The Triumph Speed Triple is a bike that Harley has been lusting over for quite some time. This machine is angry even in its stock form, and each time Harley rode one, he’d fall more and more in love. So naturally, the time for fantasies would end, and the hunt for a Triple of his own would begin.
Harley is no stranger to us poking around his garage and peeking at his builds. When he’s not creating machines for customers at RB Racing, or taking out titles on the track, he’s working on his own projects. His previous build, the Yamaha XJR 1300 ‘Fat Tracker’, was an incredible machine that we were fortunate enough to feature and has now found itself a new owner, leaving Harley space to move on to whatever else tickled his fancy. “The XJR was sold on a whim, I’d just finished the Kenny Roberts paint job and fitted up some other new goodies, when someone had expressed keen interest in buying it. That guy didn’t end up with the bike, but another good friend of mine Paul was keen to swap a Ducati Sport Classic 1000 for it. I was interested because lets face it – they’re a beautiful bike, but after riding it for a day, I decided it wasn’t me. Lucky for me, he bought the XJR anyway.”
As mentioned, and in case you forgot, Harley has a bit of a boner for the Triumph Speed Triple. These bikes look aggressive straight off the bat, and finally his love for these machines was going to become a reality. “Every time I ride one, I just love it. They’re comfy, the triple engine sounds awesome, and when you twist the throttle they slap everything they’ve got down through the back tyre and onto the pavement.” And so, a 2009 Triumph Speed Triple would now be calling his garage home. Next; the custom work:
With no clear vision of exactly what he would be doing with this stock bike that was sitting seductively in his workshop, Harley first concentrated on the key bits that he knew would be a part of the project. “I knew I’d be using a factory Arrow low exhaust system, I’d keep the upright bars, and definitely lose the ‘bug-eyes’ headlight. The bike I had picked up already had the Arrow exhaust that I wanted fitted, and then the ideas started to flow. One of the first things to go was the swing arm and rear wheel. I found a swinger out of a Triumph Sprint GT, which looks the same but is 75mm longer and I sourced a rear wheel and hub from a 2016 Speed Triple which would go from a stock 5.5inch rim up to a 6 inch. The longer swing arm stops the bike from just being a wheelie machine, and lets you put down way more power exiting corners.”
“The forks and rear shock were re-sprung and re-valved to suit the new wheelbase and my riding style, while the front brake discs were replaced with NG full floating discs. The fork uppers were changed from black to gold, mostly just to break up all the black, and Renthal fatbars on Rizoma low risers were chucked on and the stock bug-eyes and dash were tossed in favour of a V Rod head light and shroud, matched up to a Motoscope Pro dash. Getting the bike to work with a foreign Can Bus dash was one of the bigger head-melting parts of the build – the bike just seemed to reject the electrics being messed with in any way.”
Next up, Harley ripped off all of the plastic panels and shrouds, shaved the rear sub frame, and raised the tail light to hug the bottom of the seat. “The seat is one of my favourite parts of the bike, it’s just a stock seat re-covered, but myself and Mark from Streamline Trimming in Taren Point came up with the design, and he did an amazing job bringing it to life.”
“There are a few other tasty little parts in there as well, the LSL headlight brackets, rear sets and that great looking chain guard to help finish the bike of nicely. The custom carbon fibre front guard I fabricated myself, and I fitted the carbon chin-spoiler to match it. The paint, or lack of, was kind of an accident. I designed about 10 different paint jobs, but none of them really got me excited enough to pull the trigger. One day, with the tank stripped, I sat it on the bike to clear some bench space, and there it was. I just roughed it up a bit, put on the Triumph logo and the pinstripe, and clear coated it. I even dulled down the clear with some burnishing paste to make it look a bit aged, and did the same to the head light shroud.”
“With the bike well and truly finished, which is not something I ever say because my bikes are never really ever finished, there are two stand out things for me. Firstly, I love looking at it – in my eyes, it doesn’t have a bad angle. I love all the little details, and I love the overall shape and line. The other thing is how it rides, Speed Triples are already an awesome bike, but with the longer swing arm, and the suspension sorted, it feels invincible and it turns in on a dime. It friggen hammers out of turns, it’s stable and fast, and it’s comfy enough to sit on all day. It’s great two-up, and it satisfies my inner-lunatic. It’s just awesome at being a motorbike.”