By Jalika Gaskin

The ‘California Twin’ A Period Concept study & build by Alp Racing & Design

The sounds of industry are alive in our two car garage-turned-workshop here in sleepy Shadow Hills, Calif. Intertwined with bird song, passing delivery trucks, and windchimes in the breeze, you can hear hammering, then drills, then metal turning in the lathe. Alp Sungurtekin is applying the finishing touches to a pre-unit Triumph motorcycle with a familiar design that – strangely – has never existed until now.  His ‘California Twin’ concept is an ‘imagined alternative factory design’ from the pre-1956 era; a period-correct design study that might have been produced at the Meriden Triumph factory for the American market. In designing his alternative Triumph, Alp took the whole design into consideration, including bike geometry, the balance of lines and curvature, period correct paint & pinstriping etc.

While the ‘California Twin’ is a retro-fantasy what-if design from Alp Sungurtekin, both the bike and model/author Jalika Gaskin would have blown minds in 1956! [Alp Sungurtekin]
The project began with a matching Triumph crankcases from 1956, and factory rigid frame castings/lugs. The T110 pre-unit engine/gearbox combo had already been rebuilt by Alp to complement the redesigned (but stock-appearing) rigid frame. That frame is slightly longer and lower than the original Triumph rigid chassis, to suit our long and straight American roads. The steering head is a later swingarm-type headstock, which gives a slightly more stretched-out rake angle when combined with ‘offset’ rigid-frame type fork triple trees; combined with a slightly longer wheelbase, the chassis gives better handling at high speeds than the original Triumph frame.

[Alp Sungurtekin]
The exhaust pipes are considerably more streamlined that stock pipes, and feature progressive compound bends which Alp made freehand, by packing the tubes with sand and very slowly heating/bending the pipes. All sheet metal components are hand fabricated from aluminum sheet, with the exception of the front fender, which was fabricated from steel, to act as a fork brace and add to front end stability. Only a hammer&dolly and English wheels were used to shape the metal.

[Alp Sungurtekin]
The fuel tank has an edgy vibe, with an elongated top panel with a steep downwards slope, while the oil tank has its own design reflecting a period style. Other design choices made in honor of the era are the script and pinstriping on the tanks, which were used for only two years by  Triumph factory while still at Coventry before WW2, and date from 1935-1936, with some alterations to suit the shape of the tanks. Although this bike was made with speed in mind, the perfect choice for brakes had to be the 1-year-only Triumph 8” ‘Pie Crust’ hub.

Alp reckons the engine is identical to his 130mph Bonneville Triumph motor…[Jalika Gaskin]
The tanks and fenders allow the negative spaces in the frame to be filled tightly, and give a compact and sporty appearance…an ode to both Triumph’s racing legacy and that of the Alp & his team.  This motorcycle was built to race the land speed trials in the Vintage Class at both El Mirage Dry Lake and at the Bonneville Salt Flats.  To further this concept, a small Lycette saddle with a custom designed ‘Bum Pad’ were used; the pad isn’t intended for passenger use, but for top speed racing, when the rider needs to slide his/her body back over the rear fender in a crouch, for aerodynamic advantage. The saddle and pad are made of elk leather, chosen for durability, flexibility and its beautiful grain, which will become more visible with wear.

[Alp Sungurtekin]
With all these elements combined in this single concerted effort, Alp Racing & Design provides a glimpse into a possible past today, with a street-legal racing machine built for the American market.  It’s a new-vintage Triumph that’s simultaneously strong, fast and classic.

Too much awesome for one small photograph…Jalika Gaskin and the California Twin. [Alp Sungurtekin]
[Alp Sungurtekin]
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