Cafe or Scrambler? When sketching out a new custom motorcycle design their are an abundance of options to consider, but before you can even begin to get lost in the details you have to rough out an idea and that usually starts with picking a genre. Some machines lend themselves better to certain styles than others but for Chris, his Triumph Bonneville offered a blank page. He boiled it down to that key question that so many have pondered before, Cafe or Scrambler? Cafe or Scrambler? Chris pinned his colours to the latter and headed off to see the chaps at Spirit of the Seventies with a head full of ideas. Ideas that would change very quickly.
"I didn't expect it to go down the cafe racer route I was thinking lighter, slightly lower Scrambler. I just really wanted to push the weight down as much as possible. I even considered the carb Scrambler at first to get a smaller tank. But as we discussed the project, it turned out that a cafe racer is just what I wanted."Tim and Kev at Spirit have some mighty pedigree when it comes to tinkering with Hinckley's finest, their Bike Shed archive is a feast of inspiration for the would be Bonnie adapter. Chris was keen on their blend of short muscular roadsters with a mix of trials and tracker influences, after some discussions a budget was proffered and a spec and design agreed. The stance was the key ingredient that steered the build away from scrambler territory, low and squat were the chosen adjectives and their implementation process began with the wheels. Both hubs were sent away to be rebuilt with wider 17" rims and new stainless spokes before some fat, grippy dual-sport rubber was squeezed on. The subframe was shortened and a SOTS rear fender & solo seat combo was made. Chris chose to keep the rear pegs for the occasional short hop with a pillion but only the small of bottom need apply. The cut frame ends were practically tidied up with the installation of LED indicators. Kev takes up the build story, "The standard clocks were lowered using a bespoke bracket, and billet headlight brackets were fitted to tighten up the front area, along with a SOTS bobbed front fender on an adapted oe bracket-cum-fork brace to suit the smaller front wheel. A performance boost came in the form of progressive springs up front, adjustable shocks at the back, some proven airbox mods and a SOTS high-level Slash-Cut exhaust system in the middle. The bike was then setup and tuned to suit." With everything getting progressively closer to terra firma the bars aimed upwards as per the original scrambler inclination. The riding position is exactly tailored to Chris so he can make the most of the dynamic improvements to the engine and handling. He describes it as a refined brute, with a sound addictively good... The beautiful chrome tank was one of the highlights of the donor bike, it was a short lived factory optional extra that this machine picked up as it rolled off the production line in 2013. SOTS are discerning enough to recognise when not to change for changes sake and left the resplendent receptacle as is. The mudguards, side covers and headlight were treated to a subtle black and red makeover by D-Lucks Custom Paint allowing the chrome every opportunity to shine.
"This bike was never supposed to be a radical departure, it was done very much in our "shop" style, but one that hopefully proves a few choice mods can go a long way to changing a bike's attitude and feel. "
Chris fittingly enough has recently opened up a Cafe in Leeds, where his beautiful machine will no doubt draw a crowd. His intention is to use the bike for reconnaissance missions to local farms and food suppliers, combining his business with a healthy dash of pleasure.