E=mc², H²O, v=d/t. Formulas, pretty dull but without them we’d all be screwed. Thankfully there are some out there with more exciting results. The Down & Out Cafe Racers workshop has calculated an effective recipe for success. FFE + SCB² x OLD Roughly translated as fat front end added to a super clean bike built by blokes with loads of experience. Now that sounds like I’m over simplifying things a little but the crew from Barnsley have an order book of satisfied customers too thick to fit between the yokes you see here and the phone is still ringing off the hook.
That says to me that they’ve listened to their punters and social media followers, and nailed a particular style. Breaking new ground and challenging the aesthetic limit is rewarding on a personal level but it’s usually not enough to convince the bank manager that your good for your mortgage payments. D&O’s business is a solid one, based on a foundation of many decades of customising bikes and cars. They’re certainly not a bunch of here today, gone tomorrow bandwagon riders.
D&O will build whatever you like but the most popular donor at the moment is Triumph’s Bonneville. Brynn, one of our members liked what he’d seen on Dutch’s T100 and a few other Bonnies but had a few ideas of his own to make it stand out a bit. Originally from Wales, Brynn worked in London for years and has seen his fair share of cool motorcycles, eventually deciding to treat himself to a retirement present. Now residing in Suffolk he needed something for fun blasts around the countryside, and to the Krazy Horse monthly meets no doubt. There are other workhorses in his garage, a venerable 1200GS for touring and winter rides, but Brynn’s new T100 is purely for fun. He might be retired but he’s yet to hit the half century so there’s plenty of playtime left.
D&O dont waste time polishing turds, they buy nearly new donors either straight from the factory or from dealers direct, preferably with super low miles. Despite the glut of Bonneville customs to hit our pages over the last couple of years there are still loads of cherished bikes sheltering undercover and suckling on an Optimate, ready and waiting to be customised. This brand new 2016 model was feeling a bit sorry for itself while the latest stock of water-cooled Bonnevilles enjoyed press launches in sunnier climes. Time for a new lease of life.
Obvious to all but our newest of readers but the subframe is the starting point of nearly all these builds. D&O stock most parts involved in a build so need only to reach up to a shelf and pick readymade components that are guaranteed to fit. Gone are the days where customers are happy to pay for R&D time. The rear loops a perfectly bent and finished making for a neat TiG welded joint which after fettling is indistinguishable from the stock frame. Well that’s not fair actually, bossman Shaun’s welding is way better than the robots up at Hinckley.
A diamond stitched saddle sits on top, made from vinyl rather than leather as most owners want to use their bikes in all conditions and not have to worry about carrying a spare Tescos bag to sit on during British summer rides. Mudguards are also a D&O kit part, nicely rolled in brushed stainless so they’re not only “strong as a bastard” (I think that’s what they say in the North when something won’t bend or dent easily) but don’t require polishing or maintenance either. Have them painted if you like, but Brynn opted for the raw look. The set here are wide enough to not only keep roost at bay from those super chunky knobblies but fill the gap under the altered subframe nicely.
About those wheels. And the custom scene for that matter, lets just take a minute for those keyboard jockeys who moan about the handling of bikes sporting knobblies. How many women post photos on Instagram showing flat chests and non existent bottoms? Not many. And how many blokes post comments about a lady’s presumed ability to run a sub 11 second 100 metre sprint? Not many either. Sexist. OK, “I saw this pigeon chested dweeb of a man the other day with a particularly streamlined silhouette in his speedos” said no woman ever! Get over it. Customising bikes is about the looks, not the performance. There’s a whole other genre for that. Sure, there’s crossover but this is Bike Shed, and stance counts for more than horsepower.
Right, now that’s off my buff and bulging chest I’ll carry on talking about Brynn’s muscular motorcycle.
The puny original rims were one of the first things to reach the bin, replaced by a wide pair of alloy 17 inchers. Laced to the stock hubs with stainless spokes this setup is a surefire way of increasing presence of a street scrambler. Continental’s tried and tested TKC80 knobblies complete the look, 180 section in the rear and 150 up front.
You over there, fingers poised above keyboard, don’t even think about it. Unless you can tell the difference between a Metzeler and Michelin without looking at the sidewall I don’t want to hear it. For sedately enjoying a Sunday ride Brynn will be perfectly fine on these Contis. If he wanted to back-it-in to roundabouts and drift on the way out with both feet on the pegs he’d have bought a supermoto and Neon Hooligan Monthly would be covering the story.
Obviously such a wide wheel and tyre combo won’t fit between the stock fork legs so Shaun has the guys at Fastec Custom Racing machine-up some lovely triple clamps. Those guys had a stand at our London show and their work is exemplary. Steering this lot is an ace-style handlebar, a break from the scrambler style LSL bars we’ve previously seen on D&O builds. What is par for the course though is the internal routing of all wiring to the Motone switchgear. I had a quick blast on Dutch’s bike the other day and really enjoyed the simple configuration, an indicator on each side, kinda makes sense.
A meshed headlight is clamped by a super-neat D&O stainless bracket, lovely welding to be found here too. Dinky little alloy indicators do the job of the headlight bucket bolts and are super-bright when flashing, yet hard to see from more than 5 paces away when dormant.
Motogadget’s M-unit makes light work of persuading the electricity to do as it’s told so Shaun fits one to nearly every build. An all-in-one speedo from the same maker blends-in and takes the place of the clunky stock ignition, which thanks to a Motone bracket is relocated just above the oil cooler on the right hand side, with a flush fitting push button start. Another neat trick, Shaun flips the lever perches upside down so you don’t have to look at an empty thread where the mirrors used to be. Wrapped TT pipes and reverse megas uncork the 865cc twin slightly for a whiff more power but the sonorous growl makes these T100s feel like an extra 15hp has just been shovelled in. I know I said it’s all about there looks, but I lied a little bit. Fast is good too.
Down & Out’s supply chain is a tight-knit one. Friends and relationships built-up over years in the trade mean that quality work is turned-out on time. Shaun has worked with Arnie from Pro Kustom for a good while now and the finishes he achieves are excellent, Brynn chose a matt grey with a 67 on the side panels. I’m guessing his year of birth. Retired at 48, well played Brynn. Must have had a decent paper round.
So, you get the picture. Down & Out have got this Triumph gig dialled-in. Feeling a bit spanner-fingered and have a spare Saturday? Order a box of bits and fit them yourself. Live on the 3rd floor and have no garage? Give Shaun and the team a call and they’ll scramblerise, trackerise or customise your Triumph or source a decent low mileage bike as a blank canvas.
If you’re heading to London for the DGR next month give Brynn a toot, he’s riding this beauty down for weekend.
Photography by Simon Krajnyak