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Triumph a crown jewel for local man

June 03, 2002|by MARLO BARNHART

marlob@herald-mail.com

Twenty-five years ago, Lionel Burkholder learned of a limited edition Triumph motorcycle being offered to commemorate Queen Elizabeth II's Silver Jubilee.

"As soon as I saw the picture, I knew I had to have one," Burkholder said.

On Sunday, Burkholder, of Hagerstown, rolled his special collector's item out into his back yard on the occasion of the queen's half-century on the throne.

"I wanted to get one of the first 50 but they were apparently really popular," he said. Only 1,000 Bonneville Silver Jubilee Triumph motorcycles were made in 1977 and Burkholder got No. 91.

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A veteran of 40 years in the motorcycle business, Burkholder responded to the advertisement, plunked down his check to the Triumph motorcycle company in Great Britain and waited at the Port of Baltimore for it to be delivered.

Handcrafted in silver and chrome, the cycle is accented with red, white and blue striping. The distinctive seat is also specially designed for this limited edition cycle.

"Yes, I've had it out on the road a couple of times but I don't ride it much anymore," Burkholder said.

As perfect as the day he bought it, the Triumph shines with custom chrome accents designed specifically for this model. On each tank and side panel there is a commemorative badge noting Queen Elizabeth's Silver Jubilee.

"It not only has its original spark plugs, it still has air from England in its tires," Burkholder said.

The Triumph is the only motorcycle Burkholder owns. He is employed by Twigg's Cycles on Dual Highway. Back when he bought the Triumph, he had his own shop, L&B Cycles Sales and Service - an authorized Triumph dealer.

When Burkholder took delivery on his special cycle in 1977, he received a framed certificate noting that his Triumph was the 91st to be sold of the 1,000 made.

"I also got a full-color book about the royal family in 1977 with pictures and the history," Burkholder said, leafing through the edition.

Trying to explain the thrill of owning his special Triumph for the past 25 years is difficult for Burkholder, who realizes not everyone feels the same way about motorcycles as he does.

"Motorcycles are my passion and my life," he said.

And while his wife, Dolores, doesn't share his passion for motorcycles, she understands. "I don't think she's ever been on one but she knows how I feel," he said.

Burkholder said he knows of a club formed by people who own Silver Jubilee Triumph motorcycles but he has only met one other person who owns a bike like his in 25 years.

Queen Elizabeth II, now 76, was 25 when she became queen upon the death of her father, George VI, in 1952.

Four days of festivities have been scheduled to mark the Golden Jubilee commemorating her 50 years on the throne as of June 2.

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