No, not the two almost terminally unfunny ‘comedians’ off the telly, but the wheels on Phil Jones’ trike…
Pics: Simon Everett
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Phil, from deepest, darkest (well…) Cornwall, started building trikes after losing his left leg in an accident back in 2010. He was a committed and lifelong biker, and he wasn’t ready to give up riding, or building customs, just because he was deficient in the leg department to the tune of one, to paraphrase the old Pete and Dud sketch. No, he was determined to carry on, and he has – this is the sixth or seventh trike he’s done now.
This project came to him as a pile of bits that could be said to once be a bike, or could potentially be a bike one day; a 1340cc Evolution H-D engine that was completely stripped (the only thing that was in one piece was the gearbox), various other not quite so easily identifiable parts, and a brand new, never used, but somehow rusty, one-off softail frame.
Just as he was starting he was offered a set of brand new Delkron cases for just £400 so couldn’t really say no to those, could he? The engine was put back together, better than before, with lots of new parts including a new charging system and a new oil pump (always wise), all with help of Barnaby Wilde in Honiton (www.barnabywilde.co.uk). It now runs the aforementioned cases, an S&S carb ‘n’ filter, and a BDL (Belt Drives Limited – www.beltdrives.com) clutch and open three-inch belt primary, with a home-made belt-guard to stop his trewsers from getting caught up in all the whizzy-roundy bits.
Moving on to the frame, the rear half, holding the diff and suspension set up, is all his own work in 1.25-inch CDS, and bolts on to the softail frame. The rear wishbones are inch stainless steel so that they’re both strong and also look good, and the diff’ is from a Ford Sierra (the old trikers’ favourite), as are the drum brakes – he says he went for drums as he’s used discs before and found them not to be very good (well, ‘crap’ actually) unless you’re running a servo-assist, which is often difficult to hide or make look pretty. The 15-inch wide banded steel rear wheels, banded inside and out by Damien at BSW in Tiverton, allow the fitting of the monstrously wide, and seriously cool-looking, Mickey Thompson tyres that give the trike so much of its look, and Phil’s full of praise for Damien’s work: “He always does a great job.”
Also at the back is that oversize sissy-bar that’s so large that imaginary sky fairies’ children could be crucified on it, but what you might not’ve realised is that it’s not only a sissy-bar, but the trike’s main fuel tank, too. It’s made from two ‘n’ a quarter inch stainless tube, and holds just under 10 litres, and the fuel’s transferred up to the small tank on the frame’s top-tube by an FJ1200 fuel pump. With the skinny 70s-style front end (which we’ll come to in a moment), he wanted the smallest petrol tank he could find to keep the theme going.
He opted for a tiny little axed tank (why they’re called ‘axed’ is now lost in the mists of time, but maybe, one day long ago, someone was trying to make one, but’d run out of oxy-acetylene?) to which he’s fitted two bungs to the left-hand side to mount a transparent sight tube so that he can see how much petrol he has without having to stop, unscrew the fuel cap, and look inside. The fact that it looks very cool too, is neither here nor there, obviously…
Once the tank was done, and tested to make sure fuel didn’t piss out of the new ’oles he’d drilled in it, it was taken by his son, Rob, to have the very ’70s-inspired red and gold airbrush work done on it. Rob actually only does airbrushing as a hobby but, as you can see, he’s made a beautiful job of both this and the oil tank too.
On to that very skinny 70s front end. Phil was originally building the trike with a set of over-length forks, but then saw a girder front end for sale on eBay, and knew instantly it’d look much better than a set of teles ever would. They came with a set of cheap, and crap, Chinese springs/dampers that had no damping whatsoever (not so much ‘dampers’ as ‘boggyers; perhaps?) so he upgraded to a pair of dampers from a company that, he believes, makes them for snowmobiles. Wow, snowmobiles with girders, how cool is that? Sorry, I’ll shut up…
They were fitted with a Performance Machine twin-pot caliper, also supplied by Barnaby Wilde, which keeps the front end as clean and slim as the look he was going for, and it’s finished off with (a) a traditionally skinny 21-inch wheel with an Avon Speedmaster tyre, and (b) a set of one-off rabbit-ear (okay, more like hare actually – they’re a bit too wide to be rabbit, don’t you think?) ’bars that he made from inch-and-a-quarter CDS and have all the control cables and wires running through them.
Finishing touches include stainless ladder-style footrests which allow him to move his foot position when his prosthetic leg gets uncomfortable, both sets of brakes running off a single RHS pedal (with a bias bar to ensure they work as they should), and a one-off jockey shift with a small button for the fuel pump in the centre.
The trike won Best Trike at the Calstock Bike Show last year, and goes and rides really nicely, but it may soon have to go as he has another he wants to build (using a 3.5-litre Rover V8), and he doesn’t have room for this, that and the Harley hearse he’s finishing off for a new motorcycle funeral service he’s planning. Ring him on 07762 107090 if you think you can give it a good home.Enjoy more Back Street Heroes reading in the monthly magazine. Click here to subscribe.