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“The Captain” Triumph America

After the Matchless-styled 1981 Honda CB900 Bol d’Or, and the Ugly Duckling 1981 Suzuki GSX750, as well as a few smaller builds Scott was looking for his next project.

When his mate Grant told him he had a 2002 Triumph America, and he wanted Scott to do a number on it, he was intrigued.

When Grant said he wanted Scott to do a number on it, he meant it.  “Treat the bike as though it was yours, and you were building it for you” he said.  “If I tell you what I want, it won’t be an SDG build, it will be my build.  I don’t want to see it until it is ready to be ridden home.”

So the stock looking 2002 Triumph America ended up on the hoist in the SDG workshop.  Now, when we say stock looking, that is all that was stock about it.  The motor had already had a job done on it. Not to reveal too much, but after Scott took it for a ride, he came back with a very surprised grin on his face.

Now the task at hand was to make the outside as flash as the inside.

Taking their usual approach, the bike sat on the hoist for a week or so, while Scott and Dave (his partner in crime!) looked at the bike, the interwebs, and generally pondered the state of the universe.

First decision was to get rid of the original America tank, and replace it with a Thruxton tank.  This would give the bike “hips and a waist” as Scott put it.  Trying to find a second hand Thruxton tank in good condition was a job in itself, but as the saying goes, its not what you know but who you know.  Using his large network of contacts, Scott managed to track down a tank in Victoria through friends of friends. The Thruxton tank was a fuel injected tank.  This meant we had to modify the bottom of the tank, welding in a plate to allow the installation of a Pingel fuel tap.

The second decision was changing the angle of the rear guard and chrome stays.  From Triumph in stock format, the rear guard was sitting too high and showed too much daylight.  And the shape was just wrong. This led to the rear guard and chrome stays being cut, moved, adjusted, tacked, re-adjusted and welded and beaten into their new shape, all while maintaining the original Triumph mounts.

And, while all this was going on, there were the ongoing arguments about paint colour!

The next decision was the bling. For this the boys dug into the SDG Moto parts bin and decided on Kustomtech components.  Their Deluxe and Vintage Lines of controls in polished alloy and polished brass would be the perfect bling for this bike.  For this build we used Deluxe Line Brake Master Cylinder, with Clutch control in polished alloy and polished brass, matching Vintage grips, Deluxe External Throttle Housing in polished brass, Vintage Line Forward controls in polished alloy and brass and polished brass Deluxe Risers.

This then led to the search for a headlight, switches and tail light.  The headlight was easy.  Again from SDG Moto, a Headwinds 5 ¾” Tomahawk headlight in polished aluminium and brass clamp ring fit the bill. The switches again were easy – SDG Moto supplied Posh Mini Switches with a brass face cap.  The tail light was the next hurdle.  The first brass tail light sourced was so heavy that there was no way it could be mounted on the rear fender without breaking off.  And so the search continued, until 3 tail lights later, the right one was found after much searching of the interwebs.  A new fuel cap from Motone Customs in brass was ordered to fit the new Thruxton tank.

The seat was next thing in the firing line.  A search of the interwebs came up with Bruiser Custom Cycles in the US, who specialise in custom seats specifically for the Triumph America.  So after several emails, and phone calls, the seat was decided and ordered.

Once all the goodies from KustomTech had arrived, the boys needed to decide on the right set of handlebars.  The first set they tried was too big and the wrong angle.  The second set was too small and shallow.  The third set was just right!  We ended up with a set of V-Team Superbike Low 1” bars from W&W Cycles.  This gave us the length we needed to mount the controls and the switches.

Next came the speedo, mirror and indicators.  A custom SDG Moto GPS speedo from Speedhut, along with an SDG Moto supplied Joker Machine Speedo relocation bracket to mount the speedo onto the front forks.  The mirror and indicators were also supplied by SDG Moto, a Joker Machine Cone bar end mirror, along with Joker Machine Astro LED indicators in chrome.  The decision was also made to replace all bolts where possible with Joker Machine Triumph 8mm Chrome Bolt trim washers.

Now that pretty much everything was on hand, the fit and fabrication could begin.  Fitting the KustomTech Vintage Line Forward Controls, which are made to fit Harleys, to a Triumph America was always going to be a bit of a challenge. We took the original Triumph forward control bars and mounts, made up plates to suit the KustomTech controls, cut and shut and welded onto the original Triumph controls, and had them re-chromed.  This allowed us to maintain the original foot positions. We had to modify the gear change rod, because Triumph operated from below the controls, and we had to make this work from the top. The fork mounted indicators were mounted, and cut-outs were made into the fork shrouds to make a concealed fit.

Finally the ongoing paint colour argument was resolved, and the tins were sent out to Rob from RS Custom Cycles and Shacko from Shack-o Pinstriping.

The bike was then stripped down, and everything was sent off to plating and chroming. Re-assembly was fairly straightforward.  Once the freshly chromed and plated pieces were reassembled, and all the new bling was mounted, wiring could begin.

The boys brought in our resident sparkie, Peter Levin.  It was Pete’s job to make sense of the spaghetti factory that is the wiring loom, and ensure that all the switches, lights, speedo, etc did what they were supposed to do.

The boys then had to figure out the plumbing.  Scott knew he wanted everything to have black braided line, and that it again would be a challenge to find the fittings to mount the Harley controls to the Triumph.  After a lot of interwebs searching, phone calls and emails to the USA, we found Magnum Shielding.  This company specialises in custom braided lines and fittings.  We were able to order matching custom made brake, throttle, clutch cables in Black Pearl braid with black fittings, including their Ez-Align fittings.  We had the rest of the engine plumbing remade in Black Pearl braid and black fittings, with the help of our local Pirtek man.

The tins had been painted in black with a panel of deep burgundy, and hand striped with gold.  The Triumph logo on the tank was also hand striped in gold and gold leaf, with Shack-o once again doing his magic.  The image chosen for the side cover was the number 56, which holds special meaning to SDG Moto, being Scott’s dad’s old race number. A chrome Pommy VAT holder was mounted on the side of the bike, after Shack-o painted the Captain America shield inside, with the word “America”.  In case you hadn’t guessed, this bike has been christened “The Captain”.

After several shake down rides around the Central Coast, it was time for Grant to see his baby.  The reaction could not have been better.  He was overwhelmed with the result. “Totally blown away, mate.  This just goes beyond anything I could have imagined for myself”  said Grant.  For the next hour, he either walked around the bike shaking his head, shook Scott’s hand again and again, or just plain stared.  Once it had started to sink in, he was like “Can’t talk, gotta ride.” And with that he was gone.

From what we are led to believe, every spare minute he has, he is out cruising on “The Captain”.

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