Thursday, December 31, 2009

Murray & Cook's "Flustration" Triumph Double Engine Dragbike


Cycle World 1967

This is a somewhat early version of the bike when it was still running stock triumph 650 cylinders. This drag bike was one of the fastest in the world all the way up to the early 1970's.

Here's a neat email I got last month concerning Boris and Flustration after I posted some Boris Murray quotes:

"Hello gentlemen,
A pal of mine in Melbourne Australia, sent me the article of yours regarding twin Triumph motors bikes. I met Boris Murray and Don Cook in the late '60s. I am a retired sign painter, muralist and billboard painter who traveled with a Romany kumpania for 37 years. A kumpania is a traveling Gypsy tribe by way of explanation. My pal and I are both Gypsies and former riders of bikes.
When I met Boris, I was in the town of Pomona, CA where I was born. I was returning to visit old friends and kin. It was in the local Harley Davidson shop that I met Boris. He had a friend there, the friend said I was a sign man and Boris then asked me to stop by the Murray and Cook shop to letter a drag bike. I had a small lettering kit in my Harley's saddle bag, so followed Boris to his shop. The bike in question was a twin engined stretched out machine with two Triumph engines. The gas tank was within the black painted frame. I put orange gold letters on the top tubular frame piece that said, Flustration. I couldn't charge much as it was a small job and not much area to paint on.
Later on, I believe it was Don Cook who rode it in the Pomona Drags. I can't remember now, but I think the time was something like 8:14 seconds and 164+ mph. I may be wrong here, but that seems right to me. Boris rode the bike at Bonneville Salt Flats, it could have been Muroc Dry Lake (?) and reached a top speed of, I believe, 212 mph with the open frame. I think they added a small fuel tank of sorts. The wind tore off the leather edging of Boris' helmet, ripped edging from his goggles and loosened one lens,ripped the top off his gloves and tore his jacket stitches. He only had the palms of his gloves and as the wind was up, no return run. I saw Boris afterward and asked him how he held on. He grinned and said, "Pretty damned tight!"

Have a good day, nice article too."
Baxtalo Juki, (Lucky Dogs in our tongue)

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Let's Go Dragin'


1967 Cycle Guide

With the big bikes and doubles the little four inch Avon didn't have a chance. Around the early to mid '70s motorcycle drag slicks got a whole lot bigger and better. The four inch M&H came out sometime around '70 or '71 and its rubber compound was favored by most over the old Avon. I really dig the Avon for show & nostalgia though. Good or bad it was the most widely available slick for about a decade, originally being offered around 1963 or so. It was used as a "smoker" tire and the fast guys would smoke them all the way down the strip. I have a couple for my projects and hope to smoke one someday. 4.20" tread width baby...
1967 Drag Racing

Monday, December 28, 2009

DIY - Cycle Shop - Motorcycle Table / Lift

This is what I did over the weekend. The ol' lady asked what I wanted for x-mas and I told her, two 4 X 4 posts and some 2 X 4's. I already had the plywood from a recent shelving project. The lag bolts were given to me by the old dude that lives next store. I've seen tables like this in pictures and stories of UK shed builders and always wanted something like it. In the US you mostly see guys just plunk down the dough for fancy steel bike lifts. I'm cheap when it comes to tools and most other things that are not motorcycle parts and I wanted more versatility and storage area. I don't have a problem wheeling a bike up a ramp for two feet, so didn't need the lift aspect. After my club brother Brian won a full on motorcycle lift at a recent Nomad's party raffle, and I saw the motivational effect of having a project up in the air and right in front of you, I knew it was time to get it together. I did the google thing to see what I could find on the web, but didn't find anything that appealed to me, so I went into my familiar pipe dream trance state and this is what I came up with.

Here's the basic frame. You could use 2 X 4's across the top and along the bottom for an even stronger arrangement and to save buying the sheet of plywood. The materials list is something like: six eight foot long 2 X 4"s, two eight foot long 4 X 8"s, one 4X8' sheet of 5/8" or thicker ply wood, twenty four 4" long lag bolts, a box of 3" deck screws and some shorter screws for the screwing down the plywood sheets. Cost is about $80.oo. The length of the table is 8 foot and it is 2 feet high. The short cross pieces of 2 X 4"s are 21" long. You can figure out the rest.

My Dad's been bugging me forever to take his old engine building stand with Triumph frame mounting fixture, so it was incorporated into the plan. Being able to float the chassis is something your average bike lift isn't going to do. Should be handy for installing forks and wheels.

I have a slightly different plan in mind for the frame mounting fixture that will keep the frame lower, by using the sidecar lug hole under the seat area that is common to most Triumph frames. Just need to scrounge together the steel.

Friday, December 25, 2009

Neat Stuff

we won't get for x-mas.

circa 1967

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

The Huns

Brownie from Austrailia sent in a note of thanks and this lovely story of his annual club race. I'm jealous. I wish my club could get together something like it, but finding a place where the Man wouldn't ruin it is the problem these days. Anyway, what a great club name, patch design, and club history. Thanks Brownie!

"I was a member of a club called the 'Huns' for 22 years, they've been going since '67in Melbourne, we used to have a race called the 'Hardly Ferocious' at our annual run around a huge granite rock called 'Eagle Rock', the track is about a mile or so around. The rules of the race are, you have to ride your best bike not under 650cc, no knobbies, no cheating (OK!) 13 laps, 13 stubbies. We start at the top and start sculling when the canon fires a round, do a lap, all the rest are drank in the pits after that, must switch bike off, get a beer and chug it down, start bike, do another lap, 13 times, if you wanna win , hold it up till your beer is empty and ride like f+ck around a slippery, dusty track and stay upright when you're pissed outta your head, easy!...Oh nearly forgot, there's a lot of spewin' going on too! I've won this race 4 times, 3 of them on the trumpet which I've owned 27 years now, best time was 28 minutes. There were video's over the years which are good, the stills just don't do the race justice but hey man, you get the picture.
Taken in '87 or '88."

Stubbie = 5% alcohol / 375ml VB

His sickle, owned for 27 years and seen in the race pics. Looking great after a recent rebuild and ready to provide some more good times...

Friday, December 18, 2009


"Call it a custom time capsule. It's a Triumph Bonneville bought new in 1970 at Shores Motorcycles in Warren, Michigan ($1470.50 + $25 for stainless-steel fenders). The proud new owner soon took his bike to Kustoms Unlimited in nearby New Haven for a mild customization. Note the extra chrome (even the rear brakelight switch!), the shorty mufflers, the flamed lacquer paint job--though, strangely, a stock seat. Then for some unknown reason it was parked in 1974 showing 8000 miles, and not ridden again 'til 2008 when the second owner purchased it."

"I saw it at the Mid-America Las Vegas auction last January. Only two or three of us bid on it and the competition soon dropped out, so I got it for just $4500. It started on the second kick, and needed just a tune-up and new fork tubes (thanks to Tim at Century Cycles in San Pedro) to be fully road-worthy. A couple of months later, over at Bill Getty's, while replacing that little top-hat-looking bung in the primary to stop an oil leak, we also installed new clutch plates. The seat padding is crumbling so I'll replace that--and maybe add a tuck & roll or button-tufted cover while I'm at it. Otherwise, it'll be kept just like it was when parked 35 years ago."

Best, David

A custom seat cover would be the perfect final touch to this simple custom survivor. So close to stock, but not. I'm digging the reverse cone mufflers. The last year of the single downtube frame bonneville with all the right stuff and ready to ride...

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Bad Ass BSA

Customized with aggressive riding in mind. Get the story here.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Perfect 1960's Triumph

This early 1960's Bonneville is set up just right. Cut front fender, small competiton gas tank and a nicely done custom seat. The swingarm doesn't look extended, but the shocks do look shorter than stock. Too bad the picture is kinda dark, but you can see that it has a 16" rear rim which was pretty rare for 1968 when the picture was taken.

Monday, December 14, 2009

David Edwards Update

So, as some of you already know, after 25 years of working for the magazine, David Edwards is no longer the editor of Cycle World magazine. I first found out last week when reading Cycle World at the magazine rack. Yes, I had become a lowly grocery store rack reader. The Cycle World sub ran out a few months ago so I've been keeping tabs on things at the store along with all the other good auto and motorcycle titles. Now I'm glad I was slow to renew. When I read the CW editorial by a new editor this month I was trying to figure out what I missed. No goodbye editorial by David, just a unceremonious "thanks and good luck" from the new guy. Going over the CW online forum provided some answers, and they ain't pretty. The big wig explanation is here if you want to give yourself a headache. Whatever the reasons, I'm sure we are going to lose the one motorcycle magazine that still gave us the historical perspective of all areas of motorcycling while balancing that content with the latest MC news and models. With the loss of David I predict a content change as well. No more stories like the ups and downs of the Kenny Dreer Norton saga? No more stories about new Vincent's or Indian's? No more biographies on old racers or infamous MC personalities that would otherwise be forgotten? No more American Flyers? Cycle World has always been a perfectly balanced publication covering the old and the new of all that's interesting in the MC world. I suspect that along with "better paper and no staples" the focus is going to be on marketing and catering mostly to the folks looking to buy new motorcycles and accessories. There is already a magazine that does that. It's called the Motorcyclist, another title that went from greatness to mediocrity many years ago. I'll be keeping tabs at the magazine rack, but not expecting much. Looks to me like The United Corporations of America have taken another one away from the enthusiasts to feed the consumers...

On a more positive note, I sent David a email of support after all this and to offer posting of his Von Dutch Triumph project or anything else he'd like to share and I received a great reply. Here's part of it starting with the Von Dutch Triumph restoration.

"Here's a short update. Bill Getty has all the motor parts rebuilt, reconditioned, polished up, etc. and is ready to put everything back together. Judging by the wear inside the engine and gearbox, this was definitely an old Ekins desert racer that Dutch turned into a street custom
after its competition days were done. Denny Berg says after stripping the paint off the frame, there's lots of damage to the bottom rails, too, further backing up the desert sled story."

"Meantime, see the attached photos. How's that for a barn-find? Actually, it's an "attic-find." Built 30 years ago by Texas drag/dry-lakes hall of fame builder Ed Mabry, it won the bike class at a big hot-rod show in Fort Worth, then was put into storage, never having been fired. Ed had more important matters to attend to, like building the world's fastest Triumphs (double-engined T150 partial streamliners), so the custom just gathered dust. I saw it a couple of months ago on a visit to Ed's Fort Worth shop, and despite the poor light in his attic and the years of accumulated mung, could see how very cool it was. The frame is a one-off built by Mabry, chromed of course. Note the double-decked swingarm; has to be one of the earliest examples of this type of design--maybe the first? Three-cylinder T150 engine was done by the famous Jack Wilson of Big D Triumph."

"Photo was taken in the shop at the rejuvenated Big D Cycles in Dallas, run by Triumph guru and all-around good guy Keith Martin. They're recommissioning the bike for me (new rubber, fork seals, carbs sorted, ignition dialed-in, etc.) so it'll run, but aside from a good clean, we're leaving everything else as found. Some of the chrome is lifting from the aluminum parts in a few places but that's part of this bike's story."


A better cure without tits for any unemployment blues does not exist. With a Jack Wilson built engine and that super trick Mabry chassis, I suspect this thing will eat your typical UK style cafe racer for breakfast and hot Sportsters for lunch. Pure American style Triumph Hot Rod and a absolute Show & Go masterpeice from true icons of motorcycle racing history. I need to hear a road test on this one. Love it! Check the Big D Cycle website out. It's a good one and they have a really neat blog connected to it too.

"Here's a shot of one of Mabry's later Bonneville bikes. This one went 256 mph, not bad for a couple of punched-out, turbo'd, air-cooled Brit Triples. Ed (far right) calls it the world's fastest non-Hayabusa."


Sunday, December 13, 2009

Another Good One

"G'day man, firstly I'd like to thank you for the excellent blog site and your tendency toward the swingarm custom. I extended mine 1 1/4" also,( the couple of links which were cut off the new chain can go back on) as well as looking good it was necessary in order for the guard (fender) not to hit the oil tank etc at full compression. I fabricated a new end section and welded the flat instead of 2 radial welds at the pipe, you can see the weld on the older pic. All the welding is stick except the pipes, gonna have to buy a TIG one of these days. Guard is a 44gal drum, oil tank is the bottom half of 2 propane bottles. I've got to make a truss system to support the shakers and then I can fire it up, it's taken nearly 4 years so I'm fairly exited. All the best and keep up the good work!"


Nice lines and overall design, he went with the fender mounted to move with the swingarm arrangement making for a tight and simple rear section. I like the way the top shock mount area of the frame was modified too. A traditional custom paint job brings it all together. With that sano late model Triumph dual disc front end it'll be a real performer for sure.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Hagon Shocks

The U.S. distributor for Hagon Shocks is
Click on the Twin Shocks link. Dave is a super friendly and helpfull guy. There is a unlimited amount of custom options for these shocks, but be advised that some of the custom order stuff comes straight from Hagon's shop in the U.K. so the shipping time can be extended. Order early when you know exactly what you need.

The way to figure shock length and the fender placement is to choose what extended length you want for ride height and then make up a wood strut to the corresponding compressed length and install it where one of the shocks would go. The rear wheel that is going to be used with the bike is then installed with a thin strip of rubber over the top of the tire. You can then place the fender right on top of the wheel and build up your fender mounts. Be carefull not to go with shocks that are too short, the whole point is to retain some good handling characteristics and sufficient ground clearance for cornering is critical. If you want to keep the fender close to stock placement but want to lower the bike as much as possible I believe that short travel shocks can be supplied, but again, shipping time will be extended.

Extended......Fully compressed.......Travel
420mm/16.5"............11.8"............ 4.7"
390mm/15.6"**.........10.6"............ 5.0"
370mm/14.6"............10.4"............ 4.2"
360mm/14.2"............11.2"............ 3.2"
350mm/13.8"............10.8"............ 3.2"
340mm/13.4"............10.4"............ 3.2"
330mm/13.0"............10.0"............ 3.2"
320mm/12.6"............ 9.4"............. 3.2"
310mm/12.2"............ 9.0"............. 3.2"
300mm/11.8"............ 8.6"............. 3.2"
290mm/11.4"............ 8.6"............. 2.8"
280mm/11.0"............ 8.6"............. 2.4"
270mm/10.6"**.......... 8.6"............. 2.0"
255mm/10.0"**.......... 7.8"............. 2.2"
This is the list from Dave Quinn's website for the classic twin shocks.

Exactly What I'm Talking About

I love getting emails like this:

"Hi there.
I performed this operation on my triumph ,almost 20 years ago , and i have covered about 50.000 miles on it since.It works great. It was done in the same way as described in the old article. Extension 1 3/4 inch. Shocks are 1 inch shorter than stock. This very recent photo will show you what it looks like."

Regards, Niels Bjørn Christensen

Nicely done Niels! The 1955-59 type swingarm frames work really well with extended swingarms as there is no seat loop and the fender can be raised easily. Cobra type seats fit nicely on these frames and look great too. I really like the 16" Harley rear rims for custom swingarm bikes because they fill in the whole area for better looks and add traction. With a slightly longer wheelbase and lower center of gravity I bet this bike handles great.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Extended Swing Arms

So you have a Triumph project with a stock frame, but you want it to sit lower and you'd like the bike to be a bit longer for riding comfort, better high speed handling and looks, so you get on ebay and start bidding away on old beat up bolt on hard tails, STOP! It's been done to death my friends. There is enough bolt on hardtailed Triumph's out there already. If you ride them hard enough they break. The long ones flex and handle like shit. Most of them were not straight from the beginning and if they were built right they've been f.u'ed during their lifetime one way or another. No matter what anyone wants to think, bolting on a hardtail to a unit 650 does not make a bobber. If that's what you really want a pre-unit rigid is the way to go. OK, I admit it, I built plenty of the bolt on's in my early bike building days too, and I still have a soft spot for the bolt on rigid unit construction 500's (must be the flat track history), but someone needs to stand up to the "Bobber Revolution" before all the old swing armed Triumph's are gone! Now that I've upset a substantial portion of my readers, please read on...

1966 Modern Cycle

1966 Motorcycle Sport Book

Both of these articles have you machining more than you need to. I use two swing arms by cutting one to add the length desired and then only two inner sleeves are needed and only one welded joint to smooth out. These were done to desert sleds originally so cosmetics were not a priority. For the custom street or strip bike the welds are smoothed out and taking the swingarm completely out of the frame and welding it up on a flat table with a axle installed and the correct spacing between axle plates is recommended. Finding a extra swing arm should be quite easy with all the frames that have been hacked of late.

To eliminate flex here is the basic plan, although it could be done a lot nicer for custom bikes.
1967 Motorcycle Sport Book

Here is one that I did using two swingarms with a light press sleeve inside. I opted for the 1 1/4" extension for a subtle effect that will lower the bike and extend the wheelbase just slightly. Just like everything else you can do with custom bikes, more is not always better. 3" is the most I would go for a radical custom and would stick to 2" or less on a street or strip bike. I've done a bunch of modifications to this '61-'62 duplex frame including shortening and reshaping the seat loop to match a Bates scrambles seat, removing the passenger peg tubes and replacing with small brackets, shaved switch housing lug & gas tank brackets, additional neck gusseting for strength etc. No, I'm not going to use plywood struts. It's getting shrouded Hagon shocks because it's gonna be a street bike! Yes, that's snow at only 1500' above sea level in sunny California.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Buck Smith "Travelers" for Triumph Desert Sleds

The Triumph Desert sled suspension perfected, but by 1971 the big bore Brit Bikes were becoming a rare sight at off road events. Still an impressive bit of engineering and a set of these would make that old Triumph trail bike that much more fun. Anyone have blueprints???
1971 Motorcycle Sport Quarterly