Legendary: 2012 Dresda Triton

Building a Dresda Triton from a rusty Featherbed frame and a few fertilizer sacks full of parts.

| July/August 2016

  • 2012 Dresda Triton on a 1959 frame
    Photo by Phillip Tooth

2012 Dresda Triton (1959 Frame)
498cc air-cooled OHV parallel twin, 63mm x 80mm bore and stroke, 9:1 compression ratio, 32hp @ 6,500rpm
Top speed:
Two 26mm Amal MK1 Concentrics
4-speed, chain final drive
12v alternator, Lucas magneto ignition
Dual-downtube Norton Wideline Featherbed frame/55.5in (1,410mm)
Telescopic forks front, dual shocks w/adjustable preload rear
8.7in (220mm) Yamaha TD3 SLS drum front, 7in (180mm) SLS Norton drum rear
90/90 x 19in front, 100/90 x 19in front
Weight (dry):
360lb (163kg)
Seat height:
31in (787mm)
Fuel capacity/MPG:
3.5gal (13ltr)/60mpg

When Martin Conachey peeked inside the heavy fertilizer sacks, he knew he was going to need help to transform their contents into the café racer of his dreams. That meant calling on his friends in Ireland, and travelling to England to see legendary Dresda Triton builder Dave Degens.

“The first time I saw a Dresda Triton was in 1968,” Martin recalls. “I’ve wanted one ever since. I had just bought a rusty Featherbed frame with a pair of Commando forks, along with a gearbox and big lumps of what was once a 500cc pre-unit Tiger 100 engine. Although there were a few goodies in the fertilizer sacks — including a nice gas tank and new pistons still in their boxes — there was a lot of scrap, as well. This wasn’t going to be easy!” Is there any wonder that Martin made a beeline to Degens’ door?

Way back when

Dave Degens started racing on a BSA Gold Star in 1959, and four years later bought a share in a scooter shop called Dresda Autos of Putney, London, England. But his heart was in riding bikes fast, not fixing Lambrettas, and he soon made a name for himself at Brands Hatch and Mallory Park, and in production races like the Thruxton 500-miler. Before long he and his partner, Dick Boone, were building Dresda Tritons to special order, with a choice of tuned 500cc or 650cc engines. They sold 50 in 1964. Degens always used a Triumph gearbox and preferred fiberglass tanks, as alloy ones used to crack from the high frequency vibration of a vertical twin. Dresda frames were often finished in a handsome light metallic blue.

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