Article and Photos By: Alex Scott
Art and motorcycles have never meshed as well as they do in Chris Calvary’s 1967 Triumph. In fact, it conjures up some of the most eloquent adjectives; I can’t help but describe it as sick, awesome or just plain badass. His old school chopper is much more than just a head turner; there’s a lot more than meets the eye. Luckily, I had the pleasure of spending an entire afternoon with Chris and (or maybe even better) his Triumph aptly named, Bentley.
Chris is an artist by trade creating works from pinstriping, oil paintings, hot rods and choppers, and like many others, has spent his life surrounded by bikes. Down in Florida, his father, James “Cal” Calvary, raced Bull Taco and Harley Davidson flat track. Chris says he understood the freedom and loyalty that came with bikes and caught the bug at an early age. Whether it was because his father always had bikes around or meeting Evel Knievel at the ripe age of 12, bikes were going to be an inevitable part of Chris’s life.
Chris came across the ’67 Triumph T120R as more of a parts’ bike, if anything. Back then Chris had been spending his time building hot rods more than bikes, but with the encouragement of his friends, he made the build happen. Chris also had a close connection with a fellow Floridian and personal friend, Billy Lane, from Choppers Inc. Corresponding through letters and pictures, Chris consulted with Billy throughout the build. Chris’s friends, Edwin Fairhurst and Ryan Smith, were also integral players in the creation of Bentley.
The Triumph, being British, needed to keep some of its old school manners, but needed just a bit of new school flair and colonial influence. He could keep the British muscle, but it needed a lot of work. Chris originally started the build in his kitchen at his Dallas home. It would eventually venture off to Ryan’s shop but would find the bulk of its creation in that Dallas’ kitchen.
Chris wanted to keep the vintage look and didn’t even bother to paint the tank with all its imperfections; the lack of paint and the dimple added the right amount of charm. In fact, Chris liked it so much that he painted the frame and rear fender to match the rustic look. It took six different colors of paint, to be exact, that could replicate the complexity. But getting back to basics, Chris knew three things: he wanted it long, he wanted it loud, and he wanted it fast.
Sometimes it’s the small things that can really stand out on a bike, which is very much the case in Bentley. Anyone can build a fast bike, but adding 1967 pennies to the foot pegs and an alligator skin seat can really set it apart. Choppers Inc’s Six Gun grips and period correct coins from a chicken ranch in La Grange, Texas added a depth of creativity rarely seen. To top it, Chris got some more inspiration from across the pond in the form of Bentley emblems, to put on the tank, and even a 1967 Bentley emblem to put on the rear fender.
Chris sent pictures to Billy Lane, which was always returned with an emphatic letter. “Now that’s a chopper,” and “Who doesn’t love a chopper in the kitchen,” were some of the comments Billy made that stood out to Chris. Not much more could be asked from a friend and a mentor that has done so much innovation throughout the chopper world.
As an artist, Chris can appreciate making something from nothing. It is something special to take a bike you think is scrap and give it new life, which is exactly what Chris did. An artist’s eye, with a touch of inspiration, and plenty of time around choppers gave Chris all the ingredients to take Bentley to its potential. And it doesn’t like to sit around. “Why am I going to build a bike if I’m not going to ride it!” was one of my favorite lines Chris said during our time together, and trust me, there were plenty of them.
The energy radiating from Chris challenged even the roar of Bentley’s engine. It’s not every day you find a bike that reflects the personality of the builder so well, even if it is older and has a different country of origin. Like twins separated from birth, both Chris and Bentley have an old soul with a new twist on life, and style to spare. But artists are fickle, and the motivations are sometimes suspect. Chris, however, makes art for the sake of art, and in this case, the artist has created a piece worth holding on to. Chris made art that is in the form of (still lacking suitable adjectives that can truly encapsulate it), one badass, vintage Bentley.
Vintage Bentley tech sheet
Owner: Chris Calvary
City: Dallas, TX
Fabrication By: Ryan Smith-RMS Cleaved Customs
Year: 1967 Model: Bonneville Time: 3 Months Value: Priceless
Model: T120R Builder: Triumph/RMS Ignition: Stock
Displacement: 650 With An Attitude
Pistons: 30 Over Heads: Stock Cam(s): Stock Carb: Amal
Air Cleaner: Stacks Exhaust: Stock Primary: Stock
Year: 1967 Make: Triumph Shifting:
Make: RMS/Triumph Rake: 40 over Stretch: 7 Inch
Type: Springer Builder: Paughco Extension:
Triple Trees: Paughco
Front Wheel: 60 Spoke
Tire: Avon Venom
Rear Wheel: 40 Spoke
Painter: Chris Calvary
Type: English Color Blend Color: Antique Distressed Patina Chroming: Sho-n-Go Dallas molding: None
Bars: RMS Z-Bars
Hand Controls: Choppers, Inc
Gas Tank(s): Paughco
Rear Fender: Edwin Fairhurst Seat: Alligator Mother Road Customs Foot Controls: Stock
Oil Tank: Chris Calvary Speedo: Only at the Pool Taillight: Choppers, Inc Headlight: Lowbrow Customs Mirrors: Lowbrow Customs photographer: Alex Scott