Retro-rides take old-school cues for new-school classics
Who: Sel-Motion Motorsports, P.O. Box 760403, Lathrup Village, MI 48076;
www.bellacorse.com; (248) 569-2850.
The success of Triumph’s retro-themed T100 and Thruxton hasn’t escaped the notice of the aftermarket. With its BellaCorse Signature line of parts and accessories for 2001 to current Triumph T100s, Sel-Motion Motorsports has been quietly carving out a niche for itself supplying retro-themed accessories for the T100.
Launched by Michael Selman in 2002, the company supplies a host of appearance options for the T100, from custom exhaust systems to retro-styled gas tanks and fairings. Selman sells his company’s wares individually or, if the buyer prefers, prepares complete bikes.
The company’s latest offering is the BellaCorse TT SR (Special Replica). Designed to invoke the style of the 1966 Triumph TT Special, the bike is kitted out with special paint, polished aluminum fenders with black stays, baffled TT head pipes and a reproduction ’66 tail light and grab rail.
Other than the custom paint, none of the modifications are permanent, and if you want to build one yourself, all the parts making up the TT SR are available separately. That said, Selman is pushing the bike as a turn-key product, and with an average cost of $2,000-$2,500 for the conversion (after you’ve supplied your own T100, of course) , Sel-Motion’s TT SR seems a relatively inexpensive way to meld modern mechanicals with classic lines.
Look for Sel-Motion’s BellaCorse TT SR at the Motorcycle Classics booth at shows around the country, as we continue hitting the road in 2006.
Claimed power: 92bhp @ 8,000 rpm
Engine type: 992cc air-cooled, four-valve 90-degree V-twin
Weight (dry): 181kg (398lb) — Paul Smart
179kg (394lb) — Sport 1000
Price: $13,995 — Paul Smart
$10,995 — Sport 1000
Nostalgia is big business in the modern-day motorcycle world, as plenty of people Milwaukee way will confirm. Ducati’s SportClassics offer a very different take on the theme of a new V-twin with an old-fashioned look.
The base model is the naked Sport 1000, a dead ringer for the 750 Sport that Ducati introduced in 1973, when it was the Bologna brand’s first-ever sport bike. The Paul Smart LE 1000 is inspired by one of Ducati’s most famous racebikes, the silver factory desmo on which British ace Paul Smart won the 1972 Imola 200-miler — a massive victory that kicked off Ducati’s track success, and led directly to the legendary 750 and 900SS roadsters.
The Sport and Paul Smart are closely related, both powered by the 992cc air-cooled desmo V-twin from the Multistrada, Supersport and Monster. The dual-spark desmo unit makes 92bhp with plenty of midrange. The Sport is a regular model, available in red or black as well as yellow; the Smart is a limited-edition — hence the LE initials — of which most have already been sold.
These bikes are beautifully finished, and they’re quick, fine handling and characterful enough to provide plenty of fun, both in a straight line and in corners. The flexible and sweet-running V-twin engine makes 100mph-plus speeds effortless, and the Smart bike’s half-fairing does a good job of keeping off the breeze.
Handling is excellent, too, especially on the Smart bike, which comes with multi-adjustable Öhlins suspension at both ends. The Sport, which doesn’t have the Smart bike’s steering damper, has slightly lighter steering but is still admirably stable.
The only real drawback with both models is that the forward riding position puts more weight on the wrists than some riders will find comfortable.
Ducati’s more conventional Multistrada and Monster M1000 provide similar performance with more comfort, at roughly similar cost to the Sport. The limited-edition Paul Smart model comes at a price premium. But if you lusted after a Ducati V-twin superbike in the Seventies, these cleverly crafted modern reincarnations will surely appeal. — Roland Brown
Who: Mert Lawwill Concepts, 148 Rock Hill Drive, Tiburon, CA 94920; www.mertlawwill.com
Truth is, I’m not a Harley guy. Big cruisers just don’t do it for me. My tastes run to vintage machines built by workers who drink espresso or grappa at the trattoria across the street. No surprise, then, the only Harley of any appeal to me is the old XR-750 with a street kit; twin discs hanging off the Ceriani’s. Nothing but bare essential fast. Way cool.
Milling about the pits at the Sandia Classic vintage races I spied a couple black and orange fairings at the end of the row and headed off for a look. I didn’t get that far. My feet quit working as my eyes became glued to just about the coolest street bike I’d seen in a month of Sundays — Mert Lawwill’s Street Tracker, a modern interpretation of the legendary Harley XR750 that ruled the tracks in the Seventies.
Lawwill himself was on hand, recounting how folks have been bugging him for years to make a replica of his ’69 champ-winning XR. Seems he finally gave in. The trick for Lawwill was making a replica that looks authentic, yet was updated with modern components. Mission accomplished, and in doing so Lawwill has created an instant classic, with each machine carrying an individual sequence number. We’d say market timing is pretty good, with makers like Ducati and Triumph producing their own modern retro machines.
The engine is lifted straight from the new 1200 Sportster, using new cylinder head castings with improved and modified ports that put the exhaust on the left and the intake on the right, just like the original XR. A pair of stock 38mm carbs and a custom cam grind by John Andrews offers a comfy 100bhp-plus. And a nice fat torque curve makes the performance of the modern machine comparable to the old full-race setup of the XR, all in a nice, low-maintenance package easily serviced at any HD dealer.
The front suspension is lifted straight from that hooligan bike Buell, while the rear suspension is Lawwill’s own patented
"Quadrilateral" design — a constant rate monoshock with a four-link swingarm designed to maintain constant drive belt tension through its travel and with a slight rise in the geometry to give better drive out of corners. Constant belt tension means no power loss from take up of drive belt slack.
Very nice, indeed, but at $26,000 an opportunity limited to the few, and the lucky. — Scott Potter
Who: Triumph Motorcycles, 385 Walt Sanders Memorial Drive, Suite 100, Newnan, GA 30265; www.triumph.co.uk/usa; (678) 854-2010
Further proof that retro-rides are hot comes in the form of Triumph’s recently announced Bonneville Scrambler. Following on the heels of Triumph’s successful T100 Bonneville and Thruxton café racer, both retro-styled rides harkening to Triumph’s glory days, the Scrambler follows in the mold of Triumph’s TR6C of the late ‘60s and early ‘70s.
Power comes from the same 54bhp, 865cc parallel twin used in the T100 and Thruxton, and mechanically the bike differs little from its brethren. Scrambler-style bikes were all the rage for a short while in the late ‘60s and early ‘70s, and Triumph’s new interpretation comes fittingly equipped with spoked wheels and a scrambler’s signature high pipes. Triumph has designed a host of extras for the Scrambler, including a skid plate, braced handlebars, number plate and headlight grille.
Price for the new bike has been set at $7,999, making it within reach of just about anyone looking for a classic ride without the classic levels of maintenance many older bikes can require.