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Survivor: 1967/'68 Triumph TR6C Desert Sled

 

Wes White now owns this perfectly crusty time capsule of a motorcycle that captures the spirit of late '60s/early '70's desert sleds. Long before modern heroes backflipped for TV cameras and energy drink contracts, tough men thrashed modified street machines in the lonely deserts of the Southwest USA and Baja. This is one of those bikes.

 

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This particular sled was owned by Motorcycle Hall of Famer Mike (Party Animal) Parti and was campaigned in 1969 and 1970. Wes White of Four Aces Cycle in Pacoima, CA, plucked it up a few years back and pulls it out once in a while for a rip around the parking lot. Its days of competition are over, and it's left as a monument to what Wes calls the "Essence of Mojave".

 

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Once Wes entered it in a concourse event where one judge told him afterward that his filthy bike was an "insult to the men who spent countless hours restoring their machines." Another judge at the same event loved the bike and understood exactly why Mr. White will likely never give this bike a bath. Don't want to scrub off that essence man, you can't get that back.

 

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The machine is built around a 1967 frame with a 1968 TR6C (single carb competition) engine. Like all desert machines, this one's built to win races of attrition--not for top speed or to win shiny bike shows. Significant mods abound. Note the pre-unit Lucas K2F mag which has been grafted to unit cases. Think about it, you wouldn't want a mag hanging off the side just to be wrecked the first time the rider dumped it in a sand wash. Other mods are questionable but period-correct. Did putting a few links of chain around the fork legs to "preload" the springs really work? Who knows, but it was one more place to carry a few extra links. The cross bar serves as a good location for a few more and a master link, of course. Can you imagine how valuable a master link was to the first desert racer who got stuck in the middle of nowhere without one? Saving the chain is a common theme as you look at the handmade chainguard fitted over the gigantic rear sprocket. Garden hose over cut-down folding foot pegs is a far cry from the cast titanium pegs riders use today. The gear box horn has been removed for better oil line access and the oil filler has been moved forward to be out of the way.

 

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Commented on 10-2-2009 At 05:12 am
 

That's a true piece of history there. A homage to real moto-cross. Too bad its all now been replaced with a bunch of bros who are more concerned with getting sponsored by Monster than actually racing motorcycles.

Commented on 10-2-2009 At 05:28 am
 

Ryan, I've got nothing against a modern motocrosser. In my opinion you won't find a more talented or dedicated athlete in any other contemporary sport, period. I hold early desert-racers in high regard and this story is more about the home-built soul/personality of the left over machine than anything else.

Commented on 10-2-2009 At 08:02 am
 

that's a mad-max machine, it needs a crossbow mounted to the handles

Commented on 10-2-2009 At 12:13 pm
 

Forget the crossbow that needs a 12guage mount. That thing is a true beast in all the right ways.

Commented on 10-2-2009 At 08:29 am
 

love that rear sprocket / chain retainer.

too cool bike

Commented on 10-2-2009 At 01:50 pm
 

Let's take that thing down to San Felipe!
Great bike!!

Commented on 10-2-2009 At 04:16 pm
 

Awesome bike.

Commented on 10-2-2009 At 05:10 pm
 

Wow! That thing is great. The chain on various parts would be a real life saver. Like the chain catcher too.

Commented on 10-2-2009 At 06:15 pm
 

Great article Bill, thanks for sharing with us such a cool bike and its background.

Commented on 10-2-2009 At 08:05 pm
 

All the attention to detial that counts on that bike is really bitchin

Commented on 10-2-2009 At 09:41 pm
 

Don't get me wrong, all of those guys DO have serious talent. I mean, I sure as hell can't do a backflip over the finish line, and they are great racers. It just seems like in the modern world of racing, unless you have some big factory sponsor, you wont be competing.

Commented on 10-3-2009 At 12:35 am
 

kick ass! every time i watch any given sunday and see the way the moto dudes did it back then it makes me feel like a real puss.

Commented on 10-3-2009 At 05:25 am
 

that's a rad fuckin bike-i wouldn't clean in either!

Commented on 10-4-2009 At 02:26 pm
 

The pre unit mag grafted to the unit just blows me away. What a great mod for a desert racer. Think of the work involved cutting up a pair of pre unit cases and welding up that timing case ear and making the mag auto advance gear mesh with the unit. I have no idea how you would get that timed right, it is just so cool.

Commented on 10-4-2009 At 03:08 pm
 

I agree Tyler. Such a purposeful mod, but how difficult was that? Would be a neat trick on a modern custom because people would freak on it.

Commented on 10-4-2009 At 08:49 pm
 

Thanks guys. I love the bike, it is one of my most prized possessions. Knowing Mike makes it sweeter. Mike tells me about coming up on wrecked bikes out in the middle of the Mojave when HE was lost, no rider in sight, no footprints to follow, just you and the coyotes. Motorcycle men were a little different back then, Mike calls them Cowboys. I got a chance to ride this thing in the desert with a friend of mine lately on a similar machine. He is 60 and rode them back in the day. It was awesome. He jumped shit!! I didn't. RAD!

Commented on 10-5-2009 At 04:55 pm
 

That looks like one of our finned points covers. Weird, wonder if it is.

Commented on 10-24-2009 At 08:42 am
 

That bike has so much soul. Most people looking at it wouldn't even know. Just some beat up old bike to them. Thanks for the article and pics. Just awesome.

Commented on 2-14-2010 At 12:20 am
 

Come on! Begging for a restore... That on has history behind it. Great call!

Commented on 2-15-2010 At 03:38 am
 

I love the fact that he put it in the concourse show. Just to really piss the show ponies off.

Commented on 5-13-2010 At 12:05 am
 

took real guts to blast across the desert on one of those. puny suspension and LOTS of engine. pure grit.

Commented on 7-18-2011 At 04:25 pm
 

That bike brings back some great memories. My first dirt bike had less suspension travel than my 90 Sportster. I raced MX in the early 70s and raced cross country and hare scrambles off and on up until about 2003. I have to say to anyone down on the current bunch of MXers that there is no finer group of people in professionals sports. I think it's also great that the sport has the recognition it finally deserves. Props to those Monster Energy and Red Bull riders. And props to folks Like Bob Hannah, Roger Decoster and many other legends for still being out there and showing these guys how to stay classy and ride feet up.

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