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When is a chopper not a chopper?

Tim O’Regan isn’t normal. What normal sort of person would have two paper rounds and a Saturday job in their local motorcycle shop when they were just 14 years old so that they could buy a hot rod?

And I don’t mean a model of a hot rod either, but the real McCoy. In Tim’s case it was a 1923 Ford Model T… well, alright then it was actually a Geoff Jago fibreglass bodied replica and it didn’t have an engine but it was a start and it was more than most 14-year-olds have.

Long before he’d got the T-Bucket on the road Tim had swapped it for a MK1 Ford Consul and so began a life-long affair with what he simply describes as ‘old shit with wheels’.

Parked up in a barn in deepest Kent, next to the Triumph pictured here, Tim’s got a ’31 Chevy Sedan that gets driven hard and was raced on the sands at Pendine this year during the VHRA speed trials.

While cars have always played a major part in Tim’s life he didn’t get into bikes until the mid-90s when he was living in south London and working in east London. He didn’t want to drive across the city every day, and he’d rather die than use public transport, so, as he saw it, his only option was to get a bike. “At first, it was sports bikes, and then bigger and faster machines and I did the whole track day thing. Then I began to realise if I didn’t slow down I’d soon be dead ‘cause I would end up pushing it just too far.

“I started playing with older sports bikes - Yamaha LCs and the like. Then, because I like old stuff, I got a BSA B44 Adventurer and I’ve never looked back. I suddenly realised I could have more fun on that than any mental Jap sports bike. After I got that Beezer I stopped riding modern bikes. Fact is, I’ve never owned once since”

Having just sold one old Triumph after having to rebuild the motor following the oil seals blowing, Tim had a wedge of cash burning a hole in his pocket when he saw a chopped Triumph T140V up for sale. Even more fortunate was the fact the seller didn’t appreciate what he had and had failed to take a single decent picture of it for his ad, meaning no-one had bothered to call about it.

Once Tim had viewed the bike he knew he’d have it even though it was a non-runner when he saw it. Getting it back on the road initially was easy as it only needed a change of oil and petrol.

With the Triumph on the road, he did a bit of digging around in the bike’s history to try and find out just what he’d bought. It turns out it was originally chopped way back in the dim and distant past. Tim describes the frame as “being seriously messed about with.” By all accounts, it was originally built as a typical raked, stretched and long forked ‘70s chop. That was before a chap called Tony Wake got his hands on the Triumph about eight years ago. Tony immediately chopped the stretched back end off and rebuilt it using Panhard rods from an old Volvo as seat rails (I always knew Volvos would be good for something). He then ditched the over-length forks and in their place bolted up a Honda VFR front-end, while at the same time leaving the neck raked as it was when the bike was a chopper.

A bit more tidying up followed and the bike made it into the pages of a custom magazine, and on the strength of that feature it was sold to a British bike collector in Portugal who wanted a chop to sit alongside his 180 stock machines. Having sat there for a couple of years it then came back to the UK and into Tim’s hands.

With the bike running he started putting some serious miles in on it… until the oil warning light came on. Expecting the worst and cursing the prospect of another full Triumph engine rebuild, Tim limped the broken bike home preparing for an expensive session in the shed. Fortunately, it turned out that someone had previously installed the oil seals the wrong way round. Meaning Tim had a quick and easy fix.

Since then all he’s done is swap the white wall tyres out, “Cause they looked shit,” given the carb a rebuild and then ridden it and ridden it and…

However, it’s coming off the road again soon as there are some more changes planned.

“I want to sort the yokes out. Some people might call them billet yokes but to me they’re just slabs. Lumpy slabs of aluminium with no imagination to the design. They’re coming off to be radiused and generally messed around with to make them look more like they belong on a motorcycle.

“While I’ve got the front end stripped I’m going to get the switch gear off the bars and simplify it too, so I can run just a vintage style twist grip. That’s all it needs really. I really like it. When Tony originally built it in this form, he did a good job.

“Mind you, I would’ve bought it in its original ‘70s chopper guise and happily ridden it around like that, but I like it as it is now ‘cause it’s a style that can’t be easily pigeonholed. You’ll never see another like this and the guy that built it obviously had a good eye for proportions, but thankfully not for fashion so he just built what he wanted. And really it just works.”

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