Once Free – 1971 Triumph Tiger

It’s a 1971 Tiger that I originally got for free from a friend with a shop down the street from mine. He had owned it since 1971 and it hadn’t been moved or cranked since the early 80s. The project started with the name “freeloader” because the bike was free and I was determined to only use parts and scraps that I could get for free. Soon after, the guy that gave me the bike ran into money trouble and I gave him $600 “for the bike”. Then as I got further in the build, I realized that I am not wired to build a bike out of only free parts and loosened the budget. From then on the bike has been known as “Once Free”.

Project Details

Year 1971
Make Triumph
Model Tiger
Completed 2015

Almost all of the parts on the bike are used pieces I found on eBay. The motor was rebuilt by a local shop and it got a new clutch, high output stator and coil, electronic ignition, and a new carb. The frame, subframe, and swingarm were modified to accept a single shock in place of the two originals. The exhaust is all built from scratch including the 2 in-2out canister, which I made from the stainless steel of an old barbecue grill. It smelled like hamburgers when I welded it.

The front end is from a late 80s Honda Hawk GT and the wheels from a YZ450 super moto. I made the tail section from .090 aluminum and left it raw. The front fender is two random vintage fenders that I sectioned and cut short to snug up on the tire.
The most unique part of the the bike is the paint. I was inspired by the sketches of a local artist and had him hand paint the octopus after the base coat had been applied to the tank. The layout is my design, but I can’t sketch or paint, so I left that to the pros.
I set out to give the bike some modern flare while keeping the vintage charm. I think it worked.

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