Located on SoCal’s famous Pacific Coast Highway, South Bay Triumph specializes in high-performance parts, services and complete bike builds via their aftermarket division known as Triumph Performance USA. Both enterprises housed under one roof are overseen by Matt Capri, with some 40 years in the industry both in sales, technical development and competition, having won at variety of race venues as well as established speed records on Triumphs, Nortons and BMWs.
SBT now offers a smorgasbord of go-fast parts, and its showroom displays a tasty menu of the latest Triumphs, Royal Enfields and the new snortin’ Norton. And if you’re looking for something way beyond stock, they can build you an SBT special. Case in point, the brace of hi-po Triumphs seen here.
My first encounter with Matt Capri took place in 1982 when he set part of Fullerton, CA on fire … at least that’s the way it seemed by the sound of all the smoke alarms that went screaming in the surrounding buildings once he lit up the back tire of his Luftmeister turbocharged BMW that I had gone to photograph for a magazine. During the ’80s, riding both standard and turbo-ed Beemers, Matt had already established several speed records.You could say Matt and his tire-melting bike got my full attention.
Back in 1964 and living in New York, Matt threw a leg over his first new ride, a 650cc BSA A10 Super Rocket. He didn’t get off it until he had ridden it to Mexico City and accumulated race wins across the country in four different classes, including drag racing.
Capri then transitioned to BMWs and built racing engines that helped them win the 1976 AMA Superbike championship. He then went on to found the Luftmeister brand and established seven land-speed records and joined the 200-mph Club aboard a BMW K100 turbo.
Moving onto Triumphs, Capri crossed the 200-mph mark again with a Daytona 1200. He also set the Triumph Stock Production record in 1998 with a Daytona 955, recording a 174-mph run. So, Matt’s been dialing in Brit bikes for a while, with his tuning talents focused on the new generation of Triumphs since opening his dealership in 1995. Today, I was standing in his SBT digs surrounded by several Triumphs treated to a serious amount of upgrading.
The red and white 2007 Triumph Thruxton pumped up with a 988cc stroker motor that, when flogged over the Utah salt flats at Bonneville, recorded 152.723 mph when ridden by British motojournalist Alan Cathcart. It went on to scorch FIM World Records at Bonneville in 2009.
The blue and white bike is tagged the Mirage RT, named for the El Mirage Dry Lake outside L.A., the traditional hot spot for SoCal land speed racing. The engine displaces 1147cc pumping a pair of 11.5:1 pistons fed by Keihin 41mm carbs that combine to produce 105 rear-wheel ponies. The component list includes a 50mm inverted fork, a rear Penske monoshock, Brembo anchors, and the motor tucked into chromoly 4130 chassis for a total fat-free weight of just 380 flickable pounds.
SBT’s “Tracker” boasts an orange-painted chromoly frame of just 32 lbs. stuffed with a hi-po’d Bonneville motor opened up from 790 to 988cc and plugged with 11.5:1 Arias pistons. In total, he bike is said to tip the scales at only 351 lbs. The racer makes 106 rear-wheel horsepower and 80 lb-ft of torque, a huge upgrade over the stock bike’s 61 hp and 47 lb-ft of torque. It boasts a welded stroker crank, hi-lift cams, ported heads, etc., so the power-to-weight ratio is more than stimulating. Street-version “Trackers” are available starting at a base price of $30k.
In addition to the SBT/Triumph Performance USA line of parts, they also build their own “crate motors,” with at least 40 of their 1087cc engines now powering bikes around the world. Set up for the street and running pump gas, the engines range in displacement from 865cc, a big-bore 904cc, a 988 (via stroker crank), 994cc big cylinder, and the 1087cc (also with stroker crank) monster. To make their power and maintain durability, only the best components are used, and thus the pricing. They range from $969 for the hot-rodded 865cc version to $11,000 for the burly 1087cc stroker. What you do with the motor is then up to you.
More of the SBT story is told in the photos and captions below. Further info can be found at SBT’s website.