Desert sleds still have a place in modern motorcycling iconography. Originally an American phenomenon, today it’s the Triumph Scrambler from across the ditch that embodies the spirit most closely. And it doesn’t take much to give a modern Scrambler a touch of the desert sled vibe, as this 2012 Triumph from British Customs shows.
Desert sleds been around since the late 40s, and were originally based on street bikes from Indian and Harley. Fitted with trials tires, the bikes were still as heavy as sin—even after a thorough diet. The British 650cc twins came a little later, and pretty much ruled the desert until the 1970s.
In the early days, the mods were all trial and error—and mostly a reflection of the rider’s style. Not a lot of aftermarket parts were available for bolt on modification; most stuff was invented and built from scratch in garages.
The parts market is bigger these days, so it’s easier to build a bike like Sinuhe Xavier’s classy Scrambler. Xavier is an LA-based director and adventure junkie, and no stranger to the desert. Having grown up on dirt bikes, paved streets still feel strange to him.
“I bought the Scrambler thinking it was going to be a great dual-sport in the traditional sense,” he says. After he came to his senses and called British Customs, he ended up with a “really fun bike to ride anywhere.”
Jason at British Customs pulled out all the stops and started the build with traditional sleds as inspiration. The Monza gas cap, padded motocross bars, number plates and high fender were all part of a throwback to the sleds of the 50s.
The biggest deal, however, was a weight-loss program. A pair of lightweight Talon hubs with Excel rims were installed, and shod with Continental Twinduro TKC80 tires. Lightweight brake rotors from the Italian company Braking reduce the avoirdupois still further.
Performance gets a boost via an air box removal kit. Two high-flow K&N conical filters now handle intake duties, with spent gases exiting via a featherweight Arrow two-into-one exhaust system, which adds a throaty note to the sound.
The seat is a British Customs Slammer unit, shorter and slightly thinner than stock, but with a vintage profile, a gel insert and a classy tuck-and-roll vinyl finish.
There was only one way I could think of photographing this bike. Covered in dust and dirt. So we headed towards the Mojave Desert, and let the beast run wild in its element.
A fun bike to ride anywhere? Yes, indeed.