England, 2009

Beezumph and the 50th Anniversary of the Triumph Bonneville

The TR3OC and Triumph Owner's clubs brought my design models home from America's AMA Hall of Fame Museum
August 14-15: Cadwell Park, England: The Brits have learned to invite my wife, Carol over from California to bring sunny weather to their motorcycle events. This will be the third time her presence has kept away the rain.
Special for us was having the original models there that I made for Triumph, so many years ago. In the summer of 1969, I redesigned a standard Rocket III, turning it into the Vetter Rocket III which eventually became the Triumph Hurricane of 1973. At Cadwell, the Club gave it its own special tent.
Above: Club Treasurer, John Young studies differences in the model. Left: Carol, Phil Humphries and his son, Chris at the Vetter Tent
A beaming John Young enjoying the moment

It was a special, never to be repeated time in motorcycling. The press photographers knew it, too. They were out in force. In a couple of weeks the Vetter Rocket III would be back in the US.

This was the time we were waiting for... comparing the Vetter Rocket III with a production Hurricane.

These two bikes have never before been on stage together. It provided a rare time for enthusiasts to compare and contrast the model and the production bike. Really, the Brits did a great job in interpreting my design. Did you know that insiders at Triumph in 1969 referred to my design as the "Chopper"? I had never heard that.

A Mystery solved!
Invariably, somebody will bring up the fact that the forks on the Vetter Rocket 3 model are extended. While in England, I stated that I would stake my reputation on the fact that I did not extend the forks. With all those BSA Rocket 3s and Hurricanes around, it was easy to settle this, once and for all.

Nobody had a ruler. So I found a piece of string and marked the length of the forks on my Vetter Rocket III model. Then we walked outside and compared that to a standard BSA Rocket 3. The Vetter model was indeed extended by about 1 1/2"!

What was going on here?

There were two slugs at the top of each fork tube!
We went back into the Vetter tent and looked more closely at the model. I had never noticed that at the top of each fork tube were TWO slugs, extending the forks. The lower one was the one I made to make the Ceriani road race forks the same as a stock 1969 Rocket 3. But now I saw that there was a second slug on top of mine!

How did that second slug get there? And why?

One slug as of Sept. 10, 1969
Here is the last photograph I took before delivering the model to New Jersey to show it to BSA. You can plainly see that the forks had one slug at the top to bring it to Rocket 3 height. This is the way it went to England, October 31, 1969.
Six months later, after the Triumph engineers were done with the model, it was sent to Cycle World for a feature story. Close examination shows that the extra fork slugs were there at the time of this photograph in July of 1970.

Who extended the fork tubes?

Somebody at Triumph extended the fork tubes.

We may never know why they did this. I never thought it was necessary. I thought the Rocket III handled just fine as it was. Here is, below, with the forks exactly the same length as a stock 1969 Rocket 3:

Do you think the forks needed to be lengthened? I think it looks just fine like this. Until somebody from the old Triumph company comes forward with more, I trust that this will be the last word regarding lengthened forks.
Carol still loves this bike!
We both love our British cousins and are grateful to still be a part of these great motorcycle stories.
The next weekend and the 50th Anniversary of the Triumph Bonneville. See how my Bonneville TT design of 1972 becane the Triumph T-160 of 1975.
This page posted Sep 14, 2009