As a part of my 2013-2014 winter 2008 Triumph Bonneville post-accident repair and modifications/upgrade project, I am looking at my stock wheels and thinking… if there was ever a time to do an upgrade, this is it. The reason being that based upon previous research, most wheel upgrades involve sending your stock OEM hubs in to the wheel vendor for the rebuild. Of course you can’t ride your motorcycle while this is in progress!
So, since I can’t ride anyway (until my ankle is healed and spring arrives), I decided to renew my wheel/hub options and get some prices for final comparison and decision making.
Option 1 – Bella Corse Talon Hubs and Excel Rims
On the BellaCorse.com website, Michael Selman offers Talon Aluminum Hubs with Excel Rims and stainless steel spokes and nipples as complete replacement wheel assemblies: http://bellacorse.com/bcc203-4.htm
So, I contacted Michael and discovered he has a set of wheel assemblies in stock that are comprised of anodized black Excel rims and anodized black Talon hubs with stainless steel spokes and nipples for $1,600 plus $100 shipping.
Option 2 – Buchanan’s Spoke & Rim Rebuilding
Buchanan’s Spoke & Rim is regarded as one of the top motorcycle wheel builders in North America. My friend Bill Gately at Bonneville Performance uses Buchanan’s to build wheels for Triumph Bonneville models, as well as the racing Super Trackers and Street Trackers offered on the Bonneville Performance website.
In emails with Buchanan’s sales department I have learned I would need to send them my stock hubs first. They could have them powder coated black at a local shop. Then they would rebuild me two wheels as follows:
- Sun black anodized aluminum front rim (2.75″ wide): RSWM419 = $230 + $44 for anodizing = $274
- Sun black anodized aluminum rear rim (3.5″ wide): RSWM619 = $261 + $44 for anodizing = $305
- (36), 6-8 gauge stainless steel spokes w/nipples (front) = $116
- (40), 6-8 gauge stainless steel spokes w/nipples (rear) = $129
- Powder coating my 2 stock hubs = $TBD
- Plus shipping and handling = $TBD
- Availability: TBD
- TOTAL ESTIMATED COST: Currently $824 plus powder coating and shipping. This option will probably end up being over $1,000 total.
So, which way should I go?
I like the idea of having a complete new and separate set of wheels. I could potentially use different tires, one set for the highway and one set for track or racing.
On the other hand, I go to a track day maybe 2 times a year… not really enough to justify a complete separate set of wheels and tires. Besides, I’d really like to use the lighter wheels and hubs all the time… both on the highway and at the track!
Plus, I could probably sell the extra stock wheel assemblies to help offset the cost of the Talon/Excel option.
January 22, 2014 Update
I decided to go with the Talon hubs and Excel rims set up from Bella Corse. Part of the decision was made based upon the idea of selling my stock wheels to offset the cost.
I will need to use the rear sprocket carrier and rubber cush drive from my stock wheels to fit into the Talon hubs. Because the sprocket carrier is silver, I plan to paint it black to match the Talon hubs. The front hub will also accept the stock speedometer drive assembly.
I also ordered a new set of tires and tubes. I went with the suggestion from Michael Selman of Bella Corse and am trying the Dunlop GT 501’s in sizes 100/90-19 for the front and 150/70-17 for the rear. Michael claims that these tires are a favorite of racers in the Triumph Thruxton series and enable one to get a nice wide tire on the rear that fits the stock width rim.
January 23, 2014 Update
I love coming home from work to see boxes on my porch! Today the Talon/Excel wheels arrived.
I unpacked them and set them up on my shop bench for these first photos. Can’t wait to mount the tires and then the new wheels on the Bonnie. Come on Spring!
Update February 16, 2014
I was able to successfully mount the new Dunlop GT 501 tires on the new Excel/Talon wheels and hubs yesterday using just hand tools.
I’ve also decided to keep my old wheels and hubs, and rebuild them with new Sun alloy rims and stainless steel spokes and nipples from Buchanan’s. I’ll write a new post on that project.
March 8-9, 2014 Update
This weekend I was able to get another step completed in the process of preparing the new wheels for use on the Bonneville. Because I have decided to keep my OEM wheels and hubs, I wanted an extra rear sprocket carrier. The reason is that I could have 2 different rear sprocket sizes… one for street and one for track days.
So, I sourced a good used one from RubberSideUp.com for $36 and prepared it for paint.
I’ve decided to try a spray product by Performix called Plasti Dip. It’s essentially a rubberized spray coating that is tough and yet can be peeled off most any surface it is sprayed on. I really like the satin black finish that it produces. You can get this product at Home Depot for about $6 per can.
Here is what the sprocket carrier looks like after one coat of Plasti Dip has dried. I’ll probably do one or two more coats.
March 16, 2014 Update
Today I completed spraying the rear sprocket carrier with black Performix Plasti Dip. When dry, I removed the masked off areas with the help of an X-acto knife.
Hi Randy, I’ve been following you for a while and really appreciate all the great experiential knowledge. I have a 2008 Bonneville Black that I picked up last summer and as I’ve done a few things I’ve referenced your blog for really great insight.
I’ve been considering the wheel upgrade as well, does your Buchanan’s wheel estimate include the wheel build and true or are you planning to do this yourself?
Thanks for following the site!
I am pretty sure the price includes the build of the wheel by Buchanan’s. I would receive completed, trued wheels.
If that changes, I’ll let you know.
Caught this update, just now. Those are some nice looking wheels! Looking forward to riding alongside them.
Hi there, I’ve just bought a set of Alaina’s for my 2006 Bonnie and need to paint my sprocket carrier too, do you know if they are year specific as there is one from a 2011 on eBay. Thanks for the help with all your very detailed builds.
Sorry, I am not familiar with what Alaina’s are.
I checked eBay for a 2011 sprocket carrier and found this: http://www.ebay.com/itm/11-Triumph-Bonneville-America-Sprocket-w-Carrier-42-Teeth-2011-Rear-Wheel-Chain-/271207751413?pt=Motorcycles_Parts_Accessories&hash=item3f253ddef5&vxp=mtr
However, this is for a Triumph America which I do not believe has the same hub/sprocket setup as a Bonneville… so I would not go for this one.
Let me know if you are looking at something different.
Sorry it was supposed to say alpinas! I called triumph to find out and they said they were the same fittment. Thanks anyway. I’m in the uk btw so it’s on eBay uk. Thanks again.
Glad you got it sorted out! I’ve read about and visited the Alpina website and tubeless wheel system, but never actually seen them. Let me know how it turns out!
Great site. Curious how well the Plasti Dip has held up? I’m wanting to upgrade my chome wheels to black and some people have suggested I Plasti Dip them myself. Any thoughts?
Thanks for the question and comments. I would say that PlastiDip has not held up as well as I had hoped. However, the reason may be that I did not coat my pieces properly. It seems to work much better if it is applied very heavy. And by heavy I mean much more than you would expect compared to say spray paint. It also takes a long time to really cure… I’d say at least a month. Also, since it is rubbery, it is had to get a really clean edge. If you mask off an area, then peel away the tape, the edge tends to have little pieces hanging that make it look rough. So, my advice would be to try it on a piece that you can leave alone for a month after coating it really heavy… then test it. Otherwise, the safer bet is paint or powder-coating… especially for a hub. Also, you might consider an alternate product by Eastwood. They seem to have the automotive coatings thing really well covered, with lots of online helpful videos and resources. http://www.eastwood.com/paints/elastiwrap-coatings/aerosols.html
Hey are you happy with this wheel setup? I am shopping for my thruxton now and wanted to know if you had it to do over would you go with the same setup?
I am generally happy with this setup, yes. However, if I had to do it all over I would go with an 18″ rear wheel/tire instead of the 17″ stock size. On a Thruxton this would produce an 18″ front and rear, and on a Bonneville a 19″ front, and 18″ rear. If I ever make a change, that is what I will do.
Curious on why 18 inch rear ?
Forder, it is generally accepted that one of the best handling Triumph Bonneville’s ever made was the late 60’s early 70’s models that featured 19″ front and 18″ rear wheels sizes. I have a friend who made this modification on his 2001 custom Bonneville and it looks fantastic and handles very, very well.
I’ve been following your site for a while, thanks for the great content. I’ve got a 2012 T100 and want to go with the same hub and wheel setup you’ve got. I’m keen to do everything DIY, as I like the learning, however, most wheel builders won’t tell me what the model numbers of the Talon hubs are that are compatible. They’re obviously keen to discourage DIY types so that we pay for their services. I was hoping you could let me know the model numbers from yours so I can get the parts and build mine separately.
Thanks for your help and keep up the good content.
I sent you a direct reply via email – thanks!
Would you also be able to send me the parts numbers for the talon hubs?
I’m very interested in doing a 18” or 19” rear wheel swap on my 2011 T100