Jekyll & Hyde: Norman Hyde Creates a Monster Bonneville

By Alan Cathcart, Photography by Kyoichi Nakamura

Half a century ago, Triumph's Bonneville became a byword for perform-ance, representing the epitome of British twin-cylinder engineering: fast, rakish, sweet-handling and stylish.

These days, John Bloor's born-again Bonnie has just clocked up its 10th birthday, but the are-born Triumph has yet to deliver a sharp-handling power-up derivative. That's all right, though: Norman Hyde has done it for them. Again. Hyde previously developed the parts needed to transform the stock Triumph Thruxton 900 into the Hyde Bonneville TX '60s-style café racer. He also created the Hyde Bonneville SS street scrambler, evoking the California cool of the classic-era TR6C street-enduro. Now Hyde has teamed up with Harris Performance, Britain's leading practitioners of the black art of frame design, to create the new-generation Hyde Harrier as the third in his trio of Hinckley Bonneville-based bikes.

The bike-building gospel according to St. Norman entails a successful blend of the old and new testaments. Indeed, with Öhlins suspension, AP Racing radial brakes, forged-aluminum Dymag wheels and serious attitude, the tube-framed, twin-shock Harrier is in every way a 21st century take on a '60s format, complete with lean, minimalist styling that's so yesterday once more.

Norman Hyde needs no introduction to dedicated Triumph enthusiasts around the world. His weekends were spent drag racing on a succession of ever more fearsome supercharged and/or twin-engined Triumphs of awesome performance and unlikely cubic capacity, all of which he created himself with the aid of accumulated factory knowledge.

Opening his own go-faster speed shop in '76, Norman Hyde Ltd.'s catalog at first bristled with parts aimed at improving the performance, handling and reliability of classic-era Triumph/BSA twins and triples, and Norton Commando twins. Then, to supplement this, in the '90s Hyde began developing a wide range of components for the modern Hinckley-built Triumph triples, to which he's now added parts for the Bonneville twins.

"Last year was the 21st birthday of our Harrier frame kit for the classic Triumphs, but it was also the 50th anniversary of the start of Bonneville production," Hyde says. "So I decided to ask the Harris brothers to help us produce a kind of jubilee edition that would let our customers start using the considerable extra performance that's locked up in the Hinckley Bonneville motor. It's a real blend of old and new, which I think the Harris boys got dead right. I hope our customers agree!"

Designed to utilize any pre-EFI Bonneville built between 2000 and 2007 as a donor bike, the basic Harrier kit (which sells for approximately $6300 at current exchange rates) consists of a Harris chromoly tubular-steel frame and swingarm, a 4.2-gallon aluminum fuel tank shaped to recall the Rob North works racers of the '70s, a seat unit, taillight, rear fender, rearsets, engine plates, battery box and sidestand. Besides the engine, this means the only major items retained from the donor Bonnie are the headlight, instruments, suspension, wheels, oil cooler and exhaust system. But Norman will also build one for you. If you ask nicely. And can pay.

The Hyde Harrier boasts a substantial power increase compared to stock, with 83 bhp now produced at the rear wheel at 7200 rpm, and 42 lb.-ft. of torque delivered at just 3000 revs. This comes courtesy of the revised engine package Hyde has concocted by boring the DOHC parallel-twin motor, as well as the beautifully made, freer-flowing and decidedly rortier-sounding twin-silencer stainless-steel pipe manufactured by Richard Bushell's Urbane Exhausts.

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