Watson On: My Craigslist Triumph


Category: HFL

This past week I have been burnt, kicked very hard in the shins and am now also cut and bruised. I have also been electrocuted, soaked in gasoline and to cap it all some guy took all my money.

I’m probably making this sound like a street mugging, some people might agree that’s precisely what it is, but after months of searching I’ve found what I was looking for in a second bike

Some of you may recall that I was searching for something old, with straight forward mechanicals and completely different from my every day Harley-Davidson ride. It also had to at least be running, but with room for improvement so I could work on it over time. I was thinking something British, such as a BSA, Triumph or a Norton, as this would mean I could find parts and technical help if things got completely beyond me.

I spent hours scouring the classified ads of local newspapers and eBay. Laughing at the ridiculous prices people wanted for a pile of mis-matched parts that came with a salvage title and the promise that the bike started last time it was used. Everything I saw was either well out of my price range, or looked suspiciously like it had been stolen.

Craigslist Triumph

Then last week an ad popped up on Craigslist. Someone just round the corner from me had a 1970 Triumph Bonneville bobber that on the face of it seemed like an interesting bike. The owner said he’d owned it for three years and had spent some money and time on it. The brakes had been overhauled, the engine re-bored and, according to the ad, the bike started first time. More importantly, it was also in my price range.

Apparently Craigslist has become the social media network for mass murderers and serial killers to meet their victims, which is why the Triumph’s owner and I agreed to meet in a public place with lots of people about. So, I ended up at a nearby gas station checking over an elderly British motorcycle.

The Triumph’s owner had got there first, which was clearly a good sign that the bike ran and when I looked it over, I quickly realized that this was going to be the bike for me. It was in no way perfect but things that needed to work appeared to do just that. Nothing was falling off and I was strangely reassured to see the engine was leaking oil from all the places you’d expect from an old British bike.

Everything the owner had told me in his e-mail stacked up. I was not concerned that whilst the frame is a 1970 Bonneville the engine is from a 1972. I was not looking for perfection, I just wanted a second motorcycle that would be fun to ride and work on. We discussed price and I made an offer. The next thing I knew I had a Triumph Bonneville motorcycle sitting on my driveway.

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