A Matchless bobber, huh? Well they're certainly not your average and instinctive choice for a flyweight Brit speedster; not when there are still Triumphs, BSAs and Nortons in the wild. Except that most of the usual suspects—not least suitable pre-unit Triumphs—are getting thin on the ground these days.
And there's no practical reason whatsoever why you shouldn't use a Matchless. The motors are tough. They're simple to work on. Parts are pretty easy to come by via the club. All the tech problems are well understood. And they cruise along nicely and fairly smoothly at reasonable velocities. The only real issue is whether these AMC heavyweights pop your eyes and/or get that heart a-fluttering.
Here at Sump, we'd normally have to declare that Matchless twins are not our usual classic motorcycle fix. But when they look like this, you know you have to shift your emotional furniture around and lay it out a little differently.
Put simply, this one looks cool.
The creator is Foundry Motorcycle, an outfit based on the South Coast (of England) near Chichester, West Sussex and rapidly building a reputation as a manufacturer of desirable custom motorcycle hardware.
What we particularly like about this bike (apart from the general poise and the detailing) is the finish. The battleship grey paint. The soft yellow sheen on the stainless pipes The faint blueness of the aluminium. And, of course, the black. It's all within a relatively narrow colour range, and is then highlighted with the Matchless "Flying M" which has to be one of the coolest bike badges of 'em all.
We could wax lyrical for a lot longer. But we've already got a good account of this motorcycle straight from the guys at Foundry. So for the rest of this feature, they'll be your compères. Take it away, gents...
▲ Foundry-built 1956 Triumph T110 bobber. Trouble is, the company builds 'em only to order and definitely isn't mass producing them.
"Paramedic and Buell riding customer Mick had fallen for ‘Old '56', which is our 1956 T110 Triumph bobber, but he couldn't wrench if from the hands of the owner. With T110s becoming more sought after, and with a financial strain as a donor bike, other avenues had to be considered.
"After plenty of Foundry coffee and a number of Saturday deliberations, the T110 morphed into a sweet running Matchless G9, and the challenge of creating a similar look and feel was on.
"Mick wanted the option of ‘returning to standard’, which is a challenge. But it's not an uncommon request, and the Matchless, with its bolt on sub-frame, is perfect for that.
"The 500cc G9 has a good looking pre-unit engine, and when well set up, has plenty of grunt for the type of bike Mick was after; i.e. an early 50s period style hard tail bobber.
"The frame, with its dubious looking cast centre section is not as good looking or as inconspicuous as the Triumph's, but removing the rear sub fame and springs and replacing with a Foundry-built hard tail considerably cleaned the look of the chassis.
"Mick tracked the build pretty closely, and as suggestions were made, he produced his own Photoshop renderings to check out our ideas (pretty good for a paramedic).
"The colour was probably the area of greatest debate. It’s so tempting on a bike of this type to stick with a black frame and just colour the tanks, but we wanted to give it a different feel altogether. We moved away from Mick’s original idea to keep the Matchless chrome, maroon and gold tank and the light grey frame and darker grey tanks worked out really well. The only nod to the original Maroon and gold scheme is the tank badge and the Foundry brand on the oil tank courtesy of Dennis at D-Lucks. He matched the ‘worn’ look of the tank badges perfectly.
"Originally, the exhaust pipes were to be wrapped like ‘Old ‘56”, but Tom produced such a neat pair of short twin pipes with double flared ends that they were left unwrapped. They’re un-baffled and sound great; not too loud, but with a perfect crackle.
"Simon, here at Foundry, built the cantilevered seat from scratch starting with a long nose tucked into the cut out at the back of the tank, and resting on coil springs. But it looked contrived and ... well, all wrong. Version two shortened the seat and moved it back and onto scissor springs. The visual balance of the bike was restored again and the riding position is now really comfortable. The tank ‘cut out’ now houses most of the electrics.
"We feel that with all good custom machines, the art is in getting the balance and the attitude of the machine correct, and with the ‘old school’ bikes our aim is to give the impression that the machine could have come out of the factory looking as it does now. There’s a lot of work to give the impression that nothing has changed.
Other Modifications include:
Handmade oil tank and battery box
Custom rear fender
LED Rear light
7-inch ‘hot rod’ headlamp with machined mounts
Modified Teledraulic forks with exposed springs
Custom bars with Amal levers and grips
Side mounted original Smiths speedo
Skateboard wheel chain guide
19-inch wheels with painted rims, S/S spokes and Avon Tyres
Rebuilt Magneto and customer overhauled engine and gearbox.
Canister type remote oil filter
"The bike has probably lost about 50 kilos and is a hoot to ride (subject, of course, to the usual reservations about 60 year old drum brakes). After numerous visits and total immersion into the custom bike world, his Missus still can’t see what all the fuss is about, but Mick’s got his dream bike.
"That's what counts."