Triumph custom: the Falcon Kestrel

Triumph custom: the Falcon Kestrel
Anticipation is building fast around the new custom motorcycle from L.A.-based Falcon. The Kestrel is the long-awaited follow-up to the 2008 Bullet, which was the surprise hit of the Legend of the Motorcycle show and effectively launched the Falcon brand.

This new machine is the second in Falcon’s “Concept 10” series—a carefully planned run of re-engineered bikes, all with iconic British engines. The Kestrel will be unveiled at the Quail Motorcycle Gathering this weekend in Carmel, but the image above gives you an exclusive close-up peek at the detailing—showing the level of craftsmanship that Falcon builder Ian Barry (below, left) is famous for.

Ian Barry of Falcon Motorcycles

Over 2,000 hours of artful machining, stretching, hammering, rolling and hand-carving have gone into the Kestrel, Barry’s final bow to a decade of building custom Triumph twins. The core of the engine is from a 1970 ‘unit’ Triumph Bonneville; the gearbox was damaged, so Barry cut it off. The engine was then carefully reshaped with new contours. Barry made a jig for the engine case, allowing him to mount and aluminium-weld together the various pieces of his new design. Cylinder machining was carried out in-house, using a 5-axis CNC machine and 7000-series aircraft grade aluminum. Round fins at the bottom are tapered to match the original Triumph diamond-shaped heads.

Apart from ten inches of the original headstock and downtube, the frame is new. The girder forks are also custom-made—apart from a few of the original castings—and matched to a heavily modified and reshaped Triumph hub.

Triumph custom: Falcon Kestrel

Falcon has hired some highly skilled people to work alongside Barry, including renowned industry names such as Scott Jones, Troy Morris, and Dan Kanzler. Kanzler is in charge of translating Barry’s designs into CNC machine code, so Falcon will soon be making small runs of high quality custom parts for British bikes—such as a version of the cylinders created for the Kestrel. “Ian does all of the design himself,” says Falcon co-founder Amaryllis Knight. “He sketches drawings with precise measurements, and the guys are able to implement his ideas to an exacting and high degree. Ian does all of the final shaping, finishing and polishing on every piece.”

The Kestrel’s aluminum oil tank was shaped with a wood mold, mirroring the curve of the back wheel. The gas tank (below) was made from several sheets of metal, but a four-inch round circle was ‘saved’ from the badly rusted original Triumph tank—it’s incorporated into the new design, allowing the soul of the original tank to keep going.

Falcon Kestrel custom Triumph tank

According to Knight, “The follow-up to the Bullet has been a long time coming. After Legends we lost our shop, and focused on what our dream bikes would be. Ian spent about a year sketching and we moved into our new space, a welding factory in downtown LA that we converted into the new Falcon HQ.”

The third in the Falcon Concept 10 series will be called the Black Falcon. It’s already under construction, and features a 1951 Vincent Black Shadow engine drenched in California racing history. Next in line will be a 1967 Velocette Thruxton, built around one of only seven ‘Squish Head’ engines made by Veloce—an engine that led from start to finish in the 60th anniversary Diamond Jubilee Isle of Man Production TT race. After that will come Falcon versions of a 1936 Ariel Square Four with overhead cams, a BSA, a Rudge, a Norton, and a Brough Superior. It’s a roll-call of the most iconic British iron, and the perfect raw material for Ian Barry’s unique vision. Bring it on.

Triumph custom: Falcon Kestrel

  • WRXr

    For once a custom that is not another V-Twin chopper or Featherbed Cafe bike. Can’t wait to see the real thing.

  • http://electrovelocity.com/ Benjamin

    Love these bikes, the craftsmanship is outstanding.

  • fred

    The craftsmanship is amazing! I liked the style of the Bullit better, this one has these little steampunk-ish details that I don’t like too much. The color is awesome though!

  • Jefferson

    Falcon has been aroung for 3 years and completed 1 bike. An awesome bike for sure, but how is this even considered a company, much less a significant brand? Am I missing something?

  • pdub

    ^ what he said.

  • Swagger

    I’d imagine, like everyone else out there that’s actually building something….he(they) have to supplement with other forms of income. However looking at the level of craftsmanship that went into the other bike and that’s present in these photos, there’s no reason to think that that a bike every couple years is particularly bad.
    You want quick turns? I bet OCC can whip you up something in a couple weeks…

  • Maruice Poonwhiddle

    2nd what Swagger said.
    Waiting to see what they do with their 10 bikes plus the teaser descriptions on their site is part of the fun.

  • Jimmy James

    I’m not sure that the fact they’ve only made 2 bikes in 2 years (Jefferson – their first bike was 2008 and their second is in 2010 – that’s not 1 bike in 3 years) means they’re not a real brand. Quality takes time. Frequency of output does not equal value of brand – actually its usually the opposite. You can go get a Deus bolt-on and have it done in a couple days if that validates you. Or you can wait for a craftsman to put out a bike every couple years, and enjoy the results.

    Terrence Malick takes 10 years between movies, does that mean they’re not as good as Michael Bay just because he puts out a movie every 2 years?

  • Jefferson

    It is too bad that people took the fact that I called their first build awesome as an insult to their craftsmanship. I really love their bikes.

    However, judging from their website and coverage of their builds they have been around since 2007 (assuming that the Bullet did not just pop out of thin air), employ 5/6 people and rent a considerable industrial space in Los Angeles, and are constantly collecting rare and expensive parts and materials. If they are completing and selling 1 bike every 20 months, even if the bikes cost into 7 figures, how do they keep the doors open?

    If you do not know the answer to that question please do not respond in misdirected anger toward me and just think about it.

  • http://www.lostinasupermarket.com Jimmy James

    Hey Jefferson – no problem, I can somewhat answer your question. First off, the Bullet was completed in a tiny windowless shop in Silverlake that was cheaper than a 1 BR apt, without any employees (some friends donated time, but this was just during final phases). Otherwise it was completely built by Ian. The Kestrel was built in their new facilities which are the larger area you’re talking about. That spot took quite awhile to set up — they made a lot of their own machines (an industrial mixer was made into an English wheel, for instance) and renovated old ones they bought for cheap – again, this takes time as they didn’t have a lot of funds to set up. I do not know their exact financial situation other than I assume they’re functioning like any other start up — with massive loans to finance what they hope is a viable venture.

    I know there were many lean years there for Barry, including a couple years (well documented by this point) that he lived in his friend’s backyard in a tent, building bikes and selling them on eBay. His slow climb out of financial destitution has been years long, and now he’s hopefully getting to the point where he doesn’t have to eat ramen any more. Hopefully the Kestrel allows him to sell a future bike for the price it deserves, because he’s earned working his way out of poverty. Hope that clears some vagueness up for you!

  • T

    To anyone out there who is the slightest bit critical of other peoples work (especially work of this caliber)…What have you built lately?

  • http://www.wingovations.com Old Fogey

    T’s comment above should be posted at the start of comments on every bike builders page!
    This would be a sad old world if we all liked the same thing, but we can all admire the talent, thought, commitment, effort and innovation that goes into producing any of these individual and unique bikes.