Calum Pryce-Tidd is one of the most methodical and thoughtful bike builders operating in Europe today. And his philosophy is spot on: “It’s important not to tear up a great production bike to make something harder or less practical to ride,” he believes.
“So we retain the core of the bike, and then improve it with lightweight bodywork and upgraded components.” This means more of the right stuff, and there’s a lot of the right stuff on this ultra classy Triumph Thruxton R.
Builds from deBolex hark back to the classic era of vehicle design, which Calum describes as “a combination of effortless style and a fundamental quality.” The approach is akin to traditional coach building or race car engineering.
“Our build process is similar to that of the 50s and 60s racing eras,” he says. “Manufacturers would remove the heavy steel bodies from their saloons and sports cars, and replace them with lightweight aluminum bodies—and improve the chassis and engine performance at the same time.”
This Thruxton R was a no-compromise build, commissioned by Prince Mateen of Brunei. Given that the prince is a graduate of the Sandhurst military academy, a qualified helicopter pilot and a national-level sportsman, deBolex had some very high standards to meet.
“We had freedom in the design, so we built a bike completely true to our hearts and ethos,” says Calum. He and his partner, Des Francis, have taken influence from early TT racers, but added a unique twist and a modern edge.
First on the list was the chassis and stance. That meant a sandblast, plus top-shelf Excel rims with a clear anodized finish and stainless steel spokes. They’re wrapped in Metzeler Racetec RR tyres.
The suspension on the Thruxton R is pretty good in stock form, but deBolex have upgraded it with new fork internals and rear shocks from the British racebike specialist Maxton.
Then deBolex worked with Fastec Racing to design a new top yoke, and upgraded the front brakes to Brembo’s 484 calipers and 320mm discs from ISR. At the same time, modified Rizoma rear sets were installed with the help of custom brackets machined by Fastec.
“For the controls we added Magura HC3 master cylinders with a hydraulic clutch conversion, which gives a smooth and lightweight clutch feel,” Calum says. “Venhill Engineering supplied brake lines with stainless steel fixings.”
The attention to detail doesn’t stop there: deBolex have even relocated the drive-by-wire throttle unit to the belly pan, and converted it to a cable system for a more traditional feel.
The bodywork is all aluminum. “We started with the belly pan and radiator cowling,” says Calum. “The aim was to enclose the lower frame rails, and give the radiator a more tailored design. These were probably the most challenging pieces to make—there were a lot of angles, shapes and joints to consider to create a natural, unbroken flow.”
The scalloped fuel tank is closer to a classic café profile than Triumph’s original, and was shaped on a wooden buck. The fuel pump is mounted on an aluminum base, and the tank is topped off with a Rizoma fuel cap and one-way valve.
The matching seat and tail section use deBolex’s proprietary quick release design. There’s a pressed steel seat pan base, which is rubber mounted and can be removed via the original Triumph seat release system.
There’s more quick-release trickery on the fairing/racing number board, with a headlight cover that can be slipped into a soft bag under the seat.
With such bespoke bodywork on the cards, deBolex didn’t want compromise the lines by having to work around the standard wiring loom. They also faced complications in removing the standard instruments. So they decided to build a bespoke wiring loom and ECU set up.
“This work was carried out by X Bikes, who designed and built a highly-detailed loom,” says Calum. Deutsch connectors are used throughout the bike to add to the race feel and make maintenance easy.
The ECU and fly-by-wire control unit are now mounted under the seat and tail, compressed into a neat and lightweight package fed by a tiny Shorai battery. DeBolex have also added ‘Race’ and ‘Town’ riding maps, and a Cordona quick shifter—making the Thruxton R very easy to ride.
A Motogadget m.unit blue supplies power to the lights, including ‘m.blaze pin’ indicators and a Highsider tail Light.
With 87 rear wheel horsepower—according to the Cycle World dyno, because Triumph only quotes torque—the Thruxton R is a already a brisk ride. So deBolex have simply freed up the breathing with K&N filters and a new exhaust system, fabricated in-house from stainless steel.
The design takes inspiration from the traditional Siamese systems found on older Triumphs and the muffler is from the British company Keihan Systems.
The finishing is typically top notch. The frame has been powder coated in a glossy black, components such as the Motone switch housings and master cylinder bodies have been finished in a matt grey Cerakote, and the exhaust has been treated to a high temperature version of Cerakote—with all work carried out by Flying Tiger Coatings.
DeBolex carried out the paint and trimming in house, though, applying a Triumph Jet black with a metallic silver stripe and gold logos. The upholstery is a water resistant Alcantara fabric.
Before the Thruxton was fully built up, it did several stints on the dyno at X Bikes—to give it a smooth but responsive feel at the throttle. Then Calum took the bike to the famous Goodwood Race circuit.
“The cars and motorcycles that have raced there over the years have inspired much of what we do,” he says. “So it was a fitting place for testing and filming before handing the bike over to Prince Mateen.”
“We unloaded the Triumph on an early winter’s morning. After constantly checking the weather leading up to the test day, we were relieved when the sun burst through. It was our first chance to really reflect on the build in the most perfect environment—and the bike looked right at home.”
It must have been a magical moment. Straight out of the box, the Thruxton R is a magnificent flying machine—but this custom is truly next level.
deBolex Engineering | Facebook | Instagram | Photography by Tom Horna from Autohouse London | Film by Wolli Films
With thanks to Goodwood for their hospitality.