As American cities go, I like San Francisco best. Its combination of great restaurants, world-class lodging and eclectic cultural diversions makes the city by The Bay a must-see for tourists, sex freaks and chopper junkies alike. It was the latter addiction that brought me and my ladyfriend to San Francisco last spring, where I met the owner of this fine steed and a half dozen other ChopCult members for breakfast at Lefty O'Doul's on Union Square. More bikes from that whirlwind press junket will follow, but for now, please enjoy DougT's Triumph chopper. See Doug's story after the photos.
I was told about the bike by my friend John Henry, in Taos, NM, back around ’97. He knew I was looking for a Triumph chopper and he hooked me up with the seller. The seller mailed me photos of a very rough chopper that needed a lot of work. In my garage was a former SFPD KZ1000, which I had spent 700 dollars on to get it running and registered. The owner of the Triumph agreed on an even trade, so I sent my friend Joey to New Mexico in a rental truck to make the swap.
Basically, I gave a running SFPD Kawasaki to someone for a beat up, worn-out vintage chopper that I had only seen in photographs. It looked worse in person. The day after it arrived we got it started and it ran like crap. I was the kid in high school that got kicked out of shop class for not paying attention, so I never really got a lesson in working on bikes or cars. With the chopped Bonneville in my garage I slowly dug in to it. The repair manual helped tons, and some nights I would stay up studying it, trying to figure out what I had and what it needed.
My friend Les started a Yahoo group called Triumph Choppers and I joined, asking a lot of questions and heading to the garage to figure the bike out. I started slow, and ended up rebuilding the entire engine and bike. I removed all Bondo, updated the neck bearings, wheel bearings, electronic ignition, bushings and springs in the front end. I added a front brake and a sissy bar. It's not a show bike. It's a bike that gets ridden, sometimes it's my commuter to San Francisco. It's a great lane splitter and with the short tail and 18-inch front wheel, it tears up the twisty mountain roads.
Owner: Doug Taylor
Hown town: Walnut Creek, CA
Motor specs: 1969 Triumph T120 Bonneville 650; Pazon electronic ignition; Sparx battery eliminator; dual Mikuni carbs with velocity stacks; Dyna coil
Frame specs: Stock front loop (cut on the backbone and raked); stock length weld-on hardtail
Fork specs: 44" springer. I've only seen one other set with the same markings, and it wasn't complete
Home-built custom bits: The sissy bar and hand shifter were made in my garage. I laced the 16" H-D rear rim laced to a Triumph hub, and the 18" front rim to a Honda XR75 drum front hub.
Paint: Pinstriping by Herb Martinez
Thanks: British Cycle Supply, Rabers, the guys in the Triumphchoppers Yahoo group, and most of all to not being smart enough to realize stuff isn't supposed to be a certain way