Helrich Customs Triumph Tiger

1970 Triumph Tiger restored by Helrich Custom Cycles.

In a sea of customized Triumph neo-classics, it’s refreshing to see a neat, vintage example emerge now and then. Especially when it’s been rebuilt by a shop whose signature look we’ve previously referred to as “retro streetfighter.”

This Triumph Tiger is the work of the Helrich Custom Cycles team of Dave Helrich and Jennifer Maa, and it’s an absolute gem. Most of the Tempe, Arizona duo’s clients to date have been from out-of-state or abroad, but the Tiger (and its owner) were locals. The initial meeting was nothing short of serendipitous: “We were going to an art show for metal sculptor Pete Deise,” explains Jenn, “and walked to the wrong door.”

1970 Triumph Tiger restored by Helrich Custom Cycles.
“Sitting in front of a koi pond in the entrance was a 1970 Triumph Tiger, in fairly stock condition, owned by the man putting on the show, Jon.” As it turns out, the Tiger hadn’t run in ten years. Originally a barn find from Colorado, it had gone through a minor rebuild and was ridden for a while—but niggles crept in and it was eventually benched.

Their new client was an experienced rider (“perhaps a bit of an ex-hooligan”) with strong design sensibilities. “Jon wanted a bike with a very strong visual appeal that would not make him feel like ‘an old man on an old bike’.”

After a little back and forth on what direction the project would take, they settled on a rebuild—with selective upgrades. “The end goal was something fairly simple, clean, and with modern electronics and a paint scheme to set it apart.”

1970 Triumph Tiger restored by Helrich Custom Cycles.
Realizing that the Tiger was still about 95% stock left Dave and Jenn enthused, and relieved that they weren’t chopping it up. So, for the sake of period-accuracy, they retained the original seat, lights, handlebars and gauges.

“This build was the first we’ve done that’s ‘colored within the lines’,” says Jenn, “it was very different to be able to order everything we needed out of a parts catalog, and put things back together according to vintage Triumph plans.” Over forty-five parts apparently went off for powder-coating—a new shop record.

1970 Triumph Tiger restored by Helrich Custom Cycles.
The motor received a full rebuild, including the addition of a Morgo oil pump and a Pazon electronic ignition. Helrich “un-Lucased the wiring” by ditching the old harness and making up a new one from scratch, allowing them to use a negative ground. Brand new Hagon shocks were installed, and every nut and bolt that could be was replaced with stainless steel items.

The immaculate paint job was done by Shawn Smith, a friend of Dave and Jenn’s. It’s a combination of Porsche GT silver, and a dark pewter matched to Ford’s generic pewter powder coat. While it might not be the livery that the Tiger wore in 1970, it’s the perfect finish for this ultra-crisp restoration.

1970 Triumph Tiger restored by Helrich Custom Cycles.
Jenn sums up their experience: “As our first local build in Phoenix, it was pretty good to have a client stop by and get excited by bike progress. Even better was the final delivery: after starting the bike up and beginning his motor break in instructions, Dave was pretty much elbowed aside and next thing we know Jon had disappeared down the block.”

“The smile as Jon pulled back around into the driveway was a great feeling. It makes us wish we could deliver all of our bikes in person.”

There’s a fine selection of Triumph bobbers and streetfighters on the Helrich Customs website—and Facebook page.

1970 Triumph Tiger restored by Helrich Custom Cycles.

Photos courtesy of Michael Luna Photography.