The Son of Sam is a Triumph Trident 1975/6. The bike was a replacement for Slippery Sam.
The bike was ridden by a number of racers including Percy Tait, Alex George and Martin Russell in the Isle of Man TT.
Later, the bike was twice ridden in the Beezumph Rally by Mark Walker.
The Bike was owned by Burton Bike Bits from 1981 until it was sold to John Young. Below is John Young’s story of taking the Son of Sam to The Netherlands.
Now let me make this clear from the very beginning, this seemed like a good idea at the time!
The Netherlands Triumph Club were holding a one day rally to “celebrate” their 30th anniversary as a club. The highlight of the day was to be the drawing of the raffle to win a 1971/72 Bonneville and the person doing the draw was to be Les Williams. Amongst the other attractions was a display of Triumphs both Meriden and Hinckley.
So my plan was to ride “Son of Sam” over to the rally to put into the display. Over the last couple of years, I’d got to know several of the Dutch guys and it seemed like a worthwhile idea to help support their rally. Sonia was going on her T100 Bonneville, so we had the capability of taking our luggage (and tools) on that.
Having given both the Bonneville and “Son of Sam” a thorough check over, including installing the kit that converted “Son of Sam” from racer to tourer (see photo), Thursday afternoon saw us setting off for the chunnel. The plan was to stop Thursday evening at a travel lodge just north of Folkestone and catch an early train the next day. With “Son of Sam” having no lights, the journey to and from the rally needed to be conducted in daylight hours. All went fine until the M25 where we hit some serious traffic. Filtering for some 10 miles or so through solid motorway traffic is bad enough at the best of times, but on what is effectively a full blown proddie racer, with tall gearing, clip-ons and rearsets, the task somewhat taxes your riding skills. Trying also to keep my eye on Sonia following on her bike is also more than a little difficult when you have no mirrors and the ability to move your head no more than a few inches either side due to the riding position. However, after what seemed like an eternity we rode out of the traffic and on towards our planned stop. Of course, the unexpected delays on the M25 meant that the daylight was rapidly fading and by the time we turned off the M25 onto the M26, dusk was already upon us. There was nothing else to do but press on hoping that we could reach our digs before darkness totally engulfed us.
As the M26 filtered into the M20, the last vestiges of daylight disappeared. 40 miles to go and all we had was the headlight of the Bonneville and whatever light my reflector beneath my number plate gave off to traffic following me. We kept to the nearside lane since I was well aware that I?d be all but invisible to the lorries trundling their way southwards.
It was with blessed relief that junction 9 appeared and a short journey along an unlit A20 saw us arrive in almost total darkness at the travel lodge. Still, part one of the journey done. We could now have a good nights rest, and I needed it. Proddie racers are probably reasonably comfortable when you’re twentysomething, slim and fit. I’m fortysomething, fat and unfit ….
However, after a good nights sleep, the world always seems a better place. By 8 o’clock the next morning we were on the shuttle and heading towards France. We were sharing our compartment with amongst others, 3 guys on Hinckley Tigers who were somewhat bemused by what we explained we were doing and what exactly “Son of Sam” is. However we explained it, the words “yeah, but it’s a 30 year old racing bike”, kept coming from them.
As we left the train, the 3 Hinckley riders turned off southwards sitting on their gel seats, holding their heated handlebar grips, twiddling with their satnavs. Myself and Sonia struck out for northwards; no gel seat, no heated grips, no satnav. I mean, the total creature comforts on “Son of Sam” is an aftermarket horn fitted to satisfy the MOT tester once a year ??..
France became Belgium, Belgium became the Netherlands and it was time for another stop. I found I could comfortably ride for 75 to 100 miles before I needed a stretch and as we entered Holland, I was now again at that point. We stopped for petrol at the first service station inside the Netherlands. So far, the traffic had been fairly free-flowing and although the temperatures were once again unseasonably high, as long as I was moving along at between 60 to 80 mph, both the bike and myself were keeping nice and cool. It’s amazing how much heat a triple engine gives off. Under normal circumstances, it’s not that noticeable since the heat simply dissipates into the air, but with a close fitting racing fairing that directs all of the heat up past the rider, believe me, it’s very noticeable !
A feature of the journey so far had been that whenever we had stopped, the bike had attracted attention. This time, it attracted the attention of a Dutch police car. Both Sonia and myself saw the car pull up alongside the bikes as we were filling them up and we both did our best to avoid making eye contact with the two Dutch policemen inside it. After paying for the fuel we moved the bikes away from the pumps and the police car followed us. I hurriedly tried to formulate excuses for whatever traffic laws I?d broken. When we set out, it wasn?t crystal clear as to whether “Son of Sam” could be legally ridden through France, Belgium and Holland without lights or speedometer and bearing racing numbers, but we’d decided to “wing it” and see what happened. Here was the test of our theory – the car pulled up alongside and the police driver wound down his window???.. Well, all he wanted to do was to talk about the bike and wax lyrical about it. What we had here was a biking enthusiast who quite frankly couldn’t have given a damn about any traffic laws, he just wanted to hear the bike start up and me gun it as we rode away !!
From the service station we needed to cut across country towards Arnhem. The rally was being held at Raalte which is a small town about 50 miles or so north of Arnhem. We were only about 125 miles or so from Raalte at the Dutch border, but from here on the traffic became increasingly heavy. With both myself and the bike in danger of overheating, we used the hard shoulder wherever possible so that I could keep some air flowing through the fairing. Alex George and Percy Tait may well have lapped the Island at the thick end of 100 mph on this bike, but I bet they never had to filter through mile after mile of motorway congestion on a Friday afternoon and on the wrong side of the road at that.
It was nearly three hours after entering Holland that we finally arrived at Raalte. The bike smelt very hot and was indeed very hot. Inside my leathers, was not a particularly nice place either – I was wringing wet from sweat. We?d travelled just over 500 miles since leaving home and my spine had felt every one of them ! I was looking forward to parking “Son of Sam” up until Sunday. Interestingly, as we?d been filling up at fuel stations, “Son of Sam” had been using more or less the same amount of fuel as Sonias bike. It had worked out at around 50 mpg. Clearly the fairing must help fuel consumption. However the oil consumption was somewhat different. “Son of Sam” had consumed nearly one and a half pints in the 500 miles, no doubt in part due to near on 50 miles of motorway filtering both in the UK and then in the Netherlands. The Hinckley Bonneville had not consumed a drop.
After checking in and unloading the bike, a quick shower and change of clothes had me almost feeling human again. Given that we were both tired from the journey, we decided to eat at the hotel on the Friday evening. As we were enjoying our meal, a familiar figure came up to us to say hello, Les Williams. It seemed that the Dutch Triumph club had booked accommodation for Les and his wife at the same hotel as we were staying at. This was a pleasant surprise. Les had seen “Son of Sam” and the Bonneville parked outside when he arrived at the hotel and obviously recognised the bike. It was even more of a pleasant surprise when he recognised me! I think he was suitably impressed that I’d ridden “Son of Sam” all the way from the Midlands to the rally, although as ever, the very fact that Sonia had ridden her bike at all overshadowed any achievement of my own. As I’ve said before, a woman riding a bike is still a relative rarity and therefore Sonia always, and quite rightly, deserves any plaudits that come her way.
Saturday morning dawned to glorious blue skies and while we were breakfasting with Les and Joan, John Bouwhuis one of the main organisers of the rally from the TOCN came and introduced himself to Les. Once again, I was somewhat surprised when he seemed to know who I was as well, although he also seemed to know who Sonia was. It seems that I am forever to be cursed by being known simply as the guy who turns up with Sonia!
After breakfast, I took “Son of Sam” down to the rally site. One of the first people who I bumped into was Paul ten Broeke, another Dutch guy that I’d got to know over time. The rally was being held at the American Motorcycle Museum in Raalte, which is one mans collection of anything that is both American and Motorcycle related. Clearly Harleys are the predominate marque represented although there are a few Indian bikes around the museum as well as some other makes that I’d never heard of. Again, whilst the content of the museum did not exactly enrapture me, the style of the museum was a delight, imparting on the visitor the same garage type atmosphere that both the London Motorcycle Museum and the Norton Museum at Best manage to create and yet our own National Motorcycle Museum fails so spectacularly to achieve.
Over the course of the weekend, the speedometer on the Bonneville showed that the bike had travelled just over 1030 miles. Given that we’d used the Bonneville for the run out on the Saturday afternoon and then the ride out that myself and Sonia did on the Saturday evening, meant that “Son of Sam” had travelled probably around 850 miles. Apart from the incident as we approached the last stop, the bike had ran faultlessly. True, it had used some oil, but the fact that I’d been able to take what is after all a full blown proddie racer near on a 1000 miles through some pretty horrendous traffic at times and arrive back home, without major problems speaks volumes for the bike.
However – this is it’s first and last trip abroad under it’s own power. Whilst the bike coped admirably, I am just the wrong shape! The next time “Son of Sam” leaves these shores, it’ll be in the back of a van!!