Triumph Motorcycles Ltd is the largest UK motorcycle manufacturer. It was established in 1984 by John Bloor after the original company Triumph Engineering went into receivership. The new company (initially Bonneville Coventry Ltd) continued Triumph's record of motorcycle production since 1902.
In 1884 Siegfried Bettmann starts an import-export company. He imports German sewing machines and also sells bicycles badged with the name “Bettmann.” In 1887 Bettmann changes the name of his company to New Triumph Co. Ltd. (Later it will be changed again to Triumph Cycle Co. Ltd.)
First Triumph is produced in 1902 – known as No. 1. This is basically one of the company’s bicycles, fitted with a 2-hp Minerva engine made in Belgium. In 1905 Triumph produces its first motorcycle completely in-house. It’s powered by a 3-hp engine and has a top speed of 45 mph. Triumph makes a big advance in 1910 with the ‘free engine’ device (basically, the first practical clutch), which allows the user to start the engine with the bike on its stand and ride away from a standing start. There are two models in the lineup, and sales hit 3,000 units!
In 1920 Triumph produces the 550cc Type SD, the company’s first bike to feature a chain-driven rear wheel. SD stands for Spring Drive – it’s an early version of a cush drive. Bicycle-style rim brakes are replaced by drum brakes. The new bikes in 1921 need better brakes, as they now make a lot more power – especially the prototype 20-hp Model R, with four-valve head. It is known as the “Riccy” after one of its designers, Frank Ricardo. The 350cc Model LS (from 1923) is the first Triumph with an oil pump driven by the motor. (Until then, the rider had to pump oil by hand.)
In 1932 the noted engine designer Val Page joins the firm. Page quickly creates several new motors, including a 150cc two-stroke and 250, 350 and 500cc four-strokes. In 1935 a foot-change gearshift is available as an option on 650 Twins.
In 1936 Jack Sangster, who had owned Ariel, buys the motorcycle business and immediately hires Edward Turner (who had previously created the Ariel Square Four) as chief designer. Sangster reinstitutes Bettmann as the company chairman. In 1937 Turner unveils the 498cc Speed Twin (T100) that has a top speed of over 90 mph. It is the definitive British motorcycle and establishes a pattern for Triumph bikes that will last more than 40 years.
With the return of peace in 1945, the company focuses on three models, the Tiger 100, the Speed Twin and the smaller touring 349cc 3T. All models feature a telescopic front fork. In 1946 Ernie Lyons wins the Manx Grand Prix on a redesigned Tiger 100, using a lightweight all-alloy motor that Triumph designed for use on aircraft during the war. (The motor powered a radio generator.) In 1947 a rear “sprung hub” is optional. In 1949 the off-road 500cc TR5 “Trophy” and big-bore 649cc Thunderbird are released.
In 1951 Jack Sangster sells Triumph to BSA for £2.5 million. The 149cc OHV Terrier is released in 1953. The Tiger 110 is released in 1954, which is basically a tuned (40+hp) version of the Thunderbird, with a rear swingarm. The exquisitely styled 350cc “Twenty one” of 1957 may be an aesthetic success, but it proves a commercial failure.
The very popular T120 Bonneville 650 is introduced in 1959. It’s an evolution of the Tiger, fitted with twin carbs – something American dealers have long been asking for. It will remain in production until 1983. Bert Hopwood moves from AMC to Triumph in 1961, where he conceives a three-cylinder motor. The T120C “TT” (starting 1963) will become one of the most sought-after Triumphs of the period.
The 750cc Triple finally makes an appearance in 1968, powering both the Triumph Trident and the BSA Rocket 3.
The BSA group, which includes Triumph, posts a huge financial loss in 1973. The decision is made to shut down BSA and focus resources and energy on Triumph. Craig Vetter’s freelance “American hotrod” design for the Triple, which was to be a BSA model, is produced as the Triumph X75 Hurricane. By the end of the year, Triumph merges with Norton.
When Triumph Engineering went into receivership in 1983, John Bloor bought the name and manufacturing rights from the Official Receiver. The new company's manufacturing plant and its designs were not able to compete against the Japanese, so Bloor decided against relaunching Triumph immediately. Initially, production of the old Bonneville was continued under licence by Les Harris of Racing Spares, in Newton Abbot, Devon, to bridge the gap between the end of the old company and the start of the new company. For five years from 1983, about 14 were built a week in peak production. In the USA, owing to problems with liability insurance, the Harris Bonnevilles were never imported.
Bloor set to work assembling the new Triumph, hiring several of the group's former designers to begin work on new models. The team visited Japan on a tour of its competitors' facilities and became determined to adopt Japanese manufacturing techniques and especially new-generation computer-controlled machinery. In 1985, Triumph purchased a first set of equipment to begin working, in secret, on its new prototype models. By 1987, the company had completed its first engine. In 1988, Bloor funded the building of a new factory at a 10-acre (40,000 m2) site in Hinckley, Leicestershire. Bloor put between £70 million and £100 million into the company between purchasing the brand and breaking even in 2000.
Bloor has previously created two subsidiary companies, Triumph Deutschland GmbH and Triumph France SA. In 1994 Bloor created Triumph Motorcycles America Ltd.
A range of new 750 cc and 900 cc triple-cylinder bikes and 1000 cc and 1200 cc four-cylinder bikes were launched at the September 1990 Cologne Motorcycle Show. The motorcycles used famous model names from the glory days of Meriden Triumph and were first made available to the public between March (Trophy 1200 being the first) and September 1991. All used a modular liquid cooled DOHC engine design in a common large diameter steel backbone frame. The modular design was to ensure that a variety of models could be offered whilst keeping production costs under control.
The first models, known generically as the 'T300's, all used a common piston diameter (76mm) in a common wet cylinder liner. Basic engine variations were achieved through the use of two specifications of piston stroke: 65mm to create individual cylinder capacity of 300cc, and 55mm to create a 250cc individual cylinder. Two 750cc models were released - and the Daytona and Trident 750 triples (3 x 250cc). There was one 1000cc model - the Daytona 1000 four (4 x 250cc). Two 900 cc models were the Trophy 900 and Trident 900 triples (3 x 300cc). The Trophy 1200 four was the largest model (4 x 300cc). All were remarkably smooth running. The three cylinder models were equipped with a contra-rotating balance shaft mounted at the front of the engine. The four cylinder models benefitted from twin balance shafts - unique at the time - mounted beneath the crank shaft. Contemporary road tests noted the solidity and smoothness of performance as positives but the weight of the machines as negatives.
Revisions to crankcases for the three-cylinder models in 1993, together with a move to high pressure casting, reduced engine weight considerably. All painting and plating operations were brought in house in 1993, as the Hinckley factory benefitted from further investment after the initial success of the range. The result was improved quality and durability of finish, added to the basic engineering integrity of the engine and chassis, made for a long-lasting and robust motorcycle.
The range was largely revised in 1997 with the release of the T500 range, followed by a light-weight four-cylinder 600 cc sports TT600. The Triumph Thunderbird 900 exploited the styling cues of the 'old' Triumph's legendary designer, Edward Turner whilst retaining the modern triple engine. The 790 and 865 cc versions of the Triumph Bonneville and Thruxton look and sound original but internally they have modern valves and counterbalance shafts.
The 2,294 cc (140.0 cu in) triple Rocket III cruiser was introduced in 2004. In 2009 1,600 cc (98 cu in) Thunderbird twin-cylinder cruiser was announced.
Triumph's best selling bike is the 675 cc Street Triple. In 2010 they launched the Triumph Tiger 800 and Tiger 800 XC, dual-sport motorcycles, which uses an 800 cc engine derived from the Street Triple, and is designed to compete directly with the market leading BMW F800GS. In 2012, the Tiger 800 was joined by the shaft-driven Triumph Tiger Explorer.
Wed, 06 Aug 2014 00:00:00 -0700
The 2014 edition of the LA Calendar Motorcycle Show continued its now 23-year tradition as the premier outdoor streetbike event in America with producer photographer Jim Gianatsis moving the show this year to the beautiful green lawns of the Malibu Golf Course among the twisty canyon roads in the Santa Monica Mountains alongside the Pacific Ocean. Highlighting this year’s exciting activities was the emergence of another new and soon to be renown custom bike builder to the sport for which the Calendar Show is known for cultivating. Taking Best of Show in this year’s Calendar Bike Building Championship was Calin Senciac’s Imagine Vehicles International / ImagineVehicles.com motorsports fabrication shop with an incredible custom billet aluminum designed chassis built by Terry Ward and the shop crew, housing a legendary 1979 Honda CBX 1047cc air-cooled in-line 6-cylinder engine.
Wed, 16 Jul 2014 00:00:00 -0700
Deus Ex Machina, the surf/moto shop known for creating throwback, one-of-a-kind motorcycles, has released its latest work of art, the TT800. Paying tribute to the highly successful Triumph factory TT machines from the mid-1960s, Deus’ expert builder, Michael Woolaway, created the TT800 for a customer requesting a new, old Triumph. It sources a Kawasaki W650 bored out to 800cc with CR carbs, a custom TT inspired exhaust, custom chromoly racing frame, re-valved Öhlins forks, and a custom gusseted swing arm for more stability. A Beringer six-piston caliper front brake provides stopping power.
Wed, 09 Jul 2014 00:00:00 -0700
Tonight on Talking Motorcycles with Barry Boone, Boone will speak with Sarah Lahalih, an amazing woman deeply involved in the motorcycle culture. Currently she is the Brand Ambassador for Triumph North America, race team liaison, a racer and a writer. Chicago born and raised, Sarah has owned a private motorcycle training program in the State of Illinois for 11 years and has trained all branches of the US Armed Forces over the past 4.5 years in the art of motorcycle riding in the USA, Hawaii and Japan.
Mon, 30 Jun 2014 00:00:00 -0700
On his first attempt at the Broadmoor Pikes Peak International Hill Climb, road racer Jeremy Toye set a record in the premiere Open Class to win the category aboard a 2015 Kawasaki ZX-10R, celebrating the 30th year of the legendary Ninja brand. Prior to setting foot on the hill, Toye was confident he could get among the class leaders, aiming to beat the outright Pikes Peak motorcycle record, which was set by Carlin Dunne in 2012 with a time of 9:52.819. While that record remains intact, Toye was able to set a time of 9:58.687 to win the Open Class, finishing 6sec ahead of his closest rival, Fabrice Lambert aboard a Ducati.
Thu, 26 Jun 2014 00:00:00 -0700
With 12.22 miles of road winding its way to the 14,115-ft. summit, Pikes Peak International Hill Climb can be a daunting and dangerous challenge. Just ask our own Troy Siahaan who competed in last year’s “Race to the Clouds“ and broke his foot after crashing and falling off a 15-foot drop.
Mon, 23 Jun 2014 00:00:00 -0700
Triumph is celebrating its historic Daytona 200 win with Danny Eslick and the #69 Riders Discount Racing team by offering 47 custom motorcycles accessorized for track day riding. Each motorcycle is instantly recognizable with commemorative paint and graphics and features performance accessories that are identical to those used on the race-winning bike. Available exclusively through Triumph dealers in the United States and Canada, Riders Discount is offering 47 of these custom motorcycles to commemorate each year since Triumph last won the Daytona 200 with Gary Nixon in 1967.
Thu, 12 Jun 2014 00:00:00 -0700
Even a month-and-a-half out, 23-year-old factory Triumph rider, Shayna Texter, has her eyes on the Sacramento Mile scheduled for July 26, 2014. Although Sacramento is a continent away from her Willow Street, PA home, Texter has the momentum of having won the Pro Singles class events at the Cal Expo for the past two years. For 2014, Texter has stepped up to the premier class, the Grand National Championship, and begins the adjustment from the Pro Singles support class to the big show.
Tue, 10 Jun 2014 00:00:00 -0700
After 22 years on the soccer field, David Beckham took on a new challenge in the form of the Amazon rainforest. To accomplish this task, he needed three things: some friends, a documentary film crew, and a custom-built Triumph Bonneville. There are nobbies under all that mud.
Mon, 09 Jun 2014 00:00:00 -0700
For those who dream of speed, Bonneville is a must attend event. For six days, August 23–28, 2014, the collective eyes of speed freaks world-wide will be focused on the famed Utah salt flats as constructors and riders race for national and world records at the recently renamed Bonneville Motorcycle Speed Trials. Continuing the relationship the American Motorcyclist Associationmaintained over the past 10 years during the BUB Motorcycle Speed Trials, the AMA will clock top-speed runs in every class of motorcycle, ranging from 50cc mini-bikes to high-dispacement streamliners.
Tue, 03 Jun 2014 00:00:00 -0700
Fans will see an action-packed weekend full of on-track activities when AMA Pro Road Racing returns to Barber Motorsports Park for the Triumph Superbike Classic presented by America’s First Federal Credit Union June 21st-22nd. The Triumph Superbike Classic will be the debut of AMA Pro Road Racing’s new two-day schedule. Riders and teams will be under qualifying conditions the first time they take to the beautiful and technical 17-turn, 2.38 mile permanent road course located in Birmingham, Alabama.