Chris Miranda is into old pre-unit Triumph motorcycles. Whenever he sees a pre-1962 out there, he tries to scoop it up. He has had a few in the early-style like the rigid factory frame, chrome framed pre-units, to shorter bikes, but this is his first long chopper. It was discovered on Craigslist during a typical search. Always wanting a chopper, he couldn’t pass up a Triumph version so he setup to see the bike in person out in Pennsylvania, not too far of a hike from his home near New York.
This chopper has a 1957 motor in a newer frame that had been hard tailed probably in the early 1970’s. Chris had just sold a Sportster so he threw this new find in his van to it bring home. He tends to keep a bike for a couple of years until he’s bored with it and then moves on to another for renewed excitement and interest. Chris is not afraid to build something else if it’s cool enough. It just so happened that the very next day was the Brooklyn Invitational. What better place to take his new chopper?
His love of wheeled machinery began with old cars first and he has a passion for traditional hot rods and customs. Chris’ first car was a 1950 Ford that he drove in high school. He was also into motorcycles since he was a kid but never really built his own until he was in his twenties. One reason that Triumph bikes got his interest was the fact that they were typically more affordable. He also likes period correct motorcycles and Triumph has fewer out there compared to Harley-Davidson, making his Trumpets more unique. That’s one of the reasons that back in the day, custom Triumphs were known as “the other choppers.”
The seller of this bike was the second owner and was unsure of any information about the builder, which Chris would love to find out more on. It would be great to gather more history on the Triumph. The second owner had the bike in parts that were spread about in his basement. It is unknown how the seller got the bike but assume something like an estate sale where the original owner was unknown.
Chris has kept the ’57 looking the way it originally was built. It was already drivable but needed some TLC including cleaning, electrical work, carb work, and a few leaks that needed to be addressed. The motor and drivetrain was mostly stock and in good running condition so Chris never opened any of it up. The frame was an early 1960’s Duplex frame that has been modified every way imaginable that would have twin front downtubes under the tank with an aftermarket or homemade hardtail. Many claim that having the rigid modification made the bike handle better than any swingarm frame that Triumph manufactured. The frame on this chopper is raked an unknown amount and molded, as seen between the downtubes and under the tank from the neck.
The bike still has its old lacquer paint on the waffle tank that was friscoed over top of the 650 motor with several Webco finned parts that were popular at that time. The paint has subtle pearl with some fades and the tank has a nice lady silhouette for an added touch of class between the six bend handlebars. Chris added those to replace some ugly Z-bars that didn’t fit the age on the bike. The bars go well with the Columbia twisted springer. A Corbin Gentry seat sits over top of the stock chrome Triumph fender housing a Harley taillight and aftermarket oil tank. The rear wheel was kept as a stock 16-incher wrapped in Goodyear rubber while the front uses an aftermarket 19-inch wheel wrapped in Avon.
This scooter was a great addition to strike off the bucket list as Chris figured it survived this long, so why change it around. Chris says he drives it pretty much locally, considering it only has a two-gallon tank, but he anticipates getting further out for future cruises. It won ‘Best Chopper’ at Cheap Thrills in Asbury Park, New Jersey. The best part, Chris tells us, is that there is not much to the bike but it still looks crazy wild!
—Joshua Elzey, Twig Photography
Story and Photos by Joshua Elzey