(As first published in Used Motorcycle Guide Nov/Dec 1990)
So here we go back to November of 1987, please remember that at this time bikes were my only form of transport if anyone knows the whereabouts of either TKN 468W or RLT514T please drop me a line.
Having reached the age of cheaper insurance, I thought at last my dream of owning a Triumph could come true. I studied MCN each week and eventually found a dealer with a reasonably priced (as in dirt cheap) 1980 T140E. So I eagerly went over to view it.
She was hauled out from the back of the shop where I was told the mechanic had been borrowing it for a couple of days. But when I went to try it no go. Hindsight now tells me I should have given up there and then, but I was already feeling sorry for the poor purple and oily , rusty heap. I was promised by the next weekend she would be running ok and have an MOT, so I put down a holding deposit and went back home.
The following Saturday a mob of us went over with the cash and then I was the proud owner of a UK spec Bonnie. Once home it was general viewing time and even the neighbour gave it the thumbs up, he having once having owned a Matchless Combo. My brother than tried sprinting it up and down the road to find the neighbours tolerance levels and at what speed the oil leaks started (about 30mph)
I started with all the best intentions of sorting her out and going back to original spec. I also thought I would keep a log of all that happened. Both ideas ran out of steam very quickly. I was too busy fixing her tom write up a log and i even became quite fond of the colour purple.
The next day in a fit of enthusiasm I cleaned the bike- I don't think it knew what the soapy stuff was. The engine seemed to run better without a years worth of oil and mud covering the alloy. My first really irritating problem started at the end of the second week when just as I was about to go blasting off into the distance , the Throttle cable broke, it was not long after this I brought a parts manual which made life a lot easier.
I soon found the battery needed constant care to keep the beast from refusing to start. Then the switches fell apart and the first of many light bulbs blew. A new set of switches and the first of many new bulbs and we were back on the road.
I met an old school friend who had owned a bonnie for ages. He was able to instruct me on the finer points of tappet adjustment and cab balancing. It made the bike run a lot better . Then on possible the wettest evening for years I took my girlfriend home on it-30 miles all in the rain. After dropping her off it was quite late and dark. Part way round the North Circular I plunged through a huge puddle only for the bike to come to a stop.
With the rain pouring down I tried to get her going. An hour later and i am soaked to the skin, she decided to play again. Only for the front light to fall out at Hangar Lane and eventually for it to stall not far from home.
One expensive dealer service later it was all systems go again, although I was warned the engine would soon need a rebuild. A new Roadrunner meant it now went round corners without the back wheel doing a 10" slide. I now decided it was time for a good long run- Lincoln and Back. It rained all the way there but the bike never missed a beat. On the way back Crunch, Grind, Bang, No power, so I coasted into a lay by with the clutch in to find the rear chain in two pieces. It had also jammed around the front sprocket. a guy on a BSA Starfire gave me a split link but the chain was locked solid. The bike had eventually to be brought home in a van. As the sprocket is hidden behind the clutch, I took the opportunity to fix the clutch slip at the same time as replacing the clutch.
The Kent Custom show was next and after chasing around the M25 at far above legal speeds (I'm not sure of the actual speed as the speedo always waivered violently) when on the M20 the exhaust fell off. luckily we recovered it only slightly scarred but the footpeg was lost for good. Fortunately I found one at the show that fitted.
many a happy month then followed. The odd front bulb blew and the indicators were removed by a Renault 5, but surprisingly all seemed to hold together well.
So then it was then the Rockers Run to Portsmouth with the girlfriend on the back. No problems we kept up with with most and over took some. The clutch started to slip on the way back until eventually changing gear was a real effort, and finally she would not start. On investigation the locknut had fallen off the clutch adjuster and was rolling around in the primary chaincase.
By now the tales of woe were getting my boss annoyed, and the fact the bike was making me late for work could no longer be accepted. I brought my mates 1976 T140v off of him, the theory being that two Triumphs cannot break down at the same time.
Despite what happened on the last run to Lincoln I decided to repeat the run. I set off once more north to find that the speedo broke, the rear brake pipe sheared and just about every gasket in the engine blew. I managed to limp home though.
This final trip made my mind up, the bike had to go. I also had the Chance to buy one of those newfangled Kawasaki 650's dirt cheap.
So after asking around I found someone who wanted to buy the bike without a test ride who then went off to restore her.
The other Bonnie sat in the back of the garage for ages awaiting surgery, the Z650 was far more reliable but not so much fun.