ROZZY RIDES.... DAD BIKES : Her dad’s Triumph 1969 Triumph Trophy T25

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Ask a lot of people who ride bikes and usually their first touch point with motorcycles started out with their good ol’ dad. The smell of an oil and petrol filled garage often brings back memories of dads tinkering, restoring (and probably often, breaking) motorcycles. That’s definitely true for Roz, who grew up with a Brit bike obsessed pops who hoped that one day she’d get the old brit bike bug. Luckily for her dad, Roz did get the bug and she has been breathing in petrol ever since.

After almost 2 decades of riding, Roz has decided that it is about time to move her amateur career forward from not only a rider of bikes, but also a reviewer of bikes. But because she's a nobody and VC is not a famous motorcycle review blog, we decided to shun fancy brand new bikes for her to review. So she's pulling out any old motorbike from her dad's garage (mostly old British bangers) and talking us through those instead. She will look at what makes these the best (and also sometimes the worst) kind of bike to own, alongside using extremely strict rating criteria, such as coolness factor, quirkyness factor and likelihood of breaking down and needing rescuing factor, amongst many others! Be prepared to be overwhelmed, underwhelmed and possibly just whelmed. These are mostly British bikes after all!

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1969 TRIUMPH TROPHY T25

Purchased in Whaley Bridge (wherever that is) in about 2007/8, for £1800.

This is a really nice little bike which I rode quite a bit when I first passed my test. Dad had a couple of years when he went completely mad for 250 singles; acquiring this, plus two or three BSA B25s in very quick succession. This was probably the best of the bunch, and was a good runner (and looker) when dad first got it but I wasn’t super keen because it lacked indicators, mirrors, and was a bit high for me (all very important things at the time). 

I suspect dad’s craze for 250s was partly due to my passing my test and dad wanting me to have something to ride (and to indoctrinate me by providing only British bikes to ride). He also had a 1968 BSA Starfire (sadly recently sold) which was quite rough and ready, and I rode that much more than the Triumph - it was a bit lower and I wasn’t so worried about dropping it. I pootled about on it quite a bit, even triumphantly managing the 17 miles all the way to work once; however, it stubbornly refused the return journey and I ended up needing dad to come and rescue me. I think this might have been a pivotal moment in my relationship with old British bikes…

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Needless to say, after filling the garage with little bikes, and starting a number of grand projects involving putting bigger engines into smaller frames (some of which even moved beyond dad’s protracted ‘theoretical’ phase), he got bored and they were all mothballed in a barn up the hill. I suspect this might have had something to do with my leaving to go to university, but up in the barn they all remained until 2018, when I gently suggested that we reacquaint ourselves with what he had hidden up there.  

It looked a bit of a mess when we got it out, which was sad because it really was in quite good condition 10 years ago. However, dad had the wherewithal to at least put it in the barn instead of abandon it outside: this particular fate he reserved for the Honda CB250RS and BMW R65, which I can only assume was because he considers anything Japanese or German able to withstand all the elements at all times (actually not the case, and they both had water in the carbs and engine to prove it).

We brought it out and I gave it a good clean. 8 years or so standing hadn’t been super kind to it - it had lost all of its oil and petrol left in the tank had done something weird to the cap and completely knackered the petrol taps - but I washed it and got to work with some autosol and it looked really quite attractive after a polish. Dad was obviously quite excited and within a week or so had ordered new bits and bobs and actually got it running. It does seem to now be operating with a total loss lubrication system, which is slightly problematic. Dad can’t quite figure out where the oil leak is, so I wouldn’t recommend going on a long ride on it in its current state, or leaving it anywhere and trying to ride home because you won’t have any oil to ride home with. 

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If you do a bit of research into T25s you’ll see that the bike itself isn’t really stock, but it did have the stock 19 inch front wheel and ugly cowhorn bars when dad bought it. The larger front wheel is one of the reasons I couldn’t get both feet down comfortably, but dad changed this to an 18 inch at some point, and switched out the handlebars to flatter clubman style bars so it looks cooler and is easier for short people like me to get their legs down. I wish he had done this when I was first riding it! It’s nice and light, which always gives me confidence when riding around, and it handles well because of its short wheelbase.

One of the good things about these little bikes is that Triumph made absolutely shitloads of them, so if you are looking to get into old bikes, you can easily find parts. The same goes for a BSA B25, which is a very similar bike (later T25s are actually B25s with a Triumph badge), lots of bits are interchangeable, and it’s easy to personalise the bike to fit your own specs - for example, changing the bars, wheels, shocks, exhaust, mudguards. You can fit a 500cc BSA or Triumph engine into a T25/B25 frame (dad has one, an early Triumph 500 in a 1969 B25 frame), which dad informs me is because then you can combine the increased power of the larger engine with the superior handling of the smaller wheelbase frame of the T25. Prices for 250s have definitely increased in the intervening years, but you can probably still pick up a project for less than £1500, and even a runner for about £2K (check out this B25 sold in the April 19 Stafford auction, and this T25 sold in October). 

1:Total Loss Lubrication system - you fill it with correct amount of oil, go for a nice ride, put the bike away and then the next day all your brand new fresh oil has exited the engine, and is now all over the floor. Most British bikes seem be be affected by this to a small extent, but this T25 has a particularly acute case.


IMPORTANT SCIENTIFIC STATS COMPILED BY ROZZY:

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COOL FACTOR: 7/10. Moderate to very cool in my opinion - dad put better bars on it, and the high exhaust isn’t stock, which gives it even more of a street scrambler vibe. I’m a big fan of fork rubbers, and street scramblers in general, and prefer the fact that this T25 has chrome mudguards (stock ones matched the tank). It loses points because it’s a bit too small for my personal liking, BUT, it’s got nice late 60s/early 70s vibes. I should also note that dad hasn’t managed to put a horrendous carrier on the back (a terrible fate inflicted on most of his bikes) so that is a major plus. Though I haven’t ridden in London, I have ridden it in the local ‘urban areas’ and it’s light and nifty, and pretty easy to kick start if you stall at the lights. Plus, the exhaust isn’t obnoxiously loud, just loud enough to hear you coming. 

HANDLING: 8/10. These bikes were known for handling well, and this bike does its job. If you were going to ride it a lot, I would put some new tyres on it. Dad seems to pride himself on having ‘original’ tyres on lots of his bikes (sometimes 50 years old) - the general consesus is that this is not safe AT ALL. 

LIKELIHOOD OF BEING KNICKED IN LONDON: 6/10. These little bikes aren’t worth a lot, so hopefully that would put people off stealing it. It’s a 1969, so no problems with the ULEZ, but it does look nice so make sure you lock it up to something (remember it’s light so you can easily pick it up, and there’s no bells and whistles like a handlebar lock). And being British, everything rusts in a heartbeat, so owning a dry garage is advised. 

LIKELIHOOD OF NEEDING DAD TO COME RESCUE ME: 7/10 - post sojourn in the barn, it’s developed some ‘quirks’: namely, inability to maintain oil level. 

KEY TOOLS FOR A SUCCESSFUL RIDE:None really, just don’t go too far because all your oil is slowly draining out of the engine while you’re riding, spraying all over your lovely boots and leaving an oil slick in your wake. 

VIBRATIONS WHILST RIDING FACTOR: Low - it’s quite a small engine, and I think dad has put some extra rubbers on the bars because it’s not bad at all. 

IDIOSYNCRASIES: The front brake will kill you. Use with caution. Easy to lock the front wheel. When I ride dad’s old bikes I try and get a feel for the brakes on a quiet road before I venture out into proper traffic, but this is the only bike with anything approaching a decent brake. 

RESTORATION LEVEL: 7/10. It was quite a good restoration when it was first bought, but it’s suffered in the intervening years - however, this has mainly affected the bike’s function, and not its looks. It has got a good level of patina, and it looks like it’s ridden.

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Factory stats (yawn), some of which don’t really apply to this bike anymore

Rear Wheel: 18 inch

Front Tyre: 3.25-19

Rear Tyre: 4.00-18

Dimensions

Fuel Tank: 13.5litres (3galUK - 3.56galUS)

Length: 2,108 mm (82.9in)

Width: 711 mm (27.99in)

Seat Height: 813 mm (32in)

Wheelbase: 1,346 mm (52.99in)

Dry Weight: 145kg 

Fuel Tank: 9litres (2galUK - 2.37galUS)



Engine/Transmission

Configuration: Single OHV

Capacity: 247cc (15.1cu in)

Bore/Stroke: 67mm / 70mm (2.64in / 2.76in)

Compression: 10 : 1

Gears: 4

Performance

Max. Power: 22.3PS (22bhp - 16.4kW) @ 8000rpm

Chassis

Front Wheel: 19 inch






VC TAKEOVER @ HOUSE OF VANS , LONDON

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Build it and they will come….

So that was it! Our VC TAKEOVER House of Vans, London was an enormous success with a ton of people of all ages coming down to see everything from our amazing bike show to skating and getting involved with everything going on throughout the day.

An enormous THANK YOU to everyone who came down to talk bikes, skate, shoot some football, see the show, listen to the talks and get down with the event and of course a huge thanks to everyone that make an event like this come to life (both gals and guys ). From the team @houseofvansldn to all the awesome collectives, businesses, teams, individuals and creatives! You guys are incredible!

Photos: Sarah Emma Smith // @sarahemmasmith & Reece Leung // @reeceleung

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Sarah Emma Smith

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Reece Leung

Reece Leung

Reece Leung

Reece Leung

Reece Leung

Sarah Emma Smith

Sarah Emma Smith

 
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Sarah Emma Smith

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Reece Leung

Reece Leung

Reece Leung

Reece Leung

Reece Leung

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Sarah Emma Smith

Sarah Emma Smith

Sarah Emma Smith

The Whippets by Sarah Emma Smith

The Whippets by Sarah Emma Smith

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Reece Leung

Reece Leung

Reece Leung

Peggy Brown by Sarah Emma Smith

Peggy Brown by Sarah Emma Smith

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Reece Leung

Reece Leung

Reece Leung

Reece Leung

 
Reece Leung

Reece Leung

Sarah Emma Smith

Sarah Emma Smith

Reece Leung

Reece Leung

Sarah Emma Smith

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Sarah Emma Smith

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Upset Stomach by Sarah Emma Smith

Upset Stomach by Sarah Emma Smith

 
Peach Club by Sarah Emma Smith

Peach Club by Sarah Emma Smith

Peach club by Sarah Emma Smith

Peach club by Sarah Emma Smith

BASIC BIKE MAINTENANCE - WTF?

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So you’ve got yourself on the road & bought your first set of wheels. Good on you!

So what now?

I found that I learned alot about my bike & how to begin to look after it when I was practicing for my theory test as alot of this info is included in there, but before that on just a CBT it took me a while to learn the basics about my bike & how to maintain it. With the help of a few tips & hacks from workshop buddies I started to know my way around my bike & this has helped me out of many a sticky breakdown on road trips.  

Alot of people have been asking us about basic moto maintenance recently so we thought we'd do a quick run down of the basic stuff you can learn to keep to your wheels & before a ride out which you'll only need a basic set of tools & a bit of noggin to do! 

Its not the be all & end all in terms of moto maintenance but enough to get you started & hopefully get you on your way to not always having to rely on others to catch what might be a simple thing to sort yourself .... Enjoy!  

 

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FIRST UP........

Firstly, before anything else, get on over to HAYNES & grab a workshop manual for your model of bike. These things are worth their weight in gold as they have every setting, tips & breakdowns of different bits of your bike. even just a good read in general to get to know whats located where & what bit does what..... usually the manual will also list the tools you'll need to do the job. 

Number two: Good quality tools do what they say on the tin. They are totally worth the money to invest in (just a basic set at first & then you'll find you collect a few more along the way when you come across jobs where you need specific things. Halfords do a pretty good starter set thats pretty good quite for the cash.

Finally if you dont feel 100% confident dont be afraid to ask someone for help! Two heads are always better than one when problem solving, even when you're experienced with bikes. Ive learned everything I know so far (and by the way I'm no expert) from trying to solve stuff with other people around our shop or helping out mates with their bikes.

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TYRES

 

TOOLS: A good quality pressure gauge

I know its a no brainier but checking your tyre pressure is something that you should always remember to do. Its a pretty vital part of your bikes handling as under inflated tyres massively affect handling & braking. You can also overinflate them (this can result in a lack of grip when braking) so its worth getting a good quality pressure gauge to get it right. This is when your manual comes in handy as it'll tell you correct pressure for your bike & in which circumstance e.g. you may need more pressure if you're regularly carrying a passenger or heavy stuff. Try to check it once a week & also before any long trips. It's also worth checking the condition and tread depth of the tyres while you're at it.

TIP: Always check your pressures when they're cold!

 

IMAGE BY HEIDI ZUMBRUN

IMAGE BY HEIDI ZUMBRUN

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CHAIN

 

TOOLS: A torque wrench

Incorrect chain tension can result in sprocket and gearbox wear, unsmooth gearshifts, snatchy transmission, hamper your bike's rear suspension travel and reduce the life of your bike's chain so its pretty important to check this regularly.

Check your manual for how to adjust your bike's chain to the correct tension. Remember to set the tension with some load on the bike (something heavy or with someone on it) as the chain will tighten up once a you have a passenger on board.  Your manual will also tell you the correct torque settings for each bolt - how much force to use when retightening each bolt. This is when you'll need your torque wrench to do this properly. 

TIP: Its a good idea to also lubricate the chain while you're at it, as this will help it last longer! Its also a good time to check the condition of your back sprocket for teeth missing or wear & tear. These can be easily replaced & you can find replacement parts pretty easily at places like WEMOTO

IMAGE BY DAMIAN PAJAK

IMAGE BY DAMIAN PAJAK



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BATTERY

 

TOOLS/ SUPPLIES:  Manual & battery acid (if needed)

If a battery is allowed to run dry or drop into a deep state of discharge then usually it kills it, so you should try check it out regularly to see what state its in.

Ideally, remove the battery from its holder before carrying out any work. Remember,  batteries contain strong acid, which can be harmful if it comes into contact with your skin so wear gloves & watch out where you get it.

Check the acid level in your battery by placing it on a level surface. If the level's low then top up with de-ionised water before placing the battery on charge, using a car or motorcycle charger. Remember not to overfill, as acid will drain out the overflow pipe when you're on the move. Many moden batteries are sealed, so you won't be able to top them up, meaning you'll have to buy a new one. Again WEMOTO is a great site to grab one from or if you're going custom a fancy lithium racing battery can take up half the space & fit nicely under the seat but you'll need to fabricate a new holder or battery box for this probably. 

TIP: Greasing your bike's battery terminals before placing the battery back in the bike will help avoid corrosion build up. Just remember not to touch both terminals at the same time or else ZAP!

IMAGE: HEIDI ZUMBRUN

IMAGE: HEIDI ZUMBRUN



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COOLANT

 

Checking you coolant only takes a few minutes to do but again its a pretty vital bit of maintenance. Not all bikes are liquid cooled. Some are also air-cooled (see here for a good guide on the differences)

First of all check out your manual to locate your bike's 'expansion' tank (if it has one); high and low levels should be marked on the outside of the translucent tank. Alternatively, remove the radiator filler cap to check the level. Only do this when the water is cold. And while your at it, think about changing the coolant altogether. Another easy job that takes about 30 minutes. Here's how it's done:

- When the radiator's stone cold, remove the cap the bottom rubber hose, allowing the old coolant to drain into a bucket. You may need to undo a drain plug situated near the water pump to extract all the liquid. Check your owner's manual for how to do it.

- Once the system's drained, reattach the bottom hose and replace the drain plug before making up a new batch of coolant using a 50/50 mix of anti-freeze and de-ionised water.

- Fill to the correct level ensuring no air is trapped in the system. This can be alleviated by squeezing the radiator hoses to expel unwanted air. Check the level again after your first test ride.

IMAGE: BROTHER MOTO

IMAGE: BROTHER MOTO



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OIL

 

Changing your bikes oil is all part & parcel of keeping it in good knick. Some bikes need it changing more often than others (dirt bikes need oil changes every few hours of riding time where as road bikes need it alot less) all you need are the right tools, decent oil and the correct filter.

Check your workshop manual for a detailed explanation of how to do this very specifically on your bike. Also consider asking a mate to oversee progress from start to finish.

TIP: Always check your oil levels when the engine is warmed. Go for a quick spin then let the bike sit for about 15mins before checking. Also, always make sure your bike is upright (on the centre stand if you have one, or held up by someone else) to make sure you're reading the levels right.

If you're a bit low & need a change or top up: Get engine warmed through, remove the bike's oil filler cap, place a tray under the bike and remove the sump plug. Make sure you're 100 sure you're removing the right bolt; it should be the biggest one on the sump, usually on the bottom or on the side.

- Once the oil's drained, remove the filter, either by hand or using a filter removal wrench. 

- Replace the sump plug, tighten to the correct torque setting as recommended in the owner's manual before spinning on a new filter. Smear the rubber filter gasket in clean oil before tightening by hand. Nip it up half a turn with the filter wrench. 

- Refill the engine with the correct amount of new oil. Start the bike up, check for leaks, stop the engine Give it five minutes for the oil to drain back into the sump before checking the level again. Add oil if necessary.

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SPARK PLUGS

 

TOOLS:  Socket wrench with a spark plug extension

Unlike some of the other jobs changing your bike's spark plugs isn't a job that usually needs doing regularly but its a good check to do to avoid any breakdowns ( especially if you have a 50 year old shitty triumph chop like me) as a result of blackened or dirty plugs, making it difficult to start the bike. You can consult your manual for how often in should be done.

On most small or old bikes checking or changing the spark plugs should take you only a few minutes. Firstly make sure you have the correct plugs for your bike; the code number on each one will differ from manufacturer to manufacturer. Check the owner's manual for the correct gap; you'll need feeler gauges to set it correctly.

TIP: Remove the plugs one at a time to avoid mixing up the HT leads & try not to over tighten them! Best way to do this is to screw them in by hand and nip them up a quarter-turn with a plug wrench to finish up.

IMAGE: DAMIAN PAJAK

IMAGE: DAMIAN PAJAK


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BRAKES.... PADS OR DRUMS

 

TOOLS: Good spanners, sockets or Allen keys of the correct size to fit the caliper retaining bolts; some brake cleaner spray; a rag or old toothbrush; a large flat-headed screwdriver, copper grease, a torque wrench, a pair of pliers and brake fluid (of the right grade).

Firstly, does your bike have drum brakes (common on older bikes) or disc brakes??  Click here for a good guide to the difference between drum brakes & disc brakes.

 If you're bike has disc brakes a good way to check them is: 

  • Start by checking the brake pedal and hand control brake.  You want to make sure they’re firm and not soft or spongy.

  • Visually inspect both the front and rear brakes looking for wear on your brake pads.

  • Make sure there is at least 3mm of pad left.  If the pads wear down less than this, you’ll get metal-on-metal grinding between the brake and the rotor. 

Checking & replacing your bike's brake pads sounds fairly intensive but is actually a pretty straightforward job although first time I'd ask someone experienced to give you a hand.

There are so many great video guides on you tube for this that its kind of pointless for me to put it into words but basically you'll need to remove the caliper from the fork leg, take out the retaining clips, followed by then pins and springs. The pads should then come out with ease. 

TIP: Use an aerosol brake cleaner to smarten up the job when you're finished and remove any unwanted grease as this is very dangerous around disc brakes.

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Don’t know where to find replacement parts for your bikes

Here are some good UK based websites for stock replacement bits for a wide range of bikes :

 

WEMOTO

MOTORCYCLE PRODUCTS

M & P

PATTERN PARTS

HAPPY WRENCHING PEOPLE!