Old School Film Photos of Randy’s Bonneville and Garage

My friend Lee came over to my garage a few weekends ago as I was getting close to finishing the winter modifications and repairs to my 2008 Bonneville. This is the same Bonnie that I dumped in November 2013 and broke my ankle with (Ouch!).

Anyway, those of you who follow this blog may remember that Lee is a very good amateur photographer (beside his full-time gig as a computer programmer), and he had his camera along on this particular visit. However, I noticed right away that it was not his “normal” digital camera, but was in fact an old Canon F1… just like one that I used to own back in the day! He was actually shooting FILM! As we talked about the camera I learned that he had loaded it up with a roll of black & white Ilford 35mm film!

Here are some of the shots Lee took on his F-1 that morning as we puttered around the garage inspecting the progress on my Bonnie.


Not sure what I was doing when Lee took this… looks like some small part is being prepped for installation.


That’s me in motion blur, puttering around the garage.


Bonnie up on the jack stand. New front hub, spokes, rim and tire, plus a Brembo brake system upgrade mounted and ready to go.


Left side covers and exhaust still to be installed.


Exhaust headers and right side sprocket cover still to be re-installed. Front fender re-painted and installed.


Fitting the newly wrapped headers back on the Bonnie.


The view into Randy’s Garage from the main doorway. That’s my Ariens snowblower in the background… great product!


Instrument cluster, bars and controls being reassembled.


New rear hub, spokes, rim and tire assembly, as well as the drilled and repainted chain guard.


New instrument cluster bracket by D9 Brackets… thank you Seth!


I’m smiling because I can feel how close I am to actually getting back on the Bonnie!

I think these old school film photos look great!

Thanks, Lee!

NOTE: all photos copyright 2014 Lee Hoffner

Bent Gearchange Shaft Assembly Replacement

When I and my Bonneville went down in November 2013, it landed on its left side and broke off the rubber peg attached to the gearshift lever. The left front footpeg also broke off so the shift lever took on some serious weight and stress. The result was that the end of the shaft that protruded through the left side transmission/engine cover was bent.


Bent gearchange shaft after accident.


Bent gearchange shaft with transmission cover removed.

Thankfully, it was not bent enough to affect shifting, but given time this shaft would wear out the seal and cause the transmission to leak.

So, last Sunday I started the process of replacing this bent shaft with a new one purchased online at BikeBandit. I found this thread on TriumphRat.net that has proved to be very helpful in this process.

With the Bonneville safely up on a jack stand, I removed the clutch cable and lever assembly. I loosened and removed all the left side engine/trans cover bolts.


Clutch cable, mounting and cover bolts removed.


Cover removed.

I then carefully removed the transmission cover making sure to keep loose parts and washers.

Next, on the right side I removed the front sprocket cover, loosened the chain by loosening the back tire axle and moving the adjusters forward, then I removed the front sprocket.

right-side cover-removed

Chain loosened, front sprocket removed, allowing access to removing the right side gearchange mechanism cover.

Following the steps in my Haynes manual, I removed the c-clip and washer from the left side of the gearchange shaft using a screwdriver and needle nose pliers. This is a little difficult to get at!

After noting how everything aligned, I carefully pulled the full gearchange shaft assembly out of the transmission from the right side.


Shaft assembly coming out right side


New shaft assembly in place, pushed in from right side.


Position of C-clip and washer, on left side, behind large gear. Like I said, hard to get at!

Here you can see how bent the end of the old shaft was.


After removal, side-by-side comparison with a straightedge.

I also removed and cleaned up the clutch lifter arm.


Clutch lifter arm cleaned up with wire wheel on bench grinder.

I inspected the dust seal in the transmission cover housing that the clutch lifter arm goes through and determined it should be replaced.


Clutch shaft dust seal needs replacement

The engine/trans cover had some scratches on it from the accident where the gearchange lever had hit it. I cleaned up this cover, degreased it, and prepped if for re-coating with black Plasti-Dip.


Engine-Trans cover inside – cleaned up

The cover showing scratched areas.


Engine-trans cover outside – cleaned up and getting ready to refinish.

Also to be replaced is the seal around the gearchange shift shaft. This is the seal that was showing signs of wear due to the off centered bent shaft. This was the most likely place for a leak to happen!


Removal of shift shaft seal. A new one is required.

Watch here for the finishing steps!

RAT Ride

There is a Riders Association of Triumph (RAT) group in the Chicago area called Windy City RATs, with a Facebook presence here. This past week I went to one of their monthly meetings held at the Brick House Tavern + Tap in Downers Grove, IL.


At the meeting it was announced that there would be an informal yet organized ride the following Saturday (yesterday). Anyone who wished to join was welcome, so I showed up at Motor Cycle Center in Villa Park, IL at 9 AM. MCC is Chicagoland’s oldest Triumph dealer, and sold more Triumph’s than any other North American dealer in 2013. I should add that Motoworks Chicago (the 2nd oldest Triumph dealer in Chicago) was #2 in sales to MCC! All that indicates to me is that we have a very strong Triumph following in Chicago!

The Riders

Those who showed up were riding: Doug on a Triumph Thunderbird Storm, Rob on a Triumph Sprint ST, Dave on a Triumph Tiger 1050, me on a Triumph Bonneville and Brian on a Ducati 1198.

The Ride

Under partly sunny skies and temperatures in the upper 50′s, we headed west from MCC and snaked our way out passing through towns such as Burlington and Genoa, then we stopped in Byron for gas and travelled south to Oregon on the Rock River for lunch at Jackass BBQ.


Windy City RAT riders and bikes.

Since I had washed my Bonnie that morning before the ride, I was the one to blame for us hitting some wet roads where our bikes got a little dirty! We were fortunate to miss getting directly rained on!


My Bonnie washed and ready to RAT ride!

On our way back toward Chicago we stopped at Windy City Triumph, a newer dealer located in St. Charles, IL.


Since it was now the middle of the afternoon, we started splitting up and heading different directions toward our various homes. I headed east on North Avenue (64) and hopped on I-355 north to I-290, then east all the way to Oak Park. I put on about 200 miles for the day. A good initial RAT ride!

Bonnie from Down Under

I received an email from a new follower of Triumphbonneville.org today. His name is Casey from Melbourne, Australia. He shared with me how he found this site and is enjoying the articles. Below is Casey’s Bonnie he was kind enough to share.

He also told me that yesterday, his  favorite parts supplier in Melbourne messaged that his new custom wheels had arrived.  He is thinking of getting Heibenau K 60 tyres fitted to the wheels to achieve the ‘look’ he is after.


Casey’s Bonnie

I like how it looks so far and the 2 into 1 exhausts. Can’t wait to see it with the new wheels and tires! Keep us posted Casey!

Headers, Exhaust Wrap and Predators for Daniel’s T-100

One of the joys of producing this blog is the opportunity to meet new friends and fellow Triumph Bonneville enthusiasts and owners.

Recently I was contacted by Daniel, a Chicago area, first-time Triumph Bonneville T-100 owner. He had  some questions about things he wanted to do to his new Bonnie to personalize and make it his own. After some back and forth emails, Daniel decided what he wanted to do and ordered the parts from various sources, including our friends at our local Chicago Triumph dealer, Motoworks Chicago.

This past Saturday, April 5, 2014, Daniel and I got together at Randy’s Garage (my place), and completed one of the modifications on his list:

  • Exhaust header wrap and coating
  • British Customs Predator exhaust installation

The day started as a brisk Spring morning that turned into a nice sunny day. We worked for an hour or so inside my garage with a heater on, then opened the garage up and worked both outside and inside the garage as the day warmed up.

First, we unpacked the boxes that Daniel had dropped off the day before. He had sourced a set of Thruxton headers from a private party in Florida. The reason for this is that the stock 2013 T-100 headers do not allow for the upsweeping style of slip-on mufflers that the BC Predators are. So, Daniel decided to keep his original stock header and mufflers in case some day he wanted to sell the bike with the original exhaust system parts.

Next, we cleaned the Thruxton headers and prepped them for wrapping. Daniel had purchased the same 2″ black Thermo Tec wrap that I used on my Bonneville a few weeks earlier. We soaked the wrap in water and began the wrapping process at the muffler end of the header and wrapping toward the engine (front) end. This causes the tape overlap to face toward the rear of the bike, catching less wind and other road crud. We used stainless steel straps to secure the wrap in place at both ends.

We hung the wrapped headers outside from a tree in the sun to facilitate the drying process. We also used a heat gun to speed up the process more.


Daniel’s T-100 foreground, my Bonneville, and Daniel using the heat gun to dry the wrapped headers.


Close up of Daniel drying the freshly wrapped headers to prep for spraying.

Once the headers were dry, we then sprayed them with a black silicone sealant, a high temp coating recommended and manufactured by Thermo Tec.


Thermo Tek Hi-Heat coating – 2000 degrees F


Headers hanging and ready to coat with black Thermo Tec coating.


Header with completed Thermo Tec coating, drying in sun.

Once the headers were completely wrapped, coated and dry, we prepared to install them and the BC Predators on Daniel’s T-100.


Daniel working on installing exhaust system.

We first installed the replacement Thruxton headers on the T-100. We used anti-seize thread compound on the various nuts and bolts. We also employed some Permatex exhaust sealant to assist in the placement of the replacement exhaust o-rings from BellaCorse.


Permatex exhaust system sealant

After loose fitting the headers, we then torqued down the exhaust manifold nuts to 19 Nm, along with the oxygen sensors and rear exhaust mounting bolts. Next we loose-fit the Predators to ensure everything would fit.


Daniel’s T-100 on center stand with stock exhaust system removed.

In the process of loose fitting the Predators we discovered that they did not arrive with instructions on how to install the sidestand bumper or the center stand stop which are both necessary on Daniel’s T-100.


Parts and tools were laid out on a towel. The Predators were left on their plastic wrap for additional protection until installed on the bike

Because I had previous experience installing my Predators, I knew from experience that the instructions are not on the BC website. Since I had previously located the instructions online and made them available on my Predator installation blog post, I went into the house and printed them out.

These instructions are barely useful. The 2 photos are not very clear, and neither are the written instructions. Both Daniel and I don’t understand how businesses can get away with this. It produces a sour taste in the customer experience. In my opinion, after spending hundreds and hundreds of dollars on expensive parts and accessories you expect and I think deserve a better experience than this.

Thankfully, after some trial and error we finally figured out where the 2 bumper parts mounted, and how they functioned. It involved removing the mounting bolts on each side of the centerstand, one at a time and mounting the 2 supplied bumper parts as shown in the instruction photos.

Note to BC: It would have been better to know the importance of installing these parts before the headers and mufflers are completely  installed as it would provide easier access!


Work area outside the front of Randy’s Garage

There were plenty of smiles when Daniel fired up the T-100 for the first time with the new exhaust system installed. The deep rumble produced by the wrapped pipes and Predators is really very nice. We let the bike run for 30 minutes on its centerstand at about 1500 RPM to ensure the pipes heated up and burned off moisture and residue, and to ensure the engine stayed well lubricated.

NOTE: You do not want to run a Bonneville this long on its sidestand because the right side of the crankcase will not be fully and adequately lubricated. Those without centerstands should use a jack to keep the bike level as in my case.

Once we had the shop area cleaned up, tools stowed away and things generally tidied up, we took a maiden voyage ride to The Twisted Spoke for a drink and some spicy buffalo wings! We celebrated a great day of physical and mental work with that satisfying feeling you get when things have turned out well!

Based upon what I learned helping out Daniel, I plan to remove my headers and coat them with the black coating from Thermo Tec as well.


Triumph Motorcycle Poster Art

Recently I saw this cool old painting I assume was used for a Triumph ad back in the day.


Vintage Triumph Motorcycle Ad Art

You can buy this as a poster online here.


First Ride 2014

131 days after my accident that resulted in a broken ankle and a beat up Bonnie, I went for my first ride with a healed ankle (mostly) and a restored Bonnie . The weather was clear and a bit brisk in the 50′s.


2008 Triumph Bonneville on maiden voyage, 2014.

First, I left my home and rode around town a bit to make sure nothing fell off! Then I took to the highway, to see how the Bonnie handled at higher speeds. Everything seemed to be fine, so I headed out to Schaumburg, Illinois to Cycle Gear to get 5 quarts of Castrol Power RS Racing 4T oil and a K&N 204 filter.


Oil and filter at Cycle Gear


I posted this photo on Facebook of my Bonnie parked at Cycle Gear.

Upon returning home with the goods from that ride (55 miles @ 40 MPG), my friend Lee saw my FB post and texted me and asked what I was up to. He invited me out to his place to then go on a ride together.

I suited up and headed to Wheaton, Illinois to his new home location (17.3 miles). I visited with Lee and his wife for a bit, got a tour of the house, then we headed west on North Avenue (64) to Sycamore, Illinois (34 miles). We stopped at PJ’s Courthouse Tavern for a pint (I had a Smithwick’s Irish Ale) and an appetizer, then headed back toward Wheaton. Lee peeled off at Schmale Road to head home, and I kept heading east to get home before dark.

From North Avenue (64) I got on I-290 in Elmhurst, and took that highway the rest of the way to Oak Park (50 mi.).

My ankle did fine. It was no more sore than it usually is by the end of a day. I discovered that I do have to alter my shifting pattern. Since I can’t shift by only lifting my ankle, I have to also lift my leg a bit to get the job done. But hey… it works!

By my count that’s about 160 miles… not bad for a first ride in 131 days!


Triumph Bonneville Torque Specifications

In the process of rebuilding and modifying my 2008 Bonneville, I have had the need to know torque settings for various parts and pieces of the the motorcycle. The Haynes manual does not seem to have them all, or all in one easy to access place.

I did some digging around online and found some posts on Triumphrat.net that included information on Twins from 2001-2007. I have converted all the UK Nm settings to US Lbs/Ft and compiled the info into a handy downloadable PDF file.


Download: Triumph Bonneville Torque Settings PDF


Norton Single Cylinder Engine Cutaway

Another great old school engine cutaway illustration.

1935 Norton Single Cylinder Engine Cutaway

1935 Norton Single Cylinder Engine Cutaway Illustration

So cool.



Dime City Cycle Headlight Bucket Experience

dcc-logoI wish that I had a better customer experience to report. Unfortunately, I have been forced to remove my recommended link to Dime City Cycles from this blog. Why… what is the issue?

Well, you may recall that I was excited about the replacement headlight bucket I found at DCC and had ordered to replace my stock damaged headlight bucket. At that time, I was a bit hesitant to order this part based upon my friend Lee’s previous experience with the aftermarket tachometer he ordered from DCC. You can read about that experience here.

Making Sure

So, I spent a number of emails going back and forth with DCC to make certain the desired satin black headlight bucket would fit my setup. We had determined together that I needed a bucket to fit an 8″ width (from mounting ear to mounting ear) on my bike. DCC assured me the headlight bucket I desired would fit. So, I ordered it.


This past weekend, I finally got to the point in my Bonneville post accident upgrade process to fit the new headlight bucket on my bike. I discovered that it was closer to 7″ wide and would no way fit my setup. I decided to re-coat my stock headlamp bucket and trim ring with black Plast Dip instead.

I have emailed and asked DCC to send me an RMA number so I can ship their product back for a refund. I’m waiting on that response now and will keep you informed as to the outcome.


Based upon my own personal and others I have observed, my opinion on DCC is that they are more focused on promoting themselves as some kind of new cafe racer celebrities than they are on running a business that actually delivers a good brand and customer experience. There is a disconnect between the impression they give through all their videos, promotional activities and social media posts, and the experience they actually deliver to customers. This disconnect does not bode well for their future as a business. You can’t get away with this kind of stuff in today’s world where customer experiences are shared and simply out there for all to see!

Unless you are prepared to be disappointed, don’t order from Dime City Cycles.


Perhaps I’m just “old school,” but I want to promote businesses that deliver on the brand promise, and consistently prove that they are who they say they are. There is no better example for DCC to emulate than their fellow Florida business, Bonneville Performance. I think Herm and John Paul need to give Bill Gately a call, and take some lessons.

April 1, 2014 Update

After sending the headlight bucket back to Dime City Cycles, I received a voice mail from them saying that they could not refund my credit card, and could only refund to my PayPal account (if I had one) less the 20% restocking fee! Well, I was so miffed by this that I sent an email to them saying that I was very dissatisfied with this kind of treatment and that I would be letting everyone in my network know about their policies. To their credit, they backed off the restocking fee and refunded my order in total to my PayPal account.

Even though they ended up doing the right thing on this order, I can’t wholeheartedly recommend Dime City Cycles anymore. I am aware of too many bad customer experiences with them. My suggestion above still stands.

One Chicago area guy's experience with a 2008 Hinckley Triumph Bonneville and after market products, do-it-yourself garage modifications, racing and rides!