Founded in 1885, the Triumph company is approaching its 140th birthday and it’s hard to think of a time when the British company has been doing so well. This, with their storied history, is a huge compliment, but well deserved given their incredible retro range, street bikes, groundbreaking electric sportbike program and supplying the engines for the entire Moto2 category. But such a long life is bound to have some tough times – and 1971 was rock bottom – with the company broke and even the government getting involved. But from the ashes of that very year and formerly in terrible shape, Kott Motorcycles have lit the fire for this ’71 Triumph Daytona to ascend from the flames and oh how beautiful she looks taking full flight.
To the average punter, all motorcycles are basically the same, two wheels and an engine in the middle, but start to take them apart and the differences become immense. So even for a builder of the calibre of Dustin Kott, taking on a classic British bike came with some trepidation. “As much as I love vintage Triumphs I’ve had hesitation taking one on for a number of reasons. Firstly I just didn’t know enough about them coming from a primarily Japanese motorcycle background. The Whitworth hardware system is a science in and of itself,” Dustin explains.
But there is also something about a classic or vintage bike that just draws you in, a chance to see how they used to do things, and the allure of the purely mechanical experience. “A comprehensive list of speciality tools was also acquired only shortly after having needed them on this project. Vintage motorcycles often put up a fight during the restoration and modification process and this machine was a heavyweight champ. I stared at the bike much longer than ever having lifted a tool to it. So much had to be addressed for the outcome I was trying to achieve.”
Now with the passion fuelled and the equipment to do the job, the first part of the build was to get the bike into a rideable state so Dustin could take it for a rip. With that work done, it was out onto the road and well, things got scary, “I promptly got a foot full of rear brake when “shifting” and downshifted several times without the clutch while “braking”. Having no real experience with older British bikes I simply had to reverse the linkage system in order to preserve my life and my boots.” And in typical Kott fashion, the work to switch is stunning, with perfect linkages, gorgeous copper pegs and protectors and an array of shift rods and hyme joints to ensure flawless operation.
The bodywork too is typical of Kott’s ability to produce perfect metal masterpieces, but the tank will have all but the most passionate Virago fans scratching their heads. I certainly didn’t pick it, “I employed a very rare Yamaha Virago fuel tank which has a cavernous tunnel” Dustin tell us. And he had a very good reason for using it, that big tunnel has allowed him to expertly hide a custom-made oil tank on the backbone to feed the dry sumped engine. This allows for the minimalist look Kott is known for, and all of that negative space allows the classic parallel twin to really shine in the spotlight.
To complete the bodywork for the bike, the hammer and sandbag were out and Dustin crafted one of his signature tailpieces, that sits atop a cut back rear subframe. Before the paint was laid down, there was one last trick to be performed, “Due to the lack of immediate access to the oil tank I decided to countersink an analogue oil pressure gauge for rider feedback as I’d also replaced the original oil pump during the rebuild.” Now the brilliant black could be flowed over the bike, with copper highlights on the headlight ring and mounts, and custom tank strap to really bringing it all to life.
The good looks, however, are not just confined to the usual areas of a motorcycle, as Dustin went to work bringing the drum brake front hub to life. Beautifully polished, some more copper work over the cooling vent and as part of the linkage system is stunning and helps to tie the look into the new foot controls. The suspension too wouldn’t be overlooked, and pays tribute to the bike’s British heritage with Hagon components used for the rear shocks, and the front forks get the vintage touch too. Another Brit business supplies the tyres in the form of Avon Roadriders, and steering is left to a set of clip-ons with only the bare necessities fitted up.
At the heart of it all sits the famed Triumph parallel twin in unit construction that has been restored back to its best both visually and mechanically. To get the old girl running in the first place meant new Amal carbs, and the copper finished velocity stacks have come up a treat. The exhaust is exactly what you’d desire, sleek and simple polished pipes that finish in reverse cone mufflers. Another major aspect of the build was to completely rewire the bike, with a new electronic ignition system part of the package.
The rest of the loom is hidden under the tail, which is all finished off with a brilliant leather seat. It’s another Kott Motorcycles masterpiece, and now when people google Triumph 1971, next to bankruptcy they’ll also find this delicious Daytona to give history its due balance.