With the next generation of chopper lovers transitioning from skateboards and motocross to rigid frames and street motors, it’s small wonder that skateboard icon Steve Caballero had Bryan Thompson of Thompson’s Cycles create this 1952 Triumph Pre-Unit for Born-Free 8. Not only is the California native a pro skateboarder, but he’s also a musician with a penchant for toys, comic books, classic cars, and traditional hot rods. Famous for the vertical skating he’s amazed us with over the years (and setting a record for the highest air achieved in a half-pipe), Caballero seemingly knows no bounds and his creativity runs straight to the edge. Among a ton of other accolades, Thrasher magazine even named him Skater of the Century in ’99. Can you say living legend? This bike is also pretty renowned, as it is too classic to be a chopper and too custom to be considered a classic. So don’t ever try and pigeonhole it as anything except being a shining example of just how clean a custom Triumph can be built.
Unlike some famous folk, Cab didn’t take up motorcycling later on just because. He damn near started riding and skating at the same time. In 1980 he turned pro during the Gold Cup series at SoCal’s Oasis Skatepark and had invented the Caballerial (a.k.a. the fakie 360 ollie). A year later, he had his first motorbike. And he has been jamming on two wheels both on the street and in the dirt ever since. Here’s what Steve and Bryan had to say about this Indian-inspired meld of British and American classics.
How’d you get into riding?
SC: I bought my first motorcycle while I was still in high school. It was my very first mode of transportation, a 1981 Honda MB5 50cc.
Tell us about your custom-bike experiences. How’d that start?
SC: Well, I don’t build bikes, but I like to design and have tons of ideas of how I like my bikes to look, so I’m more on the creative side, but I’m sure if I tried I could turn a wrench or two…
What appeals most to you about bike building?
SC: I like the process of having a vision and seeing it all the way through. Collecting parts is my favorite—the hunt for rare and special parts is always a great time.
If you started building now, what would you do different?
SC:I would build a whole different bike and look. I think it’s good to expand your creativity and build bikes you don’t normally see or something you would really like to see.
What’s the hardest part of getting a bike built for you personally?
SC: Coming up with the cash and the time to sort out the parts. It’s expensive building a showbike, and it takes a lot of time. But I’m amazed at how fast I found all the parts for this bike and how fast Bryan Thompson put it together, being that he was also working on his Born-Free 8 invited builder bike at the same time. He’s amazing and gifted.
What bikes do you like most?
SC: I like things that look old, so anything prewar and vintage gets me excited.
With a pure passion and a hustle mentality, we got her done and paid off. It's my first showbike, and it was quite an experience working with Bryan Thompson.
Tell us about this bike. Why’d you have it done?
SC: I wanted to see if we could make a Pre-Unit Triumph look and have the same feel as a prewar Indian Scout, hence the name of the bike, The Scout.
What was the goal going in?
SC: To find the most rare and coolest parts and put them together so it looks like this bike came off the showroom floor and looks like a factory-made bike. I did a lot of research online to see what vintage Indian Scouts look like. Bryan also got the original paint code from Indian for the color of this bike.
What’s the coolest aspect of this Triumph, in your mind?
SC: I think the prewar girder front forks built by Jake Engineering from England and the super-rare 1930s brass miller headlight I found just set this bike off.
What do you want mentioned in this story?
SC: I just want to mention that it was my skateboard fans who really helped get this bike going, from their love and support following the build on Instagram and Facebook and also to help fund this build in such a short time. Coming up with $31K in eight months isn’t an easy task to do on the side. But with a pure passion and a hustle mentality, we got her done and paid off. It’s my first showbike, and it was quite an experience working with Bryan Thompson. He’s a great guy and an excellent builder. One of the best!
How did this project start?
BT:It started with Steve calling me and asking if I could build him a Triumph. I said, “Yes, let’s do it.”
What was the greatest challenge?
BT:Well, then about 30 days later he asks if we can have it done for Born-Free 8. I thought about it for a few minutes and said, “Yes, let’s do that.” It was a lot of pressure to have two custom motorcycles done for Born-Free.
And the best part of the process?
BT: It was also a great feeling to get them to the show, done. And I won Best Triumph Pre-Unit with my bike while Steve’s bike was picked to go to Yokohama Mooneyes Show in Japan. I’m really happy with his bike.
|Steve Caballero's Triumph Scout|
|Website||Find us on Instagram @thompsonscycles|
|Build TIme||8 months|
|Air Cleaner||Velocity Stack|
|Exhaust||Lowbrow Customs cocktail shaker|
|Front End||Jake Robbins girder fork|
|Wheels, Tires, and Brakes|
|Hub||8-in. pie-crust brake|
|Pinstriper||Lucky B Design|
|Powdercoating||Central Coast Powdercoating|
|Rear Fender||Lowbrow Customs|
|Hand Controls||Bar end levers|
|Headlight||Old brass Miller light from the 1930s|
|Taillight||1930s marker light|
|Sissy Bar||Thompson's Cycles|