I’ve always found that when something like a motorcycle or a car has an interesting back story, however cool that bike or car is, the story makes it that much cooler. I like to think my 1963 Triumph T100SS has one of those stories.
Sometime in the early ’70s, my uncle bought this bike. It was a basket case. After putting it all back together and riding it for a number of years – and changing out the original tank for a ’71 or ’72 oil-in-frame Bonneville tank. He was looking to buy a riding lawn mower and needed money so he sold the Triumph to my dad. My dad rode it all around for years, even getting my mom on the back with their camping gear strapped to her and riding 5-6 hours north of their home in London, Ontario for a weekend of camping every so often. Eventually, he bought a ’72 Honda CB750 Four and the Triumph ended up coming off the road in 1980, never seeing the light of day again for the next 29 years. Over those nearly three decades, it sat for a long time in a garden shed, then for another 5 years or so stored in an old tobacco kiln along with a couple dirt bikes and a 3-wheeler, all of which (except the Triumph) were stolen one night. After that, it was back into my parents’ garden shed for about 15 years, until I got the idea that I’d like to try my hand at building a cool little bobber out of it. I asked my dad if I could tear it down and rebuild it the way I wanted, and he gave me the green light.
I’d never worked on motorcycles before and was more than a little intimidated at the thought of tearing the engine down and rebuilding it myself. So, after pulling the bike apart I sent the motor out to a local shop to have it rebuilt and started ordering parts to build the rest of the bike. I sold my first motorcycle, a ‘05 Honda Shadow Spirit, to have the engine rebuilt and buy all the parts. A David Bird hardtail with 4 inches of stretch and 2.5 inches of drop, and 5 inch wide ribbed rear fender with duck bill, an oil tank and 12-inch apes just to name a few. Over the next year or so, I started the build in my tiny compact car sized garage, going as far as I could until I had to start welding. From there I took it to my parents’ place and my dad was gracious enough to let me take up part of his shop for the next few years while I built the bike. A year or so into the build my wife gave birth to our first child. Now I had a son to eventually hand this bike down to. With the arrival of our son, spending time with him and our new little family took priority over heading to my dad’s garage to work on my bike. So, weeks and sometimes months passed between build sessions.
I pressed on and after a couple of setbacks that can only be chalked up to an amateur bike builder not knowing any better, I was able to assemble the bike and wire it, something else I’d never done before. Finally, two months after I’d hoped it would be finished, it was actually done and I could take it for its first ride. I have to say that it was quite a cool feeling being able to actually ride the motorcycle that I’d put so much work into. As I was riding, all the while trying to remember that the shifter was on the RIGHT and the brake on the LEFT, I was thinking about how over 30 years ago it was my old man riding this thing around, taking it up north with my mom on the back to go camping and breaking down every now and then. I don’t know how much my dad believed that this old Trumpet would ever be back on the road again, let alone rebuilt from front to back by his son. But he sure had a big smile on his face when we fired it up for the first time.
A huge “thank you” goes to my Dad for the bike, all the help and the real estate in his garage for all those months. Thanks to my brother Mike, and my buddy Brayden for the help making parts and advice on building a bike. And a big thank you to my wife Lisa for all her support through the good and the frustrating times during the build.