Triumph Motorcycles grabbed the territory with a name that says it all. Who can compete with a word meaning victory, success, accomplishment, and achievement? The original company began manufacturing bicycles in1889. Such was the quality it had a second factory in Germany within seven years. The first Triumph motorcycles appeared two years later, and so a legend was born, one of the few that has stood the test of time.
The ‘Trusty Triumph’ Builds Triumph Motorcycles Success
Triumph quality impressed the British government in World War 1 to the extent it purchased 30,000 motorcycles, a huge order for the time. British, Australian, and Canadian dispatch riders called them ‘Trusty Triumphs’ because they got them through the mud and shell holes. When the war was over guess which motorcycle they wanted.
Triumph Motorcycles Races Forward from Strength to Strength
By 1928, the company owned a huge manufacturing plant from where trainloads of Triumph motorcycles and motorcars left daily for local and export markets. In 1936, it released a motorcycle model that left the competition gasping.
The 500 Triumph Speed Twin engine was the corner stone of the Tiger 500’s and Bonneville’s that kept selling through to the 1980’s. The Speed Twin was the powerful, modern motorcycle every man and boy dreamed of owning.
When World War 2 was over Triumph Motorcycles had two proven machines, the Tiger 100 and the 500cc Speed Twin. After customers started winning races Triumph rushed the iconic 498cc TR5 Trophy Twin through development, and won the prestigious 1948 International Six Days Trial on a prototype.
Yet Another Triumph: The World Speed Record Holder for 35 Years
The 650cc Thunderbird was Triumph Motorcycles gift to the American market, and became incredibly popular after Marlon Brando rode one in the movie The Wild One. This cemented its reputation as a well-mannered beast for rebels with causes. That cause was motorcycling. Me and my Triumph, and my girl on the pillion were all they wanted!
The Middle Period: Triumph Motorcycles Loses Its Way
After winning the 1969 Isle of Man TT Race with a lap speed record, the company faltered in the face of labour unrest, and engineering conservatism as its motorcycle sales plummetted. The 1939 engine was no match for Japanese designs pouring in. The modern rider wanted instant high-revving power, and, horror of horrors an electric self-starter. In 1983, bankrupt of ideas and out of money the proud marque folded, some said never to return, but it did.
Triumph Comes Back to Motorcycling
A British motorcycling visionary, John Bloor, purchased the Triumph name and manufacturing rights, and began quietly developing a new range of machines with the old name as marketing magnet. After several setbacks its motorcycle sales exceeded 37,000 in 2006. In 2011, it launched the Tiger Explorer, Speed Triple R and the Steve McQueen Special.
It had beaten its competition in a stalling market. When the media asked motor cyclists why they bought the latest models, the answer was simple ‘because it’s a Triumph’. Triumph motorcycles have a soul. When you own one, you own a legend.