How did it come to this?
2008 started out like any other, with hopes for a good year in all things. To be honest it didnít actually work out so bad.
Biking wise there were a few trackdays on my GSXR, plus a pilgrimage to the Nurburgring. But I struck something of a milestone in my lifelong two wheeled adventure in that somehow I lost a bit of the thrill.
Call it a mid-life crisis if you like, but I guess, when I look back itís been coming for a while. After nearly 30 years of two wheeled pleasure, which has included a brief spell as a despatch rider, month long European tours and a trip into North Africa, annual TT visits, club racing, endurance racing, multiple track days and ultimately my first visit to the infamous Nurburgring in 2007, I reached the top. It seemed to me that there was not much else to do.
For long periods during 2008 my long suffering GSXR750 had sat in the garage. Brought out for trackday duties, but rarely used for my short 10 minute commute to work or even Sunday morning runs. The weekly Wednesday summer evenings seemed to dry up, unlike the weather for most of the summer and I guess it was just time for a change, time to rediscover the simple pleasure of riding a motorcycle.
So decision made my 5 year old 1 careful owner! GSXR750K3 was sold and I sat back wondering what to do next.
Various ideas were mulled over and to be honest, most of them involved perhaps just buying a track prepared bike, so long as it had a V5 , which meant I could put it on the road should I wish to, or could use it on the Nurburgring, then it didnít matter. I have been down that route before with an 180bhp ex MRO race GSXR100K3 that was a monster to play with Porsche GT33ís and the like around the green hell.
Building a special has always had a certain appeal, with reservations, as I have a history of rarely finishing what I start!
I have always liked the Triumph 1050 Speed Triple since its introduction a few years back and with experience of racing a tuned 955i in the Endurance series I love the sound and feel of a triple. But just going out and buying one was not an option at the moment.
So with those thoughts and without any clear vision of what I was doing I took the plunge into the deepest end imaginable and purchased a stripped Triumph 955i frame from a famous online auction site (is there more than one?) for a bargain £100. It came complete with V5 and a clean HPI report.
A week or so after that followed a Triumph 1050 motor, that I managed to stumble over after it was taken out of a 300 mile, front end damaged Triumph Tiger. It is complete except for a broken engine mounting, which I am assured by a skilled mate can be repaired easily.
Happily the two fit together nicely and the journey has begun.
That was as far as I planned to go in the run up to the Christmas period without risking financial ruin. But after scanning breakers ads, EBay and the like it looked like my initial plans for a 1050 speed triple style rear end might well have to be re-thought, due in part to the cost of bits from the newer bike advertised in breakers and on the tíinterweb.
No one it seemed was willing to part with a subframe for much less than the sort of money I had paid for the engine. Being a skinflint at heart, I want to keep this whole project on a realistic footing and shelling out multiple hundreds of pounds for single parts is not in the plan.
However during a browse through EBay.it (Italy), I turned up a freshly broken 1050 speed triple, part of which was an immaculate subframe that was too good to miss. Consequently it was deposited on my doorstep for nearly half the cost of local parts I had seen, even including the delivery. Sadly since then the pound has managed to fall dramatically against the Euro wiping out a lot of the advantages of buying abroad.
This will not be a no expense spared build. On the other hand I donít want to end up with just another speed triple, so certain individuality will have to be built in and that is I guess all part of the fun. At the end of it I am hoping to have a bike that means a lot to me and I have a vague plan to take a break from my career within the next 5 years and disappear off to foreign destinations for a summer with just minimal luggage and a tent.
So there it is. End of part 1, with I donít know how many further episodes to follow or even when they are scheduled. Iíve never been brilliant at sticking to timetables anyway so Iím planning to enjoy the ride and see where it leads.
After a couple of financially tough months there has been some progress at last and the project now has a back end.
Another bargain buy has seen a swingarm and shock assembly, wheel and brake disk, sprocket and hub assembly fitted together and installed.
Some paintwork required on the wheel, but there will be plenty of that to do anyway, and at the price I picked them all up at I'm not complaining!
Now have to decide which way to go with the front. Triumph 1050 speed triple forks appear to be rarer than a toothy hen! and when they do turn up there's not much change from what the whole project has cost so far.
I am reliably informed that a GSXR1000K3/K4 top and bottom yoke will fit the triumph headstock with a change of bearings. Which is one way to go, but I am measuring things up to see what forks are the same diameter as the Triumph items and see if I can get hold of a Speed triple yoke assembly and then work out the disk/calliper relationship with a Triumph front wheel - to match the back one!
So next instalment should be a rolling chassis......
As you saw from the last instalment I had got the back wheel in.
Well it got to a point where I had decided to try to pick up a damaged bike for all the small insignificant parts and fastenings that I need.
Watching ebay and keeping an eye on a salvage website that I have registered for turned up a few possibilities. But as usual with ebay most went for a damn sight more than they deserved to IMO and significantly most where selling for more than I was prepared to pay for a donor bike.
So lowering my sights from a 1050 to the earlier 955/595 models, which would still yield a useful selection of bits n pieces I scoured the web for suitable bike. But again inflated prices seem to be the order of the day. The last one I watched on ebay being a damaged 1998 595 that sold for an incredible £1600 !!
Still not being down hearted, I continued to search, until a gem of a bike turned up. A 2006 model 955 Daytona with cosmetic damage. After a phone call, the right money exchanged hands and I had myself a complete running bike.
Which presents me with a slight dilemma. The Daytona is far better than I could have hoped for as a donor bike. It has the latest style swing arm that I already have and the black frame that I had been thinking about.
So... The dilemma is do I fit the 1050 motor?
Decision? Well for the time being I am now going to build what I have into the Daytona as it stands. With a plan to get on the road a lot faster than planned. I have so far removed the Daytona subframe and stripped back the damaged bodywork and removed the exhaust. My speed trip subframe will replace it as soon as source a genuine undertray.
I managed to obtain a set of Triumph 1050 speed triple yokes from Italy via Ebay for £150 delivered and an undamaged pair of forks for £280 delivered from the USA. Having test fitted the yokes onto the frame they fit perfectly. The USD forks finally cleared UK customs 10 days after arriving on out shores and I had the privilege of adding £22 VAT prior to delivery. So the complete front end will slot into place on the Daytona frame along with a front wheel to match the speed trip rear, which I am collecting from a breakers next weekend.
Its a bit of a cop out on the existing progress so far and I feel a bit like a cheat, but being around the bike has made me somewhat impatient to get it on the road and this shortcut opportunity came up so a grabbed it with both hands. What it does do is leave me with a significant number of parts from both bikes to sell on and recoup a lot of the outlay that the Daytona cost. I will still end up with the bike I want with the speed triple USD front end. A 1050 tank shouldn't be too hard to locate. A suitable exhaust will be needed and I'm wondering how much different the 955 systems is to the 1050. A link pipe and the high level exhaust of the 1050 looks like it might mate up to the 955 downpipes without too much agro and a pair of arrow silencers on the back will complete the transformation.
Over the summer I will decide whether or not to fit the 1050 motor, which will involve me collecting wiring and injection system. or whether to recoup more cash by selling it on if I decide that I don't actually need the extra 100cc.
It runs !!!! †
Spent today fitting and fettling.
I have had the Leovince exhaust for some time, but been waiting for the rearsets to arrive so I could line up the mounting bracket.
They arrived this morning and the action started.
There's a few rearset, tyre, exhaust clearance issues to be overcome, but with a bit of gentle persuasion it should all line up nicely.
The Gilles are a bit of unnecessary bling, but they look cool and fit perfectly so sod it !
While I was taking the picture† the clocks arrived by courier so with them plugged in it was time to connect the battery and see what happened. With† the 955 tank plugged in†it fired on the second turn and the pipe sounds bloody fantastic! Not quiet! but not excessively loud. Just what I was looking for.
I have got a GSXR K5/6 headlight that I was planning to fit, but having got it, it just doesn't look right, so a bit of a rethink on that front. There is a conversion kit from LSL in Germany that utilises a single headlight that I like, so that is a distinct possibility.
The petrol tank arrived this afternoon in a lurid green colour, but for the price I'm not complaining at all.
The airbox that will fit under it is on the way as is the fuel pump to fit inside it†along with the titax shorty levers so its coming together nicely.
So I still have to source a seat and a few other bits n bobs including a few fastenings , but its getting closer to being on the road.
Not sure you can ever call a project as "finished", but its close enough for now. There are still a few jobs I want to tidy up, but the last few things to do to get it on the road have been done.
After a little test run to put some petrol in it all seemed pretty good.
New tyres on and to settle my mind that I had tightened up the all nuts and bolts I went over it front to back checking everything.
The good news is that it rides brilliantly. Comfortable and feels fast and smooth ( -1 tooth on the front +1 tooth on the back sprockets) I will be putting it on the dyno to set it up properly and to see what sort of power its actually got. Right now it pops a bit on the overrun, which actually sounds very cool but means its not quite fuelling right, so that will get done fairly soon assuming the dyno man I know can find the time to accommodate the bike.
I have taken delivery of a Tuneboy kit. It is an alternative to a power commander that allows you to tune the ECU directly making amendments to the fuel/air mixture at any given revs in addition to checking electrical components in much the same way that the Triumph Dealer tool does. That piece of kit has confirmed that the base tune already in the ECU is for an aftermarket can, so its probably not too bad. But with a bit of dyno time I reckon it should be good for something in the region of 150bhp
Once I'm comfortable with it and the tyres have done a few miles it will be interesting to give it some throttle and see how it goes.
It sounds fabulous.. A very subtle burble on part throttle but it is loud in a way that only a triple can be when you open it up a bit.
I'm very happy with the result. It almost exactly as the initial idea I had about how I wanted it to look. At first glance someone will think its a speed triple, but then they might take a closer look and perhaps see that things aren't quite what they seem.
The headlight changes the whole character of the bike for me, from a wannabe street-fighter to something a lot more up to date. It has hints of MV Brutale about the way it works on the front end.
So, just to recap, the basics of the build are:
Motorcycle perfection in my eye's, but then I'm biased !