For three days each year thousands of Triumph enthusiasts descend on a small village near Salzburg, Austria for the Tridays festival. Ride-outs, live bands, races and a good old fashioned knees-up. Now in its tenth year Tridays has grown into a huge event, requiring more than the ordinary anniversary celebration. And that’s where Fuel Bespoke Motorcycles comes in. Event founder Uli Bree called upon old friend and Fuel founder Karles Vives to build a bike to commemorate the decade milestone, hence the name TriTen – Tridays, Ten years.
Karles is not only an accomplished and well established custom builder, but also a fan of classic bikes and a more simplistic approach to two wheeled pleasure. So no surprise then that this 2014 Thruxton has been given a retro makeover. Inspired by speedway racers of yesteryear, before the current ‘laydown’ engines became commonplace, Karles wanted a small tank and seat, a short, hugging rear mudguard and a low centre of gravity for ultimate driftability.
The vastly smaller fuel tank from a Suzuki Van Van is relatively limited on capacity so the usual internal fuel pump for the EFi system has been sidelined, replaced by an inline version, hidden away behind the carbs. Yes, yes, I know they aren’t carbs, but Triumph did such a great job of making the throttle bodies look like a brace of Kehins that they may as well be named as such. Would other manufacturers have gone to these lengths to maintain their heritage vibe? The tank design also doffs its cap to the past, incorporating a traditional clear sight tube for judging fuel reserves. Faffing around with recalibrating thermistors inside the tank to tell the ECU how much juice is left can end in tears, so Karles went old school, very wise.
Behind aluminium Union Jack side panels a Motogadget-friendly wiring harness is neatly housed, along with the battery and aforementioned pump. With the mudguard greatly reducing underseat real estate the air intakes have been re-routed outboard, sucking through a Freespirits induction kit. To ensure go matches the show, a more punchy ignition and fuelling map was installed. After all, not point having a slimmer tank and ground-down lock stops if you can’t get the thing sideways with a blip of the throttle.
Up front the forks have been dropped in the yokes with the stance balanced by shorter Hagon Nitros out back. As Hinkley Triumph owners will know, a bunch of the electronics for these bikes is buried in the cockpit, so removing the clocks isn’t a side cutters and crimp together job. Solo Triumph in Barcelona made all the cables and connectors disappear leaving the wide LSL bars looking clean and racy. A simple Motogadget Motoscope sits in the top tube, like an old oil-in-frame plug. Out of sight for everyone but the rider, perfect. A Tommaselli throttle and upgraded brake reservoir further peel back the years whilst offering upgraded functionality.
The rear mudguard is now more of a shroud, indicative of a time when speedway circuits were surfaced with cinder, waste from local power stations. To match the tank, this too has been polished and clear coated. Kicking-up dust rather than slag is a pair of Bridgestone Trail Wings, a TW54 and a TW53, according to Karles these are excellent for power slides. We like that. Barcelona based artist Brusco broke-out the brushes on the rear, we like that too.
The underslung exhausts have been reigned in very slightly by stubby mufflers, but most of the decibels from the 360˚ 865cc twin are set free, sounding raucous and echoing the soundtrack of elder statesmen at the Tridays festival. The shortened subframe, small solo seat and lack of bulky silencers reduces the heft of the bike as a whole, leaving plenty of room for that trailing leg to flail around.
With Triumphs being customised left, right and centre it’s good to know that there are still a few designs out there for exploration. In a departure from his usual super-slick style, Karles has not only satisfied Uli’s brief but put huge smiles on their faces, and those of the crowds at Tridays a few weeks ago. If you need your frown turning upside down, give Karles a call, this bad boy is now for sale.
Also check out their classic desert scramble Scram Africa but please save us a place on the trip.