Triumph Thunderbird Sport custom

Uli Brée, the organizer of the huge Triumph Tridays event in Austria, dropped us a line with details of his personal bike. As you might expect, it’s impressive. Brée bought the bike in 2005 and then set about turning it into the ultimate custom Thunderbird Sport, which he calls the TBS-Tridays. Here’s how he did it, in his own words:

Uli Brée: All modifications and alterations are made by my friend and wonderful mechanic Julian Schneider. He has a small but very well equipped bike workshop in Mühlbach im Pinzgau, about 10 km north of Neukirchen (better known as “Newchurch”) where, since 2006, I organize the largest gathering of Triumphs in the world: the Tridays. So it is no surprise that this is the name I gave to my bike. Nor is it a surprise that, apart from a KTM, my garage contains nothing but Triumphs.

Julian Schneider and his colleague Valentin Rabanser turn my ideas into reality with great professionalism and a love of detail, and showing great generosity on how they count the hours they work on my projects. If they hadn’t, the Tridays would have been even more costly.

I wanted to create an elegant motorbike, stylish and eye-catching, but at the same time in compliance with the current standards. I like bikes built on traditional lines fitted with modern components. And I like black, red and white, especially when used together.

The result is the TBS-Tridays!

I changed the front fork and the rear shock absorber. The latter was replaced by a Wilbers shock that was adjusted specifically for me.

The Triumph office in Germany supplied me with an upside-down fork for a Tiger 1050. Julian Schneider black-anodized the part, like all the other components required (plates, spacers, etc.) and adapted them. He fitted cast-iron disks and related linkage made by the French company Beringer. From a purely aesthetic standpoint these parts match the style of the motorbike perfectly. The mudguard is identical to that of a Speed Triple 1050. I first thought that it didn’t fit in with the bike’s classic style but now I really like it. The semi-handles and front light in transparent plastic are made by LSL (the rear footrests too), and the grips are by Rizoma. The magnificent digital speedo is from Motogadged and can be switched on using the hazard lights switch. All the adapters, etc., have been made by Julian Schneider.

The brake calipers are by Brembo because I had planned to make a reproduction of Triumph’s red Thruxton exhibited at the EICMA in Milan. Brake calipers, PVM rims and Öhlins shocks had already been ordered when I (and my bank account) unexpectedly received a demand for supplementary taxes. For the moment I have frozen the idea and only fitted some of these costly parts on the Tridays. Where were we? Ah yes, the rims …

The PVM rims were produced especially for the Triumph Thruxton. It was a real job and took a long time to fit them on the Thunderbird Sport. The aluminum adaptors were milled down—thank you, Bruno Schneider. The brake caliper is original but the rear disk has been replaced. The rear wheel has been fitted with a 180 Bridgestone.

I know that there are a lot of people who don’t like the red cylinder cover. To me it used to mean that even the heart of the Tridays had been modified and that even the motor is not original. With technical help provided directly from the Triumph offices in Germany, Julian overhauled the motor. The idea was to do everything that was possible! The cylinders were bored out to 955 cc, Speed Triple pistons were fitted, and Speed Triple and Sprint camshafts too. An extra electronic control unit, open air filters, Supertrapp exhaust slip-ons and a Dynojet kit together help give 110 hp. I didn’t want to fit a flat-valve carburetor even if Julian was keen on the idea.

The bike has been mostly painted by Jürgen Buelacher in Tyrol to my design. Small details have been added like the Tridays logo and the bar code with my data. The Mecatwin tank cap has been black-anodized.

Julian has moved the ignition block into the cover on the left side where an ideal space was created by the use of open-air filters. This seemed a great idea. The tail had been modified at an early stage. The incredibly ugly rear mudguard was the first thing to go. Various parts were made black (anodized, chromed or black lined): adaptors, exhaust, tank cap, plates, footrests, etc.

Over the years I have invested about 20,000 euros (US$27,000) in the Thunderbird Sport—excluding the motorbike, which has remained the most inexpensive item in the whole project. Bear in mind that the number of hours worked was in fact much higher than that calculated, but it has all been worth it. I’d do it again, even if my bank manager doesn’t have the same opinion. But in fact that’s not the truth—he too rides a black Triumph Thunderbird Sport, wonderfully equipped and adapted by … but of course, Julian Schneider.

  • One of my favorite bikes of all time!

  • that bike is awesome..

  • Great job, bravo!!!

  • Emmet

    27,000 dollars. That seems a bit pricey, eh?

  • Given the amount of work and the components involved, I reckon it’s quite reasonable. Especially when compared to ‘factory’ customs from the likes of H-D.

  • I’m on the fence about buying a base model Triumph Bonneville and spending a few weeks modifying it, I fear this post may have pushed me over the edge. If my wife asks I will be blaming you. Fair warning.

  • That bike is awesome I love that look and after a little custom work that thing will be a classic

  • Guy

    I love what u did to your TBS.
    I ride a y2k TBS with the sport fairing and a small backrest w small travel trunk that i use mostly commuting and some day rides, when opportunity allows.
    I’ve replaced spoke rims with the lighter in weight cast wheels from the Speed 3Trophy. as well as the S3 handlebars and JCWhitney mufflers and K&N air filter in a drilled box
    I love the rear wheel so i can use wider rubber in the rear.
    I also put a 19 tooth front and for better highway cruising for better mileage at lower engine speed (more top end)..
    There isn’t anything like running up on some crotch rocketeers along a parkway while they’re in their racing profile and i come along in my sit up and beg position 1 handed at 90mph giving them the thumbs up with my white/ grey beard flopping in the breeze.

  • Guy

    Why did they make that new Thunderbird a 700 lbs Bruiser instead if a 500 lbs road runner.

  • Guy

    I’m glad I bought my TBS new–it was the 1st bike I bought new in 30 yrs of riding and I’ve ridden it since new in 2000.I love that bike. but after 10 years I needed a new bike. so please forgive me, I bought a V-Strom 1000, nice many more accessories available….but it’s no TBS.

  • David S

    I………….. LIKE IT!!!!!!!