Bikes & Customs: Workshop

Henry Cole’s bobber bias

TV presenter hails Triumph bravery

Globe-trotting motorcycle rider Henry Cole had little hesitation when deciding on a format of bike for a limited edition run at his fledgling firm… it had to be a bobber.

“We wanted a definitive signature bike that epitomised the new company so it had to be quintessentially British and iconic and show off the finest hand-made craftsmanship,” said the 52-year-old independent programme maker behind some of the world’s best-known motorcycle TV shows.

The result, for his Gladstone Motorcycles venture formed in 2012, was always going to be a bobbed bike: “Aesthetically they’re difficult to improve upon in my opinion.”

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Henry Cole & The Gladstone Motorcycle No.1 Bobber

Each of the nine Gladstone No.1 builds takes six months and is delivered with a brass plaque on the oil tank to denote the production build number.

The bikes, powered by a classic T140 750cc Triumph engine and featuring a 5-speed Triumph gear box, are the result of a collaboration with frame designers Metisse and come with a price tag of more than £30,000. All have been sold and there is already a waiting list for the new SE model due out in 2017.

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Gladstone No.1 Bobber

But Cole remains fascinated by the new breed of more affordable modern classics bursting out of the Triumph stable: “I’m always very sceptical when manufacturers say they are at the forefront of a revolution, but in Triumph’s case they have a point.

“I went out to Los Angeles and rode a Red and Silver T120 and it was just spectacular. I couldn’t believe how quick the thing was. I spent most of my time in fifth gear and rarely got into sixth on the freeway, but it turned heads.”

If he was excited by the Modern Classics, the new Bobber has taken Cole’s respect for Triumph on to another level: “They are a brave company unafraid to take risks, and I love that.

When you have a base model like the Bonneville you’ve already got something that’s cool.

Henry Cole

“The Bobber, particularly when its got the high bars, is incredible especially when you consider it’s been made in the UK, its performance is up there and the styling is right.”

He added: “ When you have a base model like the Bonneville you’ve already got something that’s cool, and I think Triumph are also getting it right with the accessories and lifestyle blend. They have the same kind of blank canvas approach that we used for our bobber, and it works.”

But Cole is also drawn to the pared down minimalism and brutal power of the genre, and he’ll be putting that to the test at Dragstalgia in July.

Of course the cameras will be there to film him at the Santa Pod raceway in Northamptonshire, UK on this blown T100, methanol burning classic drag racer.

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T100 drag racer