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 Motogadget 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.