But Brian Klock and the team at Klock Werks aren’t the type to back down from a challenge. When famed motorcycle lifestyle photographer Michael Lichter asked Klock to build a bike for his annual Motorcycles as Art Sturgis exhibit, Brian knew he wanted to use a Triumph Thunderbird Storm as the base platform. Trouble is, the theme of Lichter’s exhibit was “Ton Up! Speed, Style and Café Racer Culture.” And though Triumph’s history is ingrained in café racer culture, it generally doesn’t include the 1700cc Parallel Twin-powered Thunderbird Storm. Until now.
The centerpiece of Klock Werks’ Thunderbird Storm café racer is a hand-fabricated front fairing with a Dunstall vibe to it. Dressed up in chrome accents and teamed with a tapered smoked windscreen, the fairing sweeps back over the bars and provides just enough of a buffer for riders to tuck into during their pursuit of the ton. Nostalgia is imparted to the fairing courtesy of the thick glass of a depressed beam headlamp recycled from a 1938 Graham sedan. Two-tone paint and clean striping applied to the fairing by Brad Smith of thefactorymatch.com help define the front-to-back flow of the bike.
This flow leads to a new cut-out tank. The tank has been tidied up by moving the speedo gauge that resided in the middle of the stock Thunderbird Storm fuel cell to the bars, replacing it with a gauge cluster from a Triumph Speed Triple. Klock Werks ditched the stock drag bars and tall risers and threw on a set of Vortex clip-ons. They also cleaned up between the downtubes by eliminating the bulky shroud around the radiator.
Klock Werks opened up the look of the Thunderbird Storm’s backside by removing the covers and tucking the electronics under the seat. Rerouting the pipes forward and down leaves more of the back end exposed, the new up-spec Ohlins piggyback shocks sitting on new shock mounts. For this Klock Werks had to cut off the rear fender struts. The café racer tail section was skillfully hand-crafted in-house, and like the front features
The cut-away front pulley is an attractive upgrade to the standard concealing cover.
A vintage taillight found new home on the Klock Werks’ T-Bird Café Racer.
a vintage light. The splendid leather seat was the handiwork of Jordan Dickinson of Union Speed & Style in Monticello, Minnesota. Look close and you’ll even see the new license plate holder slanting back beneath the seat.
To complete the transition from upright cruiser-style ergos to a more intimate café position, Klock Werks moved the foot controls back, mounting on a tidy set of Vortex clip-ons. Another attractive addition is the new cut-away front pulley. The bike’s engine cases and cam cover have been given a vintage Triumph look by stripping off the stock black and burnishing them. They also equipped the café racer with a handy center stand designed in-house.
As for the engine, it remains stock. When you’re already putting out a claimed 97 hp @ 5200 rpm and 115 lb-ft of torque @ 2950, there’s no need to mess with that recipe. From past experience we know the Parallel Twin has a solid low-end punch and delivers power over a wide range. It also has a reputation for exhibiting little vibrations and for having its weight low and forward because of its parallel arrangement, providing an easy-to-manage center of gravity as a result. The stock six-speed gearbox has also been retained, the Triumph transmission one of the smoothest shifting units on the cruiser market. The Klock Werks Thunderbird Storm café racer did receive new exhaust, short, no-frills pipes twisting out of the forward facing Parallel Twin before bending back and down below the engine. And whereas the stock Thunderbird Storm features a blacked-out color scheme, racier gray and metallic hues applied by Smith match the frame, fairing, tank and front fender to the base gray of the fork legs.
When we first saw the Klock Werks café racer at Lichter’s “Ton Up!” exhibit at the Sturgis Buffalo Chip, we didn’t realize it was a Triumph Thunderbird Storm, a testament to what Klock and crew were able to achieve. Much of the heft of the original bike is gone. With a 1700cc Parallel Twin at the heart of it, it is still a big bike by café racer standards. But they’ve done an admirable job of stripping it down, streamlining it, giving it a new identity. And this identity would have no problem going ton-up on the Salt, something the land speed record-holding family knows a thing or two about.