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Triumph Legend TT – Mr Martini

Posted on January 24, 2013 by Scott in Café Racer. 39 comments

By guest writer Ian Lee.

Some people tend to believe art and utility cannot mix. This is not more evident anywhere than in the commenters’ section on custom motorcycle blogs. Commenters argue that although the feature bike looks amazing, it would never survive on the open road. To these types, once a bike becomes an art piece it’s function goes out the window. Damn those commenters though, for they have not seen this feature bike. I present to you exhibit A in my argument that form and function can live happily side by side, Jerolamo, a Triumph TT café racer built by Mr Martini of Verona.

Taking a 2000 model Triumph TT, Nicola ran his artist’s eyes over it, and built up an idea of what he wanted the finished bike to look like. Then during the course of the build he changed his mind. And changed it again. And again. This bike is an evolution of that original design concept, Mr Martini building on his ideas as he progressed with the build.

The Triumph front end has been ditched altogether, being replaced by Showa upside down forks, Brembo front disc and Ducati hub. Half handlebars have been fitted to suit the bikes sporting credentials, and the rims swapped out for custom alloy ones.

Italian flair has been built into this bike, the handmade Bordeaux seat cushion with cream piping sitting high above the the rear tyre. A redesign in the seating position meant a move of electrical components from under the seat to under the tank, leaving the space between the seat and the tyre clear of clutter. The simple seat mounting frame adds to the sporting aesthetic of the bike, and gives somewhere to mount the license plate. Exhaust duties are taken care of by a Zard custom 3 into 1 system, inspired by the Norton Manx.

During the build process the bike gained a endurance fairing, then lost a endurance fairing. This rethinking of the design as he went along has allowed Mr Martini to produce the proof that something beautiful can be of use on the open road, that art doesn’t have to be static. The simple, lightweight styling of the bike shows the true spirit of the café racer genre, something that goes and stops and you can ride home afterwards. Art and utility can mix, you just have to make sure the bike design process is in good hands.

I rest my case.

  • Luke


  • pickles

    I would LOVE to ride this. Beautiful, and clearly functional. Much respect.

  • Seuss

    Possibly the perfect amount of chrome.

  • nathas909

    Aboslutely stunning. i would love it so so so much.
    The seat and the sub frame are just brilliant. Who would of thought a Triumph TT could look so bloody great.
    Nice job.

  • notCharlie

    Very nice, but would look better with octagonal wheels.

    • +1 on your thought on the wheels.
      And to extend your idea, I would put a carbon rear hugger like Deus put on the Mono:

      But all these are just details according to our own preferences, the bike is brilliant, especially if you compare it with a stock TT.
      “Art and utility can mix”, this is for sure, and frankly I believe that this is the goal when you start customising a bike. To find the balance between art and utility.

  • Lewn

    I really do like this, there is so much going on it’s hard to digest. I like the back end although I find the wine and cream seat a bit much as I’ve got a hangover. Mostly I like the simplicity of this build, wherein lies the functional beauty or ‘art’ if you must call it that.

  • Spyker May

    Here is my 5c’s worth (hang on – it is not going to be a quickie)..,

    The paradoxical symbioses between the ostensible dichotomy of form and function, delivering that most elusively apt balance between the two, often so eloquently articulated as: “…F**** ME MAN.., IT JUST POPPED..!” – has been the nemesis of engineers, designers, architects, sculptures, artists, philosophers, poets, writers and now even web-journalists and their array of commenters(sic), to name but a few.

    So what is “perfect”..?

    The TT here has had some serious cosmetic surgery done to trim her of nearly every ounce of flab – that alone will have the purists foaming violently, arguing that “perfect = pure” and this augmented skankbot is as fake as Cher at her 44th 21st birthday party…

    Mr Martini, do not always get it “right” – if you salivated at the augmented TT (singular please – this is family entertainment) here, visit the Mr Martini website (classy as it may- and should be) – you will surely find at least one contender you will file under – “serious incongruities”.., perhaps the ‘Xm’, or ‘Flash Back America’, or perhaps ‘XMr black’…

    Much like Les Ateliers helmets the Mr Martini creations will split opinions like a butcher’s cleaver.

    Equally will Pierre Tereblanche’s 999 Ducati. An animal described as being so butt-ugly that Carl Fogarty apparently refused to get onto it when he saw it. Yet it was Ducati’s most fertile World Superbike champion.

    As a coincidence I own one (a 999 that is) and I have wanted to haul her off to the ‘mechanical-surgeon’ for a serious cosmetic make-over untold times. Yet, with my 6ft. 2in, 220lb biodegradable monocoque and –payload, the 999 is the perfect “FORM” for track days – hence my ‘love-hate’ matrimony continues. I suspect though, she may in time become a priced possession, as I have a feeling the Duc 999 will become a sought after collector’s item somewhere in the future.

    To me the Confederate motorcycles (of late) are as aesthetically coherent as a two-year old playing with a ‘Meccano’ set – it is just a hotchpotch of individual components that is as visually cohesive as the two poles of a magnet. Yet they are mechanically sublime, they demand massive price tags, include a gate-pass to one of the most exclusive clubs on earth and do not lose a single sent in value.

    Ducati is now irrationally obsessed with a single-sided swingarm on their top-end superbikes. The 999’s double boxed item was/is three bike lengths ahead (let alone what is possible with today’s leading-edge finite element analysis to develop it even further) – to name but one ‘form versus function’ incongruity that plagues this Italian crew.

    As such, you can ask: if motor-/motorcycle racing is the zenith of ‘function’ – why then is so much spent on the aesthetics of the exterior. Artists will struggle for days, to get the logo of a sponsor to be just the right size and occupy just the right spot on the body of the machine, to complement to overall aesthetic scheme, etc.

    So what is your point you may insist..?

    Exactly that there is no point.

    One person’s art is another’s terror; one person’s function is another’s inanity.

    ‘Form and Function’ are just two elements in a complex myriad of matters that makes an individual opinion/decision ‘On Any Sunday’, or any other day for that matter…

    • Jacob Speis


    • Most of us don’t even read the whole article. Do you really think anyone would read all of this?

  • baz

    Cafe-fighter? This is a nice transformation. I find the original styling of the TT especially bland. Would be interesting to see the evolution of the bike as well, especially with the endurance fairing.


    BEAUTIFUL!!! Tho’ i would have liked to seen the wheelbase shortend for a more compact look.

  • Need vids to go along with these, I wanna hear them!

    • madmusk

      Was just about to make the same comment. We live in the digital age. Why do we only ever get pictures? Motorcycles are living, breathing, screaming machines that have a completely different presence when seen moving.

  • Now&Zen

    Stunning ? Absolutely ! Functional ? No doubt ! Art though ? Not so much ! At least not unless you’re willing to redefine High Craft as Art . Which errrr ….. I am not !

  • arnold

    An ongoing work of craftsmanship. Good. However…………….
    This genre of motorcycle puts me in the mind of a carnival sideshow.
    Hurry, Hurry , Hurry. See this untamed brute in all it’s naked glory!
    Marvel at it’s extended swing arm and hundred horsepower muscle!
    Look closely at the engine for the image of an ironic smile and half closed eyes and define your own significance!
    and so on.

    But I do remember all the sideshows I’ve seen, other things , not so much.ald

    • arnold

      He doesn’t have a dull bike in the stable.

  • Jacob Speis

    I’ve always thought that monoshocked bikes built in and older aesthetic direction somehow end up looking a bit too modern for the look they’re trying to capture, but not here. I think the aggressive forward rake lends itself incredibly well to this bike, pulling all the pieces together nicely. Probably one of my favorite take on the ‘modern cafe’, if you’ll forgive the canned terminology.

  • Jordan Marra

    I really like the airbox…is that custom? Would like something like that on my Zephyr 1100

    • Dindar

      That is the front half of the stock airbox with a grey grille screwed onto it. The back end is far too high…higher than many motocrossers! Imagine how purposeful the bike would look if it was low and long, sleek and sultry.

  • kr f

    I can’t decide if I like it or not.. From the engine forward it appears as a naked sportbike with some vintage cues. As much as I like the shape of Triumph tanks I think it looks out of place with the modern look of the dohc water cooled engine. Pehaps it would have looked better with something like a 69 Rocket 3 style tank. The seat I like, but the support reminds me of an old Bates luggage rack you’d see on an early 70’s Honda. The whole rear section of the bike has no aesthetic value. It’s like someone ran out of parts and said, “Oh Well, good enuff” .

    • revdub

      I understand what you’re saying here with the rear section. I hate to use the “s” word, but I think side-covers might actually make this look even better than it does.

      • kr f

        I agree, maybe some covers to fill in that spot. As I look at it more I don’t like the tilt of the tank either. I thought it was because it was on a stand but the wheel isnt lifted off the ground. Must be my dislike of sport bikes in general. Old cars look cool with the rear end lifted, but not bikes! It looks as if it’s slowing down when it’s sitting still. And lets face it. Riding one has the “monkey humping a football position”

        • New Haven Neil

          The tail high look is very popular in Europe. That’s where the bike was built….

    • Woodie

      My thoughts exactly, if the swing arm was a tad (ingrish expression for “a little bit”) it would finish of the aesthetics. and a skinny hugger to match thr front mudguard

  • Lars Gustavsson

    Wonderful to se a new model in the spotlight. Fantastic transformation – who could have thought that there is a drifter inside every triumph legend:)

  • revdub

    Mr. Martini’s bikes are pretty awesome, this one included. The only thing I question is why there is such a penchant for setting those rear sections way into the stratosphere? Are there a lot of curbs to jump over in Verona?

    • AndrewF

      Well… there probably are cobblestones! As to the point in the article, I don’t think anyone argues that art cannot be functional, it’s just that often it *isn’t*, the choices made by the builders for the sake of looks clearly getting in the way of actually riding their bike. This one seems to largely avoid such affectations, so kudos to Mr Martini. The only non-functional choice I can see is completely naked rear tire free to fling mud everywhere, but this probably isn’t going to be an all-weather riding bike, so I can forgive.

  • Too ‘ass up’ for my tastes. Not my fav from Mr. Martini

  • A big improvement over the donor bike. H2O Triumph triples never looked so good. I’m guessing the weight of the rider would level out the bike a little bit? Great craftsmanship for sure.

  • simon

    I. think it would look just as good with a black seat with red piping and stitching….nice bike but….

  • I think it’s OK. Not my favorite, but still a nice bike.

  • bikey mikey

    I like it, with reservations. About the front end description; Showa U.S.D. forks/Duc disc &hub / half handlebars/rims swapped for custom alloy ones? Isn’t that a complete Duc front end, mags, clip-ons and all ( can’t swap rims out on mags that I’m aware of )? If the electrics were moved under the tank, what’s the blister under the seat hiding? Needs some sort of rear guard too, can’t imagine the crap the rear wheel is gonna launch at the motor/intakes/rear suspension.
    Brilliant build other than that, honest! I like the, predatory, stance of it…looks like its crouching, ready to spring into action. That pipe must sound soooooo nice!
    Oh, and don’t like the height of the rear end ( man I better hide my bike from your,critical eyes :-O )
    ? Just makes the motor stand out more to me. Visually, there’s a lot more machinery compressed into the forward section of the bike.

  • BoxerFanatic

    Like it very much. Spine-frame Hinckley Triples make such nice cleaned up sporty custom bikes.

    Definitely would have chosen a T595 or newer single sided swing arm, blacked out, with a black Brembo 916 3-spoke rear wheel, though.

    I wouldn’t say no to a black engine, rather than silver/chrome. Or a more traditional cafe racer seat and larger rear cowl. But neither is truly necessary. The bike looks fantastic as-is.

  • James Sinclair

    possibly the best front fender and fender mount ive ever seen on USD forks…
    so clean
    love the seat

  • Mgmue mgmu


  • JG

    The engine looks like my 900 Trident; but that’s it. Great job….SWEET! I want that pipe on my bike. Bet is sounds like a triple should.

  • Christopher Zylstra

    Just a friendly head’s up from a PB fan, no biggie but there’s a typo in the headline. No doubt you meant, “Legend: Mr. Martini… and a Triumph Too”.

  • Christopher Zylstra

    Must art by definition have no other function but artifice? Or more to the point, would I be able to permenently install a Mr. Martini work on a (pretty chunky) plinthe in my flat? Of course bloody not! Excuse the blathering… discovering MM has been a major event for me. There is just something about the modest, sorted packaging, the characterful custom bits…. his builds do not take themselves anywhere near as seriously as many of the shops of late do. A 1098 with a light-hearted frolick-ready personae – what are you kidding me? Truly it is more than the sum of its parts – but those parts, oh my…. I mean, I have been completely ruined for any other builders since discovering the 1098 duc ‘Flashback’ in the last 16 mos or so. Seriously, it’s as though all the others that always gave me insta-wood have been sprayed with a kind of experimental special forces high tech camoflauging paint code-named, “Nothing to See Here, Move Along Green”. It’s crazy really, but there it is. These are very, very special machines Mr. Martini. We got your message – but please send more.