Sun of Mule – Triumph Bonneville Street Tracker

Sun of Mule Triumph Bonneville street tracker from Mule Motorcycles

Sun of Mule Triumph Bonneville street tracker from Mule Motorcycles

Richard Pollock of Mule Motorcycles, a regular here at The Kneeslider, just finished a really sweet Triumph based street tracker for a client, it's called "Sun of Mule." Starting with a 2006 Triumph Bonneville sourced on eBay, Richard was told he had to work within a tight budget, so the extensive modifications he might otherwise have implemented didn't make the cut. Instead, he focused on styling and ride quality, engine mods were limited to the British Customs exhaust, but no one looking at this bike would think anything was missing, it looks absolutely great!

Sun of Mule Triumph Bonneville street tracker from Mule Motorcycles

Sun of Mule Triumph Bonneville street tracker from Mule Motorcycles

Here's Richard's component list and summary of what he did:

Bodywork:
XR Harley fiberglass seat and aluminum Trackmaster fuel tank. Mule triple clamps with Buell M-2 Cyclone 43mm adjustable forks. Brakes are (2) 4-piston Brembos up front with a small 2-piston Brembo rear. The front rotors are from a TZ750 Yamaha roadracer and the rear is late 90's Galfer intended for a YZ250. Rear master cylinder and pedal/pegs are stock and the front is a GSXR1000 radial master-cylinder mounted on stock sized 1" handlebars. Stock size handlebars were retained to be able to use the stock switches and throttle, again to stay within the budget.

Front wheel is an 80's KZ440 front and the rear is a KZ900 front widened to 3.5" by Kosman. The most work as usual went into the bearing/disc/sprocket carriers to marry up the wheels and componentry to fit the bike and line everything up correctly.

Sun of Mule - rear wheel detail

Sun of Mule - rear wheel is KZ900 front wheel widened to 3.5 inches by Kosman

The second block of work that was fairly time consuming was fitting the stock headlight brackets to the new fork tubes and wider triple clamps. To me, that part was really worth the effort.

Sun of Mule - headlight mounting detail

Sun of Mule - headlight mounting detail

Frame:
That ended up being the easiest part (relatively speaking). This is my third Triumph build of this type, and as is always the case, I'll do the next one slightly different. I've wanted to do this silver powdercoat color on a frame for quite some time and when the owner, "Sun" said that he wanted everything silver, now was the time!

Why didn't I do this or that? I blame everything on the budget!

Sun of Mule Triumph Bonneville street tracker from Mule Motorcycles

Sun of Mule Triumph Bonneville street tracker from Mule Motorcycles

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Nice work, Richard!

It's amazing what potential is hiding right there in the standard Triumph Bonneville. As we've so often noted, why Triumph, or any other factory, doesn't offer something like this is puzzling. No brand new design is required, no all new engine, just start with what you already have and make some changes. In these times of lower budgets, you might think variations on an existing model would be a logical move for a company. Even if the numbers that would sell are not huge, you would be attracting a different segment of potential buyers, but, I'm sure the factories have their reasons.

Unless or until the manufacturers decide to go this route, you can always contact Mule Motorcycles and have Richard build one for you.

Link: Mule Motorcycles

Sun of Mule Triumph Bonneville street tracker from Mule Motorcycles

Sun of Mule Triumph Bonneville street tracker from Mule Motorcycles

Mule Motorcycles

Mule Motorcycles

Comments

  1. Doug McDaniel says

    Nice! The only part I don’t care for is the blueing of the new pipes. I assume that’s just to much of a bend or the metal is too thin. You usually see blueing of this sort at the first bend out of the head pipe. Nice concept though. I’d be curious what thebudget amount was for this build, but I know Richard always does quality work.

  2. Wave says

    This article asks why Triumph don’t offer a factory version of this bike. As far as I can tell, they do, and it’s called the Triumph Bonneville! This isn’t some kind of radical custom, it’s just a nice mild custom with the bodywork and exhaust changed to suit the owner’s personal preferences, and most importantly, to satisfy their desire to be different. The owner of this bike wanted a custom which he could say was unique, and if Triumph had offered this exact bike in the showroom, he probably would have chosen to change the seat and exhausts for something different, so that it would be truly his.

  3. says

    So VERY nice. I love the “squatty” look of that Trumpet engine – reminds me of a late friends Royal Enfield twin from the late 50s – true Brit stuff back then…

    NVUH

  4. kneeslider says

    Wave, there’s a bit more than bodywork and exhaust, but I get your point, however, the owner didn’t change those things, Richard did, along with all of the other work. There’s a fair number of folks who like the tracker style but don’t have the time, skills or inclination to do the work themselves. That’s where the factory misses out, getting the customer who wants this style which is not presently available in the showroom. That “mild custom” shouldn’t be hard for a factory to offer but is a real hurdle to the buyer. Many buyers would not even imagine this bike hidden inside the Bonneville.

  5. Tin Man 2 says

    I really like the XR 750 style seat, I used the Storz unit on my Sportster, and the Wing Glass unit on my Aeramacchi SX250. I think the factory has to cover more of the rear wheel to meet Gov standards, and the Fender/Seat unit would have to be longer/lower to bring this to market on a production bike. Harleys new XR1200 tried this look but missed the mark,and its not selling well in the U.S.

  6. says

    That is nice, and not overdone at all, Mule is a nice change from some of the other custom type builders.
    Amazing how well the old KZ wheels look on a bike of this type, not a fan of the chrome covers or passenger pegs though.

  7. oldtimer says

    Very well done.
    Doug, as an owner of a 2006 T100, I can tell you the blueing of the pipes is a result of air injected just downstream of the exhaust valve for emissions purposes.

  8. nortley says

    The whole bike looks really good, but the first thing that caught my eye was the tank emblem – for a microsecond I thought it was the BSA sunburst.

  9. mark says

    kneeslider wrote:
    “As we’ve so often noted, why Triumph, or any other factory, doesn’t offer something like this is puzzling. No brand new design is required, no all new engine, just start with what you already have and make some changes. In these times of lower budgets, you might think variations on an existing model would be a logical move for a company.”

    But Triumph HAS done exactly this, twice — they’re called the Thruxton and the Scrambler. They just haven’t done a street-tracker.

    That said, the Bonneville is a fantastic platform for relatively inexpensive customs, as we’ve seen here. That’s part of its appeal. I actually don’t know of too many bone-stock Bonnies besides those on dealer floors.

  10. HoughMade says

    This trend of customs that not only ride well, but better than stock is a pleasant change from the good lookers that were next to impossible to ride.

    Great work!!!

  11. Jacquie says

    I have yet to see anything made by Mule that I did not love. His street-tracker treatment and custom mods, brakes et al. I just like his vision of what a motorcycle looks like.

  12. powermatic says

    “…why Triumph, or any other factory, doesn’t offer something like this is puzzling.”

    Not really. One committee will decide that the tank is too small to be accepted by the buying public. Another will point out that the seat is both too thin, and too short. A majority 58% of a focus group will wonder why it doesn’t have pull-back bars and forward controls. Heads will nod gravely, changes will be made, and the prototype bike getting rave public reviews in the motorcycle media will be ‘massaged’ into something for the mysterious and elusive Everyman. Such is life in the take-no-chances-that-will-threaten-my-job corporate world.

  13. says

    Regarding the blue pipes, thats what happens to single wall chromed steel pipes when the get hot. Most Japanese bikes of the “Chrome pipe era”, had a double walled pipes. The actual inner header pipe would go all rainbow and the outside would stay a pretty silvery chrome. In theory!

    Normally I would do stainless pipes, which after polishing, look like chrome. They turn a light gold which I find attractive. But they can be hand polished with Simichrome to get them sparkly silver again. Or just ceramic coat them and they stay the same color almost forever.

  14. Oldyeller8 says

    Saweeet! It ain’t quite a Bonne though!
    I’ve always liked the look of Street Trackers and Scramblers. One of these days I will take Paul’s advice and build a CB250 Nighthawk Scrambler. Before that I need to work on my machining skills so I don’t end up making a pile of scrap metal.

  15. HoughMade says

    Why don’t OEM make these? Committee think as noted above, but keep in mind that they did, in fact, sell every bike that is customized. I know that’s obvious, but they will make the dollars and cents analysis of what it would take to make a short production run and if the price premium will not support the move (with a greater profit that the base version, of course) they will not do it. The base for the customizer comes from somewhere, so if money (rather than a “halo” product) is the goal, they would have to estimate that they will make more money than just selling the base version which requires no proction shutdown and no retooling. Sometimes the numbers work or the added cache’ is worth it (Thruxton anyone?), but it’s no small task to retool for a short run.

    …and why would we want to put Mule out of business?

  16. Bob says

    Richard,

    Another beautiful bike. I know it’s mixing brands’ styles but XR seats look good on any tracker, street or dirt.

    I know you think it looks too much like a poseur, but, I really like the look of number plates. Maybe if they’re stylized and downsized to a flyscreen up front and abbreviated panels on the side.

    Long time ago, Cycle World had a feature on a vintage Triumph streettracker… it had a number plate up front with a huge “Mooneyes” logo and tiny headlamps in the pupils. Made me laugh the first time I saw it. But, it looked good. Compared to much of the “custom” bikes turned out of shops or from the driveways of misguided owners, number plates can be relatively understated and tasteful.

    I was hoping Triumph was going to get into the streettracker market when Richard did that first bike for them.

  17. says

    this is such a nice piece of work. mule always gets it but this piece really looks the part.
    you look at and want to ride it…it works in harmony… a work of motorcycle art..
    i see a trend here by most of us wanting a sporty tracker.. will the manufacturers ever get us? thats why we build i guess..a perfectly balanced motorcycle what a concept…..

  18. says

    Very nice looks indeed – near perfect, in fact – but it’s a shame about the engine; I may be the ONLY one here thinking Sun of Mule thus isn’t the greatest Triumph ever to grace this blog, because those balancers inside the engine makes it about as exiting as the average refrigerator. It’s been years since I tried one, and I can still feel the disappointment. Go ride an old Bonneville, an XS650, or a Sportster, and you’ll know what I mean.

    There are new bikes out there, like the latest Ducati all-rounder, which have a number of settings available for bhp and power delivery. Wonder if there’s market for an engine management program where the rider can ‘dial in’ an amount of vibration for riding a low or medium speeds, and choose to have it pefectly smooth just for long distance riding at high speeds.

  19. todd says

    I’d hardly call this a “budget” build but I guess even a large budget is still a budget. While this is excellent work most of the time I find it more interesting when people are able to put stuff together with much less. I’m also wondering why the owner didn’t try to do this himself (except widening the rear wheel, I’d hate to trust my welding skills there). I guess there are plenty of people out there with more money than time or tools or desire to do it themselves. That’s what keeps Mule in business.

    I’d just hate to be the owner when someone walks up and asks, “Hey that’s great. What did you have to do to fit that tank and seat?”. I think the answer would be (other than “I dunno”), “I opened my wallet and it just worked.”

    -todd

  20. johnny says

    wow, it looks fantastic-Mule makes the best flat trackers in the world! the old Kawazaki wheels suit it really well.

  21. says

    Beautiful bike–that could easily come live in my garage. Right beside my Triumph Speed Triple. Nice job. Wonder what a custom like that would run…

  22. Greybeard says

    As beautiful as this looks here you truly don’t get an idea of Richards skill and
    sense of style & design until you’re up close and personal to an example.
    You look at details and say “but of course!” “That’s how it SHOULD be!”
    I’ll wager a lot more went into that bike than we’ll ever know.

  23. says

    Kim,
    There’s tons of hop-up goodies for this motor and in fact a “Generous Budget” bike that will be competed and unveiled this Saturday makes close to 80HP at the rear wheel with a stock cylinder and pistons. Pretty good considering the stock motor makes about 50 at the wheel. Add to that the bike will end up at less than 315 lbs(!) and I think there’s plenty of excitment potential for everybody.

    Todd,
    The customer is a well known Jazz musician and not a “Wrench”, so he didn’t just build it himself. I think he still deserves a nice bike though. Just didn’t have unlimited funds.

    I strive for continual improvement and I want each bike to be better than the last. I like this better than the two previous ones and the next one will have some serious shock value, yet still be somewhat traditional!.

  24. joe says

    Interesting bike, good to see they use a new Bonneville engine,they are ultra reliable and leak proof,plus, the balance shaft stops the body work from cracking and falling off like the old Triumphs.I’ve had many of the older Triumphs,they look nice but they need constant mechanical work .The new Bonneville engines are light years ahead, I toured the US and Canada on one and it never missed a beat or spilled a drop of oil.

  25. says

    That’s the customers call if he wants to share that. But he got the deal of the century I can tell you that much.

  26. Scotduke says

    Nice – moving the radiator behind the frame tubes improve the look overall – gets the Hinckley Bonnie looking more like the original Meriden T120. Maybe it’d be better with spoked wheels but I’m nitpicking.

  27. mark says

    Scotduke, it’s an oil cooler, and that’s actually the stock mounting position.

    Agreed spokes would look nice, but I’ve just never been a big fan of cast wheels.

  28. JerseyMayhem says

    Love those tires! I like the bike alot. But like a few have said….what was this “tight” budget, there is some real work done to this bike. Just for reference when i do a project on a “tight” budget its like $1000…currently i have a power budget for my buell of $500 and a looks budget of $500.
    Well anyways its a beautiful bike and I am looking forward to more from Mule, maybe I’ll have them build me a street tracker one day.

  29. Bob says

    The new Triumph twins are a great starting point for a streettracker. You get to keep most of it in the conversion. See the pics of Joe Kopp’s mile winning Ducati? Pretty bike, but, you need a new frame. Framers look best. Richard, put that on your list. That 916 you did… just didn’t look right.

    Someone needs to correct the new XR1200. Also on the wishlist, framer with the new BMW 650 motor. Instead of Paris-Dakar, PD could stand for Peoria-Daytona. Motocarrera’s done cool stuff with old RD’s. Update that a bit with an RZ350… sort of the junior version of Kenny Roberts’ TZ750 dirt tracker. Angling back to the Ducati, maybe a streettracker with the old Pantah, Cagiva Alazzura/Elephant motor. It had the rear facing carb on the back cylinder… just like the XR750s.

  30. Kachunk says

    I agree with 4Cammer. Why the passenger pegs? I guess its part of the exhaust mount, but there is no seat for a passenger!
    And the chrome on the airbox cover is out of place. Needs to be the same color/texture as the engine case. Maybe a filler panel behind the taillight.
    I’m nitpicking, but its a real nice package and I definitely like it.

  31. says

    On my wish list is the new 650 twin Kawasaki, 800 twin BMW, Triumph Speed Triple, Moto Guzzi (not an Ambasdor), Honda VT1000, TL1000 Suzuki and I really like the new Honda Shadow RS which I think other than a used bike would be the cheapest entry cost. I did build an RZ with DT bars and wires wheels that was very trick so I like the RZ idea, although I never cared for the Moto-C RD’s. They never looked right sitting tall with a flat seat and short wheelbase. Dirttrackers have a cool feel because you sit down into them, not perched up on top. I do have a SKi-Doo motor (twin) that could make a potent and light…..something! Not sure what.

    I think a Ducati needs the look of the water-cooled motor without th radiator or a smaller thicker custom one, maybe one based on the Hypermottard. Really, just about any bike!

    Idea: Have a bike build off, but you don’t know what bike you’re going to get until it starts. Builders would draw bikes from a hat and have like 2 months. Come back for a big showdown. Put them all up on a website for a couple weeks and everyone would get to vote. The winner gets a new Ferrari Testa Rosa or a new hat or somehing very bitchin’ like that. Some sponsors would supply the bikes that would have to be decent condition used or even new bikes from manufacturers. Regardless of who won, they’d all be very cool looking and an asset to the Companies that provided them.

  32. Jon Hutchison says

    Pretty Bike. Rather than a factory copy, why not sell a roller with anEPA/Carb engine and shops or individuals can customize at will? Or perhaps like Royal Enfield, reach into a parts bin to mix and match as desired. Why pay twice for fenders, tank pipes perhaps wheels? Mule, Storz and others could do some limited production runs

  33. Tim says

    ooooooh. a new hat! Great idea. Richard, and Matt Hotch, some backyarders, and Jesse James is probably looking for something to occupy his time about now.

    Pitch it to Thom Beers: I’d watch!

  34. says

    Kachunk, Very good points and I love criticism from people who know what they’re talking about. There is no place for a passenger and I installed large aluminum washer/spacers in place of the pegs. However, Bonneville Customs, makers of the pipes, machine/cut a large verticle slot into their muffler mounts which I couldn’t cover the way I would have liked. When I had gotten to the point where I made not one dime on the bike, it was time to stop and cut my losses. Hence the pass pegs were re-installed.

    The bike came with no side covers and thinking budget, the chrome ones were cheaper than stockers and then having them painted to match.

    You’re right on the inner seat panel also. I just had to stop. I have many other bikes in work where I’m making more than $2.00 per hour that needed my attention.

  35. Tim says

    I have a pair of lightly used bullet indicators I will send you to replace the stockers on the front if you want them.

  36. Pedro says

    The look of this bike is something that, in my mind, differs from a lot of the other builds Mule has done.

    To me this screams “Street-Rocket”. It resembles an old dogfighter from WWII and would draw looks along the street, regardless of passenger pegs, and the chrome covers. In fact, the chrome covers give it a somewhat refined look. It adds a bit of shiny for the handlebars and other chrome pieces, balancing out the level of pure color tone vs. flair.

    For everyone griping about a “factory edition”, this is the closest and best that you’re going to find.

    Plus, why strive to take the business away from a shop that you’re too cheap to commission to build a bike for you? The factory SHOULDN’T begin producing these things en masse. You’d be putting a real artist out of work, and whoring the good work that comes from a vision/strive to perfection.

    I like the idea of having to go to places like Mule for my custom ride. Why get a mass produced piece of tin, when you can get something that has the personal touch?

  37. Thom says

    I’m curious why you didn’t use high pipes? All the pictures I see of dirt trackers of any type from back in the day had high pipes. Why not modify a set of the original pipes from a Scrambler with some reverse-meg mufflers? Other than that, the look is nailed. I LOVE the 19″ wheels on both ends, too. Shame Harley didn’t try that. Might have taken care of some of the awkward proportions of the XR1200.

  38. says

    I guess I should make a comment and some responses, since after all, this bike was built for me.
    First off, Richard did an AWESOME job. PERIOD!
    We did have our differences (and a few arguments) at first but in the end, the results speak for itself. In my experience the best results are almost always achieved after struggle, and that’s exactly what happened.
    Being a music producer myself, I find that this project went as one of my musical projects would. I produced and directed an artist (an exceptional artist) to achieve this amazing final result, within a limited budget.

    PEDRO: I like your comments the most, we are definitely on the same page.
    TODD: Man, I am a music producer / musician, what the #$%@ do I know about mechanics? Do I want to learn? NO! I leave that up to other people who do that for a living.
    MULE: Great great job RIchard. You’re the man.

  39. says

    Thom, If you look at all the bikes in the history of flattrack racing, only the later model Harley XR’s have used high pipes. That’s the only one, save for a custom or two. The “True LOOK”, would actually be 2 megs on one side with perhaps a bit more upward kick. Perhaps the Scrambler pipes reworked could look acceptable. I have trouble getting past the “Mattress” though, so I avoid the Scrambler pretty much. The 60′s-70′s Scramblers were absolutely gorgeous! Too bad Bloor couldn’t recapture that feel. I’d buy one!

  40. Tim says

    The two details I like the most are the chrome sidecovers. (blingalicious!) and the cutaway stock coutnershaft sprocket cover. I removed mine to clean it on Sunday and its partly a “Style cover”, so machining that part out of it is a great little detail.

    serious about the indicators by the way!

    @ Richard: I ride a Scrambler, and its an excellent bike, surprisingly good on shingle roads and not-too-rough tracks. By no means a dirtbike. Not sure what you mean by the “mattress”: is that a reference to the stock pipes? (which along with the AI, stock shocks and fork internals were the first things I changed on mine) Enquiring minds and all that.

  41. says

    Tim, Sorry, I left out the word “Seat”. It’s big and flat and puffy looking. Take a look and compare it to the 60′s-70-’s ones. They put you down into the bike quite a bit more.

  42. Tim says

    Ah! The thing with stock Triumph seats: they are big and GREIVOUSLY uncomfortable.

    i’m running the accessory gel-seat on mine, but may actually move to a completely rebuilt/re-covered seat on the stock base.

  43. Dawg says

    Just seen Richard’s latest creation – SWEET!

    Great to see how much enthusiasm there is for customising the Triumph bikes. I’ll bet John Bloor is more than happy even if they don’t have their own street tracker yet.