BRUTISH BRIT: Stefan Niceski’s Salt-Flat-Inspired 1954 Triumph Thunderbird

18 Jun

Stef Niceski's 1954 Triumph Thunderbird

BRUTISH BRIT

Stefan Niceski spent two year’s worth of Saturdays and a million beers building this ultra cool Salt flat-inspired Trumpy
Words and Pics by hoskingindustries.com.au

Stef Niceski's 1954 Triumph ThunderbirdOld British bikes have really made a resurgence in popularity over the last few years. With the popularity of Harley-derived bobbers and choppers showing no signs of abating – and the cost of parts and base bikes staying high as a result – it’s no wonder people are looking for alternatives when constructing cool rides.

When you see some of the awesome bikes we’ve been lucky enough to capture on camera in the last few issues, it’s no surprise people are going for the humble Brit machines. One such advocate is 35-year-old Sydneysider Stefan Niceski.

You may remember the Trumpy we featured last issue belonging to Stuart Torkington. The two guys are mates and we were lucky enough to shoot both on the same day in the wonderful environs of 1349 Venice: a cool function/event space in Waterloo. At the time of our shoot, Stef’s bike hadn’t even been started.

Formed from a 1954 Triumph Thunderbird frame, you can imagine that its beginnings were less than auspicious, as Stef explains. “I found the frame in an old man’s green house,” Stef says. “It was surrounded by growth, including some tomatoes.”

Incredibly, Stef found the engine in another shed and with both primary components in place; he devised his plan of attack. “I thought I d fuse the two into some type of ‘Triumph Frankenstein vintage drag/salt flat sled’,” he says.Stef Niceski's 1954 Triumph Thunderbird

We reckon he’s nailed that design objective in superb fashion, but it didn’t happen overnight or by using all the factory components. “The build took me two years of Saturdays and quite a few beers,” Stef says. “I reckon she looks alright.”

Taking the original frame as the basis for the build, Stefan fabricated a custom rigid rear half, extending the length of the bike and helping it to ride lower in the process. To this he added XR250 front forks and exaggerated the low stance by bolting the handlebars on down low.

Up top, a Harley Sportster tank provides enough capacity for extended cruising while retaining the bike’s minimalist aesthetic. When it came to finding an oil tank, Stef got clever and modified a nitrous oxide tank before chroming it. About the only other appendages you’ll find bolted to the brilliant metallic blue frame is the custom seat and diminutive rear guard/shroud that Stef was responsible for as well.

Stef Niceski's 1954 Triumph ThunderbirdPower comes from that barn-find Bonneville 750 we alluded to earlier. At first, the engine was mistaken for a 1975-vintage unit, which is how the bike came to wear ’75’ on the tank (it’s reversed on the side of the bike we shot it from). “It was meant to represent the ’70s engine and ’50s frame, but it turned out the engine was actually from 1982,” Stef says. “It looked cool, so I left it anyway.”

That ’82-vintage engine runs a few choice upgrades in the interests of making more power – not that it needs a whole lot of grunt thanks to its light weight. Twin AMAL carbs mix the air and fuel, using little more than twin ram tubes for an intake. A Joe Hunt ignition sets fire to the mix and a pair of 1.75in straight pipes make a huge racket, wrapped in gleaming new exhaust wrap for that purposeful race bike appearance.

With full rego due to be applied to the bike shortly after our shoot, one of its first big voyages was the 2012 Taren Point Rat Day, where crowds flocked to it and mate Stuart’s ‘Skinny’ golden beast. Successfully mixing up the vintage vibe, Stef’s ’75’ is a crowd pleaser and we’re not surprised.

Owner: Stef Niceski
Bike: 1954 Triumph Thunderbird
Builder: Owner
Bodywork: Custom hard tail, custom mounts, 1985 XR250 front end, Bates head light, clip on bars, Baxter grips, custom Triumph pegs, custom seat and rear shroud, Harley Davidson Sportster tank, modified nitrous bottle oil tank, modified turn signal tail light
Engine: 1982 T140 Bonneville 750, Joe Hunt ignition, AMAL MK11 carbs, straight stack intakes, 1.5in chain drive, custom 1.75in straight pipes
Gearbox: 5-speed, stock clutch
Wheels: Front – 21in XR250 front rim, Avon tyre – Rear – 16in Harley Davidson rim, Avon tyre
Brakes: Disc front, drum rear
Thank you: Sovereign Classics, Sydney Custom Spray Painting

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