Having access to a fully equipped workshop does help when you’re going to build a custom bike, as does having been in the game since God’s dog was a puppy, naturally.
Pics: Simon Everett
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When Hank, head honcho at Trike Design/Hank’s Chop Shop in Caerphilly, ex-president of the National Chopper Club and a man who endeared himself to millions of bikers across the UK when he went on the BBC’s Top Gear TV programme and told an interviewer who asked what the point of custom bikes was to ‘get a life’, was offered a cheap, but quite tatty, Triumph Bonneville America by a friend he decided it was a bit far gone to trike, so he’d build a bobber out of it instead. As the shop was, as usual, flat out with work, he rang Joe at Fenland Choppers in faraway, but sadly not very exotic, Wisbech and told him he wanted a frame. “What do you want a frame from me for?” said Joe, “you make your own.”
The frame arrived and Paul at the shop said that he wanted the challenge of building it so he was told to fill his boots, and set to creating the bike you see in front of you, working only in the evenings and at weekends. Hank had a very definite idea of what he wanted the bike to be like, and with Paul on board it took shape quickly.
The America motor was cleaned up and repainted and slotted into the rigid frame, dressed up with a ribbed RHS casing from Speed Merchant in America (www.thespeedmerchant.net), who also do a ribbed primary casing as well, a set of chrome old-skool Triumph air-filters, and a wrapped one-off exhaust with an old alloy-tipped reverse cone mega on the end. It was made by Paul, and clucks (no, really) when you shut off. Paul decided that after making it he would call himself ‘Kin Loud Manufacturing’…
A set of Harley Heritage wheels were stripped and powdercoated battleship grey (although they look cream in the pics), and a H-D Springer front end pressed into service. The bike was originally built with a different set of ’bars, but a week before the photoshoot Hank looked at them and decided they were, in his usual forthright style, shit. He and master-fabricator Robin made the ones it now so proudly wears, and they call them ‘Girder ’Bars’, and he’d like to stress, that despite the colour (which was Robin’s idea), they’re not made by, or from, Irn Bru. Of course they’re not, Hank, why would you, a proud Welshman, have something so archetypally Scottish on your bike?
The tank took the most work, he says; shaping it, adding the rib to match the rear mudguard and the ones on the sides to pick out the panels, and putting in the long filler neck topped with an original BP filler cap that he picked up off an old petrol can bought at a hot rod show. Will at Up to Scratch painted it, and a few other bits too, in a very clever blend of candy and metal-flake with a matt black flip, and then pinstripe maestro Chris Hatton from Physical Graffiti Tattoo did the stripes, swirls and skulls, with the shop logo on the tank sides.
Also worthy of note were the Cole Foster grips which were, he says, ridiculously expensive and came in what looked like a biscuit tin, but with no biscuits. You’d think for that amount of money they’d’ve chucked in a packet of Hob-Nobs, wouldn’t you? The finishing touch was a personalised number plate that reads, along the bottom line, ‘oral’… well, nearly. Sadly, he says, there was no room to fit ‘yes please’ just below it.