This is a Cheney Triumph based on the mechanicals of a 1970 Triumph Daytona. It was built in 1995 by Eric Cheney himself, an icon of the early off-road motorcycling scene who made some of the best dirt racing motorcycles in the world.
Motorcycles like the one you see here were used by the world’s best trials, scrambles, and enduro riders back in the 1960s, they typically had custom frames paired with the best engines and suspension people could get their hands on.
Fast Facts – A Cheney Triumph ISDT Racer
- Eric Cheney became a legend in his own lifetime, he spent WWII designing remote control submarines for the Royal Navy and taking part in risky naval supply missions in the Arctic. After the war he became one of the best off-road motorcycle riders in the world.
- He was struck down with a prolonged illness after contracting something while racing in Algeria, it ended his racing career but he took his engineering acumen and racing experience into a new business – designing and building motorcycle frames.
- Cheney used to draw his new motorcycle frame designs on the garage wall in chalk before building them, just using his intuition he was able to build some of the best off-road racing frames of his generation.
- The motorcycle you see here was personally built by Eric Cheney in 1995, he used the engine from a 1970 Triumph Daytona paired with one of his own frames, Ceriani forks, Koni rear shocks, and an alloy fuel tank.
When Eric Cheney left school at the age of 18 in 1942 WWII was well underway across Europe, the United States had joined the war just a year previously, and the tide seemed to be turned in favor of the Allies.
Cheney signed up for the Royal Navy right out of school, joining the exceedingly dangerous Arctic convoys that were dodging German U Boats and their lethal torpedos. As the war progressed he would work on motor torpedo boats, gaining invaluable experience while maintaining their high performance engines.
Towards the end of the conflict Cheney would work on what was perhaps his most interesting maritime project – he joined a team that was developing a series of remotely controlled submarines for the Royal Navy.
After the war Cheney was hired as a mechanic by motorcycle dealership Archers of Aldershot, this allowed him to put his mechanical training from the navy to good use, and he began to develop an interest in off-road motorcycle racing.
In short order he became one of the best riders in the country, alongside his frequent traveling companion Les Archer. Just as his riding career was on the upswing Cheney became severely ill with a disease he picked up in Algeria while competing.
This illness effectively ended his riding career, but it did help launch him into a new line of work – motorcycle design and development.
As a man with no formal engineering training Cheney proved to have remarkable natural abilities when it came to motorcycle chassis design. He once said:
“I know when it’s right and it screams at me when it’s wrong.” – Eric Cheney
Many of his motorcycle frames were drawn in chalk on his garage wall, he would rework the design until it fell right, then build a jig and weld up the steel tubing to create the first prototype.
Though this may sound somewhat primitive, his frames were some of the best in the world, they were loved by racers and Steve McQueen bought a number of them because he considered them superior to other makes.
The legend that grew to surround Eric Cheney and his designs has been so enduring that his company still exists today, and you can buy all new Cheney frames, rolling chassis, and turnkey bikes from them.
The Cheney Triumph ISDT Specification Racer Shown Here
The motorcycle you see here was built by Eric Cheney personally in 1995 in the same style he used for his iconic International Six Day Trial (ISDT) motorcycles back in the 1960s.
It has a hand-built Cheney frame with nickel-plating and it’s powered by a rebuilt 1970 Triumph Daytona 500cc parallel twin with a four-speed gearbox.
The bike has an alloy fuel tank, fiberglass side covers, chromed front and rear fenders, and Akront rims on Grimeca hubs. Suspension consists of Ceriani forks up front with adjustable Koni shock absorbers in the rear, and it has front and rear drum brakes.
Motorcycles like this were the lifeblood of the off-road racing scene in the 1960s, this one is currently being offered in a live online auction by Collecting Cars out of Surrey in the United Kingdom.
If you’d like to read more about it or register to bid you can visit the listing here.
Images courtesy of Collecting Cars
Ben has had his work featured on CNN, Popular Mechanics, Smithsonian Magazine, Road & Track Magazine, the official Pinterest blog, the official eBay Motors blog, BuzzFeed, and many more.
Silodrome was founded by Ben back in 2010, in the years since the site has grown to become a world leader in the alternative and vintage motoring sector, with millions of readers around the world and many hundreds of thousands of followers on social media.