INSPIRATIONAL | Inspired 1962 Triumph TR120
Words Geoff Baldwin Photography Luke Ray
In Tank Moto issue 09 you’ll find a story about the ‘99 Choppers’ Honda CBX750. I chose it as my pick of the show at Kustomfest 2015. My selection for a winner came down to two incredible bikes and the other contender for the prize was this bike, the Inspired Garage Triumph TR120.
Although I didn’t select it as my pick of the show I knew it was worthy of being awarded a prize and thankfully Kaichiroh Kurosu of Cherry’s Company Japan did exactly that. The day after Kustomfest we met with Donny from Inspired Garage to shoot his bike for this issue and I had the chance to find out what it takes to create a truly inspiring Triumph.
Donny formed Inspired Garage six years ago after moving away from a life of customising cars. With a team of three staff at his side they’re capable of completing all aspects of a build in house. Prior to the Triumph, Donny’s work was limited to small capacity bikes, but thanks to a partnership with a local youth fashion brand his dream of building a custom Triumph became a reality. The clothing line, which goes by the same ‘Inspired’ name, commissioned the build that took Donny and his team seven months to complete.
Starting with a rundown TR120 engine from the States, Donny was tasked with creating a rolling showpiece for the brand. After the engine was disassembled and its internals assessed for wear the required replacement parts were ordered from overseas suppliers.
Not satisfied with just accepting that “old Brit bikes leak oil” the engine was meticulously rebuilt to ensure not a drop could escape from between the thirty year old cases. The engine exterior was also treated to a thorough clean, polish and paint to restore it to its original condition and it will now start reliably with one or two good kicks.
With no frame to work with Donny had complete freedom to design his own. Working with an idea he’d had in the past, he used steel rails to create a design inspired by railway tracks. The custom frame uses a single downtube and stressed member design to keep the bike looking as narrow as possible and the bolt on hardtail subframe is a nod to old Triumph frame designs.
To create the flowing lines of the frame they heated and hand bent individual sections of the frame to the desired shape. The individual pieces were then welded together and the new side walls tacked in and smoothed to disguise the joins.
The springer style front was made next, using the same railway steel and a pair of dual spring shocks to manage the bumps. Mounted between the springs of the forks sits a repurposed forklift headlight held in place using an elaborate custom bracket. The clubman style handlebars are also secured using custom made risers and even the control levers have been handmade to get the look Donny was after.
For the wheels he’s used a Yamaha SR400 drum brake hub up front and a Yamaha RD hub in the rear and they’ve both been laced to Japanese TK rims wrapped in skinny Avon Speedmaster rubber.
Using their skills in shaping steel they constructed a two-piece fuel tank which hangs inside the rails of the frames. Hidden behind each half of the tank are the coils and electrical components that Donny wanted out of sight. The seat is one of the most prominent features of the bike, a work of art in leather and alloy. It was hand stitched and shaped by Donny himself and it’s only made better by the cantilever system he’s designed to mount it. Using an array of alloy and steel brackets it floats the rider above the rear wheel, using a single pivot point to compress a spring mounted vertically in the grooves of the frame.
Believe it or not, all of those alloy and chrome plated brackets are handmade. There was no pre-planning or design stage, milling or machining. It’s simply a matter of measuring and drawing straight on to the raw material, which is then cut, drilled and shaped by hand. Donny admits trial and error plays a pivotal role, but they have clearly developed a knack for it.
Despite lacking a design phase the Inspired Triumph bike shows incredible foresight, which becomes evident when you start examining its cables. Each one follows its own, predetermined route thanks to a series of frame mounted, alloy guides and brackets with some even reaching their destination via tunnels that pass through the fuel tank. Merge details like those with things like the Inspired emblem punched into the top of the carb’s choke slide, the custom gas cap (which alone took two days to create) or the handmade key and it’s easy to see why this bike made such an impression on us all.
This article first appeared in Tank Moto issue 09.