I first came across the Tribsa back in the early 1980’s while at art college. A friend of mine, Tony Vale, used to turn up to college on this magnificent motorbike. I’d never heard of a Tribsa before, although I new what Triumphs were and my brother had an old BSA A10 combo. But this thing just caught my imagination. It was in well used, some might say 'rough', condition but to me it looked shiny, sleek and beautiful. It did everything right, it looked good, it leaked oil, it smelt like a British bike, and the sound of those short ‘silencers’ was sheer music. Even though I couldn’t ride, I wanted it!

 

I pestered Tony for ages to sell it to me, although I had little money and my parents were quite anti-bike. But he refused time and time again. And then one day, out of the blue, he offered it to me, but there was a slight catch - the top half of the engine had blown off! Well, it didn’t matter to me. I wanted the bike so much, and besides, although my mechanical knowledge was somewhat rudimentary at the time, my brother knew a lot about British bikes. Fixing it would be both fun and educational.

When the bike turned up at my house my parents were not best pleased! But it was done now. So, armed with a Haynes manual, my brother introduced me to the wonderful world of autojumbles to source parts. Second hand conrods and barrels were found to replace the broken ones, plus some pistons and new rings.

I didn’t have a plan at this stage. I just wanted to take the first step, bolt it all back together and see if it ran, and it did! I loved the whole anticipation and ceremony - pinching a pint of dad’s 4 star, pouring it into the tank, turn on the leaky petrol tap, tickle the carb and push down on the kickstarter. I’d never kicked a bike over before. The excitement grew and then another more confident lunge on the kickstarter and it roared into life, then settled down to a most satisfying burble. Oil was returning to the tank, everything rustled and vibrated. A mechanical living thing. Not much more complicated than a Suffolk Punch lawn mower, but 100 times more exciting - I was hooked!

And now it was mine!

A real 'Heinz 57' bitsa! Trials tank, hige pipes, Norton forks and dents in lower frame rails, plus missing loops and lugs gives a strong hint to the old girls' former life.

The original Tribsa c1984

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