Two years ago, visiting the Speedweek, I suddenly felt the urge to join the other riders on the salt. But which bike to use?
I had a mothballed Triton in my garage. I started imagining this machine with a dustbin fairing, crossing the sound barrier ...
The real story begins in 1987, some 25 years ago. Then, all I could think about was building a Norton Rickman Racer to use on the road. This was when Pat French had bought the Rickman license, and was selling chassis. So I decided to buy a frame
and start collecting the other parts. But in those days, the Internet didn't exist — and finding the right parts was a slow and frustrating process.
After three years, I still lacked an engine and gearbox, and worse, the papers required for authenticity. The project became cumbersome in both my head and my garage. And the more I read about the Rickman frame — and especially its lack of steering precision — the less I was motivated to finish the bike. I decided to sell it.
I wrote an ad, and against all odds, someone offered me an exchange. My box of parts for an unfinished Triton, including a Wideline frame, a Unit T120 engine, Roadholder forks and those vital papers. It took me a just few minutes to accept this proposal ...
I constructed the Triton, finding the missing parts through the traditional motorcycle networks of those days. And then rode and enjoyed this first incarnation, despite its faults, between 1992 and 2000.
Then I lost interest for years, and contemplated selling it. I lost my enthusiasm for the machine; I started to find it too conventional, and could see nothing but defects. I ended up storing it in the garage.
Motorcycle collectors are less dogmatic today. They're less fixated on pedigrees, and whether or not a true Triton should have a Pre-Unit motor. (And less fixated on tinkering with Harleys, too.)
Today, the bike has found favour with me once again. My mood has changed, and I am less inclined to indulge the remaining prejudices of others. So, as I stood on that hot salt two years ago, I imagined this new version of the Triton — the motorcycle you see here.
Credit must go to my friend Momo, "the Wizard", for helping me build the chassis. He is the man who makes fantasies become real. The engine preparation was handled by Henri Lao Martinez (HLM). After his years of expertise working on Triumph engines, the formula for perfection was simple to find. Many, many thanks to both men.
With the Triton complete, I am now ready to ride on the salt as part of "The Impossible Team": JR Ortega and his BMW(Madrid), and El Solitario with their Triumph T120 (Vigo). Right now, the bike is in a crate and ready to fly away to the USA. I will see it again on the other side.
To be continued ...
#Note to my son Olivier: Now this bike is yours, take care of her and you'll fly to the moon !
Photos by Benoit Guerry for Guerrypratimages.com
Leather work By Claude Carrière
Many thanks to all the Southsiders friends involved in this project, and to my wife for the big sacrifices .