Custom Triumph Motorcycle
“It all started from that beautiful tank,” Nicola Martini explains. “I was at a flea market of used parts of vintage motorcycles in Imola. I picked up that gorgeous tank of the ’70s; honestly, I have no idea which bike it came from. It wasn’t in that color, but I liked a lot the form. I thought it could be perfect for the special I was thinking to build.”
And so the British Racing Dream begins.
Martini, and his eponymously named Mr. Martini custom shop in Verona, Italy, is something of an anomaly. There he is, in northern Italy, surrounded by exotic domestic machinery, yet he is enamored with the triple-cylinder machines made on an island 750 miles away.
His love is deep, as he has owned a Triumph dealership in Verona for nearly 20 years. This Italian has the blood of an Englishman running through his veins.
The 1996 Triumph Sprint, which is the basis of the motorcycle Martini calls British Racing Dream, sat in the corner of his workshop for a while. It was unloved in a sea of more popular Speed Triples, Daytonas, and Tridents.
Not all of the Mr. Martini bikes are Triumphs, to be sure. The range of motors he has used for custom creations includes liquid-cooled Ducatis, BMW boxers, Moto Guzzi V-twins, and Honda thumpers.
He kept the Sprint and other triples around, however, for the bulk of his builds. “I know I will use them when I have in my mind to built a special,” Martini says.
The Sprint, the mysterious tank, and Mr. Martini’s next build come together with a fortuitous visit to a junk drawer. He opens it up, and inside are technical files for 1970s sports cars, a forgotten gift from a past dealership owner.
Looking through the pages, Martini is inspired by a car in British Racing Green. It reminds Martini of the 1973 Honda CB350F, and at the same moment he sees a Triumph Sprint carburetor out of the corner of his eye. An idea is born—build a classic with some modern components, sporty handling, and the convenience of a two-up seat.
Stripping down the Triumph Sprint, he replaces the 1990s front end with one from a Yamaha YZF-R1—with wonderfully incongruent inverted Kayaba forks. The bike is shod with Metzeler Sportec M5 Interact tires for optimum handling, and clip- ons installed to give the rider a better front end feel.
A custom airbox is built so the triple can inhale more freely, while his fellow Northern Italians at Zard fabricate the exhaust system. “The energy, dynamism and the sound has emphasized greatly the sensory level of those emotions,” Martini says.
Mr. Martini modifies the frame so a custom seat of their making can be fitted; it is upholstered with the leather from a vintage jacket. The electronics are reconfigured to clean up the Triumph’s appearance, making the motor the rightful center of attention, except for one thing—the tank.
The tank, as beautiful as it was, is modified to fit the shortened Triumph frame. Fortunately, the shape was retained and a Monza-style cap added, giving the British Racing Green tank a fully distinctive appearance.
“The inspiration of the design is a mix of sense of beauty and art, in general,” Martini says. “The most beautiful things are born from the mix of cultures and experiences. After all, the world is only one, right, man?”
“The hardest thing in the creation of a Special, was to reach the balance of shapes and colors, in tune with the rideability and handling of the bike,” according to Martini. “So, from an old British Racing Green, as the final result, I thought that the perfect name would be ‘British Racing Dream.’”
This isn’t the type of custom retro sport bike one might expect from Italy, yet it embraces and represents the café culture, which runs through motorcycling as you visit all corners of the globe. International in inspiration, yet a purely personal expression of affection—a Dream come true.
British Racing Dream (BRD) Specs:
- Engine: 1996 Triumph Sprint
- Airbox: Fresco, modified by BRT
- Exhaust: STM Evo slipper
- Fuel Tank: unknown (2nd hand market)
- Front End: Yamaha YZF-R1 w / Kayaba Forks
- Rear Wheel: Triumph Speed Triple T309
- Tires: Metzeler Sportec M5 Interact
- Headlight: 2001 Triumph Speed Triple
- Seat: Mr. Martini
- Side Panels: Mr. Martini-modified Triumph Thunderbird 900
- Fenders: front: Yamaha YZF-R1; rear: Mr. Martini