Younger builders often get criticized for trying out different ways of customizing bikes—whether it’s pushing the design envelope or making unconventional tire choices.
But we know firsthand that many of these guys have a keen appreciation for the old as well as the new. Young Guns’ Nik Heer is one of those young whippersnappers with a foot in the past, because pride of place in his garage near Lake Zürich is this extremely authentic 1971 Triumph Trackmaster.
It’s a piece of pure flat track gold. “It was originally built by Les Edwards of Cycle Imports in San Jose, CA,” Nik reveals, “but my uncle and I bought it from Big D Cycle in Texas.”
“It was raced by Dave Hansen, and also ridden by Jimmy Odom in the movie On Any Sunday. It’s still got the original nickel plating, paint and seat, but I don’t know what work was done while Dave had it.”
“I spotted the bike on eBay, and just knew that I wanted it. For me, it’s the most beautiful motorcycle on earth: Super smooth to ride, very agile, and powerful for its age,” says Nik.
“It also feels very light when you’re out on the track—and it’s great to keep up with XR-750s on an old Triumph!”
Young Guns Speed Shop is known for its fresh, eclectic style, but Nik has resisted the temptation to mess with the old Triumph. He’s already taken it racing—but is soon going to fit a new tank and seat, in the exact style of the originals.
Despite its advanced years, the tracker is in good order. “It was hard to tell from the pictures whether it was in good or bad shape,” says Nik. “But when it arrived in Switzerland, we were surprised by the condition of the bike. Aside from some small things, it really was ‘ready to race’.”
Nik immediately changed the oil and adjusted the valve clearances—before moving onto the more serious business of rebuilding the forks. After installing a new battery and giving the tank a protective internal coating, he was ready to hit the track.
Just eight days after it arrived, Nik took the Triumph to the Wheels & Waves ‘El Rollo’ race. And that’s where his days racing a Husqvarna 250CR paid off: Nik won the second heat in the Vintage class, and scored 7th overall—despite being up against converted motocrossers running in the DTX class.
That’s a pretty impressive result for the first time out on a bike that’s 45 years old. But this Triumph has been well looked after.
Back in 2009, Big D Cycle restored the engine for the AMA Vintage Days. The 649cc T120 engine has been boosted out to 750 with a kit, and breathes through Amal Mk II Concentric carbs. Bigger intakes have been welded into the head, and there’s a Barnett racing clutch to handle the extra power.
Ceriani GP forks keep the front end planted, and the solitary rear brake is a Brembo. All in keeping with the style of the era, of course.
There’s a steady stream of exotic machinery rolling through the Young Guns shop, but Nik only has eyes for his Triumph. “I use the bike as often as I can—it is my absolute dream machine, and I love it more than any of our other bikes.”
If you watch the European flat track scene, keep an eye out for the Trackmaster with a blue and gold tank. There aren’t many pedigree American race machines on the other side of the Atlantic, and this is one of the best.
Kudos to Nik for keeping it dirty—as it should be.