1998 Triumph Thunderbird custom

Triumph Thunderbird
Triumph has used the Thunderbird moniker for four completely different motorcycles since WWII. The first appeared in 1949—predating Ford’s use of the name—and became famous as the bike Brando rode in The Wild Ones. Then came the short-lived TR65 from the early 80s, a machine that died when the Meridian factory closed. The bike you’re looking at is the third incarnation. It’s one of the earlier Hinckley Triumphs—and therefore over-engineered and overweight, but also under-stressed and reliable. MCN was smitten with the engine in particular: “Wound open, it sounds like a squadron of Lancasters.” This particular Thunderbird is a 1998 model from France, with customized bars, front fender, Akront wheels and a solo seat, and a custom paintjob. It’s also fitted with Rizoma mirrors and an exhaust from the French Triumph custom shop Mecatwin. Small mods, but just enough to strip the bloat from the standard bike and turn it into a beauty. [Photo by the Southsiders‘ Vincent Prat, co-designer of the Chanel motorcycle.]

  • My daily rider is a Legend TT. I will own one of these bikes until the day I die.

  • You have to admit it, the French do ‘Street Cool’ very well.
    I snapped a very similar Triumph when in France last Summer.
    This one has a tidier rear end, but I like the high sided rear tyre in the linked pic, rather than the out and out sports rubber on this one.

  • A bike I hadn’t really considered, but looks great in that trim! On my wants list, _another_ bloody bike thanks to Bike Exif.

  • It’s not a custom paint job (well, perhaps the seat cowl) I have the same bike.

  • hey Martin

    “You have to admit, the French do…” this or that…..

    What is it with this generalized outlook towards the French? They’ve been building worldclass motorcycles for decades and their way of life is quite nice (politics not part of this comment one way or another).

    It never made production, but the narrow-angled longitudinal crank v4 French-made “Dollar V4” from the 30s is one of the coolest bikes of all time.

    …and no I’m not French

  • I promise not to take a generalised outlook towards anything again! :)

  • Love the Thunderbird, I just with Norton would stop screwing around and produce something like this at a reasonable price, the demand would be phenomenal.