Dime City's Ace Cafe Racer
By Ross Sharp - 22 Jan 15
Do something you love and you'll never work another day in your life, ever heard that one? Jason Paul Michaels and Herm Narciso of Dime City Cycles sure have, either that or they are incredibly good actors. We met up with the guys during their action packed, whirlwind tour of the U.K. late last summer and were infected by the fast paced, enthusiastic fever which consumes all that they do. In just 5 years Dime City has grown from a rusty CL450 project in a small garage to a global leader in custom parts and apparel supply to the modern café racer and new-wave scene. As a result they've made some pretty good mates along the way, one being Ace Cafe owner, Mark Wilsmore. Jason, Herm and Mark persuaded Triumph Motorcycles that a collaboration would be a good idea. We can't imagine much arm twisting went on and a few months later a secret crate arrived at CRC Motorcycles, in time for the 75th anniversary of the Ace Cafe. This fabulous machine, "The Ace", is a homage to the iconic motorcycle that helped write racing history, the Triton. And just so happens that the timing coincides with the opening of the first U.S. based location of the Ace Cafe in Florida. Hence, the melding of old and new design theory, components and aesthetic. Improving on the original McCandless designed featherbed frame from the early '50s was no easy task. It was only when the thought to take a modern Hinkley Bonneville (which hangs the swinging arm from the engine vs. the frame) that the true potential of Rex and Crommies design is realised. The crew at Dime City worked with Kevin Dunworth on a ground-up 4130 .058 wall chromoly tubed variant of the featherbed (the closest thing to Reynolds tubing available in the U.S.) only in this case, the engine acts as the stressed member connecting the head tube to the swinging arm. This allows for an extremely lightweight frame design and almost completely eliminates risk of breakage. With the sole emphasis being on performance the team then worked with Racetech to spec a completely custom suspension system that takes advantage of the weight and power distribution of the modern Triumph Twin as well as the Ace's geometry which was built, as close as possible, to modern Superbike specifications. In essence, it is a retro Superbike ready for the track minus a belly pan and lockwire. The 900cc EFI Bonneville engine was stripped down, converted back to carburetors and is now fuelled by a pair of Mikuni HSR flat-side racing carburettors. The HSR's not only give a tremendous power and torque gain, but also provides the unique exhaust note bellowing from the handmade stainless system. The front end starts with a 19x1.85" Sun aluminum rim and hub, connected by stainless spokes and stuck to the road with a Continental Attack 100/90-19 tyre. A hollow titanium axle is clamped by the Racetech upside-down fork and the whole lot hauled up by radially mounted, dual Brembo 4-pots gripping Braketech floating discs. The rear is an inch smaller at 18x3.50" with a 130/80-18 and single disc set-up. The tank and tail are of course handmade, in the traditional hammer and english wheel fashion by Bike Shed regular, Junior Burrell, also known as Retro Moto. In the flesh and up close the craftsmanship is superb, and the Scotch-Brite finish perfect for the brief. Rather than a polished spectacle the aluminium belies its low weight and appears hewn from solid. And before anyone starts whining about the sliver of a seat pad, it's actually perfectly comfortable. Trust us, we all had a good sit on it while testing the exhaust note. The guys from Dime City do a lot of the work themselves and if I remember correctly Jason fabricated the front mudguard late at night before DHL arrived to collect the bike. If things don't work out I'm sure Will at CRC would give him a job. Tomaselli clip-ons and Avon grips felt perfect, as did the Brembo levers, all sitting behind a Motogadget Chronoclassic, with the all important rev limit indicated by red marker pen. The 520 chain conversion is an old racers trick to shed weight and as such has been employed here and although a small detail, the slimmer chain plays its role is reducing visual bulk at the rear end. The rear sets are DCC own brand, machined from billet aluminium. The eagle eyed might have spotted the carbon fibre engine mount, yup, every little counts. The combination of raw aluminum bodywork, highly detailed finishes and track focused components makes for what the Ace Cafe and Dime City Cycles feels is a modern representation of what the Triumph works racing team of yesteryear would produce today, were they still around. If you were one of the lucky ones to see the bike on a misty September night outside the Ace I'm sure you'll concur that this is one collaboration worth all the fanfare. If you missed out, have no fear. The new series of Naked Speed on the Velocity channel begins next week, 28th January and The Ace will feature on 4th March.