It’s been a year… since I even written anything. A lot can happen in a year. There is a saying about falling off a horse and getting back on it. And I guess in some ways I fell off life. And I’m trying to get back on it. This will be a long blog post and that’s just a quick warning for those who don’t feel like reading a bunch of bullshit to pull the ripcord now. Or as the legendary flight attendant did, grab a couple mini bottles, give the cabin the bird, deploy the emergency slide and hit the tarmac in good fashion. Pick up a copy of “The Shallows” on the walk home.
For those who feel like reading some personal details of the last year, please don’t be easily offended. It goes from selling a part of me in 2015 to a motorcycle crash two weeks ago.
WHERE THE HELL HAVE I BEEN?
Sometime I will talk about more than a year ago but Im afraid of trailing off into some type of “stream of consciousness” and missing the point entirely. Almost exactly a year ago we sold our building. Which on the surface seems like something worth celebrating. And it was. Believe me!!! I opened a bottle of Pappy 23yr for the occasion, mixed it with ginger ale, and drank the night away! But seriously I just opened it and drank it with a cube of ice with a few close friends. We didn’t move right away, but continued to lease the space for six months – until Jan 1 2016
The unforeseen problem with selling the building was that it was so much more than a shop. It had been my home (literally) and it had been my garage. It was both my work space and haven. The building was a brick warehouse built in the 40’s. Tucked away amongst the shitshow that is Greenville SC. Downtown, yet hidden and quiet. When I sold it I didn’t have another place lined up. So what occurred was saying goodbye to wrenching on bikes, having a place to go, wrenching while listening to jazz, or pop punk, or classic rock. That part of my life was on hold. I didn’t expect the impact quite frankly. I have since bought new buildings and will keep you updated. But for the past 8 months I have lacked any real ability to do what I love… what I set out for 9MC
Nonetheless, the other areas of my life stayed in full swing. In November of 2015 I made my way to Arunachal Pradesh. It’s a pretty rad place. I was in Tawang which amounted to 4 days of riding in a car each way through the Himalayan range. Meeting with some kids that are in other blog posts. But a hell of an adventure. It requires special permission and I traveled with a friend and confidant who is a retired Indian army colonel. If there was a place that should be ridden, this is it.
And I will have a dedicated post for that as well. Because it was a trip that will not be forgotten. And worth reading about. I returned with pneumonia and a fresh look at the world.
December came and went without much notice. In January my friend Bradley found a couple buildings on Craigslist. That’s right… I said craigslist. Two buildings that were built in the 1920’s. They are next to each other and one is 2000sq ft and the other is 2500sq ft. And you will hear a lot more about that. But as a tease here they are in all their glory.
Basically two giant pieces of shit – and I couldn’t be more stoked about them!!! I have updated pictures too that I will post. It’s a huge project.
They are in a great area and more than anything I cannot wait to have a shop again. From Jan until Jun this was my main focus. They needed to be cleaned up and then rezoned. The rezoning process is 3 months by itself. And I had no clue what it was about or even what to expect. Additionally I am contracting myself so it’s difficult and overwhelming. Coupled with continuing to build 9MC it has really taken all of my time and has left little to no time for anything extracurricular.
I did go to the funeral of a guy my age who lived across the street and has 3 kids under the age of 10. And I think that’s worth writing about too.
Lastly, bringing us up to speed, I have certainly experienced some interpersonal relationship failures. That’s like corporate lingo for saying I was laid off vs I was fired. Point is, some things that have dragged out for a decade have finally come to a close.
And that brings us to two weeks ago. With no place to go, and failures abounding around me, a guy ran a stop sign and I ended up breaking a bunch facial bones. My nose, my cheek, my sinuses, my teeth. My wrist and knee are pretty effed. But I am alive. And I would like to credit Davida’s 92 helmet for that. It was a sad day for a 1975 850 T-3
And I will write about that too. But my point is that I have finally pulled my head out of my ass and its time to get back on the horse. I’m alive. And that’s enough. And since I know motorcycles I know there’s more than one of you out there that probably a ride on your bike is the only time you feel like the world is rebalanced. Or that when you are alone it’s the only time you aren’t at odds with the world or yourself. And frankly I guess I am saying that I get it.
So hang in there. This probably isn’t the roughest year we’ve had. And I am confident it wasn’t the best. I’ll entertain you at least with my own misery and laughter over the past year and I hope that maybe we can see some humor or gain some insight in life about it.
And until the dust settles or is kicked up again. Thanks for all of your support and business and friendships with 9MC and me personally
In 1973 Triumph introduced the TR5T Trophy Trail. It was to be the last of their 500 twin efforts and owed very little to the previous T100c models (500 competition models 1971 & earlier). The TR5T did use a T100C type 500cc engine but in a BSA B50MX type oil in frame & suspension. BSA was defunct by late 1972 & while they used the B50MX chassis because it was readily available, the fact is, it was a well-respected competition set up of the time. Yamaha instruments, hand controls & even Handlebar mounted Lucas turn signals all seamed inspired by the Yamaha DT design. The Alloy Petrol tank & Siamese factory low exhaust complimented a ¾ seat giving the Trophy trail its very unique look.
Its capabilities were tried in the 1973 ISDT competition which was held in Massachusetts, USA. Triumph had not been in ISDT events for at least 5 years prior because of the head butting with the BSA Works department. Birmingham Small Arms owned Triumph for many years. The bike was found to be very capable, taking a second place only to the Czechoslovakians on a CZ. The trophy trail’s only issue was a broken top triple clamp as these were alloy & prone to fracture in hard riding. The 1974 TR5T was dubbed the Adventurer. Aside from a color change on the fuel tank, it was identical to the 1973 model. 2552 TR5T’s were made in total from late 1972-1974 which all essentially were produced in one full production season. In comparison, the T100C was produced from 1962-1971 with a total of 20,360 bikes made. The TR5T is rare & all were exported out of the UK.
My experience with the few TR5T’s I have owned has been wonderful. Many Triumph’s that have a competition implication have very similar if not the same engine & suspension as the road going models they sold. It’s hard to beat the look of a mid 1960s T120C / TT / T100C but function wise off the road? I’ll take the TR5T every time. The fork travel, ground clearance, weight of bike & power range really hits the mark. This one in particular is in the last 100 made so it is a 1974 Adventurer. It is a work in progress but is an oil tight well-tuned runner. It is stock besides running a 19 inch Triumph Trident rear wheel to bring clearance up a bit & offset what some have called a “squatty” look. This bike came in mostly apart & with boxes of parts. It’s a nice reminder of the joys of waking up an old motorcycle. Nothing more, nothing less.
Edward Turner designed the Triumph 500 parallel twin & launched it for sale in 1939. Triumphs were always evolutionary & never revolutionary. This was the evolution of that pre unit 500 motor he designed some 40 years before & while it had tremendous improvements & changed along the way it never skipped out on its heritage or origins of influence. Amazing to think the same thing that made a company great was the same thing that put them out of business. Wonder what Edward thought of the Trophy trail…………………….
Thanks for reading, Bradley
In the USA, 2+2=4 and a ½-inch wrench is, well...a 1/2-inch wrench. In the vintage British motorbike world, a 1/2-inch Whitworth wrench is probably the biggest in your tool collection–quite a bit different than your ½-inch American. It's just a different ball game all together with English-made motorcycles, and that either leaves you running from it or towards it. Me? I go towards it and have for a long time. Tappet, mudguard, spanner, silencers, AL YOU MINIUM. It can drive you mad, as they say, or it can become a way to partake in yet another facet of a possibly forgotten heritage...different math, different terminology. But! Here is an equation that adds up the same on both sides of the pond-2 Amal TT9 Carburetors + 1 Sonny Route 750 big bore kit + 2 hot cams + 1 1959 Bonnevile + 1 Smiths chronometric rev counter +
1 safety crash helmet + 2 straight clips-ons (thanks Ed!) a handful of supporting sponsors + 150 hours of work =
1 FAST VINTAGE TRIUMPH READY FOR THE BONNEVILLE SALT FLATS FOR WHICH IT WAS NAMED
Our very good friend Mac, from Australia, who recently bought this bike from us, decided it was time to live his dream–going really fast on a smooth lake salt bed on a vintage Triumph. When completed, this bike will still be unmistakably a 1959 Bonneville, unmistakably a Salt Flat racer, and unmistakably not an old, tired antique for Sunday puts. It will resemble a racer that was built in the early 60s. Billet? Not on this one.
In 19 years of being in the vintage motorcycle business, I can safely say I have worked on less than five, true racing machines. Learning cam formulas, head flow, crank balance, proper jetting, etc., is going to take some education that I am all too egger to understand. It's not rocket science, but you don’t know until you know. And sometimes after that...you still don’t know. I already want to THANK Johnson Cams and Ed at JVE (Johnson Vintage Engineering) LTD for being on board with support and knowledge for where we lack. These are the guys who have been making things happen for 40+ years just for the love of motorcycling, plain and simple. They will likely forget more than I’ll ever learn.
Kirk and I are over-the-top excited about the relationships that will develop over the course of this build and the memories to follow. And keep an eye out for limited runs of 9MC salt flat race apparel, along with lots of posts and updates on its progress. We won't be shy about posting the successes and failures. It’s the failures and struggles we all have an easier time relating to anyways, right?
More to come!