1953 Triumph Thunderbird

Triumph Thunderbird
The other day, a hefty and quite remarkable book arrived in the mail. It’s called Modern Motorcycle Mechanics, and it’s the seventh edition of a guide that first appeared in 1942. If you own a pre-70s bike, be it an Ariel or a BSA or a Norton, you need this manual on your shelf. It’s the sort of book that would make me feel confident about owning and maintaining a pre-unit Triumph, like this lightly customized machine from New York.

Triumph Thunderbird
The bike was built by Neil Fenton of the brilliantly named White Knights in The House of Color, a collective of builders who stage the Brooklyn Invitational bike show. “It’s a 1953 Triumph Thunderbird,” says Fenton, “with a stock hard tail and a rebuilt engine with a few later parts: Megacycle cams, a Morgo kit and so on. Fun stuff. It’s a bit oily, a bit dirty, and has no front brake—which sucks here in NYC.” Fenton made the gas tank and rear fender with a sheet of 20-gauge, and then added a custom seat, pipes, bars and kicker pedal. Aaron Frank did the paint and letters.

Triumph Thunderbird
“The bike came from Los Angeles as a frame, with a marginal gearbox and beat motor,” says Fenton. “Sat in my garage for six years, then finally I made this.” It’s a simple and uncomplicated machine, with an effortless style—beautifully captured in these images by photographer Cicero Deguzman Jr. There’s something about old Brit iron that goes well with Gotham, and I’d be happy to swing a leg over this one any weekend.

Triumph Thunderbird
Triumph Thunderbird