Whether you’re Bobber or Scrambler, the craft and creativity of two Triumph teams took the breath away. Now, for the first time, some of the team members reveal the incredible lengths they took to make their Bonneville the best.
Q. Why did you volunteer?
A. Team Bobber, Mark: To have my ideas heard about all elements of the bike. We had an hour-long discussion about the thickness of a washer and whether it would be exposed. That was the level of obsession.
A. Team Scrambler, Ben: To be as creative as we could be. John: I wanted to show colleagues I could do other jobs as well as working with dealers asking for parts and accessories.
Q. First steps?
A. Team Bobber, Ian: The mission statement was to take the ideas and make the bikes as extreme as possible. Everyone bought into it. Rich: A lot needed to happen in a short space of time, so it was scary. The views were polarised over what we wanted to do, but they all pulled together.
A. Team Scrambler, John: The first meeting was to see how far to go. There were ideas at extreme ends of the spectrum, so to see it become reality was amazing. We wanted the Scrambler to be lighter and more powerful, and the first CAD drawings were pretty much how it ended up.
Q. Were there any problems?
A. Team Bobber, Mark: Yes, when Ian unveiled the painted wheel hub, and someone had picked the wrong one! Sam: A few days before deadline, we started the engine for the first time and oil gushed out of a pin-sized hole in the rerouted oil gallery because we’d turned the cylinder round. Neil, one of the guys from the weld shop, was at home decorating but came back and spent three hours sealing it. Each time we tried we had to put the exhaust back on and turn the engine over to check. Ian: The only way we could work out colour and style was to do it in CAD, so it had to be right first time. It’s a gamble because of how the colours look in the light and it doesn’t always work.
A. Team Scrambler, Matt: Everything went wrong one day – we called it Black Tuesday – but no pressure means no fun. We knew the engine ran but not in the actual bike and when we went to start it, there was nothing. We stood watching our electrical man for hours and then at midnight it started up. It was the sweetest noise ever. There were cheers from both teams. Team Scrambler had a problem with our side stand on the night of the photo shoot, but both teams stayed around to help. There was friendly banter between the two teams, but we both knew we wouldn’t let the other team fail.
Q. Biggest engineering challenge?
A. Team Bobber, Sean: How to get the drive to the rear wheel on the unsupported side of the axle and turning the head round. They were integral to what we wanted to achieve. We had the tools and engineering knowledge to do something very different, but knew that whatever we did could bring into question our engineering ability… we had to make sure every aspect worked. Ian: These aren’t publicity stunt bikes, but fully functioning, so they had to be perfect. No one would have known about the oil leak if we’d just cleaned it up… but we would!
A. Team Scrambler, Ed: The geometry, suspension and design had to be motocross and great to ride. The focus was the throttle bodies and hiding internal components. We tried lots of things in CAD, talked to people and used our collective knowledge.
Q. The funny bits?
A. Team Bobber, Mark: Feeling like the Pied Piper when I turned up with painted parts and the team followed me around like excited children.
A. Team Scrambler, Matt: One night we left our brushed engine covers out and Team Bobber had acquired them by the next morning. I got a text in the middle of the night with a photo of our covers on their bike. They said they were being resourceful! I can laugh about it now. John - We put our carbon fuel tank in a box and it weighed next to nothing, so when one of the team came in and kicked the box out of the way, they thought they’d kicked an empty one.
Q. And the stress points?
A. Team Bobber, Rich: Plenty, but you tended to let people have some space. Mark: We were working at 6am before shifts and well into the night. I was taking stuff home to work on and talking about it non-stop. Our wives and girlfriends deserve a lot of praise.
A. Team Scrambler, Patrick: We were ordering expensive parts from all over the world and didn’t have a prototype to test them on, so there was always an element of doubt as we wondered ‘what have we forgotten?’
Q. What was it like working with new people?
A. Team Bobber, Mark: I didn’t realise what went into designing parts and the time it takes to fabricate them and other people didn’t know the detail that goes into paintwork – it gave us a greater understanding of each other’s expertise. Sam: The positive reviews recognised the diverse technical expertise. The fine details mattered because this wasn’t something two blokes in a shed could do. It was the product of hundreds of years of experience.
A. Team Scrambler, Ben: It made me realise just how deep passion, dedication and skill run in Triumph. I now appreciate the work involved in even the smallest twist on each new bike. John: There was a real buzz. When we fired the bikes up, everyone came out to watch. Complete strangers were saying ‘well done’ and patting us on the back. It was very emotional.
A. Team Scrambler, Patrick: Just an enormous sense of pride. Matt: When it was over I sent Ian a text one Sunday morning saying: ‘I feel I should be walking around with a bit of motorcycle in my hands’. It left a gaping hole in our lives.
Q. What did Team Bobber like about the Scrambler?
A. Mark: The concept of putting the rear tyre on the front. It’s completely imposing because it looks like a proper motocross bike. Rich: It was a big ask to make a Scrambler stand out from the others, but they did it. Its stance and attention to detail are incredible, along with the motorsport dash and suspension details. Sean: When it started, the sound was stunning, with a real rasp to the exhaust. They measured it at 115 decibels.
Q. And Team Scrambler’s view of the Bobber?
A. John: The frame and front end are ultra-modern, but look amazing combined with the traditional lines. Patrick: The reversed cylinder engine was a major achievement and has never been done before. Ed: The single sided rear end is an engineering feat, but the reverse engine, which takes air in at the front, reminds you of the old custom Triumphs. Ben: The subtlety and simplicity you see in the discreet logos and paintwork are at the heart of it – less is more.
Team Bobber: Mark (paintshop), Ian, Rich, Sam, Sean, John, Kurtis (all design), Simon (Marketing), Rich (Value Engineering), Karen (quality), Stuart (Assembly), Neil (Weld shop), Stefan (Stores), Shaun (Assembly Machine Shop)
Team Scrambler: John (parts and accessories), Ben (accessories) Ed, Matt, Patrick, Luis, Aaron & Innes (all design) Dave (DLF), Stu (Machine Shop
Q. How has it changed you day-to-day and what was your proudest moment?
A. Team Bobber, Ian: It’s shown me that the passion and obsession for detail I have is echoed throughout the factory. Ian: We kept quiet about what we were doing, but when we presented our ideas I saw the Scrambler and thought ‘We’ve got a challenge on our hands’.
A. Team Scrambler, Ben: When I saw the bikes at the NEC, I listened to the comments and was genuinely moved. Simon: When the bikes were unveiled at Milan, the press had absolutely no concept of what was coming. When they saw the bikes, there was a spontaneous round of applause. That takes a lot. They could see the passion and expertise that had gone into both bikes.”