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20 Things You Didn't Know About Triumph Motorcycles

Triumph Motorcycles Ltd. Is a British motorcycle manufacturer that has a long history that includes many name changes, the introduction of new products and models, and changes of ownership. Despite the ups and downs that this company has experienced over the years, it remains a successful and well-known brand in the motor industry. The motorcycles they produce are known for their style, power, and performance. This has led to motorcycles made by this company being popular with motorcycle enthusiasts including members of the public, celebrities, and people involved in motor racing. Here are 20 interesting things that you probably didn’t known about Triumph motorcycles.

1. It was founded in 1885

Triumph was originally founded in 1885 under the name of S. Bettmann & Co. The founder was a man called Siegfried Bettmann who had moved to England from Nuremberg in Germany. He was importing bicycles from Europe and then selling them under his own trade name in London. The following year, he began to use the brand name Triumph and was joined by fellow German Moritz Schulte. By 1889, they were producing their own range of bicycles from their new headquarters in Coventry, England.

2. They Once Sold Sewing Machines

Although Triumph is now best-known for its motorcycles and also has a history of selling cars, Triumph also sold other products in their early days. One of these was sewing machines that had been imported from Europe, just like the bicycles they initially sold. They stopped selling such products to focus on bicycles and then on motorcycles and cars.

3. Their Headquarters Are in Hinckley

Due to various changes in ownership over the years, Triumph has had headquarters in various locations. They began in Coventry and at one point were based in Meriden. The current headquarters are in Hinckley, Leicestershire, England. They have been there since 1987 after John Bloor acquired the company. Bloor funded the building of the new factory on a site covering 10 acres. This is now the main production site of Triumph as well as its administrative headquarters.

4. The Name Changed to Triumph Cycle Company in 1897

The second name change of this company occurred in 1897, 12 years after it was founded. It had already gone from being called S. Bettmann & Co. to simply Triumph. As the focus of the company was on manufacturing their own range of bicycles, they decided to rename the company the Triumph Cycle Company in 1897. The company would later undergo several more name changes before becoming Triumph MOtorcycles Ltd. as it is known today.

5. Their First Motorcycle Was Produced in 1902

In the early years of the company, motorized vehicles did not exist and the focus was on producing and selling bicycles. They did not produce their first motorcycle until 1902, although they used engines purchased from another company. The first motorcycle had a 2.2 Minerva engine and became known as the Triumph No. 1. These motorcycles were produced as their works on Much Park Street in Coventry. As the motorcycle was a success, they soon decided to produce their own engines for the motorcycles instead of purchasing them from another manufacturer. To enable them to do this, they bought a spinning mill on Priory Street in Coventry in 1907 that they transformed into a new factory that provided the facilities need to produce the engines.

6. They Produced Many Motorcycles During World War I

Like many other major manufacturers in Britain, Triumph were called upon to manufacture vehicles specifically for the war efforts. They were the largest manufacturer of motorcycles that was contracted to make vehicles during World War 1. Triumph was selected by the Allied military service in 1915 to supply them with Type H ‘Trusty’ motorcycles. Although Triumph manufactured 57,000 of these 499 cc air-cooled single-cylinder motorcycles, it is believed that only 30,000 ever saw active service during the war. Manufacturing motorcycles during World War 1 led to Triumph becoming the largest manufacturer of motorcycles in the UK by 1918.

7. Triumph Also Made Cars starting in 1921

In 1921, Triumph diversified the range of products they manufactured when they entered into the automobile industry. This happened because Bettmann was persuaded by Claude Holbrook, his general manager, to acquire the assets of the Dawson Car Company. This had premises on Clay Lane. Triumph produced their first 1.4 liter engine car called the Triumph 10/20 in 1921. The car was designed for Triumph by Lea-Francis who earned money from the royalties of every Triumph 10/20 sold. The production of cars experienced a decline during World War 11 but they soon resumed their previous level of production. The last car with the Triumph name was the Triumph Acclaim which was introduced in 1981. After that, cars took on the ROver name.

8. It Became the Triumph Motor Company in 1930

Triumph had another name change in 1930 when it became the Triumph Motor Company. This was in recognition of the fact that they had moved away from selling other products and focused their attention on the motor industry. It was also in recognition of the fact that they were now manufacturing both motorcycles and cars.

9. They Produced Military Motorcycles During World War II

When World War II began in 1939, the government once again called on Triumph to manufacture motorcycles for military purposes. Triumph’s production was geared towards the production of military motorcycles and they manufactured an estimated 50,000 motorcycles for the war effort. Unfortunately, the Priory Street factory was hit in the Coventry blitz on November 14, 1940. However, production did not stop as they used temporary premises in Warwick until the new plant in Meriden opened in 1942.

10. Triumph Was Acquired by Leyland Motors Ltd. In 1960

One of the most notable points in the history of Triumph was when they were acquired by Leyland Motors Ltd. In 1960. A division called Standard-Triumph was created and Donal Stokes became the chairman of this division in 1963. By 1968, Leyland had merged with British Motor Holdings, which was a company created from a merger between Jaguar and the British Motor Corporation in 1966. This new merger led to the formation of the British Leyland Motor Corporation.

11. Malcolm Uphill Won the Production TT in 1969 on a Triumph Bonneville

Triumph is also known for its involvement motor racing and it has been particularly successful at the Isla of Man TT events. In 1969, Malcolm Uphill won the Production TT riding a Triumph Bonneville. His win was especially notable as he achieved the first ever 100 miles per hour lap average on a production motorcycle. The following year, he won the event again, this time riding a Triumph Triple. He was given the nickname Slippery Sam. Uphill won the Production TT for seven consecutive years between 1969 and 1975.

12. Triumph Motorcycles Ltd. Was Established in 1983 by John Bloor

After Triumph Engineering went into receivership in 1983, John Bloor bought the name and the manufacturing rights from the Official receiver to form a new company that was initially called Bonneville Coventry Ltd. Before changing its name to Triumph Motorcycles. He didn’t relaunch the company immediately as the designs and facilities were outdated and unable to compete against their main rivals, such as the Japanese motorcycle manufacturers. Although they continued to produce the Bonneville, Bloor spent the next five years redesigning the company and working alongside designers to create new models. In total, Bloor invested £80 million in the company before it finally broke even in 2000.

13. John Bloor Set Up Six Subsidiaries

Once Triumph Motorcycles was owned by John Bloor, he invested a lot of money into expanding the business. This included setting up four subsidiaries that would handle manufacturing and sales of the Triumph brand in different locations. The first two were Triumph Deutschland GmbH and Triumph France SA. He then established Triumph Motorcycles Ltd. in 1994. The next subsidiary was Triumph Motorcycles (Thailand) Ltd., which is still 100% British-owned. The most recent additions to the Triumph subsidiaries are in Brazil and India, which were launched in 2012 and 2013 respectively.

14. They Launched a Motorcycle Clothing Range in 1995

Previously, Triumph had bought their motorcycle clothing from other manufacturers but decided to launch and produce their own range of motorcycle clothing in 1995 called the Triple Collection. Their designs were based on celebrities who were famous for their association with Triumph motorcycles. These included Elvis Presley, Marlon Brando, Steve McQueen, James Dean, and Bob Dylan. One of the most important influences was Steve McQueen as Triumph had already named a special edition of the Bonneville after this celebrity.

15. The Main Factory Was Gutted in a Fire in 2002

Triumph has experienced many ups and downs and there are times when a significant event has led to the company having to almost start from scratch. One example of this is when a huge fire completely gutted Triumph’s factory 1 where the majority of production took place. Although this temporarily halted production from this factory, it didn’t stop Triumph. They rebuilt the factory and fitted it with top-of-the-range equipment. Within six months of the devastating fire, Triumph were back manufacturing their motorcycles and launched the Daytona 600 supersports bike.

16. They Became Leaders in the Cruiser Market in 2010

Prior to 2010, Triumph were not really a big name in the cruiser market. This all changed when they launched the 1600 cc parallel-Twin, their first belt-driven bike. This drew attention to Triumph from the cruiser market and they earned a reputation for engineering excellence and the good handling of their motorcycles. This bike was particularly popular in the United States market and the US magazine ‘Cycle World’ was so impressed with it that they voted it their ‘Cruiser of the Year’ in 2010. Following this accolade, Triumph was recognized as quality manufacturers in the cruiser market.

17. They Celebrated Their 110th Anniversary by Launching Two New Motorcycles

2012 marked the 110th anniversary of Triumph motorcycles as the first motorcycle this company created was produced in 1902. When Triumph celebrated their 110th anniversary, they decided to mark the occasion by launching two new bikes. The first of these was the Tiger Explorer which is a 1215 cc shaft-driven adventure bike. When Triumph launched this bike, the adventure bike market was enjoying growth and Triumph wanted to make their mark in this sector. They used the same engine in their new Triumph Trophy, which they also launched in their anniversary year. Triumph also made major upgrades to many of the models they were already producing, such as the Daytona and the 675 cc Street Triple.

18. They Are Now the Biggest Motorcycle Manufacturer in Britain

Due to its rapid expansion over the last few decades, Triumph is now the biggest motorcycle manufacturer in the UK. They have over 2,000 employees in various locations around the world, including designers, management, administration, sales, and assembly workers. In the 12 months preceding June 2017, Triumph sold more than 63,400 motorcycles. This company’s revenue for 2017 totaled £498.5 million, which was growth of 22 percent from the previous year. Of this, £24.7 million was profit which was up from the profit of £16.6 million the previous year. .

19. 85% of Triumph Motorcycles Are Sold Overseas

Triumph has a loyal fan base of motorcycle riders in their home country, the UK. However, they are also massively popular overseas. In fact, an estimated 85% of the motorcycles they manufacture are now sold overseas. They use their subsidiaries in various locations around the world to ensure their products appeal to their different geographical target markets and export to these subsidiaries for distribution. Despite selling the majority of their motorcycles overseas, Triumph still sold a record 9,400 motorcycles in the UK in 2017.

20. The Company is Led by Digby Jones, Baron Jones of Birmingham, and Nick Bloor

Currently, the company has strong leadership in place that should mean that Triumph continues on the path of success. Digby Jones, Baron Jones of Birmingham, was appointed to the position of chairman of triumph in 2009. He was formerly the Minister for Trade and Investment for the UK government between 2007 and 2008. He still sits in the House of Lords as a non-aligned active crossbencher. Jones is also a Non-Executive Director of Leicester Tigers plc. and the Chairman of the Advisory Board of X-Force. Furthermore, he is the Corporate Ambassador for Aon Risk Solutions. While John Bloor remains the owner of Triumph, his son, Nick Bloor, is the current Chief Executive Office at Triumph. He took over this role from Tue Mantoni in 2011. Nick Bloor is responsible for the company opening a visitor center in 2017 that cost £4 million.

Garrett Parker

Written by Garrett Parker

Garrett by trade is a personal finance freelance writer and journalist. With over 10 years experience he's covered businesses, CEOs, and investments. However he does like to take on other topics involving some of his personal interests like automobiles, future technologies, and anything else that could change the world.

Read more posts by Garrett Parker

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