Words & Photos: Chadly Johnson
“If you ever sell that, I want first dibs” is a statement most of us have either heard or said ourselves. Most of the time this is merely a comment that never develops into reality, but sometimes this shoe string promise holds true…such is the case for a very lucky Shelley Barnes.
The journey of this amazing Triumph began when good friends Dave Fraizer and Bryan Thompson of Arroyo Grande, CA decided to take on a bobber projects at the same time. In usual blue collar fashion the process began at swap meets where the pair scrounged up many of the necessary old parts. Dave scored a ’64 650 Triumph motor and had the amazing Mickey Peters of Bakersfield, CA go through it top to bottom. Mickey dropped in a mild cam and a Bonneville head during the rebuild, and is also responsible for creating the bike’s custom oil bag and rear fender struts. The bike came together nicely and soon Dave was enjoying bombing it around the Central Coast, wearing a coat of black primer.
Former West Coaster, Shelley Barnes, who relocated to Minneapolis, MN is great friends with both Dave and Bryan and often visits her old stomping grounds. Shelley had witnessed the progression of Bryan and Dave’s bike builds and had fallen in love with the overall aesthetic of Dave’s Triumph. While visiting, Shelley would often ride around in a killer chop top ‘54 Chevy truck that belonged to Bryan’s wife Christine, and see the bobber in action which led to the infamous “if you ever sell that” statement.
Some time passed, and one day, Shelley received a call from Christine, sharing that Dave might be selling the bike to fund a house purchase. After a plan for payment was discussed with Dave, Shelley became the “future” owner of the Triumph. Shortly after that conversation, Shelley made the trip out to California for the West Coast Custom show at Santa Maria. When she arrived, Dave tossed her the keys to the bike and told her she should ride it to the event. No money had been exchanged for the bike yet, but in Dave’s mind the bike was Shelley’s.
Since the Triumph was mostly in need of paint and finish work, Shelley was able to add her own vision for the bike, in the form of some finishing touches. Dave is not a painter, but good friend Bryan is an excellent one, so it was agreed that Bryan would take on the task. Once work began on Shelley’s bike Bryan was invited to be a guest builder at the Born Free 3 show. It was agreed that it would be cool to unveil Shelley’s bike at the Born Free show, the only problem was now Bryan needed to build his own bike for biker build-off, and he was already in the middle of revamping his wife’s 54 Chevy truck. Thus began a very hectic and fast paced winter for Bryan. He did all of this on the side when not working at his full time job as a lineman for the phone company!?
All the wiring was pulled inside the frame and a custom molded license plate and taillight bracket for an old Harley light was fabricated. AC plating in Bakersfield handled all the plating work and Bryan spent countless hours buffing out the finned aluminum components. When it was time for paint, Shelley wanted a classic look that was somewhat feminine. After some long distance consulting with Shelley, Bryan sprayed a gorgeous combination of champagne metal flake and pearl white on the bike’s tank and fenders. Lucky B designs laid down the perfect choice of a baby blue pinstripe that separates the two-tone paint and gives the bike a very unique and classy style.
The bike was finished with only a couple days to spare before Born Free. On the maiden voyage, Bryan recalls the bike idling around a group of other bikes when suddenly the taillight shot across the parking lot like it was shot out of a canon and nearly took out another beautiful silver Triumph. The Harley taillight survived the ordeal, but the glass lens was gone. In a scramble, another lens was located the very next day, and the light reinstalled--this time with a rubber mount. Shelley made the trip out for Born Free along with her good friend Donna who had her Honda bobber shipped out for the show. The Triumph was unveiled to everyone at the show, and was a huge hit with Shelley and the masses.
In yet another unique twist to this story, Shelley ended up purchasing Christine’s freshly reworked chop top ‘54 Chevy pick up, and Shelley and Donna drove the truck all the way back to Minnesota with the pair of bobbers in tow. Shelley recalls it was nearly 100 degrees for the entire journey home so they spent their days sightseeing and lounging at community swimming pools, and did their driving at night. Sounds like the way to road trip!
With the Triumph now at its new home, Shelley can be seen tearing up the streets of Minneapolis all summer long. The bike runs strong and Shelley has kick-starting it down to a science, and the two complement each other very well--gorgeous and classy.