April 25, 2018 Off By rebecca west

Over the summer of 2017, we got in touch with the U.K.’s award-winning Old Empire Trading Co. about an upcoming mod they were undertaking involving a new Triumph T120 and asked co-owners Alec Sharp and Rafe Pugh to share some of the details of the project with us when they were done. Not surprisingly, it took some time. These guys are busy — I mean seriously busy. 

Named one of the Top 5 Custom Motorcycle Builders in Britain for 2017, when they’re not working on one of their many projects, picking up scores of trophies or exhibiting at places like London’s Harrods and the Saatchi Gallery, they’re running a top-notch website where they also sell parts, gear and apparel. 

In addition to the word “brilliant” bandied about in connection to them, their work is often described as stunning, striking and masterful. But the best way to describe it is clean, smooth, sleek and sexy. Their builds are sophisticated and streamlined without any of the excess baggage that you often see with other builds. In other words, there’s not a lot of unnecessary crap hanging off of them.

Being kind enough to accommodate us after a long and hectic season, the guys who embrace the “Duo animum movent rotis” (Two wheels move the soul) philosophy were able to throw together something for us in the way of a little background info and a spec sheet for the 2017 T120 mod they recently completed after nearly three months’ work. So, settle in for a quick read and feast your eyes on one sweet ride that was worth the wait.

After being inundated with enquiries following the release of our T120 collab build with Triumph last year, we decided to build a more useable and more refined motorcycle based around the aesthetics we created for that build but tamed and integrated with creature comforts…like lights. 

A new T120 promptly arrived at our workshop doors and the standard process of stripping her down to her knickknacks began, but being careful and aware that the build brief was to keep mad modifications to a modicum. We achieved the ‘ line’ by dropping the front by a suitable mount and replacing the rear shocks with some uprated Fox examples. The back end was sliced and diced with a new hoop being made and machined in sections to fit in a Z flex strip with integrated rear brakes lights and indicators. A new aluminium seat pan was then hand formed and foamed to get a lower profile then covered in specially sourced brown leather and gold diamond stitched waterproof suede.

The tank was left unmolested, apart from de-badging and the removal of the kneepads, so it retains its plentiful capacity for fuel. The old exhaust system was duly binned, along with catalytic converter, and a new big bore mandrel bent stainless one was made up with internal baffling. 

The vacant space taken up, the new remote master cylinder bolted onto a custom made bracket, which sits under the sump. The reason of the new master cylinder is probably due to the most extreme part of the modifications, the bars and controls. 

We ditched the old bars and risers and replaced them with our own, running our Ultimate control sets with internal wiring to an M unit hidden under the seat and neatly wired up and spliced into the original loom. The throttle had been converted back to cable, which runs under the tank into the side panel where a neat little unit utilises the fly by wire operation to be actuated by the new cables. Two more micro buttons were needed mounted on the new aluminium radiator cowling/bash plate also for use on the instrument cluster navigation. The instruments themselves have been moved along with the ignition switch, the switch now on a bracket tucked in above the gearbox and the instruments sat on custom mountings fabricated into the new headlight. The new headlight uses integrated indictors and led main and dip beam then mounted on our own custom fork clamps. 

Our classic leather grips and pegs all round tied in with the leather on the seat and a good splash of Black Shuck gloss black with gold pinstripes set the whole thing off. The final few details of a side mount curved tin number plate, brass water filler cap and changing the rubber to something a little more aggressive, along with a set of handmade thick aluminium guards, completed things. All of that and a tune up using a new power commander in the system meant she runs sweet! 

We have gone to some length to make as many of the parts on this build available on our web shop Although each build we make is unique, after spending some years doing so we have realised people seem to like some of the small details we put on our builds, and we want to cater to that more and more. So, don’t worry. We’ve still got a heap of more extreme builds to chew through (thanks for your patience dear customers, you know who you are!) but we’ve learned we get as much of a kick out of one of our complete one offs as we do seeing some of our components on other people’s builds!