Triumph the legend

Triumph the legend

 

 

Introduction

Triumph the legend

Marlon Brando con su Thunderbird | Triumph, la leyenda

Marlon Brando with his Thunderbird | Triumph, the legend

 

In “Triumph, the legend”, we will talk about the beginnings of one of the most emblematic motorcycle brands in motor history. Beginning its journey in the early twentieth century, passing through periods of splendor and other crisis that threatened its existence, Triumph has manufactured some of the most iconic motorcycles in the history of motorcycling.

What Marlon Brando, James Dean and Steve Mc Queen have in common, they represent a way of life, a style, the essence of an attitude. The three has ridden a Triumph and the images on their respective British motorcycles are still more alive than ever.

Triumph, has defined the style of the motorcycle since it sold its first Speed ​​Twin in 1936. We, through a series of publications where we will talk about their most popular models, we will try to tell its story.

What Marlon Brando, James Dean and Steve Mc Queen have in common, they represent a way of life, a style, the essence of an attitude. The three has ridden a Triumph and the images on their respective British motorcycles are still more alive than ever.

 

 

The beginning

Thriumph the legend

 

It’s a bit ironic that the most successful motorcycle manufacturer in history has been started by a German immigrant. Siegfried Bettmann, an engineer from a wealthy family with very good English, moved to England in 1884, his first job was as a translator in a London publishing house.

In 1885, due to his entrepreneurial spirit, he began exporting bicycles manufactured in Birmingham under the Bettmann brand. In 1886, as the name of the bicycles did not sound sufficiently British, he changed it to Triumph.

Businesses prospered and one year later Bettmann hired another German immigrant, Mauritz Schulte, an experienced engineer. In 1888 the company moved to Coventry, where they established their own factory.

Triumph, la leyenda

H model 1908 | Triumph, the legend

Schulte saw a future in the development of the motor industry and in 1902 he mounted a Belgian 2.5 horsepower Minerva engine on a bicycle, the first Triumph motorcycle was born, but not happy with this, in 1905, he designed and manufactured the first Triumph engine. This was a single cylinder with 363cc side valves that produced about 3 horsepower at 1500 rpm.

The engine was so well built that it quickly gained the reputation of reliable engine and good performance. In the following years it was enlarged to 453cc in 1907 and to 550cc in 1914.

In 1908, a Triumph participates in the legendary TT race of the Isle of Man and rises with the victory of the hand of pilot Jack Marshall, from here, the business prospers rapidly and in 1909 about 3,000 units are manufactured.

It’s a bit ironic that the most successful motorcycle manufacturer in history has been started by a German immigrant. Siegfried Bettmann, an engineer from a wealthy family with very good English, moved to England in 1884, his first job was as a translator in a London publishing house.

 

 

The push of the Great War

Triumph the legend

 

With the start of World War I, the brand became a supplier to the British Army and an ally, delivering some 30,000 units in total of the H model at the end of the war.

After the war, the range of triumph models revolved around the H model, but it was not enough for racing and needed to improve performance. In 1921 Harry Ricardo is called to develop improvements to the single cylinder Triumph, finally he chooses to mount four valves to the head.

Triumph, la leyenda

R Fast Roadster model 1923 | Triumph, the legend

In fact, the new design was quite conservative, because it was the engine of the H model almost in its entirety, but the improvement made by Ricardo gives a considerable increase in performance to the classic engine. The engine produced 20 horsepower at 4,600 rpm, practically the same as a 1,500 cc car at that time, and the initial Model R Fast Roadster was very popular.

Frank Halford, in a racing version, set a mile record of 83.91 miles per hour (135 km / h).

In 1923, Claude Holbrook takes the place of Schulte in the company giving him a new impulse, the result is the launch of the model P, a 500cc vehicle with low price and excellent performance.

It produced 1,000 units a week. By that time, the Triumph factory had a considerable size, employing 3,000 people and manufacturing 30,000 vehicles a year.

After the war, the range of triumph models revolved around the H model, but it was not enough for racing and needed to improve performance. In 1921 Harry Ricardo is called to develop improvements to the single cylinder Triumph, finally he chooses to mount four valves to the head.

 

 

The crisis of 30’s and the arrival of the savior

Triumph the legend

 

The crisis of 1930 seriously hit the finances of the company and meant for this enormous difficulties to continue producing vehicles.

Sales of motorcycles plummeted dramatically and Triumph hired designer Val Page from the Ariel brand to try to save his motorcycle division. Page was a talented and meticulous engineer; he was allowed to create an independent design unit to develop a completely new range of motorcycles.

Marlon Brando con su Thunderbird | Triumph, la leyenda

Edward Turner | Triumph, the legend

Page’s work was quickly seen in the design of the new single-cylinder and in the launch of a 650cc twin-cylinder, the 6/1, a heavy vehicle and more suitable to carry sidecar. Unfortunately this model did not have the expected commercial success and in 1936 the company filed for bankruptcy.

Upon hearing this news, the head of Ariel, Jack Sangster, came to the aid of Triumph negotiating with the creditors of the company and managed to keep alive the production of motorcycles in Coventry.

At that time Page had gone to BSA and Sangster replaced Edward Turner who absorbed most of the power within the company.

Triumph was going to live “the Turner revolution”, which would take it to another level and throw it to stardom, becoming a hugely successful company.

Upon hearing this news, the head of Ariel, Jack Sangster, came to the aid of Triumph negotiating with the creditors of the company and managed to keep alive the production of motorcycles in Coventry.

 

 

 

Source: “Triumph motorcycles 1937-today” of  Ian Falloon

Klauer & Iannuzzi | 2019 | Triumph the legend