Retro bikes Stunning old specials
Old Empire Motorcycles take a T120 and gentrify it with their own brand of inspired classic design plus quality engineering ‘Getting rid of all non-essentials proved quite troublesome with a new bike’
Simply known as ‘Triumph’, this build marks a departure for Old Empire Motorcycles because it’s their first collaborative build with a major manufacturer. There’s also a shift in styling, as Alec and Rafe in Diss have focused on sleek café racers – but with Triumph launching the Thruxton R, they wanted something different. They’ve certainly came up trumps. We got Alec’s take on this sensational build.
“Although it’s over- done, we discussed Steve Mcqueen’s off-road Triumphs - getting back to basics and ridding it of all non-essentials; something we that proved quite troublesome with a new bike!
“It came to light that the T120’s huge speedo/tacho unit was linked to the ECU. In the past we’d ‘flash’ this; unfortunately, the new ECUS are protected by the factory to stop tampering or flashing. Needless to say, that severely limited our options.
“To plan B it was: gutting the speedos and leaving the circuit board intact and remounting it in a sealed aluminium box under the engine. The other issue to deal with was the horrendous-looking fly-by-wire throttle set-up. We gutted the internals and machined a remote housing, which was located under the engine and then linked up to a standard twin-cable push/pull set-up. Clean and simple.
“We’ve used this bike to trial a new mobile dash display. It uses the Torque app available for Android phones that reads a Bluetooth OBD sender unit plugged into the motorcycles brains. These send all the information we could need – speed, revs, temperature etc – to our own custom dash display, complete with Smiths chrono clocks.
“Having no master cylinder on the bars raised another issue of how we were going to operate the front brakes. We decided to leave the ABS intact, as we were unsure of how messing with it would affect the electronics. The solution was to discreetly mount a remote master cylinder on the lower yoke, with a pretty Rizoma reservoir mounted next to the ignition and the cable pull mount off the other side. The ABS system simply hooked into the master cylinder, and the front hoses were replaced with shortened braided versions.
“Everything was finally finished with a simple gloss black with gold highlights, which perfectly complements the armour black ceracoat skilfully applied by Simon at Flying Tiger Paintwork. Thanks also to Greg at Black Shuck, Demeanour Customs, GB Upholstery, Suffolk Blast, Fox Suspension, Cambrian Tyres, So-low choppers and Ian Hawkins’ Torque app.”