By Ian Heartfield - 05 Jul 14
Francis Choung is a video producer/editor living and working in Manhattan. Like a lot of us, his job chains him to a computer screen all day, which can be utterly maddening especially in such a dense and cramped city. Working with our hands is the perfect therapy, and at first Francis found solace in building and riding bicycles. But pretty soon he realised he needed a better (and quicker) way to get out of the city when it was at it's most stifling. So he took his first riding course 3 years ago and bought a used, 2007 Bonneville shortly afterwards. Anyone familiar with New York City knows that space isn't cheap, and the gridlock makes it very motorcycle-unfriendly. Parking on the street will eventually lead to tickets, impoundment, vandalism, and/or theft. Luckily, there are a few motorcycle-only garages in Manhattan that provide sanctuary, with secure parking and a safe work area. Since modern Triumph twins are ubiquitous these days (you can't walk a block around NY without seeing one), he's attempted to stay as far away from the classic stock form as possible. Having always been a big admirer of Richard Pollock of Mule, and minimalist Japanese bobbers, Francis gravitated towards a street tracker aesthetic with bare metals and patina, and embraced a somewhat post-apocalyptic look. The tank was stripped, and old dents left exactly where they were. An aluminum face plate with vertical PIAA lights was made. The wheels were built up by powder coating the stock hubs and lacing them to wider Sun rims with Shinko 705 tires. Going 18" on both front and rear allowed Francis to fill out the rear wheel well space, and add a beefier tire up front. The subframe was looped with a slight up-sweep, and a custom fiberglass seat pan made with new foam and upholstery. The pipes are a modified British Customs 2 into 1, which were shortened and mounted to a new bracket welded onto the frame. Side panels and tabs were deleted, a new battery tray built, and Francis mounted a car style ignition which starts the bike with the turn of the key. (The key even has a knurled brass topper that matches the petrol tank cap.) A cheap, digital Danmoto gauge was wired in, and the bulky 1” bars were ditched in favour of a 7/8”. Performance wise, a set of FCR 39 carbs were slotted on to give her a bit more of a kick in the higher RPMs. Because this is Francis' only bike, the mods were mostly done on the quick and dirty, including rattle canning the frame and parts on the open, grimy NY streets. As a result, Francis is the first to admit it's not the most refined bike you'll see in The Shed. But this as much down to choice as it is circumstances. We love a perfect, shiny, polished bike as much as the next man or woman, but there is something so damn cool about the less than perfect, not quite so shiny bike too. It doesn't mean that it isn't cared for, far from it, it just means this bike is no pampered pet, this bike has to earn its keep out in the real world. And that's a good look in our book. Thanks for sharing Francis, we love it. Photos courtesy of Nicholas Lemery Nantell.