The current trend of building minimalist brat style bobbers can be rather distressing for people like myself who feel strongly about the preservation of older motorcycles. After all, with the stripping of wiring and removal of mounting points, there is absolutely no chance of reversing the process and recreating the original motorcycle. The end result also bears no resemblance to the donor motorcycle and becomes a completely new and unique motorcycle. The good news is, as far as I can tell, that these motorcycles are being built out of almost basket case machines which were destined for oblivion anyway. In certain cases the original model of the motorcycle was never going to win any beauty, personality or popularity contests going into the future. The now popular Honda CX500 comes to mind as an example of a motorcycle which benefits aesthetically from the brat treatment. I fully understand that it is very expensive to bring a neglected, unoriginal motorcycle back to original showroom condition. Building a rideable custom bobber or brat does give a new lease on life to motorcycles which are well past their scrap by date.
Bonneville 750 Cafe Racer
The above being said, I also do not see the need to preserve every single motorcycle sold in its original condition. After all, it is the customising potential of the ’70s and ’80s motorcycles which has ensured their strong survival into the 21st century. My preference is merely that when customising a potentially valuable or rare motorcycle, the customisation be reversible at a future date, if so required. This is probably the reason why I am such a huge fan of the traditional cafe racer styling. The changes are subtle which means that most of the motorcycle’s original style and identity are preserved and enhanced.
Our featured motorcycle is a post 1975 Triumph T140 Bonneville 750cc. The 750cc engine replaced the 650cc engine in the early 1970s with a five speed gearbox option. The fact that the first T140s were still fitted with drum brakes and only had a kickstart confirms how the British manufacturers chose to continue ignoring the progressive engineering of the Japanese motorcycles which offered disc brakes and electric starters. At least the Triumph was now being fitted with indicators. A single front disc did however become standard soon after the model’s launch. After 1975 the gear change lever was moved to the left hand side of the motorcycle to meet US regulations and a rear disc brake was fitted. Electric starters were only fitted in 1980. Three years later Triumph officially closed its doors. Although technologically the Triumph T140 was outdated before it was even launched, it is still a Bonneville and that will never be a bad thing!
This Bonneville brought some of the Natal coast’s notorious rust with it when it arrived at OneOne Customs for a makeover. We have featured several of Tiago from OneOne Customs’ creations. This classic cafe racer is a far cry from the radically changed Yamaha XS650 bobbers which he is known for. Without butchering this motorcycle, he has breathed new character into this Bonnie. His trademark hand fabricated tail piece and the clubman handlebars create the sporting look. A clever paint design has removed the rather slabsided look which the 750cc model has in comparison to the curves of the 650cc model. Most of the original components, such as the headlight, gauges and front fender have been retained. The aftermarket indicators look right for this era. If ever so desired, this cafe racer could easily be returned to its original specification.
I am sure that some of you will find the traditional nature of this cafe racer too unmodified and tame looking. The truth is that, back in the day, cafe racers were built to be functional and fast. The changes were mainly performance related and involved engine modifications and carburettion tuning. The cosmetic changes were similar to what you see on this Bonnie. I love it!