By Anthony van Someren - 26 Nov 11
If you haven't come across the Gilson's take on how Triumph should have been building their bikes from day one, then you're in for a treat.
Jules & Mark Gilson and Mark Robbins make up this British trio who have decided to take on the task of stripping down a Triumph Thruxton and turning it into a proper Cafe Racer. Donor bikes come from 2007/8 as these bikes had carbs - which thanks to ever stricter emissions rules are fast becoming a rarity, although they deliver lovely smooth fuelling and keep to a traditional fuelling setup.
Everything ugly, uselss and heavy is thrown in the bin - although Mark tells me he's yet to actually weigh one of their bikes to see what they've shed in ugly fat (...the bikes, not the Gilson's).
Shocks are revalved, carbs are rejetted with K&N filters with a custom-built, reverse-cone exhaust, an ally tank and new seat are fitted, and the whole frame and chassis are treated to new bearings, seals and bushes, while the hubs are re-laced to wider rims for better tyre choice, with 6-pot brake calipers up front to ensure she stops as well as she goes.
At the moment Mark tells me that donor bikes are plentiful and you can get a bike built and ready to roll in less that eight weeks (or less) and you'll have a stunning custom bike that can be serviced at your local Triumph dealer. "It's all about the test ride" says Mark, as these bikes handle beautifully with smooth surging power from their uprated twin, and they also look twice as good in the flesh as they do in photos.
I asked Mark whether they'd be up for changing the bike according to customer's wishes and he said that they'd be more than happy to accomodate anyone's wishes. I think I'd fancy a slimmer seat, exhaust wrap and possibly twin discs up front. The rest looks spot-on.
At the NEC they also had thier new Triumph Bobber on display, although built from the same donor, but with a custom frame (so a little more £££). This bike has the same attention to detail - if not more, and even parts like the oil cooler were handmade, aluminium items. It's certainly no parts-bin special.
From talking to Mark, hearing his attention to detail and seeing the bikes in the flesh I think they strike the perfect balance in being a modern-retro custom that's based on Thruxton's already upgraded version of a reliable factory bike with improved charisma and genuine Truimph heritage, but with nobs on.
All they need now is a perfume commercial or two, and perhaps Tom Cruise could ride one in the next MI movie?