Ever since my ’59 BSA, I’ve loved the café racer. Screaming across the Bay Bridge on the BSA was such a high! Café racers are nowhere near being comfortable but, DAMN!, they’re the coolest and most fun. Don’t get me wrong… I love my new 2014 Triumph Bonneville T100 but it is a bit stodgy. After the first couple hundred miles, like any motorhead, the mods started running through my head – “this bike needs to be modded!”
So, the first thing I decided to do (and the easiest and most coolest to begin with) was to swap out the handlebar. After a lot of asking The Google, I decided on the Dime City Cycle “Speed” Clubman handlebar. (the 2014 T100 requires 1″ bars, BTW.) Seesawing between finishes, I decided on chrome and ordered one which they promptly sent, well packed and well made.
In preparation, I watched, several times, Delboy’s video of he and Penny swapping out the Scrambler bar for a Renthal. Different products but basically the same procedure.
So let’s begin…
Overall, it was fairly simple and quick, 30 minutes top. Tools required were a Philips head screwdriver, and a 4mm and 6mm hex socket. Oh, and a lubed up flat head screwdriver, but more on that later.
The most difficult part was getting the end caps off of the stock Bonneville bar. (They use a 3mm hex, by the way. I used an allen key but in hindsight, I recommend using a socket wrench which will allow you to apply more torque in stabilized manner – the allen key was flexing much too much on me.)
Damn, they were in tight. I’m not sure if the dealer used Superman-Strength Loc-Tite or forced in an oversized bolt but it was a ridiculous struggle. I got the right side off with much sweat but the left side proved impossible. After stripping the hex hole in my most manliness effort, I tried using a screw extractor, vise grips, and even an impact hammer. I finally had to hacksaw off the end cap. Since I was replacing the bar, I wasn’t concerned with damage (in fact, I wanted to burn that !!!mutha f*cking!!! bar in Mordor at that point). As you can see in the below photo, the bolt is still holding tight. Breeeeeeaaathhh… It didn’t matter. I just needed to remove the end cap in order to remove the grip (I wanted to reuse the grips, so I didn’t want to slice it off). In retrospect, I found the end caps to be the biggest obstacle. Everything else was easy peasy.
Oh, a tip. Removing the left grip by brute force is, a, BITCH. It can’t be done. (Well… I couldn’t do it.) So… I dipped a flat head in furniture polish, inserted it between the bar and grip, and then swirled it around three or four times (360° revolutions). Then pulled the grip and it slid right off. Make sure, though, to wash out the grip afterwards so that you remove all the slipperyness. (Sorry that I don’t have a picture of this process.)
After that, remove the collars on both sides with a 4mm hex and a philips and let them hang down. (Make sure not to scratch the gas tank – laying a towel over it is highly recommended.)
Then, undo the clamps with a 6mm hex. From there, you can easily slide the throttle control off the bar. Again, let it hang. There are no parts that will spring out onto the floor.
(I apologize that I don’t have photos of these steps. I will do a better job of documenting all steps in all future mods.)
Grab your new bar and simply reverse the steps. Slightly tighten everything, do your final “feel-good” adjustments, and then torque everything down properly.
When I took the bar for a test ride, I stopped every few miles to make sure that the clamps weren’t loosening. (Tip: ALWAYS carry the necessary tools with you for adjustment on the road whenever you make a new mod. Carry them with you for several days until you are assured that the mod is proper.) Then I remembered a tip from Del (Delboy’s Garage). Take a Sharpie and mark the bolts. While riding, you can watch to see if the marks are moving. If they are, that alerts you to the fact that the bolts are loosening. Simple but ingenious.
Two new issues have arisen. The clutch and brake levers now crash into the indicators, and the ignition is a bitch to access. My plan is to offset the indicators and put the ignition on the down tube using a Joker relocator (yes, soon to come posts).
But DAMN!, this new bar looks COOL!!! In fact, while I was taking these photos at a stop along the Palisade Parkway in New Jersey, a middle aged German tourist began taking photos also. I asked her if she was a fan of Triumph and she replied that she was taking them for her nephew in France who was a big fan of Triumph bikes. ‘Merica – we’re not all Neanderthals!
This new bar makes the bike way more aggressive and way more responsive. It’s a totally different ride. Visually, the bike takes on a whole new personality. Before, it was looking a bit of a stodgy cruiser. Now it’s lean and mean and brings back memories of the old café days of the Triumph Bonneville. Unfortunately(???), I feel the shortcomings of the suspension much more readily. Oh well… new front and rear now also on the “wish list”. Let the “mods” begin!
3mm Hex Socket
4mm Hex Socket
8mm Hex Socket
Philips Head (Medium)
Flat Head + Furniture Polish
Possibly a Hacksaw, but Hopefully Not
Towel to Cover Tank