Article and Photos By: Chris Callen
So I have to give credit to Lisa for diggin’ this little Trumpet up for us. When we pulled into Vintage Torquefest a while back, there it was, a sweet little 1970 Triumph Tiger 650. The cat who owned it, 19 year old Elliot Grosshans, was quick to hook up with us to show off his first build; hell, his first street bike, I think.
I wondered how a kid of this age could ever come up with the salt to lay down a bitchin’ sled like this unless he grew up around some of the old boys I know, and from that, he had been building since he was like nine. In the end, it turns out that it wasn’t that far from the truth, as I found out from spending an afternoon with him.
Elliot has been into motorized cycles since he was a little boy. He started on three wheelers, moved up to fours and eventually started to drag race those quads. At that point, he realized that he couldn’t leave anything with a motor alone and had to make it fasterr .
Over time, he became pretty hip with the wrenches but I still wondered about the soul in this build. Well last year on July 27th, his birthday, Elliot had been watching The Harbortown Bobber and really started to dig on Triumphs.
From there, he started to look around for a project. About ten minutes from his house he found parts of what would eventually be this bike: a front loop gas tank, a clapped out hard tail and a parts’ motor that ended up only being good enough for mock-up. He soon realized that he’d need some more guidance to get what he was trying out of this. That was when he reached out to The Harbortown movie’s own Earl Kane. He explained what he was after, more of a traditional style, mid controls, low to the ground and a Springer. He would end up talking to Earl a lot as the time passed on this build but right away, he was on to some good things. He bought a hard tail from the guys at Factory Metal Works and enlisted the help of long time friend, Chris Hanson.
Chris would eventually be listed as the painter on this project but he was also in the fab, the whole deal really. Chris had always been a big influence in Elliot’s life since he was six years older and was always into cars.
Elliot took the project to Chris’s shop, Depot Customs, and they got started.
At first it went really slow. For like two months it seemed as if they were just feeling it out while Elliot got his bearings on the direction he wanted to take. From there a whole crew just thrashed on it. Chad Djernes, TIG welder and fab man, and Cody “Goat” Boelts who helped build the motor, were both added to the mix and it started to move. The bottom end of the motor was fresh but the previous owner had taken the top end off to powder coat the cylinders and when they sent the head out for a valve guide repair, bad news! The head was shot. Since they were doing a new top end anyway, a replacement was tracked down in Arizona that was a fresh rebuild.
The bike was finished for it’s maiden show, the Grand National Roadster Show in California and there it took second place. He’s had several other “Best of Show” awards but probably none better than being invited to bring the bike to the Playboy Mansion this October, although I kinda get the feeling that the Grand Nat prize still tops that. But this isn’t about the shows, although they are cool. Elliot gets down on this ride and says that the balls it has are incredible. It’s a fun ride that’s comfortable and is everything he had in mind when they started.
Now in the planning stages of his next build, a ’66 Triumph 500 that he’s planning on taking to this year’s, yep, Grand Nationals. You know, once you get the bug.
Elliot’s Tiger Tech Sheet
owner: Elliot Grosshans
City: Central City, NE
Fabrication By: Owner & Depot Customs
Model: Triumph Tiger 650
Value: Who Knows?
Time: 6 Months
Builder: Owner and “Goat”
Ignition: Hunt Magneto
Pistons: Bored .080 Over, 10:1 Comp.
Carb: 930 Amal
Air cleaner: Velocity Stack
Exhaust: Left Side High Pipes
Shifting: 4 Speed
Year: 1965 Make: Triumph rake: Stock
stretch: +6 Hardtail-Factory Metal Works
Builder: DNA e
xtension: 4 Under
Front Wheel: Spool
rear Wheel: HD Rim-Triumph Hub
Brakes: Stock Drum
Painter: Depot Customs’ Chris Hanson
Color: Kandy Brandywine
Type: House of Kolor
graphics: Voodoo Larry Customs
Bars: Drag Bars
gas tank(s): Mod. Mustang
Front Fender: None
rear Fender: Stainless Steel Duckbill
seat: Solo Spring
Foot controls: Factory Metal Works oil tank: Earl Kane-Cycle Art By Earl headlight: 4.5” Round
taillight: Brass Titmouse
Photographer: Chris Callen