Speed Read, 28 March 2021

The latest motorcycle news and customs
The next phase of Triumph’s electric motorcycle project broke cover this week. Plus we look at a tasty Yamaha RD400 restomod, and original condition BSA Gold Star flat tracker, and a classy R18 from the BMW experts VTR Customs.

Triumph TE-1 electric motorcycle prototype
Triumph’s Electric Motorcycle Triumph’s been very covert about their electric motorcycle program, ‘Project TE-1.’ They announced the project two years ago, with help from a few outside partners and a dollop of government funding.

Then they went quiet… until earlier this week, when they announced that phase two of the four-phase project had just wrapped. It includes two big reveals: the battery and drivetrain prototype, and concept sketches of the motorcycle they’re building. And the fact that it basically looks like an electric Speed Triple has us giddy with excitement.

Triumph TE-1 electric motorcycle prototype
The keyword here is innovation, so everyone is going all-out. F1-assciated Williams Advanced Engineering is focusing on reducing battery mass, partially by integrating the control unit into the battery pack. Integral Powertrain Limited has worked on compacting the motor, and is claiming 130 kW (almost 180 hp) from a ten-kilo powerplant.

Triumph TE-1 electric motorcycle prototype
Triumph has said a lot about the tech, but not much about the final spec—which is to be expected this early on. What we do know is that the prototype frame has already been developed, along with most of the control systems and rider aids. So the Speed Triple-inspired design is probably close to what we’ll see in the flesh when the project wraps.

If you’re interested in the finer details, it’s worth heading over to Triumph’s website to read more.

Yamaha RD400 restomod Alan Phillips takes fanaticism to a whole new level. He’s owned multiple noteworthy two-strokes since the age of 19, and he’s the founder of Two Stroke Heaven—a Facebook page for two-stroke enthusiasts with over 30,000 followers. This 1987 Yamaha RD400 Daytona is his, and it’s one of the wildest restomods we’ve ever seen.

Alan’s goal here was to push the legendary RD400’s performance to the maximum, but still keep it recognizable as an RD. He had some pretty heavyweight help too: Lester Harris of Harris Performance, and Mark Dent of Performance Fabrications.

Like all good restomods, the RD400 looks stock from a distance—even if the yellow paint job it came with has been traded for a much more tasteful red. But up close, it’s a smorgasbord of real tasty upgrades.

The frame’s had the Harris touch applied to it, and is matched to a Harris swingarm, with Öhlins suspension at both ends. The wheels are carbon fiber units from BST, fitted with Pirelli Super Corsa tires and Brembo brakes. Custom bits are sprinkled all over, like the yokes, foot controls and brake caliper mounts.

On the engine side, the RD’s running twin 35 mm Keihin PWK carbs, a VForce 4 reed block system and pod filters. There’s also an Ignitech ignition, and a custom-made Performance Fabrications exhaust system. Alan’s run the numbers too: 78 hp, 60 Nm and 264 pounds [120 kg] dry. [More]

BSA Gold Star flat tracker
BSA Gold Star flat tracker If you’ve watched On Any Sunday, you’ll remember flat track racer Jim Rice’s scene. He famously crashed out of a race, broke his nose, bandaged it up, and raced his next heat. He also took this exact BSA Gold Star to victory, off camera, at the 1967 Sedalia Mile in Missouri.

With a 25-year production run and 11 Isle of Man TT wins to its name, the Gold Star was a big success for BSA. It was considered a high-performance production bike, and each model that left the factory did so with certified dyno results.

BSA Gold Star flat tracker
This particular Gold Star was modded for flat track racing. It’s been set up with no rear suspension or front brake, an oversized rear sprocket and a right-side exhaust. It’s also sporting wide, swept-back flat track handlebars, a solo seat, number boards, and no lighting, since it was built purely for track use.

BSA Gold Star flat tracker
But since its last race it’s been left alone—dust and all.

Mecum will be auctioning it off in April, along with a set of photographs to certify its authenticity. And we’d love nothing more than to see it bought, tuned up… and put back on the track. [More]

BMW R18 by VTR Customs
BMW R18 by VTR Customs Now that the bike’s hit dealership floors, BMW R18 customs are coming in hard and fast. This one comes from our friends at VTR Customs in Switzerland, and it’s another classy example of how just a few tweaks can transform the big boxer.

VTR’s transformation is a smart mix of bolt-on and custom parts. The wheels are 19F/18R billet aluminum items from the BMW aftermarket catalog, and the handlebars are off a BMW R1250GS. The brake and clutch controls are from Magura, and the LED turn signals and taillight combos are from Kellermann, with the rear units tucked in under the fender.

BMW R18 by VTR Customs
VTR designed their own solo saddle for the bike, with Yves Knobel handling the brown leather upholstery. It’s mounted on springs, with a blank-off plate to hide the bike’s inner workings below. Lower down are a pair of Hattech silencers, and a number plate holder from Berham Customs. The front fender’s been trimmed, and the bobbed rear fender is custom.

BMW R18 by VTR Customs
But the big trick here is the R18’s über-classy paint job. VTR took inspiration from the Australian TV show ‘Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries,’ which is set in the 1920s. The titular character drives a Bordeaux Red Hispano-Suiza—so VTR borrowed the color, with brushed metal knee inserts as a hat tip to classic Husqvarna enduros.

As an extra visual touch, some of the chrome bits were redone in a custom hue that sits between copper and titanium, and others in black. A handful of custom logos and badges sprinkled throughout the build add the finishing touches. [VTR Customs]

BMW R18 by VTR Customs