EDITORIAL TRIUMPH -- THE SECOND BIKE

by Joe Michaud

One fine day in 1968, a Happy Original Owner rolled what would eventually come to be my TR6R out of a showroom in the Bay Area into the cool salt air of a city in the grip of the Season Of Love. That particular dealer also sold Honda machines...that much I've been able to deduce. The faded shop decal on the oil tank, barely visible when I acquired the bike in late 1990 intimated that the shop was owned by some brothers since the worn water-slide read "......Brothers, Oakland---Triumph & Honda." That's all I have been able to ascertain and the decal is long since gone in the 9 years of my loving ownership.

I am now elbow and wallet deep into restoring this machine. Today, I spent an hour sitting in the warm sun smoking an extravagant $8 cigar and musing about its first owner and all previous ones. This bike was well taken care of during the 31 years since it left the Meriden factory and its internal wear was mostly negligible even though mileage was high. It was loved and respected, it seems. Good air cleaners and frequent oil changes work wonders.

This added to its value to me and I consider myself lucky to have acquired it as whimsically as I did during the first week of the Gulf War of '91.

Some Eastern philosophies—the ones that revere their past—have a word for this “value enhancement by previous ownership” and it best translates to us as “owner-ness.” This owner- ness concept implies that intrinsic value can be added to objects by the accumulated respect and usage that previous owners have lavished upon them. This should be an interesting subject to most of us as restorers since we—predominately Westerners—only tend to see added value as mere financial enhancement—like the objects that I so greedily envy on "The Antiques Road Show."

In the manner of all owners, I am adding my own "value enhancement" to this machine.

Today I saw the engine covers newly back from the polisher. In the past, I've tried to buff brightwork myself. Oh, I own the wheels, the buffer, the endless sticks of grit, rouge, and color polish. I bought the instructional video from the restoration folks at Eastwood and I've spit stripes of black alu-oxide crap against my garage wall while I raked the buff wheels clean. This time however, I used the Professional Man and the results are fabulous. The finish is far better than the Meriden factory EVER offered, I'll admit that. A bit tarted up? Oh yeah...they are a bit like mirrors—no production bike ever came that way. The high-gleam brightness will soften some while we restore the balance of the machine and will be just about right when the bike is finally finished some time in the next 2-4 months. A complete zero-miles nut/bolt resto. I'm optimistically shooting for October and either the SDAMC show or the Agajanian Del Mar event. But she will not grace the Concours judging of either event. She'll sit in the parking lot outside the show with the other machines ridden to the event.

I have an enhancement debt to pay.

Where is this First Owner today? I would like to share the bike with him. Would he be interested? Would he be pleased with my work and plans for her? How was his time of ownership?

Did he ride his new blue-over-silver joy through the Haight? Did he ride any early mornings to Coit Tower to view the Bay Bridge poised above the fog and golden in the sun? Did he travel the Big Sur coast, Kerouac-like, to ride Highway 1, South among the redwoods? He saw the Bay Area in 1968 on a new Triumph...my mind reels. The world was in cultural flux and he saw it from this bike. His bike. Our bike.

I always feel links through these old machines to their previous owners as I uncover their repairs, their wear patterns, their usages. We sometimes smugly call them DPOs—Dumb Previous Owners—since we often assume a smarter, somehow more enlightened, role. We MUST be smarter since we own it NOW.

Plus it’s us that we’re talking about.

This smug, critical inspection of their work, albeit in hindsight, seems more like blind sight.

“Owner-ness” is so much nicer.

It’s a more complete concept. A circular link.

This bike won’t sit Concours---a rider, she will be. I don’t think a pure show bike will ever live in my garage.

I have a debt that I owe all those previous owners. “Owner-ness,” don’t you know.

We have a bond, they and I.

We all ride.

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Design & Maintenance: T C Enterprises ,  Publisher of Phantom Oiler   Contents ©1999 Joe Michaud