Good looking custom Bonnies have become so popular and commonplace that I can’t remember the last time I saw a stock one. The scrambler style is ubiquitous for a reason – the combo of Triumph’s air cooled motor, a high-rise pipe and knobblies just works. Give a kid a crayon and ask for a mowabike and this is probably what you’d get….ridden by someone with stick hands.
Grownups aren’t too different and images of Steve McQueen desert-sledding around are for some still as poignant today as half a century ago. Ellaspede based in Brisbane, Australia are in the game of delivering stylish dreams and one of their customers, Johnathan, is one such big kid hankering after a modern day dune basher. Hughan Seary takes the reigns here and tells us how the build went down.
“If you’re a massive fan of Steve McQueen’s desert sleds but the only sand near you is that of Australia’s iconic surf spot Noosa, what do you do? Combine that inspiration for a custom motorcycle build of course! Jonathan was always a big fan of the “king of cool’s” British bikes but didn’t want to copy the look when the time came to create his own. His version was to draw more inspiration from his home on Queensland’s Sunshine Coast, with a tough but clean influence. So, in Jonathan’s mind the Dune Racer was born as his own version of the original desert sleds, just with more of a beach theme. Given the inspiration it was only ever going to be a Triumph donor bike, so when the tidy 2013 Scrambler rolled into Ellaspede it was wheels in motion.”
“After being largely disassembled the rear of the frame was shortened and an angled rear hoop added as per the Ellaspede design. To keep the lines clean a taillight housing was frenched into the rear frame, before a custom rear guard was bent to the ideal angle and cut to size. With a short rear the guard, a common problem is mounting the licence plate at a legal angle. An Ellaspede Ninja Star Licence Plate Holder Kit takes care of location and legalities, with its rubber mounts minimising any cracks caused by the big British twin.”
“The oversize stock seat was ditched in favour of a custom steel seat pan that matches the profile of the shortened frame. The seatfoam was shaped to match the lines of the tank and frame but keeps enough padding for off road adventures – upholstered in a classic diamond stitch pattern using robust, black UV vinyl. At the other end, the factory front guard was shortened and reshaped. A 7 inch aftermarket headlight sits on an Ellaspede Triumph Headlight and Indicator Relocation bracket, lowering the light for a more aggressive front-end look. Daytona D-light indicators fit to the new mount at the front and Ellaspede Rear Indicator Mounting Brackets off the top shock mounts at the back. Rounding-out the electrical upgrades is a Motogadget Tri-Unit under the tank, Motogadget gauge unit on a custom low mount and a Flexible LED Brake Light slotting into the rear of the frame.”
“Some quick improvements come care of the Ellaspede Triumph hard parts catalogue, with an Ignition Relocation Bracketand Rectifier/Horn Relocation Bracket both moving the stock components to more visually appealing positions. The original top fork triple clamp was modified to remove the stock gauge mounts before being smoothed-off. LSL handlebars and RHK risers now control the front end and continue the clean theme.”
“The factory option Arrow exhaust is a neat bit of kit that sounds incredible, but the look and length just wasn’t right for this build. So the mid section was shortened, rear mount modified and the heat shield adjusted to suit the ideal aesthetic. Pipe wrap and blacked out covers ensure visually it’s not too loud and fits with the overall theme. Part of the build brief from Jonathan was fat and chunky tyres, so the Ellaspede team measured-up the available room at the rear to squeeze a bigger rim on the bike. Aiming for a more classic 19/18 inch diameter wheel combo and with room to move, the rear 17inch rim was swapped for an 18 incher measuring a more impressive 5.5 inches wide. With the rear rim built, both were powder-coated before fresh bearings were slipped in. Making the most of the new rear rim size is the ever-popular Continental TKC80. A 150/70/18 stretches over the rear, with a 110/80/19 up front.”
“Adding a little ‘race’ to support the name is a DID X-Ring chain in go-fast gold, with Ikon 76 series rear shocks helping to transfer the power into the sand. Like many vintage desert sleds, Jonathan wanted the tank to be a feature piece of the bike. A ‘Noosa sand’ inspired colour was chosen to fit the theme and laid on in a matte finish with a matte clear over the top. Providing a little pop on the otherwise sandy tank is the Ellaspede Dune Racer emblem. Apart from the tank an understated approach was taken to the remaining paint, powder and ceramic coat. The physical stance, exhaust sound and single pop of colour now do ‘most of the talking’. Something we like most about custom bikes is what they can tell you about the owner without having to talk to them. This bike takes classic desert sled cues with some local beach-burner inspiration and wraps it up in a modern motorcycle package that reflects Jonathan’s interests, location and lifestyle.”
The recipe for a decent scrambler is a fairly simple one and requires little more than proper ingredients mixed together by experienced chefs. Ellaspede have proved time and again that they’ve got it going on in the kitchen and this Desert Racer looks pretty tasty.
Photos – AJ Moller
Words – Hughan Seary