On Saturday morning at around 5am, Marnitz and I will fire up the Bonneville and the Wide Glide and will be in Durban by midday. As usual, the ride will be an adventure. The Bonnie’s clubmans will hammer Marnitz’s shoulders and anyone who thinks a Harley is a comfortable cruiser at high speed has never ridden a Harley. We would have it no other way.
Motorcycles are not the most practical form of transport. The rider is exposed to the elements and has little protection when in an accident, to mention just two shortcomings when compared to a car. Even the earliest motorcycles were not cheap. Henry Ford’s Model T was soon cheaper to buy than a motorcycle and should have resulted in the speedy and ungracious exit of the motorcycle into history along with the horse drawn cart and the ox wagon. The reason why motorcycles are still going strong one hundred years later is that, ever since the first motorised bicycles took to the roads, they have been ridden by enthusiasts, not just commuters.
Motorcycles have been raced, modified, idolised, customised and just ridden for pleasure for well over a century. Today’s motorcycles offer a huge variety of applications to the rider with cutting edge technology available if desired. If Marnitz and I were to jump onto a pair of GS BMWs for our Durban jaunt, we would arrive far less fatigued and would probably get there faster, especially if we broke the GS rule and sat down for most of the way. Only joking! A GS is an exceptional motorcycle to ride. With all the awesome technology available, it is surprising how the demand for more nostalgic, simple and invariably less practical or comfortable motorcycles is increasing.
Our featured Triumph T120 bobber is a perfect example of a retro-bike. Justin who built this motorcycle from a really sad basket case into this meticulously detailed beauty, installed an imported rigid rear section instead of using the swingarm and suspension which was originally fitted. The only rear suspension is now provided by the two springs under the solo saddle which is only slightly better than having no suspension at all. Logically, the question is why would one do this? The answer is not merely the great styling; it is the way things were back in the early years. It reflects a simpler, slower era.
Well known professional restorer, Henry Kinnear, rebuilt the wheels for this motorcycle. Justin was so happy with the workmanship that he used Henry for all the spray painting, including the stripe on the rims. Look at the quality of the paint finish on the front shocks. Dion, the Leatherman, uphostered the seat. Brass plating has a richness in quality which chrome lacks and also adds old school character. The clip-on handlebars really suit these rigid Triumph bobbers. The grips are wrapped with old fashioned Brookes racing bicycle handlebar tape. A truly beautiful bike. By Justin’s own admission, this motorcycle is ridden hard and regularly.
Justin is another one of our home garage customisers with a career which is far removed from custom motorcycle building. He owns a waterproofing business. His next project is nearing completion. He is building a pre-unit Triton (Norton frame/Triumph engine) which he intends entering at this years Kalahari Speedweek. We will bring you photos of what will surely be another beauty.