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’71 Triumph Tiger – Vintage Steele


Posted on April 20, 2015 by Scott in Scrambler. 16 comments

Right Side White

Written by Martin Hodgson.

In the Summer of ’69 a young Jim Walsh of Maryland farewelled his cousin Tom, a strapping man with long blonde hair, who was heading off to the West to start a new life. But it was the machine his older cousin rode, resplendent in the summer sun a Triumph Bonneville Twin, that captured his attention and would live on in Jim’s memory for a lifetime. It’s a memory that has become a passion when nearly 50 years later Jim learned of Tom’s death and in this most recent Northern Winter commissioned the boys at Vintage Steele in Vermont to build a Triumph of his own.

There are few marques that have had the impact on motorcycle culture as has British maker Triumph. For more than 100 years Triumph motorcycles have been surrounded by owners absolutely passionate about anything and everything the brand does and with good reason. From powering Steve McQueen in the Great Escape with a TR6 Trophy, to the 6T Thunderbird playing a starring role in the original biker film “The Wild One” alongside Marlon Brando and on the track being the first manufacturer to do a 100mph lap at the famed Isle of Man TT there is plenty to be proud of.

Headlight Bucket White

It’s that pride and passion that brought Jim together with Vintage Steele’s Josh and Chris from their Brattleboro workshop Jim tasked the boys with creating a hybrid, functional piece of art from the bones of an old Triumph and shaped by a long ago memory. Knowing their friend Ryan had the perfect blank canvas he was willing to let go, his 1971 Triumph Tiger was quickly purchased. The bottom end of the 650 Twin had recently been rebuilt so VS set about making sure the top end was in just as good condition. The torquey 650 is remarkably smooth for a parallel twin and mated to the bullet proof gearbox that also swapped cogs for Trident 750 Jim can cruise the back roads in reliable style. The Amal carb has been restored to better than new condition with the benefit of modern lines and filter. The exhaust gases exit from the picture perfect headers all the way to the reverse cone mufflers that thump to the Triumph Twin beat.

Right Closeup White

The oil in frame chassis is not only a work of art but clears up a great deal of space to customise the look of the ole Tiger. While negative space is well used to show off the engine, large punched sheet fills the space under the rustic leather seat that gives the bike a true vintage look. The same leather look adorns the pad of the modern motocross bars that fit seamlessly with the look of the build. Vintage levers with only a single mirror and one modern switch block give an uncluttered look and allow the large bucket headlight with steel grill to take the spotlight up front. While bare bones headlight ears and bullet style indicators do their job while disappearing majestically into the full picture.

Tank White

Vintage Steele is as much about craftsmanship as it is restoration and nothing shows off your work like raw metal and just sparing use of black paint. Filler and layers of lacquer can hide a half done job, but this tank is picture perfect and even the welds for the fuel tap are shown off rather than hidden away. The front and rear guards are minimalist but their finish compliments the bikes form without simply being a necessary bolt on and the leading drum brake is restored to perfection, its scoop and vents a reminder of the technology of the time.

Left Side Window

The foot pegs would have been a God send to McQueen, Dirt bike style and chunky, and the kick start pedal ensures no slip and is raw, industrial and fitted for a purpose. But nothing completes the look of this truly hybrid Tiger like the spoked rims wrapped in aggressively treaded rubber. It’s more Blacksmith meets The Great Escape than Ace Café on the A406, but that’s just what Jim wanted and Vintage Steele never fail to deliver!

[Photos by Azariah Aker]








  • seat

    seat

    • foiled again

      Agreed! Seat.

      • methamphetasaur

        Meh… a seat is just a volkswagen with a spanish dress on.

  • Jayboy212

    Beautiful! Checked out this shop last summer, awesome spot, awesome dudes! Congratulations on a very nice ride! Only wish it were mine!

  • John Wanninger

    Stunning. If you dont like this, well, you cant be helped.

  • yamahappy

    I think it’s finally time to sell that kidney

  • Guest

    I’m in love. Don’t tell my wife.

  • Fast2Furious

    Beautiful machine it looks like it’s ready for the late great Bud Ekins to jump that barbed wire in Germany all over again.

  • methamphetasaur

    Not only for brando and mcqueen, a 73 tiger carried ted simon 64000 miles around the world.

    also i love any speedo in headlight application. this bike is pretty awesome overall.

    • guvnor67

      “Jupiter’s Travels”,1 of the best books i have ever read!!! And, wow, what a kool bike!

  • arnold

    Nice.

    BUT………

    That poor Amal doesn’t stand a chance with that gauze filter.
    The lightening holes are a bit over the top.
    Prolly just the studio pictures, but a bit of color contrast would not be out of line.

    If it were mine, I get a couple of meat straps and carry it around on my back, I’d be so proud of it.

    • arnold

      Oh, those cable standoffs would be different.

  • foiled again

    Yep…this is a good bike. Looks like it can do stuff.
    Not dopey, plus I’m a sucker for drums.
    So, yeah, this is a winner.

  • Billy Slicks

    Had the same idea, couple years ago

  • Chris Clarke

    Sorry to be pedantic but;
    – with one carb this Triumph is a Tiger not a Bonneville