds. Ironically, after 40 years, it probably still draw crowds everywhere it goes, not because its so 'up-to-date' (which it would have been in 1970), but because its so 'retro'. The only bow to modernity would be the rear disk brake. Nicely done.


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OLD SCHOOL TRIUMPH CHOPPERS - 1960 TRIUMPH BONNEVILLE CHOPPER
This one is loaded with 'Old School' charm. Custom rigid frame with Sportster tank riding high; custom springer; drag bars; all built around that pre-unit Triumph Bonneville engine. The cool old-style automotive copper oil tank & copper oil lines complete the old school look, so much so that you almost don't notice the modern front disk brake. Not much for the old school look, but a must when you want to stop in a hurry!

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OLD SCHOOL TRIUMPH CHOPPERS - "THE COFFIN" CHOPPER
Now, we're talking. The whole 'coffin'-look was huge back in the day. Everyone had a coffin tank. Even Maico put coffin tanks on their dirt bikes. You don't see many coffin tanks anymore...I wonder why that is?

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This baby is loaded with charm, and cool features. The stock frame front section was used & a new rigid rear subframe was welded on & blended in. It looks like they left the rake alone. 5.00X16 rear wheel with disk brake & a 21" front also with disk brake give it modern-world rideability. The cruising pegs are actually forward controls with linkages to brake & shifter, nicely done. The engine is a single-carb TR6 motor, good choice for daily riding (easier to tune & they run better at lower speeds), with a Sudco Mikuni carb, also a good choice. The head had been painted gold, a nice touch. Drag bars top a beefy front end that probably came off of a Japanese bike. Then there's that coffin tank. What can you say about that? What more could be said?!

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OLD SCHOOL TRIUMPH CHOPPERS - CLEAN '68 TR6 BOBBER
This 1968 Triumph TR6-engined bike is more of a 'bobber' than a 'chopper'. But where do you draw the line, anyway? Does it have to have an extended front end to be a chopper? Hmmm. This super-clean bike makes good use of matte-black on the frame & engine bits, although the center cases are of a nice silver finish, perhaps walnut-shelled. Fat tires front & rear, that tiny peanut tank & those radical bars give it its 'look'.

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MODERN TRIUMPH CHOPPERS:


A whole new wave of Choppers powered by Triumph engines has emerged over the last few years and changed the whole game. Jesse James, who was largely responsible for bringing the chopper (albeit Harley choppers) into the mainstream, has had his day in the sun, then hit a public-relations wall. And the world is tired of seeing the Teutul Family build an endless array of Harley choppers that look like fire trucks, the space shuttle, or an M1 Abrams tank. Legendary old school chopper builders like Arlen Ness & Ron Simms now mass-produce Harley choppers for every budget. How many different ways can you customize a Harley before they are start looking the same? The same thing happened is the Street Rod business. Go to a Good Guys car show today & despite the extreme variety of cars, the engine bays all look pretty much the same: Classic American V-8 engine with polished aluminum and/or chrome accessories, big carb, headers, billet parts, maybe a blower. But a new day is dawning. Today you might see a totally modern Corvette Z-06 engine, transaxle & suspension under a '55 Chevy.

TRIUMPH CHOPPERS - A NEW DAY IS DAWNING
A new day is dawning in the Custom Motorcycle industry as well. People looking for something different, eye-catching & interesting are turning back to Classic British Motorcycles as a basis for a whole new generation of Choppers. Builders like Falcon Motorcycles, Chopper Lab and countless independent builders & enthusiasts are stuffing Triumph, BSA, even Vincent engines into their creations. Here are some state-of-the-art, totally modern Triumph Choppers:




MODERN TRIUMPH CHOPPERS - CLEAN '73

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This baby is as lean & clean as it gets. Tidy rigid frame, gorgeous springer front end, 5.00X16 in back & a 21" up front gives this bike its handsome stance. It has a single-carb head with the stock Amal Concentric & what appears to be a chromed stock pre-1971 oil tank. The valve covers say this is indeed a 1973-or later engine. Stopping is totally up to the pre-'71 7" SLS rear drum, as there is no front brake. Perhaps this bike is more for show than go. Interesting details & stunning craftsmanship are everywhere on this bike. Check out the very custom work on the exhaust headers, as an example.

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MODERN TRIUMPH CHOPPERS - UNIQUE '67 TR6 CHOPPER

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This bike is very unique, as is the trademark of a modern-day Triumph Chopper. The rigid frame appears to be an original pre-1953 Triumph rigid frame, judging by the brazed-lug construction & the rear chain tensioner. Contrast that to the modern-day '92 Sportster mag wheels, disk brakes & front end. Other unique features are the totally blacked-out engine, custom alloy oil tank with an automotive spin-on oil filter plumbed in (instead of hiding it, they made it part of the look), the heat-wrapped exhaust, and of course those wild white parts set against the stunning metallic blue finish. One-of-a-kind look.

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MODERN TRIUMPH CHOPPERS - ONE-OF-A-KIND DAYTONA
Most Triumph Choppers are 650/750 twins. But some people chop 500 twins, like this sweet 1967 Triumph Daytona 500. Loaded with unique features, what appears to be a rigid frame is in fact a 'plunger'-type (similar to an Ariel Square 4 or a Norton 'Garden Gate'). The front & rear wheels appear to be 21" with a ribbed tire on the back, same as the front. And the black pipes dump straight down in front of the engine. Must be loud. Stock brakes front & rear.

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MODERN TRIUMPH CHOPPERS - WILD REVERSE-HEAD BONNEVILLE CHOPPER
Now, this is something you don't see every day! The head has been turned around backward, with the carbs coming out the front & the exhaust exiting from the back. Probably not the best idea from a practical standpoint, but it certainly is distinctive. Rigid frame, neat forward controls, 5.00X16 rear, 21" front, tiny SLS front brake (for looks mainly), and one hellacious springer front end. It's topped off with a Sportster tank, the sides of which have been scooped out. And it's all finished off in gray primer.

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70's OLD SCHOOL TRIUMPH CHOPPER
This unit construction Bonneville looks just like the old school choppers I grew up with in the early 1970's. All the mods are period-correct: Bolt-on rigid frame rear section, extended fork tubes, 21-inch front wheel with no front brake, round alloy oil tank, shortie pipes, banana seat with sissy bar, classic "peanut" tank set high on the backbone. It's all there. But, the neck (steering head) was never raked so the extended front end pushes the front end up in the air. And the rigid rear section also seems to sit very high. The 18" rear & 21" front wheels also contribute to the tall ride height. Could be a bear in corners & keeps you on tippy-toes at a light. But, it's cool as hell & probably turns heads everywhere it goes. Nice!

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MOTORCYCLES MADE FOR SPEED: CHOPPERS, $20.34

HOW TO BUILD A CHEAP CHOPPER, e-book $9.99

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