Many lofty dreams start with “one day, when I retire,” but very few of them are actually realized. Luckily, Rob Chappell of Origin8or Cycles is in the business of making dreams come true. So when a client wanted to spoil himself with a special retirement gift, Rob whipped up this brutal custom street fighter.
The brief called for an unapologetic machine that would pull inspiration from the hooligan street bike culture of the 90s. Rob started with the client’s 2008 Triumph Speed Triple 1050, but in the end, all he kept was the engine and front forks.
“We batted around ideas as to what motor to use for the project,” says Rob. “He originally wanted a more vintage motor, but most of the four-cylinder options were wide, heavy and underpowered.”
“A few weeks later he messaged and asked ‘what if we used my Speed Triple?’ The bike was already a great runner with only 20,000 km [12,427 miles] on the clock, so it meant no motor work would be required, and the three-cylinder power plant would keep it relatively narrow. We had our plan.”
First on the list was a new swingarm, since the Speed Triple’s single-sided unit didn’t match the retro sportbike brief. Rob started by designing a pair of dropouts that would double up as shock mounts, then sent the designs off to Joe Kaslowski at Random Fabrication to machine them. Next, he built a jig and fabricated the bike’s stunning new twin-tube swingarm.
“Of course I planned on making a complete new frame as well,” says Rob, “but that didn’t go as smoothly. I was pretty sure I could make a cradle frame to house the motor, and I had finished it to about 90 percent, when I got the bike off the table and onto the ground and decided I hated it. I scrapped it and started all over again.”
“Drawing on the idea of a hooligan street fighter vibe, and less of a retro style, I recalled my youth lusting after Spondon frames that I would see in superbike magazines, but could never afford. So that was the plan for round two! I wanted to keep the design different enough from the stock frame, but still be unique and functional.”
Rob welded up some brackets to mount the triple-cylinder engine to his fabrication table, then set the swingarm and headstock in place. From there, he connected the dots until he had a design that he was happy with.
The new chassis is not only compact and aggressive, but it’s also been built with serviceability in mind. The client plans to take the bike back to his home country of Wales—so Rob’s used OEM bearing sizes throughout the build, to make replacements easy to source. Even the swingarm pivot tube was fabricated to match the original Speed Triple part.
Matched to the new frame are the original Speed Triple forks, with a set of fully adjustable YSS shocks running at the back. Look closer, and you’ll also spot a pair of ultra-desirable carbon fiber wheels from Dymag, wrapped in Metzeler Racetec RR tires.
With the rolling chassis ticked off, Rob turned his attention to the bodywork. Every part you see here was made from scratch in aluminum—including the front fender, headlight nacelle, radiator covers, side covers, tank and tail. Rob visualized each part as a wire frame first, then hand-shaped the final pieces.
“I tried the ‘floral foam’ method,” he says, “but really hated the mess and the inability to see through anything I was making to get the form just right. I went back to my tried and true method of wire frame, as this allows me to envision the voids where fuel will be held, and I can easily see the inside and outside when lining up all of the body elements.”
Other one-off parts include a flush-mounted gas cap, and a custom seat from Rob’s brother’s company, Tuffside. The client also specced a set of Accossato levers, a Domino throttle, ProTaper handlebars and grips, and Rebelmoto switches. The mirrors, turn signals and dashboard all came from Motogadget.
The Triumph originally had a full Arrow exhaust system fitted, but changes had to be made. So Rob matched the Arrow headers to a Hindle end can, by way of a custom mid-section.
The bike as also rewired around an Antigravity Lithium-ion battery and a Motogadget mo.unit controller—but this proved to be challenging. “We had been told by a few people on forums and elsewhere that the bike would work just fine without stock gauges,” Rob explains. “So with a plan of attack, we got to working on the harness when the bodywork was out for paint.”
“We had four weeks until the bike would be unveiled at its first show, Motoblot, which seemed like plenty of time… until it wasn’t. The short answer, for anyone trying, is the stock gauges are required for the CAN bus system and the ECU to allow the starting sequence. I took the gauges out of the case, buried them in the tail of the bike, fired it up and rode it around the block.”
With so much love poured into the build, Rob was hesitant to leave the paint job up to chance. So he designed three options that he knew would look good, and let the client pick his favorite. The red and silver livery you see here won out; Mat Tobin at Jensens Custom laid it down, while FlashFire Coatings coated the frame red.
“The surprise for the client was adding in the dragon from the Wales flag, as a nod to his heritage and the future home of this build,” Rob tells us. “The number 77 has special meaning to him too, as it was the year he completed school, got a job and moved out.”
The end product looks so good, that it’s easy to forget what’s powering it: a 1,050 cc triple that makes 131 hp and sounds like nothing else out there. As retirement gifts go, this one’s hard to top.