Remember when you were a kid and you’d just picked up the latest baddass pair of sneakers and proudly walked down the park or into the youth club expecting accolade in the form of envious body language, only to see that someone else had beaten you to it. Some other person was sporting what you thought would make you stand out in a crowded crowd. As grown ups the the desire to be different does wane and dilute to a degree but that inner creative individualist is always fighting to be seen and heard. And herein lies a dilemma exacerbated by the manufacturers who’ve recently tapped into our internal Pinterest boards and now offer a plethora of customisation of otherwise mainstream motorcycles.
Triumph have done the right thing and stuck a seat hump onto their hyper successful Street Twin, flipped the bars and called it a Street Cup. There’s an argument to say they might have sold even more of these café racer style machines since launch had this model landed at the same time last year as the traditionally-barred version and T120 Bonneville. That being said, giving too much choice to punters causes them to flounder in the headlights and procrastinate for too long, ending up buying nothing at all. The clever marketing people at Triumph probably have an algorithm and special multi-coloured spreadsheets for analysing such decisions but suffice to say that there was a huge amount of hype surrounding their new darling at Intermot last week.
But this poses a problem if, like us, you enjoy that level of individualism that goes beyond the “Ahhh, I see you’ve fitted the billet XD1000 in silver from the catalogue, I went for the XD2000 – it’s better than the 1000 because I can ride no handed and swing my dick, all at the same time” I’m not suggesting that buying a new bike and adding finishing touches is a bad thing, it’s just that if owning something truly unique floats your boat then your going to need to look beyond page 394 of the accessories brochure.
deBolex Engineering have chosen to stick to their guns and rule out the chance of their customers pulling up at the lights and having to engage in anything other than motorcycling appreciation. One of One is embossed on their top clamps these days to signify membership to an exclusive club. This latest build for rising rugby star Andrew Turner perhaps shows that deBolex founder Calum Pryce-Tidd could easily run a design department up at Hinckley if he wasn’t so busy bringing his customer’s dreams to life.
Andrew is not only new to the custom scene but also to motorcycling full stop, testament to the job Triumph have done in producing a bike as manageable and unintimidating as this whilst still advertising 900cc on the side of the engine. Since when did nearly a litre become entry-level? Since a bike of this size was engineered to be as easy to ride as a 125 is when.
Rideability and day-to-day ownership might be high on the user friendly scale but tweaking anything other than the aesthetics is no beginners game. Triumph’s ECUs are locked down and unless you’re a computer hacker good luck trying to get one to run without the standard clocks in place. To ensure Andrew’s cherry was popped in the most enjoyable way possible Calum elected to capitulate to the big brother electrickery and leave the stock airbox and convoluted exhaust system as standard. There’s a clever recirculating double skinned doowapp thingamygig fabricated into the stock headers designed to make the most of the Triumph twin’s iconic exhaust sweep whilst appeasing the lawmakers in Brussels and stopping our friend the polar bear form getting sun burned.
Mess with the zorst or fly-by-wire throttle and you’re asking for trouble but silencers don’t pose a problem so a top quality pair of Keihans fitted here offer a few more decibels whilst retaining a smart appearance. Being a well built rugbyist Andrew selfishly needs all of the seat for himself so the pillion pegs and brackets have been removed, replaced by handmade stainless exhaust hangers. Stock suspension is rarely up to the task as it’s built to a price and aims to absorb nearly every single riding variable. Local experts Hagon supplied a pair of simple but handsome and classically styled shocks calibrated to Andrew’s weight and the bike’s characteristics.
Dialling in the café racer look at the front end would never be achieved properly by flipping a set of bars over or fitting a set of awkward ace style bends so Calum called in machining pro Fastec Racing to mill a simple looking top yoke. A big chunk of billet bling would have ruined the bike so Fastec’s bossman Danny produced this classic piece and had it black anodised to match the rest of Triumph’s existing finishes. The standard clock had to be retained but seeing as it’s a big old unit Calum and Danny worked-out a lower mounting fixture beneath the already lowered yoke (10mm) to reduce the visual impact as much as possible. It also means that once Andrew is confident of his skills he’ll be able to work his way through the traction control settings, as this is controlled by the almighty speedo housed cleverness.
Not to be completely outwitted by the onboard tech Calum insisted on ditching the left hand switchgear and swapping it for neater Motogadget buttons. K-Tech (not the suspension people) levers on improve the feel given the more wrist heavy position of the LSL clipons.
deBolex builds nearly always feature super neat saddle integration allowing either original release mechanisms to be used or on occasion handmade options have been fitted. Here the stock key latch allows access to the battery box and main fuses beneath. What is most definitely not stock though is the seat base and tail section. These have been painstaking beaten from aluminium and rolled on the english wheel. There may be a fully kitted-out paint booth at the deBolex HQ but one thing you’ll struggle to find is a pot of filler, Calum hates the stuff. If a curve won’t form correctly or a blemish becomes resilient to a file the whole piece gets binned, Calum cancels his evening plans and sets light to another bottle of midnight oil.
Not wanting to be outdone in the perfectionism department Calum’s partner in crime and upholstering whiz, Des, is always on hand to show what he can do. Healthy competition never hurt anyone, especially with two people as dead set on always going extra mile. We still think Des cheats by using some sort of laser guided stitching module but apparently he still does things the good old fashioned way on a proper industrial sewing machine.
So as to keep mods to the frame to a minimum 3-in-1 Rizoma tail lights and indicators were chosen, avoiding the need to slice into the rear hoop. A very simple licence plate mount the only nod towards conformity leaving a very minimalist view of the rear. It would appear that the beancounters in Hinckley had also been looking to minimise areas of the Street Twin as somebody somewhere opted for a 32 spoke hub. Globally that probably saves millions of miles of stainless spoke and bucketloads of nipples but it makes for a right pain of a job when swapping rims. The other arm to Hagon’s business is wheel building so Calum wisely passed on the headache. Rich from Hagon returned a beautiful pair with black Excel rims, down an inch to 17 at the front, and stainless spokes married to modified stock hubs. This isn’t the first time we’ve heard about the 32 vs 36 or 40 spoke issue, be warned.
Avon Roadriders and a Renthal transmission kit are suitable cherries on the top of yet another exemplary build from deBolex but having seen the bike up close at a recent Best or British event at the Bike Shed I couldn’t help wondering where I’d seen the paint colour before. Being a connoisseur of four wheels and two, Calum found a lovely dark green paint code that closely matched a short nosed D-Type Jaguar. Nice touch.
The deBolex Street Twin may not have broken new ground in terms of outright design but what it does do is give one man a truly exclusive introduction to motorcycling and one that he’s sure to cherish. If one of one appeals to you have a browse of deBolex’s previous work below.
Stunning images by Autohouse London
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