Triumph Motorcycles

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Triumph Motorcycles

Post by ganahsokmo on Thu Jul 08, 2010 2:30 pm

Triumph Motorcycles

Triumph is a privately-owned British company with over 100 years
of history. Triumph has always had its own distinctive character and a
history of creating bikes that become design classics since they first
came to market in the 1900s. Like the rest of the British motorcycle
industry, Triumph went out of business by the 1980s. But the brand was
resurrected in the 1990s by British industrialist John Bloor who has
built a lineup of cutting-edge sportbikes to nostalgia-themed

  • 1883

    Siegfried Bettmann moves to Coventry, England from Nuremberg,

  • 1884

    Bettmann starts an import-export company. He imports German sewing
    machines and also sells bicycles badged with the name “Bettmann.”

  • 1887

    Bettmann changes the name of his company to New Triumph Co. Ltd.
    (Later it will be changed again to Triumph Cycle Co. Ltd.) His principal
    investor is John Dunlop, a Scottish veterinarian who, albeit briefly,
    holds the patent for the pneumatic tire. Nice idea, too bad he didn’t
    really have it first! (Another Scot, R. W. Thompson, was the real
    inventor.) In any case, Dunlop is the first to successfully
    commercialize the invention.
    A German engineer, Mauritz Schulte, joins Triumph. He convinces
    Bettmann that Triumph should design and produce its own products.

  • 1888

    The company buys an old ribbon-making factory in Coventry and sets
    it up to make bicycles.

  • 1895

    Schulte imports one of the first “practical” motorcycles, made by
    Hildebrand and Wolfmuller, to study the machine. Triumph considers
    making it under license, but under English law, powered vehicles are
    subject to a 4-mph speed limit. A man must walk ahead of each vehicle
    waving a red flag. This is bound to limit commercial appeal, and Triumph
    chooses not to get into the motorcycle business.

  • 1902

    With the repeal of those onerous sections of the Locomotive Act at
    the end of the 19th century, Schulte sets out to design his own
    motorcycle. First Triumph is produced – known as No. 1. This is
    basically one of the company’s bicycles, fitted with a 2-hp Minerva
    engine made in Belgium.

  • 1903

    Triumph opens a subsidiary in Germany to build and sell motorcycles
    there. Better engines are sourced from JAP (the initials of James A.

  • 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.

  • 1907

    Annual production reaches 1,000 units. A new 450cc motor makes 3.5

  • 1908

    A new model comes with a variable pulley to help with difficult
    inclines. To change gears, the rider comes to a complete stop, gets off
    the bike and moves the belt by hand. Jack Marshall wins the
    single-cylinder class at the TT (on the old Peel course) averaging about
    45 mph. It’s not known if he stopped to change gears or just pedaled
    his ass off, too.

  • 1910

    Triumph makes a big advance 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!

  • 1911

    Most bikes are fitted with footpegs only, not pedals.

  • 1913

    Schulte builds a prototype 600cc vertical Twin.

  • 1914

    Despite its strong connection to Germany, Triumph is chosen by Col.
    Claude Holbrook to supply the Type H motorcycle for military Allied
    military service. Triumph will sell 30,000 motorcycles to the military
    over the course of WWI.

  • 1919

    Schulte leaves the company, with a (very!) generous severance
    package. He’s replaced by none other than Col. Holbrook.

  • 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.

  • 1921

    Bicycle-style rim brakes are replaced by drum brakes. The new bikes
    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.

  • 1923

    The 350cc Model LS is the first Triumph with an oil pump driven by
    the motor. (Until then, the rider had to pump oil by hand.)

  • 1925

    The 500cc Model P is affordable and a commercial success – at first.
    Triumph sells a heck of a lot of them, but owners are disappointed by
    poor build quality and the company’s reputation is harmed. Towards the
    end of the year, Triumph improves things.

  • 1927

    Production hits 30,000 units.

  • 1929

    Wall Street stock market crashes. Triumph sells its German

  • 1930

    Under pressure from creditors, Bettmann is deposed as head of the
    company. A small two-stroke, the Model X, is the first Triumph with unit

  • 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.

  • 1933

    Page’s first attempt at a 650cc Twin is a commercial failure; the
    public seems to want V-Twins.

  • 1935

    A foot-change gearshift is available as an option on 650 Twins.

  • 1936

    Triumph’s car and motorcycle businesses are split. 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.

  • 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.

  • 1938

    Bill Johnson buys an interest in British and American Motors, a bike
    shop in Pasadena. (Johnson Motors will later distribute Triumph
    motorcycles across the American West.)

  • 1940

    All motorcycle production is geared towards the war effort. With a
    new bike in the works, the Triumph factory is demolished in the blitz of

  • 1942

    A new plant opens in Meriden, England.

  • 1945

    Over the course of the war, Triumph has sold 50,000 motorcycles to
    the military. With the return of peace, 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.

  • 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.)

  • 1947

    A rear “sprung hub” is optional.

  • 1949

    The off-road 500cc TR5 “Trophy” and big-bore 649cc Thunderbird are
    released. The Trophy is named in honor of the British team that uses the
    bike to win the ISDT. It’s powered by a version of the “aircraft”

  • 1950

    Triumph sells more bikes in the U.S. than any other market,
    including Britain.

  • 1951

    Jack Sangster sells Triumph to BSA for £2.5 million.

  • 1953

    The 149cc OHV Terrier is released.

  • 1954

    The Tiger 110 is released, which is basically a tuned (40+hp)
    version of the Thunderbird, with a rear swingarm.
    Marlon Brando rides a ’50 Thunderbird in the film “The Wild One.”

  • 1955

    Johnny Allen goes 193 mph on the Bonneville Salt Flats in a
    streamliner powered by a tuned 650cc T-bird motor.
    The TR6 “Trophy” is the first Triumph built expressly for the U.S.
    market. It will prove popular with desert racers.

  • 1957

    The exquisitely styled 350cc “Twenty one” may be an aesthetic
    success, but it proves a commercial failure.

  • 1958

    Mike Hailwood teams with Dan Shorey to win the Thruxton 500, which
    is one of the most important races in the UK, from a commercial

  • 1959

    The very popular T120 Bonneville 650 is introduced. 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

  • 1961

    Bert Hopwood moves from AMC to Triumph, where he conceives a
    three-cylinder motor.

  • 1962

    Triumph design staff is further strengthened with the arrival of
    Doug Hele, from Norton. He finalizes the design of the Triple motor
    (though it will not appear for several years). Hele also designs a
    stiffer, double-cradle frame for the Bonneville, but it was not adopted.

  • 1963

    All the 650 Twins now feature unit construction. With the
    encouragement of Johnson Motors, a stripped-for-racing version of the
    Bonneville is produced for the U.S. market only. The T120C “TT” will
    become one of the most sought-after Triumphs of the period.

  • 1966

    Buddy Elmore wins the Daytona 200 on a factory-prepped 500cc Tiger.
    The Gyronaut X-1, a streamliner powered by two Triumph 650cc motors,
    goes 245 mph on the Bonneville Salt Flats.

  • 1967

    Gary Nixon proves that last year’s Daytona 200 win was no fluke by
    repeating the feat.

  • 1968

    The 750cc Triple finally makes an appearance, powering both the
    Triumph Trident and the BSA Rocket 3. Although the motor is powerful by
    the standards of the day, it is too little, too late. Within weeks, the
    world will be buzzing with news of the Honda 750-Four, which has
    overhead cams, a front disc brake and electric start to boot.

  • 1969

    Malcolm Uphill wins the Production TT on a Bonneville. In the
    process he puts in the first-ever lap over 100 mph on a production
    Rob North, an expatriate Englishman based in San Diego, designs a
    stiffer frame for the Triples, just in time for Daytona.

  • 1970

    Uphill wins the proddie TT on a Triple, which is nicknamed “Slippery
    Sam.” Not because of its well-designed fairing, but because it leaked
    oil all over Uphill’s boots.

  • 1971

    A new frame appears for the Bonneville. It is a Rob North design
    based on the Trackmaster dirt-track frame and it carries the oil in the
    large-diameter top tube.

  • 1973

    The BSA group, which includes Triumph, posts a huge financial loss.
    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
    Bert Hopwood designs a modular engine based on an overhead-cam, 200cc
    Single that can be produced as a 1,000cc across-the-frame Five. It will
    never see the light of day.
    By the end of the year, the writing is on the wall for the British
    motorcycle industry. Triumph merges with Norton and is put under the
    control of financier Dennis Poore.

  • 1975

    This is the final year of production for the Trident. Bonneville
    production continues after the workers form a co-op to keep the Meriden
    factory going.

  • 1977

    NVT goes bankrupt. The Meriden Co-op introduces the Bonneville
    Jubilee Special in honor of the Queen’s 50th birthday. It’s 750cc and
    has cast wheels.

  • 1980

    Although the British government is willing to write off a
    substantial debt, the Meriden factory is still deep in the hole. There
    are a few interesting bikes on the drawing boards but no capital to
    develop them, nor is there any reason to think the work force could or
    would produce machines capable of rivaling the ascendant Japanese
    manufacturers, which are going from strength to strength.

  • 1983

    After some lean years, the Meriden factory closed its doors. English
    property developer John Bloor bought the remains later that year,
    saving the Triumph name. Bloor licensed the Triumph name to a small shop
    that continued to assemble a couple of Bonnevilles a day until 1985.

  • 1985

    Bloor, an unlikely savior, builds a subdivision on the site of the
    old Meridan factory, but he also acquires a new site, in nearby
    Hinckley. There, he outfits a new factory with new prototyping tools.

  • 1987

    The first “new Triumph” motor, a 1200cc Four, runs on the test

  • 1989

    Bloor stakes at least $60 million of his own money on new
    mass-production tooling for the Hinckley plant.

  • 1990

    Triumph unveils six new models at the Cologne Show in September: The
    unfaired Trident 750 and 900 Triples, the touring Trophy 900 Triple and
    1200 Four and the sports-oriented Daytona 750 Triple and 1000 Four. The
    machines are, by and large, better than most industry pundits expected.
    That said, they’re a step or two behind the best that Japan has to

  • 1994

    The Speed Triple is introduced. It’s not trying to be a Japanese
    bike, and it’s the first of the new Triumphs to earn several unqualified
    positive reviews. The under-rated Tiger “adventure bike” also appears
    this year. Triumph Motorcycles of America is founded.

  • 1995

    Exports of new Triumphs to America begins.

  • 1997

    The 50,000th new Triumph is produced.

  • 1998

    The fine Sprint ST sports-touring bike is launched.

  • 1999

    Triumph serves notice that it will enter the ultra-competitive 600cc
    supersport market by creating the TT600. It will be good, but not quite
    good enough.

  • 2002

    A massive fire guts the main Hinckley assembly plant. The smoke
    clouds definitely have a silver lining, however. The company’s insurance
    claim funds a “do over.” The design and R&D shops are undamaged and
    continue new-bike development while the factory is rebuilt and refitted
    with state-of-the-art tooling. Triumph releases the four-cylinder
    Daytona 600 supersports bike.

  • 2004

    The Triumph Rocket III is released, which is the first production
    motorcycle to displace over 2000cc. It works better than most test
    riders expect it will. Still, it’s an answer to a question that few real
    motorcyclists are asking.

  • 2005

    Triumph bores out the Daytona 600 to 650cc. The change bars the bike
    from competition in the 600 Supersport class, but it was not having
    success there, anyway, despite a popular win at the Isle of Man in
    2003.) The change makes the bike a great “real world middleweight,”
    especially for taller riders.

  • 2006

    The Daytona is re-released as an all-new 675cc triple. It’s
    class-legal in European supersport racing (and in Formula Xtreme here in
    the U.S.). With this bike, the new Triumph company has truly come of


Join date : 16/01/2010
Age : 37

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