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1953 Triumph 500 by Berham Customs

Posted on March 25, 2014 by Scott in Bobber, Classic. 19 comments


When you’ve been building custom Vespa’s for most of your life and you decide you want to build something with a bit more power, then a 1953 Triumph 500 hardtail is a pretty good place to start. Built by Marcus Offergeld and Martien Delfgaauw of the relatively new Berham Customs based in Berlin and Hamburg. “I’ve always ridden, raced, tuned and customized Vespa’s” says Martien.  “It’s not what you work on, but rather how. Because for a great result you need to be driven by the joy of doing, rather than wishing to finish.”

After happening upon an “ugly looking and pretty run down” 80s chopper with raked front forks, the boys from Berham could see potential not in the bike itself, but certain aspects of it. Most importantly, the Triumph 500cc pre-unit powerplant had the 1957 Triumph race kit with the splayed port aluminium cylinder head kit. A good base for a build, the bike was given the Berham treatment.


The bike was parked up in the workshop and the garish 80s custom job undone. The forks, wheels, tank and seat were removed and put to the side. To replace the long rake front fork setup, a set of Vincent style girder forks were fitted to the front end, and the front drum cover given the Swiss cheese treatment.


To keep with the low flowing lines of the bike in it’s new guise, a frame hugging exhaust system was manufactured and a seat built in house by Berham to keep the riding position low. An American Bonneville tank has been used – the US spec tank being narrower than the Euro spec for the same model. The rare primary cover for the motor didn’t escape customisation either, as the Berham crew “aren’t that much into keeping things in original condition.”


From an overdone custom chopper to a tasteful bobber, Berham Customs were able to see past the garish mods and see the potential underneath. With only a few motorcycle builds under their belt, this small German workshop have created one clean and understated hardtail Triumph. Since finishing this project Martien has already received many requests from potential customers who want him to build them a bike – which is always a good sign.

Photography by Matthias Dahl

  • Fantome_NR

    Gorgeous work.

  • Glocker

    I wish this was in my garage!

  • Tasteful and clean – nicest bobber I’ve seen in a long time.

  • Phooey

    Love the lines, not much into bobbers but this is top draw.
    Would love to ride this, looks almost factory finish, I think it could convert me!
    I bet it’s a bike the factory wish they had built…
    Well done guys, keep it up!

  • Aj

    I like this bike. It’s not numpty.

  • Really like this……….the pre unit motor combined with the old girder fork work beautifully, also love the handlebar choice, great low profile bend there. Very nice work!

  • Michael Alton

    A bike after my own heart.

  • Davidabl2

    Cool. But the ride experience was much improved even on my own humble Royal-Enfield by shedding the OEM Avon “Sidemasters” and replacing them with with Dunlop K81’s…K70’s would probably also be quite a step up as well. And many vintage enthusiasts would prefer the “look” of the k70’s–probably the best-looking choice for this particular bike.

  • Davidabl2

    2 minor quibbles (besides the tires) For one, i question the choice of painting on fake tank kneepads, rather than using/fabricating rubber ones…For another since the idea of a ‘British Bobber’ is kind of an oxymoron anyway ..maybe a Lycette seat might be more fitting for this bike.

    • bill smith

      Those are not Fake Knee Pads. It is a scalloped paint job. Much like the Triumphs paint in the 60’s and early 70’s that were sold in the USA.

      • Davidabl2

        Actually until the early 70’s they still had rubber kneepads..shaped very much like those scallops. When I google 1970 Triumph Bonneville i see a mix of bikes with and without rubber kneepads. And no scallop paint jobs that “emulate” kneepads

        • nathas909

          Yeh I am not sure he is trying to “Fake Knee Pads” its actually a really classy paint job. If I am seeing it correctly, it actually has a nice thin pin stripe between the black and the white.
          This bike is so stunning.

          • Judging from the light reflection on the black part of the tank in the rear-quarterview image, I would have to say it’s paint, not rubber. I could be wrong but I photograph shiny stuff all the time. Regardless, I do like the fit and finish. Bar-end levers say ‘crafted’ to me. Forgive me if that seems silly.

  • Zundap

    Nice bike, could look at it sitting in the garage having a beer and really digging it. I would also like to hear it run. Nothing like the sound of a vintage Triumph. As far as riding it A shame it has no suspension. What is a bobber anyway? Something Bob built? ..Z

  • Very classy build. Way ahead of the cattle we usually see here.

  • istvan

    I would like to see more photos and details of this beauty !!!

  • itsmefool

    Tank and tires make it! Great job!

  • Dolan Christopher

    sweet!! 😀

  • Johnny Panda

    Tastefully modified classic. Very classy