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Triumph T120

  • Motorcycles
  •  | 
BRINGING LIFE TO AN OLD BONNEVILLE
Words by Kurt Diserio — Photos by Alexa Diserio
The traditional approach to getting your son a street bike is typically choosing a lame starter model that tends to focus largely on safety and affordability. That isn’t always the case when it comes to us gearheads though. It’s hard to shake that belief that if you’re going to ride, why not ride something that genuinely excites you?
Alexa and I talked with Kevin Cook of Wheeling, West Virginia, about the bike he had built for his son and what all went into it. The short story of this 1968 chopper goes something like this: A father was trying to fix up his father’s old Triumph T120 for his son to ride. In the process, he ended up building a completely different T120 before finishing the other. To his credit, it was a one-of-a-kind, show-worthy custom chopper.
Triumph Bonneville T120 Chopper Vintage Custom Motorcycle Pittsburgh
Tell me about how you first acquired this Triumph?
Kevin Cook: I have a 1962 Triumph T120 that was my dad’s bike, and we brought it with us when we moved up to Wheeling from Mississippi. When my son, Kaden, started expressing interest in motorcycles, I said that we’ll try to get it fixed and running again. So I started searching for different pieces and came across a Craigslist ad for Triumph parts in Washington, Pennsylvania. When I got there, the guy had a 1968 T120 in boxes, so I made a deal.
Was there a reason for starting your son out on such a radical bike?
KC: He’s twenty-one now, but my kids have been riding dirt bikes throughout their lives. He became interested in street bikes, and I figured if you’re going to do that, then let’s do something different than what everyone else around here is doing. Let’s build an old school chopper. It’s very different to start out with, but I figured he’d appreciate the mechanics. It’s something that he’ll have to take care of and figure out the little idiosyncrasies. I wanted it to be safe, so this uses modern elements like the brakes and electronics.
Who built the frame and was responsible for the work?
KC: I put on the digital electronics, a lithium battery, and other parts from Lowbrow Customs. The frame turned out to be a hardtail built by Scott Anderson of East Coast Fabworks here in Wheeling. The guy who bought it originally just never finished the bike. Luckily, I knew Scott, so after I assembled what I could, I just kind of let him finish the bike from there.
Triumph Bonneville T120 Chopper Vintage Custom Motorcycle Pittsburgh
What look were you going for?
KC: I told Scott I wanted a barn-fresh, distressed look, so he did a number of things to accomplish that. For instance, he used different weld material on the fender stripe to bring out the contrast color. Some other pieces were brushed down into the copper to give it the old school look.
Was there any other help?
KC: I came to find out that one of the contractors who was working on my house at the time, a guy named Wayne Skinner, was involved in vintage Triumph drag racing and had a wealth of knowledge. He checked over the whole engine. Wayne and I also assembled several unique parts and combined them with Scott’s one-off custom fabricated pieces. The total build time was about a year.
Any unique features you’d like to mention?
KC: One of the coolest details is where the switch and electronics are. They run into a tunnel that was built inside the tank and out through a tube that leads to the flask off to the side. You just pull up on the lever to start it.
What do you like about the finished build?
KC: It’s different, not another one like it. I enjoy that it’s a first-kick crank that runs great and stops good, and for what it is, it’s fairly comfortable. The front end soaks up a lot, but there’s also an air bladder under the seat to help absorb the shock.
Are you still planning on finishing the 1962 Bonneville?
KC: Yes, we’re working on it now. I just kind of pick up stuff here and there, but it should be finished soon. Scott Anderson and Wayne Skinner are also helping with that bike. It’ll basically be a drag setup with a few modern parts. I want it to be obnoxious. 
Triumph Bonneville T120 Chopper Vintage Custom Motorcycle Pittsburgh
Triumph Bonneville T120 Chopper Vintage Custom Motorcycle Pittsburgh
Triumph Bonneville T120 Chopper Vintage Custom Motorcycle Pittsburgh
Triumph Bonneville T120 Chopper Vintage Custom Motorcycle Pittsburgh
Triumph Bonneville T120 Chopper Vintage Custom Motorcycle Pittsburgh
Triumph Bonneville T120 Chopper Vintage Custom Motorcycle Pittsburgh
Triumph Bonneville T120 Chopper Vintage Custom Motorcycle Pittsburgh
Triumph Bonneville T120 Chopper Vintage Custom Motorcycle Pittsburgh
Triumph Bonneville T120 Chopper Vintage Custom Motorcycle Pittsburgh
Triumph Bonneville T120 Chopper Vintage Custom Motorcycle Pittsburgh
Triumph Bonneville T120 Chopper Vintage Custom Motorcycle Pittsburgh
Triumph Bonneville T120 Chopper Vintage Custom Motorcycle Pittsburgh
  • Featured in Issue 004
  • 1968 TRIUMPH T120 BONNEVILLE
  • Owned by KADEN COOK
  • Built by KEVIN COOK
    SCOTT ANDERSON
    WAYNE SKINNER
  • Words by KURT DISERIO & KEVIN COOK
  • Photos by ALEXA DISERIO
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