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Bike of the Month
April 2022
Framecrafters/Triple Tecs Triton
By Yoram Bronicki

Why build a Triton? Influencers were around even before the advent of social media, often they were called journalists. As I recall it, they would describe an object or an individual followed by the adjective legendary (or a similar superlative such as mythical) which immediately raised its stature above its peers. It was highly prevalent when writing about something from across oceans or state lines and the dim-witted kid who was reading those lines just had to accept it as such. In all fairness, there was generally an element of truth in that practice as, after all, the journalist who wrote it, did read about it in a commentary from that far and distant land. But whether it was just a grain or a bushel of truth was hard to ascertain. “What started as a shed-built concept soon turned into a mythical marque, and today Tritons are considered some of the most desirable vintage motorcycles on the road. “

In 2016 I came across an ad for a 1972 T150V spending a graceless retirement in Tennessee and decided to buy it as a basis for a special project. At the time I just bought the bike because it was complete, titled and relatively inexpensive and it felt right to use it, rather than a road worthy Trident, as a basis for a special. The bike sat in my shop for a while, and I completed the ownership transfer and registration and decided to call it T-152.


As I was digitizing my motorcycle magazine archives I reread the Classic Bike article about Jim Hodges’ Triton, which was called the Ultimate Triton and this relit the Triton fantasy. As featherbed frames are not very common in the US, certainly not high tensile strength ones, I decide to call to Karsten Illg of Framecrafters to discuss how they could help me with the project. At about the same time Dave Madigan introduced me to Charlie Barnes of Triple Tecs which led to the introduction of Jerry Liggett who was most significant in turning my triple ownership experience from pride to joy.


Charlie agreed to build me a performance 850cc engine with an electric start conversion and so the engine was removed from the chassis and made the 500-mile trip to Southern California, in the company of a T160 engine. The process with Karsten was more iterative with discussion of different frame types but by July 2017 (after he has given up on me at least once) we agreed on the general characteristics of the project which was a bike based on Framecarfters’ FAT Featherbed frame design and therefore a close relative of the Triton.

My requirements were “simple” (or so I thought), I wanted a product that looked like a factory bike and not a special. I wanted to be different but only in the eyes of those who knew that this was a different bike. This dictated painted rather than polished aluminum, a Triumph logo and what I hoped was a somewhat subdued styling. As my intent was to ride the bike, I wanted reliability through modern components everywhere other than the engine where I put my trust in Triple Tecs. I always want light bikes and Karsten was hoping for a dry weight between 370 and 390 lb. My other request was to try and have a better fit for my height and I sent Framecrafters pictures of me on my T160 and on a Slimline Norton for them to have a better idea of the seat-foot rest bar triangle. I also asked for left foot gear shifting and Karsten had no problem building that for me.


The first few months were spent by Karsten on pinning down the different details that would dictate the build such as tank capacity, 4LS front brake or disc, fixed or adjustable yokes and aesthetic details such as turn signals. The fuel and oil tanks were ordered from the UK and by January I started getting pictures from the Framecrafters shop in Union, Illinois of the project coming together.

Charlie completed the engine in March, and it was shipped to Framecrafters. Work in Union progressed, and it was very exciting to get the status update pictures. Progress was slower than expected and the completion day kept moving and I had to accept that I would miss the 2018 riding season, which typically ends sometime in October. By November the bike was in final assembly. The plan was to pick the Triton up in Union in December. Prior to my arrival, Karsten called and said that they took the bike for a test ride and the engine quit working within two miles. Needing to get the bike to California, I kept the plan to get the UT-152. Seeing the Triton for the first time made my heart race. 

Back in California, Charlie inspected the bike, and all indications were that there was a loss of lubrication. As there were some debris in the engine it was impossible to know the exact cause. In hindsight, Charlie should have been there for the initial startup of the engine, or the bike should have gone back to Charlie, both are easy not to do when the shops are 2005 miles apart. My personal conclusion is not to start a new engine without a working oil pressure gauge, the mutli-display Motogadget gauge is too dangerous for a critical service like oil pressure. As the only way to turn the sour into sweet is to move forward, we decided to rebuild the engine as what Charlie called a 930 hot rod.

Due to Covid, the bike sat for about a year waiting for a rider to put some “shake down” miles on it. That finally happened when the bike was delivered to Jerry Liggett in October 2021. Jerry went through a few completion items and 4 years after the start of the build, took it on its first successful test ride. Afterwards, he reported that there were a few items to fix but “otherwise it was a beauty! It has lots of power ... it handles and brakes beautifully. The seating position is going to be perfect for you (that is me). It is a little long for me (Jerry)”. Jerry says that in terms of performance it feels almost like a Rob North, as it is only slightly heavier, but the frame geometry makes it more directionally stable. He also said that it was very comfortable, like a bed of feathers, but his smile disclosed that he was just checking my knowledge of the history of the British motorcycle industry.

What about the influencers? They were wrong and they were right. Wrong because they took a relative quantity in a constantly evolving, competitive field, and affix an absolute value to it. The motorcycles of 2021 are so much better than those of 2011 (let alone 1967) that the term legendary means nothing. Yet they were right because for so many of us who do not race, much of the joy is driven by an image in our head that even an indirect link to past fame can bring great satisfaction when we ride the bike, or just stare at it through the coffee shop’s window while having breakfast. And the ride? It was everything Jerry said it was.

I am grateful for the work of Karsten, Randy, Charlie and Jerry and for Jeff Weeks ability to capture the beauty of the motorcycle in pictures.


Frame and Chassis: 

  • Framecrafters’ Chrome-Moly FAT Featherbed frame

  • 43mm fork, effective rake 26.5 degrees, trail 95 mm; Racetech adjustable rear shocks

  • Spoked wheels with 17” Sun rims, 3.5" front with tubeless Michelin Pilot Road 4 tire (120/70 ZR 17) , 4.25” rear tubeless Michelin Pilot Road 4 tire (150/70 ZR 17)

  • Brembo brake calipers with floating discs

  • Adjustable clip-on handlebars

  • TAB2 4-gallon aluminum fuel tank

  • TAB2 aluminum oil tank

  • Glass From The Past fairing

930 cc
Crankshaft lightened by 7lb
Carrillo rods,
forged pistons,
ported head,
30mm Keihin carburetors.
Camshafts Megacycle TC -intake a Johnson motors 15 (JOMO 15)- Exhaust 1⁄2” offset sprocket.
Estimated 92 HP at the rear wheel.
Semi wet weight - 420 lbs.

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