There is and always has been a pinnacle of not only motorsport, but the entire automotive industry, and it is without a doubt, Formula 1. So, when we heard that one of the custom motorcycles featured at the most recent Bike Shed Moto Show was built by an F1 engineer, we had a feeling it would be something very special; and boy is it. That engineer is Tom Hitchcox and not only does he ply his trade in the billion-dollar arms race that is F1, he’s also a mad keen bike rider. To combine his passions, in 2022 he founded Hitchcox Motorcycles and it’s fair to say his work is of an incredible standard. It was the sort of quality client Rob was looking for, and together they’ve turned out this stripped-down Triumph Thruxton R, which packs in a whole lot of seriously clever customisation. 

Tom’s specific role in Formula 1 is as an exhaust engineer, and in a sport that can come down to thousandths of a second, it’s not just a case of bending up a few pipes. Everything he does has to be millimetre perfect, work in conjunction with the rest of the team, fit into a tiny confined space and use his skills to optimise engine, turbocharger and aerodynamic performance. So, his dream and driving ambition behind creating Hitchcox Motorcycles was to offer custom bike enthusiasts the highest level of exhaust engineering possible. The company already produces a full catalogue of systems for the current Triumph Modern Classic range, providing looks and performance that are second to none.

“Every product is handmade to order at their workshop in Brackley, UK using high-grade materials. For anyone looking beyond these options, the Design-Your-Own programme is available to bring virtually any exhaust idea for any bike to life.” And this Thruxton R started when Rob wanted to utilise the Design-Your-Own programme, and things sought of got out of hand in the best possible way. The first thought was to ditch the exhaust, shorten the seat and fit a drag system. But “after some initial work, Tom & Rob decided they wanted to build something really special, but still had no real concept of how the bike would look.”

Clearly one of the goals became to give the bike an ultra-clean look, and to achieve this both agreed that the engine and swingarm needed to be powder-coated black and the forks should get a colour change to match the theme. “The bike was sent to Dave Wood Racing for the strip down and mechanical work needed to powder coat everything. And the forks were sent to Ollie for anodising and Ti coating.” For the guys, the obvious next step was to strip both the frame and the tank back to a bare metal finish. But you can’t just leave them like that unless you want a rusty mess in just a few short weeks.

So, Tom first prepared the frame by crafting in a new hooped tail, an easy task for such a skilled fabricator and then welded in the neatest of inserts to accept a set of Kellermann Atto lights, to create the cleanest tail end money can buy! “The frame was then sent to Camcoat Performance Coatings and the tank went off to Pro Kustom for stripping and hand painting the Hitchcox logo and then clear coated.” To get the bike rolling, new black Triumph wheels were selected and the guys at Maxton have rebuilt the suspension to perfection, all based on Rob’s weight and riding style. The Showa forks are gutted and fitted with a full cartridge kit and the rear gets custom machined black aluminium rear shocks. 

Time to start piecing the bike together, “parts were carefully selected and ordered, at this point they discussed the difficulty of managing the wiring loom and CAN Bus system when changing the clocks. After a discussion with Dave Wood they all decided to have a rawness to the bike and remove the traction control and ABS.” Then Dave had one crazy and yet brilliant idea, lads, let’s keep ditching the electrics. ECU, CAN Bus, 80% of the entire wiring loom and even the throttle bodies,all gone! The bike would run on carbies, and the rest could be managed with a small dedicated ECU and a Motogadget m.unit blue.

Do not try this at home kids, as you’re likely to end up with a bike that just won’t run and chasing one nagging electrical gremlin after another. But in the hands of such experts, it delivers an incredible result and takes giving a clean look to an all-new Thruxton R to new heights. It also freed up plenty of space for Tom to do what he does best, build one hell of an exceptional exhaust system. It’s all brilliantly crafted out of lightweight titanium and the lines beautifully follow the silhouette of the motorcycle from front to rear. The switch to carbs allowed Tom to run his pipework tight to the rails, using the perfect mix of pie cuts and straight pieces. “The signature Hitchcox Motorcycles sound is highlighted by the louvre cores used in the end section. This dampens the sound to an enjoyable level, while it adds a deep tune to the exhaust roar.”

Now the race was on to get the Triumph finished for the Bike Shed Show, and the braking is beefed up with wave pattern discs from Galfer and a new master cylinder and lines from Hel Performance. The new rims are wrapped up in Dunlop GP100 rubber and ever the perfectionist, Tom cut the clock mount off the upper triple and rewelded it so it sat in the absolute perfect position. Hurley Custom Seats stitched up the brilliant saddle and the Hitchcox Motorcycle team had completed their Thruxton R like no other. The workmanship is flawless, the ability to make a modern machine look like a clean uncomplicated British classic is spot on, and yet you have a new bike that looks a million dollars and performs just the way you’d expect from the hands of a Formula 1 engineer.  

[ Hitchcox Motorcycles | Photography by Michael Jersovs ]