If you love yourself some flat track racing, you’ll probably recognize the number on this stunning Triumph. In the late sixties, ‘9’ belonged to legendary Triumph factory rider Gary Nixon.
But this bike isn’t Mr Nixon’s: he passed away in 2011. It belongs to Australian man Darren Bennett, who set out to build a street-legal flat tracker inspired by his racing hero.
‘Triumphant’ is the star of the latest issue of Tank Moto magazine, and the motif adorning the tank is apt: Darren had his work cut out on this project. His starting point was a Triumph chopper, built in the 70s with pick-n-mix parts and a crude hardtail setup.
Darren had had the bike for seven years, but now it was time for a makeover. The initial teardown was merciless, with everything chopper-related going into the bin. All that was left was the engine—a running ’64 Thunderbird mill—and the front part of the frame—a ’63 TR6P.
“The first problem I had was to fit a swingarm,” says Darren. That meant sourcing a suitable replacement (a modified Suzuki part), and finding somewhere to mount it. The previous builder had been a little too zealous in his hardtail conversion, grinding off the stock swingarm mounts. Darren responded by fabricating new engine mounting plates that could accommodate the swingarm shaft.
The rear is suspended by a pair of Hagon shocks, and there’s a set of classy Ceriani forks hooked up to a Kawasaki cast wheel. The rear wheel’s a solid Harley-Davidson Fat Boy item. Tires are a Dunlop K70 and a beefy 5.0 Avon Safety Mileage MKII (front and rear).
Up top, Darren got the bodywork just right. He started by fitting a Yamaha RD tank—modifying its tunnel to help it sit lower. And to make sure the lines were perfect, he opted to shape his own fiberglass tailpiece. It’s capped off with a studded, diamond-stitched seat.
But the real story here is the engine. The internals were mostly left stock, but the 650cc mill is now pumping out 30% more power. Darren added a classic Triumph flat track style ARD belt driven magneto, which replaces the stock timing cover and ignition system. And he installed a 38mm SU-style carb that feeds both cylinders. The exhaust headers were custom-made by Tuffy Mufflers in Camperdown.
The biggest power boost is thanks to a crazy idea Darren had during the build. “I decided to put a blower on it,” he says.
So on went a supercharger, liberated from an imported Subaru engine. It’s running at 6psi, which, combined with the stock internals, free flow exhaust and improved fuel delivery, should make it good for an estimated 80bhp.
“It pulls a lot harder than my 750cc bonnie. It’s heaps of fun and there’s loads of torque!”
Last on the list was Darren’s specialty: paint. Nicknamed ‘Von Daz’ (a cheeky reference to Von Dutch), Darren’s a sign writer and pin striper by trade. He shot the Triumph in a heavy candy flake red, laden with hand painted graphics and tank emblems. And, naturally, ‘9s’ on the number boards.
The ‘Triumphant’ won’t be racking up Grand National Championship titles like Gary Nixon’s Triumph did. But it has plenty enough power for tearing up Sydney’s streets.