Updated: Oct 8, 2021
It's not often that you stumble across a collection of stunning vintage Triumphs, Tritons and tractors, but we hit the jackpot when we met 'Mad' Mike, deep in the Somerset countryside. An engineer by trade, Mike's passion for Triumph motorcycles is clear in the stunning condition of his pre-unit and early unit bikes, notwithstanding his ongoing project- a Triton, the marriage of a 650cc Triumph engine and the legendary Norton 'Featherbed' frame.
Mike is quite the character, and we could have waxed lyrical on the subject of motorbikes for days on end. He was kind enough to share his love and knowledge of bikes with us and was keen that we should showcase his smorgasbord of petrol-powered perfection.
The chronological history of his collection begins in 1954 with the Tiger T110. Seasoned motorcycle enthusiasts may well be aware that a 'suped-up' T110 set a land speed record at Bonneville in 1956, helmed by Johnny Allen. This gorgeous beast remains our favourite of Mike's collection, based on the immaculate condition and Triumph's beautiful styling. The detail down to the last nut and bolt was incredible and could be ogled at for hours.
Based on the T110's success at Bonneville, its successor bike would perhaps be Triumph's most famous- the aptly named, Triumph Bonneville. Mike's example was a 1962 vintage, once again equipped with Triumph's fabled 650cc engine. The Bonneville's primary upgrade from the T110 was twin Amal carburettors fitted as standard. Being an engineer, Mike "wasn't quite happy" with the way the Bonneville ran. This type of criticism is commonplace among the owners of anything old or new, and can only really be understood by those who understand their vehicle. It is seldom noticeable by the passer-by and if you ask us, the Bonneville was, once again, factory fresh.
The bike is a real treat to look at and the craftsmanship behind it is phenomenal.
Arguably the crown jewel of the collection was Mike's Triton. The bike was unfinished when we were around but has since been completed and its custom engraved fuel tank adorned. The bike is a real treat to look at and the craftsmanship behind it is phenomenal. We've been told that Mike has bought yet another Triton which we look forward to seeing. Like all of Mike's classic bike's, within Norton's Featherbed frame beats the heart of the familiar 650cc Triumph engine, with its twin camshafts and twin carburettor setup allowing for buckets of performance. The tucked handles give the bike its iconic 'cafe racer', especially paired with the checkerboard accents.
The definitive highlight of our day was the opportunity to ride the T110 up and down the garden. For two completely novice motorcyclists, this was a rare and exciting moment and couldn't be passed up! We don't recommend you try this at home, purely because of the lack of safety gear we had equipped.
For the agriculturally minded among us, the fun didn't stop at motorcycles. Nestled away in a barn at the bottom of a paddock (like most exciting things are), was the tractor to define all tractors- The Massey Ferguson 135. This old girl was still in regular use around his farm and boasts the strength and capability of 45 horses. With the hydraulic '3-point linkage' and rugged dependability, it's clear to see how little tractors like these shaped and formed the country in which we live today. That's an article for another time!