In the 13 years since starting bridgetogantry.com, I’ve built (or at least held the tools for people who were building) several ringtools on my blog.
Without exceptions, they’ve always been based on cheap, readily available models. Some of the projects have been very laptime orientated. For example the sub-8 MX5 turbo back in 2010, and my Nitron’d BMW E36 328i (which could easily run in VLN practice sessions). Others, like the Spa24 Citroën C1 racer and Toyota Yaris #CLUB1000 were more about driving sensations and fun with friends than outright performance.
Also without exception, they’ve always been four-wheeled. Today, that changes!
In the front seat, grinning like a lunatic, after driving with me in the Rent4Ring bus for 5 hours across Germany, is my eldest son.
In the back? A 1993 Triumph Daytona 1200. A large, obstroculous sports bike that typifies the power-struggle of the 1990s sportsbike scene. To read the full story of why this particular brand of 90s muscle bike made such a big impression on a 14-year-old me, you need to read this post on the BTG facebook page.
Project Daytona is being created not just for Spa and Nürburgring shenanigans, but also to ride alongside my father on the Crisis Ride 2021. If you want to ride with us, join the Crisis Ride 2021 facebook group. We will be raising money to eliminate rough-sleeping and homelessness. There are an estimated 320,000 people, including 13,000 ex-service veterans, living and in some cases dying on the streets of Britain. The Crisis Ride is proudly supported by Bennett Insurance and Ghostbikes.com.
This particular example was advertised in the free-ads as a mint and ‘honest’ 1994 example of Hinckley’s desire to compete with the big Japanese four (Honda, Kawasaki, Suzuki and Yamaha). Thanks to the awesome T300 Facebook group, I already knew that the bike had some hidden history. The fork bottoms should have been black, the frame number was a 1993 model, and so on.
But the reason I dropped everything and left the Eifel at 4am to check it out was simple. The price was disgustingly cheap. And while you can pick up a variety of the less-desirable water-cooled Suzuki GSX-R1100s for €1500-€3500, the arguably-inferior-but-more-desirable Triumphs tend to go for around €2500 to €9000 depending on condition.
And why was it cheap? Simple. It was advertised as a none-runner. A short telephone conversation revealed it had been in the same hands for over a decade, and it hadn’t been run properly in nearly the same amount of time. I asked if the tank and carbs had been drained before it was dry stored. The answer was a simple ‘no, why?’. So with the agreement that if I could get it running, I could buy it for the advertised price, I planned on taking some easy start (brake cleaner), a fresh battery, some tools and fresh petrol.
By the time I’d arrived the next day, the owner had already bought and fitted a brand-new Varta battery, and put 5ltrs of fresh fuel into the tank (which still had at least 2 or 3ltrs of old petrol in it). The bike started, eventually, though only on idle and with choke. The big 36mm Mikuni carbs were clearly blocked, bunged-up and in need of some TLC. But with no knocks or death-rattles, and all 4 exhaust stubs pleasingly warm, I was happy enough to hand over the cash and start driving back to the Nürburgring.
The next day, I’d start the strip-down at my friend’s workshop.
As expected, the slides in 3 of the 4 carburettors were totally stuck. Gum and residue from evaporated petrol having stuck them to the slides. A few phone calls later and I’ve located a local chap called Harri who specialises in rebuilding and ultrasonic cleaning. I considered cleaning them myself with either petrol or Acetate, but in the end, my fear of small parts, diaphragms and o-rings got the better of me.
I left the carbs with Harri and went back to servicing.
Now, I’d already figured that the bike had been dropped on both sides by previous owners, but the orientation of the scratches I’d found (more up than along, and very short) suggested parking mishaps rather than 60mph low-sides. The right-side footpeg was also cracked. But there was still some trepidation as I stripped back the acres of Pimento red plastics.
Thankfully, the crank cases and everything under the bodywork was still mint. And the pot-black finish of the massive Triumph motor was still in mint condition.
So, to servicing, here are the jobs I wanted to complete, in no particular order:
Full fluid refresh. Everything. Oil, coolant, brake and clutch fluid.
Dropping the oil, changing the filter, it’s kinda obvious. These are the basics. No surprises yet.
Chain and sprockets
Changing the front sprocket (the toothed wheel on the output shaft of the gearbox) that drives the chain on a T300-series Hinckley is no laughing matter. While on any other motorcycle, it’s less than an hour, on a Triumph it’s a day’s work. Several days for me. Why? Well…
- First you have to drop the oil, because the sprocket cover has a chamber that fills up from the sump, and the dip-stick goes into it. Because British Enji-neeeering
- Then remove the footpeg.
- Then remove the sidestand because you still need to remove the gear shift linkage (which also means removing a huge bolt that’s also an engine mount).
- Cry out in shock as you realise that the threads were mashing themselves on an unknown obstruction:
- Weep with shame and remorse as you realise that you can’t order this custom torx-headed bolt anymore.
- Resign yourself to trying to clean up the thread on a randomly hardened-bolt for the next day or so.
- Finally remove the clutch slave cylinder before dropping off the cover to reveal a front sprocket that looked surprisingly OK to be honest. Damn.
Still to do?
The brand-new Continentals fitted by the previous owner were mediocre when they came out of the factory in 2010. In 2020 they’re hard, polished and I have no interest in them. The latest greatest tyres are both capable of a sub-8 BTG time and the trip around the UK with my Dad. I’m in touch with my mate Bob at FWR, who has suggested either the Bridgestone S22 or the Micheline Power.
Chain and sprockets
If you think I’m putting all that stuff back together WITHOUT a fresh set of sprockets and a high-quality chain, you’d be mistaken. In my past life as a professional motorcycle journalist(!) my experiences with Renthal sprockets and Tsubaki chains has me perusing the B&C Express website. Even including shipping from the UK to Germany, they’re consistently €100 cheaper for a full kit than the equivalent German shops.
Here I’m truly blessed. I have so many options to try and make this big old 228kg sportsbike handle. Around the corner from me is the Öhlins Nürburgring HQ, who have many items in the catalogue. Nitron also have a remote-adjustable shock on the shelf for the Daytona. For the front, I’ll be looking to respring and refresh the standard fully-adjustable 43mm rwu Kayaba forks. Overseeing this? Hopefully I can persuade Emerson of Engauge.eu, ex-of-Öhlins, to help me get the right spring rates and damping for a taught, but not flightly, fast road and track setup.
Bearings and bushes
As I’m removing things, no doubt there’ll be opportunities to assess, and replace, countless bearings along the way. So far, the major items seem to be in good condition.
As the carbs are being refreshed, and the engineered-in flatspot between 4000 and 5000rpm is being taken care of with a Stage 1 Dynojet kit, it would be rude not to consider a nice exhaust. In Germany it’s tricky, but not impossible, to replace exhausts on old models with anything that’s not OEM. That’s because nowadays you need ECE type approved parts, but period 90s kit came with single type approvals per bike, if they came with anything at all. The thought has occured to me to ditch the super-heavy 4-into-2 steel exhaust and ask Chris at SME near Köln to order something from the expensive side of the tube catalogue. Maybe ask him for some 4-2-1 headers, and mate them to a modern silencer with a removable baffle…
WHATEVER happens next, I’ll be sure to update you here.
Project Daytona is being created not just for Spa and Nürburgring shenanigans, but also to ride alongside my father on the Crisis Ride 2021. We will be raising money to eliminate rough-sleeping and homelessness. There are an estimated 320,000 people, including 13,000 ex-service veterans, living and in some cases dying on the streets of Britain. The Crisis Ride is proudly supported by Bennett Insurance and Ghostbikes.com.