13 Jul 2012 | A staff bike swap sees Guido heading to the workshop
It’s all Snag Leech’s fault. There I was, minding my own business, when an email popped into view, asking if anyone was interested in his 1995 Triumph Super III – before he put it on the market.
He does that. Every now and then Snag decides to sell stuff and reshape his garage/life/whatever. I reckon it’s only a matter of time before some of his less attractive family members come on the market, too.
No matter. Like him, I’ve long had a Super III (Hinckley’s early-1990s hero bike, see MT #251) on the ‘must have’ list and this was too good an opportunity to pass up. So it was time to find the chequebook, which was whimpering somewhere in a dark corner, and hand over the readies.
It’s a low-miler and a peach – damn near impossible to find in that shape, particularly given the ultra-low production numbers, which are said to be as little as 150 units.
And you have to like the idea of keeping special bikes like this ‘in the family’, which a few of us have done over the years.
Despite having a couple of very careful owners (Greg bought it from a mutual mate, Stevie D), it could do with a bit of a freshen-up. That’s old bikes for you – they’re very rarely perfect.
The most obvious issue was the aftermarket D&D mufflers, which had deteriorated from looking like new to very scrappy in just a couple of months. I hope for the maker’s sake this is not typical – it certainly wasn’t a recommendation, nor the fault of the owners.
In addition, the tuning was out. Having worked for Triumph around the time the Super III was new, I got a lot of exposure to these early Hinckley models and knew from the first ride things weren’t as they should be. It went well enough once you got the tacho galloping, but the low-end was muddy, there was a midrange dip and the top end wasn’t particularly sharp. It could go fast, but was working harder than it needed to.
It was inevitable I’d take it to Charlie at Turn One Motorcycles in Melbourne, who has an exceptional track record with Hinckley Trumpets. He’s famous for his ability to fettle the carburettors on the T300 series bikes and for his understandable refusal to reveal his trade secrets.
So how did he come by them? His CV includes working for a Honda factory race team in the USA, where he met a carb guru from Mikuni. For Star Wars fans, this bloke turned out to be Charlie’s Yoda. Evidently Mr Y took a bit of a shine to Mr C and revealed some mysteries which have stood the latter in good stead for years since.
Previous experience with three other Hinckley bikes have proved to me that Charlie knows his stuff and can improve on standard without visible modifications.
So, I turned up with Sam the Super III (named after the infamous Slippery Sam race bike of years ago), the dud mufflers, and the near-pristine set of carbonfibre-wrapped stockers that came with it.
A week or so later, Charlie reported that the carbs had been fiddled with at some stage and were running rich. He’d reset them and applied the in-house tune.
Gripe number two was the front brakes had more lever movement than they should. They’re six-piston Alcons, essentially custom-made for the Super III and available as an accessory for other Daytonas and Speed Triples of the period. I have a set on my 1200 and love them.
In the mid ’90s, they were as powerful as you could get, requiring a delicate brake hand, and far better than the stock offerings on 90 per cent of the sportsbikes of the time. New fluid soon saw them right.
The suspension was fine, though I’ve set it up for personal tastes, which is a little down on preload at the front and up at the rear to sharpen the steering a touch. You can slide the fork legs up through the clamps for an even sharper response – which I’ve done on the 1200 – but I don’t really see a need for it on this bike. The 900 triples were already more nimble than their four-pot siblings.
It’s a slow steerer in current terms, but it’s also predictable and can be bullied into a quick turn when you need it.
The final touch was the rubber. It was getting on a bit and I know Snag had it on his shopping list. Charlie suggested a pair of Michelin Pilot Power 2CTs, which is a dual-compound (soft on the outer edges, harder in the middle) set-up. Though not a huge fan of this style of tyre, I’ll admit it seems to do the job.
The steering response is good – it rolls in nicely and tends to hide the bike’s natural tendency to fall into slow corners. Grip is more than acceptable, given we’re not about to attempt lap records.
Along the way, Sam was given a full service – though it wasn’t due, if you look at the modest numbers on the odometer. That included oil (full synthetic is recommended by Triumph), brake and clutch fluid and coolant, along with the usual plugs and filters.
It was also a chance to go over the machine, fixing the odd loose fastening, adjusting the chain and even making sure the throttle movement was correctly set. That last item is a particular Charlie phobia, and maybe he’s right.
My only concern now was the sprag clutch, as the starter occasionally kicked back. My previous three T300s didn’t/don’t do it, but this one has. The right tune will alleviate the problem, as will keeping the battery up to spec with a trickle charger. Last on the list is the addition of an English right-hand switchblock (bought from a UK wrecker), so I can turn off the headlights. There’s no isolator relay in the Triumph circuit and this at least takes a little strain off for a cold start.
The results? There’s still just a sniff of a flat spot in the midrange if you ram the flat-slide carbs open too fast and too soon, but ridden with a hint of sympathy it’s crisp down low and much more lively as the tacho needle climbs towards the red zone. A huge improvement, with a significant horsepower gain. Mr C reckons there might be a bit more in it, which we’ll investigate next service.
More importantly, it responds and turns like a new one – not bad for a bike nearing its 18th birthday.