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Drifter Bike’s ’73 Triumph T140 – “The Villain”

Posted on August 28, 2012 by Andrew in Café Racer, Classic. 31 comments

I remember when I was a kid, I loved to draw. As with any kid, I soon learned that the real skill with that whole pencils-and-paper caper was not knowing what to draw, or how to draw, but more when to stop. A great firetruck or jet fighter soon becomes a train wreck of scribbles and smudges if you don’t resist that temptation to make “one last improvement” to you masterpiece. And in a funny way, the custom bike scene is not so different from your average kid’s drawing, and I’m not talking about the drooling, tears and wet pants. A potentially great custom can all too easily stray into the no-man’s-land of cheap eBay tack and gaudy baubles if it’s owner doesn’t know when to stop. But what’s just right? How do you know when a little bit more is gilding the internal combustion lily? Here’s a bike builder with all the answers, and a obvious ability to crown a design with an exhaust that is as much welding masterpiece as it is a last full stop* at the end of a Shakespeare play.

Meet Drifter’s head scribbler builder and owner, Paul. “I’m Paul Stanner, owner of Drifter Bikes and this is my bike ‘The Villian.’ I love twins and had been looking for a new project for myself for some time. This Triumph T140 bonny was a kind of a rescue job. It had been sitting outside for about 2 years in the elements getting more and more weather beaten. I left the headlight bucket as a reminder of what it was like when I got hold of it. It got knocked over by a car, cracking the primary cover and breaking a few things on the left side. Chinese whispers found my ears and a deal was struck with the owner for me to take it off his hands. I didn’t want to chop the frame on this matching numbers bike and did everything to enable it to be returned to original if the next owner decides it.”

“I ride primarily in the city so the bike had to be skinny for lane hopping. Under slung custom bars with updated controls and levers helped the slim down. The original carb slides were stuck fast in the bores so Mikuni upgrades got bolted on. New pipes gave the motor the sound I love from twins. I was after a low lean look for the bike and mounted the tank low on the frame and made the seat a super low profile. My upholsterer at Eastcoast Trimshop padded it out, so long rides are fine even though it looks spine jarringly slim. Paint was done a minimal and classic gun metal grey by Scotty at Unique Customs. It has many small custom touches because the bike was for me that you have to look for, like hand made copper washers and small detail bits of fabrication. It rides beautifully because you’re tucked into the bike and it handles life as a daily rider. It’s not necessarily to everyone’s taste but it was what I wanted to build at the time, next time who knows.”

“Iʼve been into bikes and bike riding for a long time. My family farm had ag bikes and I learnt to ride one of those, until I could progress onto the farm dirt bike. This was followed by dirt bikes in the top end of Western Australia and then road bikes when I was old enough for a license. I guess it was kinda inevitable that one day I would start chopping them up and making the kind of bikes you drew when you where day dreaming in school. I love building bikes. Who wouldn’t ?? I mean, if your into bikes and riding, changing them to suit your idea of the perfect bike is awesome. For some people it’s just a simple as making the indicators smaller, then others want the whole thing redone. Whatever floats your boat I reckon.”

* That’s “period” for our American brothers and sisters.

  • tmcsp

    This is what I was talking about that the Guzzi lacked. Rideability! Decent tires, front fender, plenty of ground clearance in the back. He even went above and beyond and added fork seal protectors! And some storage, and kept the horn for god’s sake. All the while on a bike that is still minimal and bitchin.

    This is a bike that is meant to be a real rider. And it looks fantastic as well. Proof that you can do both without sacrificing either. More like this please.

  • gone

    This bike I’m severely conflicted over . On one hand … I hate the saddle – the leather bag on the side looks completely out of place on the bike ( color mainly ) – the back edge of the tank looks … unfinished – the wiring is amateurish at best – and I do not like the mirrors … at all

    On the other hand there’s something so …. essentially right about this bike ….. that I kind of really like it . A lot !

    Hmmmn . I guess its a case of the Devil being in the Details then . Cause overall I like the bike . But the details ? Not so much . Oh well … at least the details would be easy enough to rectify…. so I’ll call this one good

    FYI @Andrew – ‘ Full Stop ‘ is an American idiom as well ya wingnut ! :o)

    • I wish you’d full stop…

      • gone

        I kind a doubt that Andrew !

        • Love ya heaps, big fella.

          • Get a room you two.

          • gone

            @facebook-100003079960619:disqus – Hey ! Now don’t you start up there Mr Stark !

      • I laughed.

        • Enough with my catchphrases, thanks.

          • Oh, did you have a copyright on ‘I laughed?’ I was not aware of that. Next you’ll try and tell us you came up with ‘you’re fired!’

    • davmo

      A lot of times I read the article, look at the pictures, think about some comments i would like to add, and scroll down to find the Slinger or Tony have already covered those same points.
      Going to have to get up earlier…or staying up later. Nice bike, love how the tailpipe was done. I finally figured out what that brat seat reminds me of: the caterpillar from Alice in wonderland, albeit a little squashed. That brat seat/taillight combo keeps showing up, looking so similar to the others, makes you wonder if there isn’t just one of them that keeps getting passed around to the next guy building a bike. Still like the final product.

      • gone

        @ davmo – I like your seat analogy …… though I was thinking more along the lines of a squashed dog turd ….. but then again I really hate these saddles .. so there you have it . I like the ‘ pass around pack ‘ comment as well !

    • arnold

      Yes, I used STOP at the end of a sentence on the last Telegram I sent.

  • Great build Paul – they just get better and better.

  • A guy takes an old oil-in-frame Triumph that’s headed for the breakers and makes it into something he can ride everyday. And he still keeps all the bits for turning back to original for the OCD effettes. Cheers to you, Paul.

  • Nice bike, Paul. I love twins too (I’m sure we’re talking about different twins.) I see how some don’t like the “sloppy” cables and little brown bag. I don’t have the same issues as some people have here with things like that. I would tend to agree that leather should match. Don’t be the guy with black shoes and a brown belt.

    I really like the overall design and the styling of the tank leather matching the seat is cool. I do wonder about how the edge of the leather dressing is finished. Doesn’t look done. Also seems like it may want to start curling up. Now you will get those who will carry on about the flat seat, but don’t mind them. If you really want to set people off, add some pipe wrap and put on some Firestones!

    • gone

      Pipe wrap would be OK . The Firestones on this bike ? Not so much . That seats gotta go though !

  • talkingbird

    cb200 tank?

    • yep, looks really good too.

  • arnold

    It seems to me that the design transition of the leather from the top of the tank could have continued down over the tank bolt and oil neck. I am thinking of something along the lines of the late 70’s dual sport type of seat, would not be a bad thing……….. keeping the can opener away from the nuts.

    Personally I don’t care for the leather side covers, but the touch on top of the tank makes a neat solution to the blinding bit of chrome that is there on many of the original OIFs.

    Your Fatboy has close to what I had in mind.ald

    • arnold

      Put the clock back on. Your website pictures sell this sweety much better than these glamour shots do.

  • revdub

    Those pipes look great. I agree on the battery bag. In my opinion, a nice black custom aluminum box would really fit the overall look better. Still a great looking bike. It’s not another Triumph bobber, yes!!

  • simon

    great looking bike keep building them the way you want……will look forward to your next one….

  • Under those brown “tool” bags is an aluminium battery case that might look better to some ( check the web site pics). As a daily rider and being a triumph, having tools readily at hand wins for me every time. The leather colour matches a few copper parts on the bike and not a real ” fashion” choice, rather a cheap fleabay score. The tank “rubber” strip down the middle is as the factory made them and its a real surviver, not repo. Wiring is not my first or last love and gets functional attention at best, but will be addressed at some stage if I have some kind of mental episode. Other than all that, its a well sorted, balanced bike that makes me smile when I open the throttle. Guitarslinger, if you dont like that seat, you will have a heart attack if you look at the other bike seats on the website. Thanks again Andrew for the write up.

    • neoleaver

      stunning bike/insect hybrid my friend….good job.

  • nathans909

    Personally I think this bike is absolutely awesome. It is one of the nicest I have seen in a while. I even love the leather tool bags on the side, in the right none matching colour. I would love to own this bike.
    WELL DONE!!!

  • PGearbox

    I think the original headlight makes a great link back to the history of the bike and a nice contrast. Colour of the tank is nice with original rubber. Pipe is a standout. This bike doesn’t reinvent the wheel but is a great set of wheels.

  • steve

    CB200 tank is probably my favorite and it looks awesome on this build. Not sure why people aren’t using that tank more often- although they are pretty hard to find.

  • don’t like the leather tool bag? I’d say that one would be an optional……….. I’ve seen this bike in the flesh before the paint job. The bike looks frickin’ mad and roars like a lion. Sometimes it is easy to be critical from a keyboard without having actually seen the bike. Great job. Love the finished product.

  • barney fife

    Very nice, so glad you didn’t hard tail it.

  • Lorenzo

    beautiful bike and fantastic customization!
    I’ve a Triumph bonneville t 140e Les Harris of ’79 and I’m trying to turn it into urban cafe racer.
    Unfortunately the time and the money did’nt help me!
    I’m write from Italy..

    See you!