Friday, September 21, 2012

Hacking the Triumph

I have to work on my bikes outside, in a rough parking lot off the alley in the ghetto where I live. That pretty much limits me to working in the daylight hours. It's finally gotten cool enough to contemplate doing some long overdue basic maintenance on my bikes. Both the Triumph and the scooter were desperate for oil changes, but I couldn't really bear the thought of doing even that when daily highs were over 105 most of the last few months. I suppose the only reason they survived at all was that it was so damned hot I didn't want to ride much anyway.

Anyway, the other day they both got fresh oil, and the cooler weather made me think about the inevitable approach of winter, and the prospect of another couple of months of miserable riding with temperatures at the other end of the thermometer. That made me fantasize about uprating the Triumph. Again.

I can leave it in loading zones because it is a load. Of shite.
It would be very cool to actually make it handle. And go. And, perhaps most of all, stop. The motor (so I'm told) really needs a pair of flat-slide carbs to free it up. A Facebook friend from France assures me that the difference from that one mod is night-and-day. Handling's a trickier problem, as that friend says, the frame may as well be made of sausage. Still, lying on the ground looking up at it while changing the oil, I could see that it would be relatively easy to improve triangulation in the area between the steering head and front motor mount for better stiffness. I could shed some weight by ditching most of the rear subframe and the two bolt-on downtubes that, as far as I can tell, are there mostly for show.

I figure the first assignment would be to source the fork, brakes and front wheel from some semi-recent sport bike, that would instantly improve suspension, stopping power and tire choices at the front. A modern rear wheel, fitted into an aluminum swing arm, suspended by better shocks, would go a long way towards sorting the rear end.

Of course, the problem with this kind of thinking is that even doing this on a shoestring would cost a lot more than it would cost me to buy a 10 year-old GSX-R750 on Craigslist, and no matter what I did to the Triumph, it would never, ever be nearly as competent a machine.

That made me wonder what why it's more appealing for me to take the Triumph from a D-grade bike to a C bike than it would be to just buy a B bike. Then, I read a profile in New Yorker magazine about George Hotz, a computer 'hacker'. Hotz was one of the first guys to jailbreak an iPhone, and later achieved cult status among tech nerds by hacking Sony's PS3 platform.

Hotz has nothing to do with motorcycles, but when I read this comment I suddenly knew that my desire to turn the Triumph into a 'sleeper' suitable for the winding roads of the Ozarks, stemmed from the same urges that motived Hotz... 

“It’s a testosterone thing,” he told New Yorker's David Kushner. “It’s competitiveness, but it isn’t necessarily competitiveness with other people. It’s you versus the system. And I don’t mean the system like the government thing, I mean the system like the computer. ‘I’m going to stick it to the computer. I’m going to make it do this!’ And the computer throws up an error like ‘No, I’m not going to do this.’ It’s really a male thing to say, ‘I’m going to make you do this!’ ”

That's what it's all about, isn't it? The very shite-ness of the Triumph increases the appeal of souping it up. 

Hmm... If you hear of anyone who owns a semi-late model sport bike that's been rear-ended, leaving the front end intact, let me know. Or better yet, someone who's got the stock forks left over from a Daytona Sport Bike project. I'll need something to do over the winter...


  1. Mark. We do it, because we can. Because we want to be Steve McQeen. Not some guy on a ten year old gixer. Because it makes us better people. And the world is a better place for it. Carry on!

  2. That pretty much limits me to working in the daylight hours. It's finally gotten cool enough to contemplate doing some long overdue basic maintenance on my bikes. EJEAS Q2