NEXT EVENT: Saturday 20th July 2019, Autojumble - Gates Open 9:30am-3pm - TW16 5AQ

Kempton Park Motorcycle Autojumbles - Dave Degens, Dresda

Dave Degens and Tritons are all but synonymous. The distinctive Tritons built by Dave and his small team over the years are widely known and prized here in Britain and internationally as "Dresda" Tritons, after the small shop in Putney where they were originally built.

Dave doesn't claim to have invented the Triton; the first he remembers seeing was on Salisbury Plain in about 1954. It was owned by Johnny Gray who gave him a tow home to London after Dave bent a valve on his first bike, an ex-army Matchless 350, on which he'd enthusiastically raised the compression by eye with a dreadnought file.

Dave built his own first version of the Triton for Geoff Monty in 1963 when he came back into racing after finishing National Service, but the name of Dresda really hit the headlines in 1965 when Dave built a Triton by putting a pre-unit Triumph 650cc engine and gearbox into a Manx frame and took it to compete in the prestigious Barcelona 24 Hour race at Montjuic Park.

Against all the odds and a formidable line-up of works teams and riders, Dave, and his co-rider Rex Butcher, brought the silver and blue Dresda home in first place.

Dave Degens at Kempton AutoJumble

Guy Fithen (Author), Eric Patterson and Dave Degens at Kempton AutoJumble

Dave was already a well known rider on British tracks with many National and International wins to his name riding for sponsors like Geoff Monty and Sid Lawton, and winning high-profile events like the Thruxton 500 in both 1964 and 1965, and the Scarborough Gold Cup in 1969 using his own lightweight Dresda frame.

If the big manufacturers had hoped Dave's win at Barcelona in 1965 was a flash in the pan, their irritation was compounded in 1970 when he returned to take a second victory, this time with a Dresda using a unit 650cc Triumph engine in a specially constructed frame of his own design, based on the geometry of the Aermacchi machines on which he had enjoyed so many short-circuit racing successes and lap records.

When Japanese four-cylinder motorcycles arrived on the racing scene in the late 1960's and early 1970's, Dave developed a new range of aftermarket frames from his racing experience that gave handling to match the available power. Dresda-framed Honda fours raced successfully at the Bol d'Or under the French Japauto banner and in the U.K. under Honda Britain.

Dresda Motorbike

A Dresda bike on the track

In the Classic Racing era, Dave continued winning in his smooth, hard-charging style on a series of unit 500cc Triumph Dresda machines that more than held their own against remanufactured and often heavily-redesigned interpretations of Manx and G50 racers.

Constantly innovating, introducing ideas like box-section swing-arms in the 60's and four-into-one exhausts that later came to be taken up by the large manufacturers, Dave continues finding ways to 'improve the breed'. Most recently, JAP V-twin engined motorcycles he built and fettled have broken three speed records at the Bonneville Salt Flats speed trials in the USA. He has also won awards at top prestige concours events such as Louis Vuitton Classic and Salon Privé.

Dave has also appeared on TV in the Massive Speed series and Cafe Racer on the Discovery channel.


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