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
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
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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