1973 Triumph T160V: Our Bikes

Date 20.11.2014

Presented by
  • Motorcycle Trader

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Guido’s Triumph T160V

It seems that every second or third time I attend the massive All-British Rally in Victoria, its costs me a motorcycle.

A few years ago I blew up the engine on my 1947 Sunbeam while this year I hit a kangaroo on the Triumph T160V. That in itself was a ridiculous story. Phil Pilgrim and I left the rally site on dusk to head back to our digs in Maldon – a bad move in that district, as the wildlife is prolific. Paranoid and ultra-cautious, we managed the 20-or-so kilometres of highway without incident. So, entering town, with lots of houses and streetlights, I naturally relaxed as we slowed down. Then, whammo!

Some sodding, hopping furry idiot chose that moment to cross my path. Really? In the centre of town? Though it hobbled away, I doubt it lived. Meanwhile I scored a few bruises, while the bike was looking like it had lost a pub brawl.

What was particularly annoying about the whole disaster was that this was probably the most original T160 you’ll ever find. Not any more. It didn’t look too bad in the dark, and we were able to straighten it up enough to be rideable.

THE COLD LIGHT OF DAWN

As expected, dawn revealed the full toll. Most annoying was that the nice, tidy fuel tank was damaged. Just enough dents to require restoration. Gone as well were the handlebars, a lever, footpeg rubber, indicators, front guard and the rev-counter was looking second-hand. Incredibly, the original mufflers had escaped damage thanks, I suspect, to the fixed footpegs.

Add up the damage and you might reasonably expect you’re up for at least a couple of thousand dollars. Not necessarily so.

If there was any good fortune with this, it was that Pilgrim happens to be the owner of Union Jack Motorcycles and one of the most experienced Meriden Triumph mechanics on the planet.

So he was standing there making an assessment, saying he reckoned it wasn’t as bad as it looked, and that he had most of the bits in stock.

He was right. Meriden parts are surprisingly cheap – much more so than their modern equivalents – and readily available. Here’s an example: I’d normally expect to have to replace the tacho, given it had a damaged bezel (the upper casing) and broken glass. But no, both parts are available as spares, and by the time I got it all put together by Ringwood Speedometer Service, it owed me under $200.

Some bits I was able to panel-beat and bend back into shape. Those included a dented sidecover, a headlight bracket, the front guard (which took a fair bit of patience) and a footpeg. With the addition of a few rubber parts, the bills were low.

Indicators took a little work. The replacements looked okay, but didn’t exactly match the original Lucas items. In the end I tracked down something closer from the UK, though fitting required making up complete units out of two slightly different sets of spares.

TANKS FOR THE MEMORY

My biggest regret was the aged but dead straight fuel tank which was now dented. It’s the small capacity American unit, which I was planning to put away and replace with the much bigger UK version. Now that became a priority. In the end I took a punt on buying a replica tank from India, via Ebay, through a mob called Vintage Connexions. The cost was just under $500, painted and landed in Australia.

The product gets a mixed review. The paint is deep, while the tank is solid and well sealed.

However, it’s a little on the large side, which meant I had to put some rubber plugs on the steering stops to restrict the standard lock so the bars and fork didn’t smack its flanks.

Also, there was a bit of fiddle involved in getting the fuel cap and badges to fit. That said, the end result is good. I’ve now got a decent fuel range and I reckon the result looks fine.

Best of all, I’m not going to panic if it gets damaged. So far, the total bill was just under $1000, plus a day or so of fiddling in the shed. My mechanically-minded brother-in-law, John,  happened to be visiting at the time, so it gave us something to do with the assistance of a cleansing ale.

NEXT CAB OFF THE RANK

Plan B is to get the original tank resprayed – probably by Ray Drever Custom Paint in Victoria, then put it aside so the original will be available if or when I go to sell the bike.

While the Indian-made tank may have taken a bit of fiddle to make it work, I’ve now gone back to Vintage Connexions asking if they can make me a tank for spouse Ms M’s Honda CBX550 (right).

The one it currently wears had a nasty accident with a star picket, while the spare has rusted through and leaks.

Original tanks in good nick are unobtainable, and I’m happy to sacrifice our spare to make a pattern. They’ve agreed, saying it will take two or three months to do. I’ll let you know how that one goes…