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‘11 Triumph Bonneville – Wojtek Borecki


Posted on November 1, 2016 by Andrew in Café Racer. 40 comments

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I watched the latest film about Steve Jobs the other week. Directed by Danny Boyle of Slumdog Millionaire fame, it was unfortunately a fairly average flick. Despite this, it did have a few memorable moments. The one that sticks in my head is the scene where Jobs is asked what he actually does by Steve ‘Woz’ Wozniak. “I play the orchestra,” he somewhat pretentiously exclaims. The idea is a simply one. Some of us are good at playing an instrument, but unless someone is taking care of the whole she-bang, all you end up with is a big cacophony. And while it might be a bit of a stretch to compare today’s builder to Jobs, it’s clear he approached building the Bonneville you see here in the same way. Some creators use their hands, while others use their head. Poland’s Wojtek Borecki is clearly all about the latter.

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“I live in Warsaw, Poland,” says Woj. “I am 42 years old and, together with my fiancée, we run a lingerie company called Le Petit Trou.” And while you’d think that looking at beautiful women all day would be more than enough fulfilment for a lifetime, Woj clearly wanted more. More metal, that is.

“Pipeburn is a site which really captured my imagination and inspired me to build a motorcycle of my own. I have seen many beautiful motorcycles on here, and many that were made by world-renowned builders. It’s by drawing inspiration from them that I decided to build my own dream motorcycle.”

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It’s hard to call Woj an amateur builder because truth be told, he’s never lifted a wrench in anger. Not even to make repairs. “I know pretty much nothing about bike mechanics,” he says. “The same goes for welding, painting or auto electrics. So when I decided to build a bike, I realised that I had a very clear idea of what I wanted but no idea how to complete the actual build.” Clearly, his designer brain was now paying dividends. But as it’s no fun riding sketches and Photoshop renders, he set about find the ‘musicians’ to get his own orchestra playing.

“After much research, I commissioned some of Poland’s best to perform the specific tasks I had planned for each stage of the build. The people I selected for the project not only knew a lot about their craft, but they also understood that I had very specific requirements for the work and that the goals I had set for myself were pretty high.”

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Woj chose the ever-popular Triumph Bonneville SE as the base for the project. “I purchased the motorcycle from a US Marine who was stationed in Italy, but was soon heading home. It’s a 2011 model that was originally painted in Pure White. And as with most bikes owned by service men and women stationed overseas, it had very few miles on it. 5000 to be exact.”

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Woj knew pretty much exactly what he wanted to build from the very beginning. He wanted the motorcycle to have clean, sporty lines and the look of a vintage cafe racer. And as with all good conductors, he had thoroughly planned the end result as well as each stage of the disassembly, construction and rebuild.

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“The motorcycle has a new rear frame with all the necessary mounts for brake lights and indicators. Rebuilding the frame was really meant to ‘finish off’ the rear of the motorcycle and give it new, more sporty character. Hence a new seat was designed for the tweaked frame.” Other updated elements include the foot pegs, clip-on handlebars, the headlight, grips, a mirror and the addition of the always-slick Motogadget speedometer. Next to it sits a Rizoma brake reservoir, which finishes everything off nicely and really adds to the motorcycle’s jaunty character. “Many other components were altered or exchanged,” says Woj. “The front sprocket case, chain, side panels, front and rear sprockets, EBC disks, tyres, bearings and many other small elements – all these were updated, too.”

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And despite the challenges that could easily put off any first-time customiser, Woj says that he had a minor revelation of sorts during the process. “When I was building the motorcycle, I totally fell in love with designing and building process. So much so, that I immediately decided to plan two new projects which will be completed in the next 12 months. The first one will be leaving my garage in the spring of 2017.”

We quizzed him on the hardest part of the entire process. “The most difficult step in building this bike was to design and build the rear frame. And by this I mean the integration of the rear lights, stop light and indicators with the frame and the tail of the seat so that the whole thing is coherent, symmetrical and so it also embodies that all-important sporty character.”

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“I think my favourite part of the bike is the gas tank,” smiles Woj. The paint scheme’s inspiration was the motorcycle helmet you see in the photos here. And Woj adds that the varnished gas tank looks much more impressive in the flesh than it does in the photos.

“I am of the opinion that this is one of the most difficult things to get right, because you can very easily ‘kill’ a project with an unsuitable colour or bad graphics. In this project, I didn’t have a problem choosing, as the look that appeared in my head was inspired by Blauer’s beautiful ‘Vintage ‘80’ helmet.”

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In the end, the bike is a beautiful example of what can be achieved if you really put your mind to something. While most of us would baulk at the mountains of coordination building a bike like this would require, it’s clear that some minds really revel in the challenges that building a bike with the hands of other people presents. And aren’t we lucky they do?

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[Photos by Błażej Żuławski]








  • Larry Kahn

    Fine work, but who the hell started all this stupid tire nonsense? Turns a good machine into crap to ride.

    • Flathead

      Hi Larry. Have you ever tried Firestones like these?

      • Larry Kahn

        Not the Firestones but when I first restored my ’48 Indian I used vintage style Cokers, similar profile. Took them off after one ride, went with modern Dunlops. Any attempt at leaning into a curve puts you on the “corner” of the tire shape. There’s no way to justify these tires for any real world riding other than on a sidecar rig. Like O’Bama says, “C’mon, man!”

  • Why builders choice archaic tires is beyond my comprehension. I wouldn’t consider riding a bike with antiquated tire designs like those!

    • And those “tail lights”!?! Give me a break! Are you really gonna trust anyone to see them???

      • I’ve got an LED torch in my pocket that’s no bigger than my finger and it can temporarily blind you if you look into it – even from a distance. I’m pretty sure modern LED tech is more than capable of letting other road users see you.

    • Flathead

      Hi Xchoppers. What is your personal experience with Firestone Champion Deluxe?

      • the watcher

        You don’t need to have driven a Model T Ford to pretty certain that a BMW 5 Series is a better car. Progress doesn’t always mean improvement, but it usually does in technical areas. Not that I actually care what tyres a person chooses; it’s just I think you’re barking up the wrong tree.

        • Flathead

          Just how bad are they? Is the Modet T / BMW 5 a fair parallel? Are they worthless or even dagerous? Does any of the haters know?

          • What’s your opinion? Would you do a track day using them? On a decent bike you cared about with your best leathers?

          • Larry Kahn

            I wonder if any track day tech people would even let them on track. Maybe an AHRMA event..

          • Flathead

            We have been here before, Mule. In my opinion, and personal
            experience, Firestones perform just fine on custombikes not made for the track. In my opinion, most custombike riders does not need top shelf supersport tyres from Pirelli, Michelin and Co., to have fun on their bikes. In my opinion, lots of those who complain about Firestones, at Pipeburn and Bikeexif, is without
            the slightest knowledge or personal experience to back it up. And in my opinion, we need a professional comparative test of Firestones against a range of other tyres, to see if it’s really true, that ”… the bike would feel a million times better with proper tires.”

            I have been riding and customizing motorcycles since 1977, but I never did a track day – like most custombike riders I guess.

          • Larry Kahn

            Hey Flathead, well I’ve been riding since 1967, gone through about 70 bikes of all types, road-raced at a national level in the 80’s, worked in about 5 different shops, blah blah blah, and no, you don’t need supersport tires for the street but any modern tire (even Shinko whitewalls) will offer much better handling, ride and safety than Firestones I’m sure. And if Mr. Mule is who I think he is, he’s forgotten more about motorcycles than 95% of riders will ever know. What’s your big hard-on for crap tires?

          • Flathead

            No hard-ons for any specific tire. Just trying to bring this shitstorm against Firestones down where it belongs. “… a million times better.”, Larry. A million?
            On the other hand, I have nothing against Firestones. In fact I will recommend Firestones for my son-in-Laws bobber projet based on a 1975 sidevalve Dnepr. Their chunky full profile is a way of making a bike visually more massive, standing out from all the standard bikes with their standard profile tires.
            I even don’t have anything against pipewrap, or visible colorfull TIG-welds on stainless exhaustpipes.

          • Larry Kahn

            Yes, swooping around a corner dragging pegs is a million times better than falling off the edge of a square tire wrecking your bike and going to the hospital.

          • I guess It would be possible to make a supper sticky, long wearing Firestone antique “Looking” tire, but the market would be tiny and the cost very high. The problem I see is in the almost car tire profile. Flat across the top with a small radius leading into a rounded side wall. In a flat, straight road situation (Kansas, Florida), it’s probably good enough. On a hardtail, bobber, Knucklehead Harley or a show bike, a Firestone would probably exceed the ability of the bike. So it would be fine. If you’ve ever ridden a bike briskly with mismatched profiles, it can feel really weird and put up a good fight to your riding input. So why the hell would you go out of your way to put tires on your bike that would limit the handling? Because a bunch of cretins thinks it looks cool? “Fun” on a bike is greatly enhanced when the bike “Functions” really good. Looking good is important concerning you pride and joy. I get that. But you can look good, function good and be smart simultaneously.

          • pennswoodsed

            Now ,
            If they used replica Avons or Dunlops for a period look , I could get behind it. Andrew , now my tire construction days are behind me ,but I don’t think the Firestone reps have been re engineered for performance.

            https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/e669d387ed12af8b63281c37999ae537f0ce136a8468423d38c16e19d0e72e4a.gif

          • No tire company would ever release a dangerous tire knowingly. The legal ramifications would bankrupt them.

            While these tires clearly aren’t about to go head to head with a MOTOGP Michelin or Bridgestone, they are more than capable for most riders and most situations.

            Remember, just because they LOOK old, doesn’t mean they use 1950s tech. Tire construction and rubber compounds have come a long way since then. While they retain the overall shape and tread pattern of the originals, you can bet that they’d outperform their ancestors by many magnitudes…

      • See above from Larry Kahn for a description of just how well they function in real riding situations.

        • Flathead

          But that’s Larrys experience with “…vintage style Cokers, similar profile.” I have the opposite experience with the same Firestones as on this Triumph.
          And you believe it because some total stranger (Larry), somewhere in the World, wrote it on the internet? Does you – and every one else with no personal Firestone riding experience, not have a problem, when some other total stranger (me) writes the opposite on the same internet?
          Who of us are you to believe?
          Maybe those without personal knowledge and experience should refrain from criticising?

  • Jester the Clown

    Why, apart from the fact that it can be done, are the exhausts in a hundred, welded together, pieces? Does no-one know how to use a mandrel anymore?
    Best not mention those Mickey Mouse tyres.

  • the watcher

    You know those people that call themselves “interior designers” when all they actually do is trawl magazines and the internet in an attempt to be the first to discover “all that’s new in the world of” whatever? Expert shoppers, I call them.

    • the watcher

      Doesn’t mean the result can’t be nice (as this Bonnie is); it’s just a funny sort of thing to take pride in.

    • It’s what Annie Lenox described as the difference between style and fashion. If you chase fashion, you’re always playing catch up. Style you either have or you don’t.

      • Eric

        Well said.

        • the watcher

          And so true.

  • jlgace

    Who didn’t see that coming? I knew the comments would be full of hate before I got to the second paragraph. Not because this is a bad looking bike, but because it’s the ultimate culmination of every trend we have seen on this very site – as was admitted by the owner as his goal! Kudos to you sir, I think you nailed it.

    • Larry Kahn

      I don’t think anyone hates the bike, just the tires. It’s very very nice work, and I’m very very sure the bike would feel a million times better with proper tires. Hell, I have Shinko whitewalls on my Bonneville, I’ll race this bike anyday with those Firestones on a road with any curves at all. For titles.

    • It’s the new 2017 “Trendmobile”.

  • guvnor67

    Like it! It’s clean, It’s mean. Of course, It’s not everyone’s cup of Earl Grey, but then neither is Rebel Wilson ….

  • We kind of knew that the bike and story would draw a few comments. The thought I was trying to convey is that there’s options for those of us who a) don’t have the garage/skills/tools ourselves or who b) don’t have the cash to pay someone else to do everything.

    By doing it this way, you can save a little $$$ and not have to spend 12 months in a cold (Polish) garage learning how to wrench…

    • Eric

      I actually like some parts of the build. The paintwork is really good, for example.

  • Rubens Florentino

    I guess for a guy who makes his living producing lingerie he does have a sense of beauty… This is the prettiest Bonny I’ve seen in ages.