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1971 Triumph Bonneville
In 2008 I bought a '71 Triumph Bonneville. I found it on Craig's list and bought it from a fellow who lived near Melbourne, Florida.
When I went to look at it I found that it was an old survivor that appeared to have been passed from owner to owner over the years but not really ridden. The odometer showed 2875 miles but of course one cannot rely on such things.
Anyway, with the seller's help, I got it home and set about seeing if I could get it to run. After several hours of work cleaning the carbs, setting the points, etc., I was pleased to hear it fire up and run. I rode it up and down the streets of the neighborhood, albeit at fairly slow speeds, and found that the engine, clutch, and transmission seemed to function quite well. In fact, after about a half hour of that it even settled down into a respectable idle.
After that I stored it away until time was available to start it back down the long road of renewal.
In January of 2012, I finally reached a point where I could begin to work on the bike. When I first bought it my intent for it was as a donor bike for a Triton project. Over the last several years I have looked for a suitable Norton to base this on but Mannnn, did folks seem to think highly of them. So, gradually, I began to think more along the lines of building a Cafe' based on the Triumph frame that I had. It was a completely sound bike with a clear title so this idea grew in favor.
The one monkey wrench in this plan emerged as I began disassembly. At every turn I discovered that the bike was very unmolested with just about every nut and bolt, bracket, and hanger in place as it had been when it left the factory. The '71s were not very valuable or desirable but still I found that I was having trouble with the idea of cutting or altering the frame to accommodate a Cafe' rebuild. So, I finally reached a point where I thought I would restore the bike, albeit not necessarily with high end original parts. And at the same time build/obtain the things necessary to convert it to a Cafe' as well. This would mandate that every thing to make up the Cafe' presentation would have to be bolt on, preferably easily, so that I ended up with two bikes in one. We will see how well I am able to pull that off.
For example, I looked at that wad of plastic under the seat bracket and would bet it was ruminants of the protective plastic covering that the seat came with when it arrived (from the cottage industry supplier) at the assembly line. One can just imagine this plastic covering being stripped off by the dealer during prep for the showroom.
Note the clamps holding the speedometer cable
to the down tube. Those were commonly used on both British cars and bikes.
That boot on the oil pressure switch is original and more notably, the bolt and nut that are holding the exhaust pipe to the clamp are original.
More clamps as well as the boot on the clutch cable. That clamp in the background holding the original crankcase vent tube is also original and sought after by restorers of British cars and bikes alike.
Disassembly progressed normally until I was left with a rolling chassis.
From there the different areas of the rebuild would be broken down into components for refurbishment.
Click here for the '71 Frame Rebuild
Click here to go to the '71 Engine Work Page
Click here to see the '71 Tin Work Page
Click here to see about Buffing the Aluminum
Click here to see about the wheels.
And here are the final results. I am reasonably pleased with the out come, perhaps there are some things that I will change but for now I'm on to sortin' and ridin'.
After about 100 miles I have run into a problem. I installed a LIFE battery by Shorai
after experimenting with one in Tweety, my track bike. Tweety gets stored for extended periods of time and the LIFE battery handles that with out needing to be kept on a maintenance charge.
The problem with Bella, the '71, is that the charging system is so marginal that it doesn't keep the battery up, even when running. After being left in the dark one night (it stalled while sitting at a light and wouldn't restart) I felt I needed to address that issue. I have ordered a 210 watt kit by Sparx consisting of a stator, rotor, and solid state regulator/rectifier. I will update when I get those installed and let you know how well they solve the problem.
After about a month of operation with the Sparks kit the battery is doing fine. I have been checking it with a volt meter after each run and find that it is staying well charged. I will probably check it occasionally from here on but hopefully this problem can be put to rest.
Another problem that I have encountered is that the front brake is not very good. They were new shoes although the originals were hardly worn. I had replaced them thinking that the originals were probably very hard due to age.
I realize that these are mechanical drum brakes but, in comparison, they are noticeably weaker than those on my '69.
Click here to see about that.
'71 Front Brake
Now, about that Cafe'.... Well, it's October 31, 2013 and Bella is finally ready to make
her debut. I still have some things to attend to but we are finally able to
start riding her in her Cafe presentation. Click the link below to see the
details. Welcome to the Cafe Side of Life
Now, about that Cafe'....
Well, it's October 31, 2013 and Bella is finally ready to make her debut. I still have some things to attend to but we are finally able to start riding her in her Cafe presentation. Click the link below to see the details.
Welcome to the Cafe Side of Life