A Triumph triple racer builds himself a scrambler…
Introduced in the early 1970s, the Triumph T140 Bonneville was the 750cc evolution of the 650cc T120, featuring an oil-in-frame design, 360-degree parallel twin, gear-driven cams, twin Amal carbs, five-speed transmission, and most models had front disc brakes. Motorcycle Classics calls it one of the best Bonnies ever:
“Contemporary testers raved about the bike’s excellent handling, citing its low weight and low center of gravity. ‘It sometimes feels like the Bonneville turns if you just think about turning,’ one tester said. ‘This is a motorcycle whose pegs your grandmother could drag,’ noted another.”
Enter our new friend Ton Everaers of Holland, who’s love affair with classic motorcycles began early:
“At a young age I heard stories of my grandfather riding Zündapp and Jawa motorcycles after the war with grandma on the pillion and my father on the fuel tank. It got me interested in classic bikes I guess.”
In 2013, he rode his Triumph Trident to the UK for the annual Beezumph meeting at Cadwell Park racetrack, where the crew from Lowland Triples Classic Racing recorded his lap times:
“It turned out I wasn’t too bad and I was offered a seat of one of their T150 short frame production racers that next season. I couldn’t believe my luck!”
Today, Ton campaigns a 1969 T150 short frame production racer called “Mellow Yellow,” racing in Germany, Belgium, and France. He also works on classic bikes and does the layout and design for Tiger, magazine of the Triumph Owners Club Netherlands (TOCN), where he also records his travels, including an annual trip to Britain, riding and camping alone. He’s built bikes under KRUK Customs, but this was an individual project, a 1979 Triumph T140E built in the image of the old desert sleds.
The donor needed a ton of TLC, but with two decades of Triumph experience and spare parts, Ton was ready for the challenge. We especially love the desert sled air filter can built from a paint tin:
“I found some pictures of an original desert sled with a metal coffee can covering the air filter and that was exactly the look I was after.”
Below, we get the full story on this T140 scrambler!
Triumph T140 Scrambler: In the Builder’s Words
I’m 43 years old and into classic Triumph’s since 1999. That year I bought a 1974 US-spec Triumph T150V. It proved to be a basket case but the bug bit me. At a young age I heard stories of my grandfather riding Zündapp and Jawa motorcycles after the war with grandma on the pillion and my father on the fuel tank. It got me interested in classic bikes I guess.
During the nineties, me and my friends were all riding classic Puch, Tomos and 4-stroke Honda’s when one of my friends turned up on a Norton Commando and another one on a Triumph T100 Daytona. I was drooling over that little Triumph. When he noticed that he actually let me ride it. Man I was hooked! Not long after that I bought my first Trident which I still have today. That’s how it all started.
Fast forward a year or 10 and loads of triple trouble later, I’m a member of a classic car club where I work on my old cars and bikes. I truly use my classics and I spent so many hours, after work, spannering into the night. Most times with a close friend who also chose to ride to work with an old beater. Classics are cool but you really need to be persistent to keep them rolling for daily use. The fact that that friend was quite a technical genius made wrenching an unforgettable experience.
In 2013 I met a Dutch 3-cylinder racing team called Lowland Triples Classic Racing during a solo motorcycle trip to the Beezumph meeting at Cadwell Park racetrack in the UK. Beezumph is an annual meetng of the TR3OC (Trident and Rocket 3 Owners Club). They were quite amazed to find a 37 year-old bloke on his own on a Trident on his way to a British motorcycle event. I just wanted to ride my bike on a proper racetrack which is impossible in Holland, so I went to the UK. They turned out to be really nice guys and we rode up to Cadwell Park together. I went round on the track and they recorded my lap times. It turned out I wasn’t too bad and I was offered a seat of one of their T150 short frame production racers that next season. I couldn’t believe my luck!
I own a 1969 T150 short frame production racer called “Mellow Yellow” these days, and with Lowland Triples we participate in Classic demo’s and races in Germany, Belgium and France. Holland only has a 500cc racing class, and if they didn’t, we wouldn’t pass sound regulations with our bikes anyways. It’s a shame really.
We race the Nürburgring, Spa Francorchamps, Colmar and the Chimay Classic TT. Chimay is a proper road race in the Belgian Ardennes. The Brits come there to practice for the Isle of Man TT. It’s a different scene. The bikes take a real beating too, flat out on those bumpy Belgian roads. A lot of wrenching between heats.
It was the racing that really got me into working on Triumph triples. The guys taught me all the secrets of making a Triple go fast. Really fast. Because nothing is available for a race bike like a T150, you have to make loads of parts yourself. Fairings and all brackets are homemade for example. But also muffler internals, oil- and fuel tanks and loads of small bits like drilled bolts and spacers. And you want it to look good too of course. It needs to look fast. That’s where the custom bit comes in. A good friend who builds alloy tanks by hand taught me the art of panel beating and although I’m no specialist I manage to produce some nice parts like that heat shield and the seat pan of the scrambler. It’s not only form you know. You have to understand the material and the stress points of the construction in such a way that the piece won’t crack due to vibrations for example.
Since I work on Triumph triples that much, people started asking me if I could fix their bikes. I seem to do quite a nice job because they keep coming back. Classic style bike shops are disappearing rapidly and classic bikes are gaining in popularity. I’ve been working on classic bikes for 20+ years now and it seems I’m one of the few still out there that’s filling the gap. Most of the bikes brought in are European and Japanese although I have a Meriden Triumph of a Belgian customer in the workshop at the moment and had a Buell in for repairs last month. I draw the line at 1985-ish, but a special or a bike with a good story is always welcome. Like that Buell. What a bike…
I ride my street Trident, the one I bought in 1999, a lot. It’s a reliable, fast and oil-tight bike. After all these years I still love it. A few years back I transformed it into a café racer because the original fuel tank rusted through and I found an original Don Woodward alloy fuel tank online. That set off the build.
Each year I plan to do a 4 or 5 day trip through Britain. Just me, my bike and a tent. I love to be on the road by myself. Camping in nature reserves and visiting motor museums, etc. You’re a social hand grenade with a bike like the Trident and people like to have chat when you’re traveling alone. Last September I set off again and also visited the “Ace Café Reunion” at the Ace Café in London. What an event. To my utter surprise I won the prize for “Best Ridden Café Racer.” I seemingly was the only idiot from overseas on a proper classic British café racer. The prize included a tailor-made Lewis Leather jacket. How’s that!
I write down all stories about my travels for the Triumph Owners Club Netherlands (TOCN) for which I also design and lay out their magazine, Tiger. Every second month I create a magazine filled with Meriden and Hinckley Triumph news, travel stories, meetings, technical stuff etc.
Because of all this and my Triumph adventures I got in contact with Royal Enfield Benelux. I connected them to a Dutch party called 24/7 Waves who build indoor surfpools (check them out). In return Royal Enfield offered me to ride their latest models to various events and on bike trips like I do with the Trident. You must have seen their latest 650 twins. They’re great! All in all it seems to be a promising start of a new bike season.
About the Bike…
The bike is a hand built scrambler with a Bonnie T140E as a basis. I’ve built bikes in the past under KRUK Customs but this is a solo project. I’d been thinking of building a proper Triumph scrambler for a while when a T140 cafe racer popped up at the local online trader. I went over to see it and it already had knobby tires fitted and a really flashy paint job on the fuel tank. Perfect for my scrambler plans.
It had a TR7 Tiger head with a single Amal Concentric 930 fitted but the original cylinder head came as a spare. I left the Tiger head on the bike since it was in good nick and a single carb makes tuning much easier. It had loads of compression and started first kick, so all in all it was a pretty decent bike. The fact that I’ve owned Triumph’s for over 20 years and have quite some spare parts made the gamble a bit easier.
During the first test run, the 3rd and 4th gear seemed completely shot. Once heated up it was so bad the growl of the gearbox drowned out the engine noise. I had to replace the sleeve gear and layshaft high gear and all bearings as well, including the big sleeve gear roller bearing. However after the fix the gearbox proved flawless.
Other than that it was a solid bike. It just needed loads of TLC. Brakes were leaking, rear shocks were gone, clutch was slipping, fork seals were shot, electrics had seen better days, the carburetor needed a thorough clean and new needle + needle jet. etc, etc. I repaired all components with new parts but had the shocks, which are original KONI units, repaired by a specialist.
Most parts for the build came from my own supply. Like the mufflers which are shortened original T150 sigar mufflers with I’ve fitted with reverse cones. It really produces a nasty growl!
I made the exhaust heat shield, desert sled style air filter can, saddle pan and all other brackets by hand out of sheet metal. The lid that covers the air filter element is a cut to size paint can. I found some pictures of an original desert sled with a metal coffee can covering the air filter and that was exactly the look I was after.
Handle bars, high level exhaust pipes, alloy mudguards and a few other service parts were sourced on-line. Taillight bracket and mudguard struts were found at local parts suppliers and modified to fit the scrambler look.
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