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Siegfried Bettmann, 20, comes to Coventry, England from Nuremberg, Germany. After a brief period he is employed by Kelly & Co. compiling foreign directories for their publications. After six months, he got a job with the White Sewing Machine Co. as a foreign correspondent and translator. For several months he also worked as the company's sales representative in northern Europe. Siegfried Bettmann as Mayoof Coventry, 1913 Germans Gottlieb Daimler and Wilhelm Maybach develop a four-stroke internal combustion engand install it in a self-propelled bicycle - the worlds first motorcycle. S. Bettmann & Co. Import Export Agency started in London, selling bicycles made in Birminghaby Wm. Andrews, but with Bettmann's name on them. They also imported German sewing machines and acquired the agencies of other German manufacturers.
Edward Butler patents his powered tricycle in England. Count Albert de Dion and partner GeorgBouton (France) build an engine based on Gottlieb Daimler's original design, which became thebasis of the modern four-stroke engine. A steam-powered bicycle is exhibited at the Maricopa County Fair in Phoenix.
German Gottlieb Daimler builds his motorcycle, considered by many historians the first real motorcycle in the world, although it has two extra "stabilizer" wheels. It has a wooden frame wthe engine mounted vertically in the centre between the two main front and back wheels. His sPaul rode it in November for six-seven miles. Triumph name replaces Bettmann, a word Bettmann feels is easily understood in most languagHe calls his company 'The Triumph Cycle Company.'
German bicycle firm Victoria founded. German bicycle firm Neckarsulmer Radwereke adopts iniNSU. Edward Butler (UK) makes tricycle with twin-cylinder, two-stroke engine with rotary valveName registered as New Triumph Co. Ltd., but changed later to Triumph Cycle Co. Ltd. Shares underwritten by the Dunlop Tyre Company to the tune of 45,000 pounds. German engineer Maurice (Mauritz) Johann Schulte, also from Nuremberg and a trained engineer, joins Bettmann as junior partner. He would soon convince Bettmann that Triumph should not sell other companies' products, but should make their own.
An Englishman, Edward Butler, builds a three-wheel powered tricycle called the Petrol-Cycle, which he had patented in 1884. It has electric ignition. On his first run, British police stop him from using it on the road. The bike is broken up for scrap. Expatriate Russian brothers Michel and Eugene Werner built and displayed a motorcycle using a De Dion engine in Paris. It has the engine mounted above the front wheel. Charles Terrot (France) starts making bicycles in Dijon. Simplex (Holland) starts as a weighing machine company, soon turns to making bicycle parts. Lawrence Hargrave (Australia) invents the rotary engine design. Mauritz Schulte on a Hildebrand and Wolfmuller (see 1894).
Small former ribbon-weaving works factory acquired on Much Park Street in Coventry for Trium to manufacture its own bicycles. Coventry is centre of Britain's cycle trade. Initial capital of 650pds comes from Bettmann's parents (500) and Schulte's relatives. Later, Dunlop Tyre would bemajor investor in the company.
Englishman John Dunlop invents the inflatable tire. Felix Millet (France) takes out first patents f a rotary engine design.
Bicycle manufacturing started. Company moves headquarters from London to Much Park St., Coventry.
Hudson starts a bicycle factory in Birmingham, joins Armstrong and restructures to become Hudson Cycle Co.
Hildebrand and Muller design a two-stroke petrol engine (they had designed a steam engine in 1889) and use on a bicycle. J.D. Roots builds motorized tricycle, sells them in France because restrictions on use in Britain.
Cycle Manufacturers' Association formed in UK to run first bicycle show at the Crystal Palace. EPennington builds the first American motorcycle, a horizontal twin two-stroke.
Hildebrand and Wolfmuller make the world's first production motorcycle, a 1,428cc four-strokewith 2.5 bhp and a top speed of 25 mph. It is made under licence in France for one year undername Petrolette. Matchless Company founded by the Collier family. A motorcycle powered by aMillet-designed rotary engine is entered in the Paris-Bordeaux race. Schulte considers producing Hildebrand & Wolfmuller motorcycles under license, and imports onfor testing. He rode it at the Coventry cycle stadium.
First Petrolettes delivered. De Dion-Bouton (France) fit engine onto tricycle. Bouton (France) develops 120cc engine capable of running at unprecedented 1800 rpm. Col. Capel Holden's designs the world's first four-cylinder motorcycle, with water-cooled engine. Great Horseless Carriage Exhibition: first exhibition of 'horseless carriages' organized by Sir David Salomons at home in Tunbridge Wells, Kent. Motorized tricycles made by de Dion-Bouton are shown there. Brothers Andre and Edouard Michelin develop mass rubber-tire production.
Locomotive Act repealed: British legislation on powered vehicle speeds had restricted speeds to6.4 km/4 mph limits. Also lifted restriction requiring all powered vehicles to be preceded by a mwaving a red flag. Excelsior, Bayliss, Thomas & Co (UK, later simply Excelsior) is the first Britismanufacturer of production motorcycles. Beeston Cycle Company makes first motorized tricycleEugene & Michel Werner (ex-Russians living in Paris) build their first motorcycle, called a ‘motorcyclette’. Has engine on front tube powering front wheel. Holden (UK) begins developmeof four-cylinder, water-cooled motorcycle - released in 1899.
Hildebrand and Wolfmuller, having financial problems, cease production of their motorcycle, nooutdated. Eight motorcycles are displayed in London trade shows this year. Beeston makes its motorized bicycle. Edoardo Bianchi (Italy) first puts an engine on a bicycle frame to start sellingmotorcycles. Butler (UK) builds ‘Petro Cycle’ - powered tricycle. Holden (UK) makes motorcyclewith horizontal four cylinders. First motorcycle race (France): Paris-Nantes-Paris. Eugene & MicWerner (France) patent a motorcycle using a belt drive to the front wheel Bettmann negotiates to make Beeston Humber motorcycles and motor tricycles, but an agreemis not reached.
Ariel shows its first bike - a motorized tricycle, 293cc single, at London's Crystal Palace, Nov. 1Col. Sir Henry Holden designs a steam-powered motorcycle. Josef Walter founds a bicycle firm Czechoslovakia. Werner (France) builds 300 machines this year, 500 the next. Beeston asked tdemonstrate its tricycle to the Prince of Wales (later King Edward VII) and the machine is riddeby the Duke of York (later King George V). First motorcycle races in Germany: Berlin to Potsda(36 m - 54 km). Werner brothers (France) sell 300 motorcycles.
Matchless Motorcycles founded. Holden's four-cylinder motorcycle manufactured by Motor Traction Company until 1902. Holden went on to design the race track at Brooklands. Camile Jenatzy becomes the first man to exceed 100 kilometers an hour in a car, at Acheres, May 1. DDion-Bouton (France) make their first motorcycle. Perks & Birch make their "Power Wheel" powered bicycle in Coventry. Dutch firm Eysink (founded 1886) makes its first motorcycles andcars. Raleigh makes its first motorized bicycles.Werner brothers (France) sell 500 motorcycles
In the final year of the 19th century, international automobile racing starts, with the first race cdonated by American newspaper proprietor, James Gordon Bennett. For the first time, colours aassigned to nations: blue for France, white for Germany, yellow for Belgium, red for the UnitedStates (later for Italy) and a special shade of "British racing green" was chosen by the Napier company for England. Indian Motorcycles (USA) is founded by George Hendee and Oscar Hedstrom. George Holly (USA) builds his first motorcycle. Oakleigh Motor Company invents and builds the first sidecar. Singer Cycle Co. buys Perks & Birtakes over production. John Phelon and Harry Rayner of Cleckheaton, Yorkshire, patent a new engine location. Although not the first to use the system, they moved the engine off the downtube. NSU (Germany) builds first motorcycles. Norman Downs buys an ailing bicycle business and reorganizes it under New Imperial Cycles, starts working on motorcycle production. Belgian firm Minerva starts production. Walter (Czechoslovakia) produces its first motorcycle. First long-distance motorcycle race (Germany):Berlin-Aachen (415m - 688 km). Phelon & Moore (UK) make first chain-driven motorcycle. Werbrothers introduce four-stroke single engine
The 20th Century begins. James Norton starts his motorcycle business. Ariel makes its first motorcycle. Royal Enfield makes its first motorcycle. Belgian company FN (La Fabrique Nationale d'Armes de Guerre, founded 1899) makes their first motorized bicycle. Quadrant (UK) makes its first motorcycle.Two-stroke pioneer Sir Dugald Clerk advocates supercharging the engines. Swiss brothers Henri and Armand Dufaux patent a compact engine, form Motosacoche, making a 211cc machine. Simplex (Holland) makes first motorcycle. The Russian Werner brothers (expatriates in France) redesign their motorcycle to put the engine in front of the pedals at the bottom of the frame. It is the first machine to go beyond the engine-strapped to a bicycle frame design, the first modern motorcycle and it dominated the 1902 races. First New Imperial motorcycles shown in London, but get no orders, so none are produced this year. First Indian (USA) motorcycle produced, 150cc. John Phelon and Richard Moore found P&M Company (later Panther). First NSU motorcycle (Germany). Edward Turner is born in London on the day King Edward VII is proclaimed King. The monthly British magazine, Engineering, describes motorcycling as a "form of entertainment that can appeal only to the most enthusiastic of mechanical eccentrics... We think it doubtful whether the motorcycle will, when the novelty has worn off, take a firm hold of public favour." At the London trade show, 100 different motorcycles are on display. Edward Turner is born in London. First Triumph motorcycle is produced, designed by Schulte, using single-cylinder 2.25 (1.75?) bhp Belgian Minerva engine with automatic inlet valve and battery/coil ignition, fitted onto a bicycle frame (clipped to the downtube). This year will be celebrated in 2002 by Triumph as its 100th anniversary. Schulte also experimented with both Fafnir and JAP engines.
Belgian company FN (founded 1899) makes their first motorcycle, a single. Bat Motor Company starts motorcycle production in London. British engineer Sir Dugald Clerk invents the two-stroke engine. Montgomery founded. Merkel & Yale (USA) founded. Simplex (Holland) produces first motorcycle. Humber starts building motorcycles in Coventry, under P&M patents. Peugot (France) uses Werner frame design for its motorcycles. Clement of France designs 1,000cc four-cylinder V-four engine for racer: capable of 71 mph (115 kmh). Indian (USA) starts using chain drive. Andre Boudeville (France) invents high-voltage magneto for engine ignition. Steffey (US) shows a water-cooled engine at Paris show. Zedel (Switzerland) makes V-twin engine with automatic inlet valves and mechanically-controlled exhaust valves. Used on Griffon (France) motorcycles. Upgraded Minerva engine with present day side-valve layout is used, but the company soon turns to JAP engines. A branch of the company, Orial TWN (Triumph Werke Nuremberg) is established in Germany to manufacture motorcycles there. Triumph sells 500 motorcycles this year.
UK speed limit increases from 12 mph to 30 mph (possibly 20?). UK bans passengers from riding side-saddle on motorcycles. Standard Motor Company founded. In 1945, this company would buy the Triumph car company. Harley Davidson (USA) makes its first three motorcycles. Chater Lea produces its first motorcycle. Chas. Brinks introduces an in-line, four-cylinder, air-cooled engine, used in a motorcycle this year by Evart-Hall (London). Aeolus Motorcycles (London) introduces the shaft drive. DOT ('Devoid of Trouble') founded. Husquvarna (Sweden) makes its first motorcycles. Sidecar development starts to keep pace with motorcycles. Fred Graham (UK) patents sidecar design, product made by Mills & Fulford. Indian (USA) makes first V-twin. This year 376 motorcycles are on display in the London trade show. Auto Cycle Union (ACU) founded in England as an offshoot of the Royal Automobile Club of Great Britain and Ireland. Cycle Manufacturers' Association disappears. The Motorcycle, firstcommercial magazine launched in March. J. A. Prestwich engine (JAP) now used, also second model with 3 bhp Belgian Fafnir engine is made. Decision is made to produce their own motorcycles, not just clip-on to other companies' designs.
Veloce founded by German-born Johannes Gutgemann. Belgian company FN makes the world's first mass-produced four-cylinder motorcycle. Indian (USA) production is up to more than 500 bikes a year. First Hercules (Germany) motorcycle. Harley-Davidson (USA) produce eight motorcycles this year. Singer drops the Power Wheel for more conventional motorcycles. J. A. Prestwich produces his first engine. He also started building complete motorcycles this year. P&M becomes Panther Motorcycles. Federation Internationale Motocycliste (FIM) founded in France. Batavus (Holland) company started. Peugot (France) uses first swing-arm rear suspension. 25,000 motorcycles registered in England. First Grand Prix race (France). Werner brothers (France) make their first twin-cylinder motorcycle. Fabrique National d’Armes de Guerre (FN - Belgium) makes first production in-line four cylinder motorcycle with shaft drive to rear wheel. ROC makes a V-twin engine. First all-Triumph machine produced, also the first all-British motorcycle, designed by Schulte and Works manager Charles Hathaway. Sells for 45 pounds. Uses 3bhp, 300cc (363cc?) side-valve engine. Cruising speed was 30-40 mph, with a top speed 40-50 mph. Production up to 250 per annum (five per week). Engine is the first to have ball bearings on main shaft. First all-Triumph motorcycle
Norton's first motorcycle is produced this year, using a Peugot engine. Victoria Motorcycles (Germany) produces its first machines. Winkelhofer and Jaenicke (Germany, founded 1902), make their first motorcycle, a shaft-drive single called the Wanderer. Fee (UK, later Douglas) designs first flat-twin motorcycle. First kickstarter introduced Newly-invented Bosch-Simms high-tension (HT) magneto used on all Triumph motorcycles. Triumph Engineering Co. Ltd. registered April 23, 1906. Capital was 100 pounds, (increased to 21,000 pounds by February 25, 1936). Rocking front spring fork with horizontal spring introduced, frame redesigned and a new engine designed. Five hundred machines made this year. Motorcycle journalist 'Ixion' tests a prototype 1907 machine but it proves flawed and the frame breaks. He later used an upgraded 1907 model to ride 2,058 kms (1,279 miles) in six days. Frank Hulbert wins the Dashwood hill climb on a prototype 453cc Triumph -the company's first competition success. 1906 3.5bhp model
BSA produces its first motorcycle, a bicycle powered by a Minerva engine. Douglas produces its first motorcycles. Harley-Davidson (USA) production up to 50 machines. Auto Cycle Club holds its first quarterly Trial. There are more than 100 types of British motorcycle on sale in the UK, many using imported engines, most 3-6 horse power. Carbide lamps used in night portion of the Tour de France race. James Andrew Prestwich (JAP) makes his first v-twin OHV engine. First automobile TT run at the Isle of Man. More than 1,000 motorcycles are made, with new 450cc 3.5bhp engine. Triumph riders Jack Marshall and Freddie Hulbert place second and third in the first motorcycle TT race (Isle of Man - a Matchless was the first). Company moves main production to larger premises on Priory Street and doubles production to 1,000 vehicles. Much Park address still used for service and to produce line of lower-value Gloria cycles and sidecars. Bettmann elected to Coventry City Council.
Brooklands race track, with banked track, opens. It was designed by Col. Sir Henry Holden. Speed trials begin, but racing doesn't start there until 1908. A Norton and a Matchless motorcycle win the first TT race. Harley Davidson production reaches 150 bikes this year, and the company expands. Indian builds its first V-twin. Excelsior (USA) starts making motorcycles using a 2.25 bhp Thor engine, calls them "Triumph." 60,000 motorcycles registered in England. Indian (USA) introduces twist-grip throttle and makes its first V-twin motorcycle engine (there were V-twins in Europe as early as 1902).
Variable pulley - high 4:1, low 6:1 - could be changed by dismantling at the roadside, also Triumph's own two-slide patent carburetor introduced. Engine controls are moved to the handlebars. First variable-gearing on Triumph bikes - required the rider to stop and move the belt drive to a different pulley. Jack Marshall wins single-cylinder class on a Triumph in Isle of Man TT Race and makes fastest lap 42.48mph (68.36kph), with an average of 40.49 mph (65.16kph). Triumph riders also take 3rd, 4th, 5th, 7th and 10th places. Triumph's profits for the year were 22,048 pounds.
W.E. Brough begins building motorcycles. Norton manufacturers its first motorcycle engine. J.A. Prestwich stops building complete motorcycles, focuses on engines. Hercules (Germany) makes first electric car. It charges overnight. Harley-Davidson production up to 450. TT models lose pedal mechanism after race officials agree no more pedalling bikes will be allowed. Pearson and Cox (UK) start making steam-powered cars. Werner (France) ceases motorcycle production to make cars. First race at Brooklands, Feb. 25, is a private challenge between W. McMinnies on a TT Triumph and Oscar Bickford on a Vindec. The Triumph won at just under 53 mph. Scott (UK) introduces two-stroke, twin-cylinder engine. Werner brothers (France) cease production. Harley Davidson made its first V-twin motorcycle. Production now up to 3,000 per annum. Schulte works on a new rear-hub multi- clutch plate for easy starting. Company also does first tests with a vertical twin engine, a 616cc Bercley.
Guiseppe Gilera founds his motorcycle company. Alfred Scott introduces the kickstart on his 333cc motorcycle. Calthorpe produces its first motorcycle. Rudge- Whitworth founded, starts making motorcycles. Alfred Scott founds Scott Motorcycles, makes first bike, a 333cc two-stroke. Belgian firm Minerva ceases production. Lee Chadwick (USA) makes supercharging work on competition cars. British Cycle and Motorcycle Manufacturers and Traders Union formed to run an annual motorcycle show and look after mutual interests. First president is Sir Charles Marston, founder of Sunbeam. Pierce Cycle Company (USA) launches its first motorcycle, a single-speed in-line four. First organized sand-track races at Daytona. Scottish Six Day trials founded by Edinburgh Motor Cycling Club. First BSA motorcycle production - uses BSA parts with Minerva engine.
Two models released this year, doubling the lineup! 3.5 bhp, 499cc TT model cataloged with magneto ignition only - coil not even optional. Albert Catt rides a Triumph 'Tourist Trophy Roadster' just under 2,000 miles (3,038 km) in six days. production up to 3,000 vehicles a year.
First US drive-in gas station with island pumps is built in Detroit. BSA makes first all- BSA motorcycle, sets up production facility in Small Heath to make its motorcycles. Rudge Whitworth makes its first motorcycle. L.A. Police (USA) creates eight-man motorcycle police force, one of world's first. New Imperial tries again: fits a 293cc JAP engine into a converted bicycle frame. The bike, the Light Tourist, is a big success. New Hudson releases a three-speed gear hub and a special metal-to-metal clutch for motorcycles. Soon follows with its own JAP-powered complete motorcycles. Morgan three-wheel "cyclecar" debuts, using JAP engine. Ceska Zbrojovka (CZ) factory built in Czechoslovakia, initially to make armaments. Terrot (France) offers belt-drive 'motorette' with gear changer using variable pulley. There are 283 machines on display at the British motorcycle show this year. Female riders Beatrice Langston, Mabel Hardee and Muriel Hind compete in the Quarterly Trial. First electric lights used on motorcycles (manufactured by Powell & Hammer, UK). AJS makes an 800cc V- twin with a three-speed transmission and kickstart.
Schulte's easy-start "Free-engine" model with multi-plate clutch in rear hub is available (patented by Schulte in 1908, this is Triumph's first bike with a clutch).
This meant riders no longer had to run along side the bike to get it started, then jump on! They could just ride away from a stopped position. Four 3.5 bhp models are now available: the Roadster, Free-Engine Model, TT Roadster and TT Racer. Top speed was 50-55 mph. Ivan Hart-Davies rides a Triumph on his last End-To-End ride, John O'Groats (Scotland) to Land's End, 886 miles, in 29 hours 12 mins., averaging just over 30 mph. Albert Catt rides a Triumph 2,400 (2,557?) miles in six days. Pedalling gear is dispensed with on most models and replaced by foot pegs.
TT race moves to full-length mountain circuit. Henderson (USA) begins producing motorcycles, becomes known for its in-line fours. Levis founded. OK Supreme founded. Singer releases its own-design motorcycle, a 299cc single, followed by a 499cc side-valve and a 535cc side-valve single. New Hudson designs its own motorcycle engine. John Wooler founds his motorcycle company. Kickstarts replacing hand and pedal starts for most manufacturers. Alcyon (France) motorcycle made with four-valve cylinder head for TT races. Harley Davidson makes its first V-Twin motorcycle engine.
Sunbeam makes its first motorcycle, a 350cc single. Excelsior (USA) name sold to a Detroit firm. They start making 5.5 hp singles called "Triumph," until 1913.
Italian firm Aeronautica Macchi (Aermacchi) formed. Pearson and Cox make their first steam-powered motorcycle, but the company closed in 1914. Female rider Mabel Hardee competes in ACU Six Days trial on a 500cc P&M. Edmund Dangerfield opens the first motor vehicle museum, in London. Fred Watson founds the Patent Collapsible Sidecar Company to make folding sidecars (the name changed in 1913 to Folding Sidecar Company and in 1931 to Watsonian Sidecars Company Ltd.).
Bradley introduces variable gearing through manually-adjustable pulleys. Indian (USA) takes top three spots at TT races. Royal Enfield makes a V-twin engine. Bettmann is elected Mayor of Coventry 1913-14. As mayor, he established the charitable Prince of Wales Fund. He was also a founding member and former president of the Coventry Chamber of Commerce and president of the Coventry Liberal Association (until 1940). Triumph (Schulte) builds an experimental 600cc vertical twin side-valve engine, with horizontal crankcase joint (horizontally split crankcases would not reappear until the late 1950s). Model C is the last one offered with a pedal start. Two stroke, two speed, two-stroke 225cc 'Junior' model designed by Hathaway specifically for women is announced. It has a top speed of 35 mph. Public calls it the "Baby Triumph." It's the first new Triumph engine since 1910. For a brief while (1916-20), Ignatz Schwinn, of Chicago, manufactures the Junior under license in the USA (as Excelsior), upgrading the engine to 269cc.
Veloce makes its first two-stroke motorcycle, the Velocette. The name sticks and the company is called that afterwards. First roadside petrol pump built in the UK, in Shrewsbury. Norton is in voluntary liquidation, but James Norton reforms it with Bob Shelley as Norton Motors Ltd. Villiers starts making its first production engine. Pierce Cycle Company (USA) in liquidation, production ends.100,000 motorcycles registered in England, 70,000 motorcycles were manufactured in the USA. First motorcar to exceed 100 mph. A V-twin NUT using a 350cc JAP engine wins the IOM Junior TT race. By 1914, the company was producing 4,000 singles annually. Hathaway is now Triumph's chief designer. The main vehicle is the 550c Type A Roadster, which produced 4 hp and used the reliable Bosch high-tension magneto.
Singer stops making motorcycles in 1914. World War 1 declared in August. Puch company formed in Austria. Werner (France) stops production. Edmund Dangerfield's museum is replaced by an army training centre, many machines lost or left to rot. Scott Trial started as a company event, opened to other riders in 1919. Megola (Germany) makes motorcycle with five-cylinder radian engine in front wheel. First protective helmets introduced, used by Irish racers at TT races. Indian (USA) offers electrical starting and electrical lighting on bikes. 200 motorcycle manufacturers exist in USA, 200 in UK and at least 200 in Europe.
Production became focused on the Allied war effort.
Model 'H' roadster with chain drive (designed by Schulte and similar to the Type A) was introduced in 1915, 550cc side-valve four-stroke with Sturmey-Archer three-speed gearbox and belt transmission - considered by many to be the first "modern" motorcycle. Soon earns the nickname "Trusty Triumph." Some 30,000 Model H bikes were supplied to Allied forces in World War I (20,000 for UK forces). 'Trusty' Triumph, 4 bhp machine used by Allied troops in WWI Bettmann meets Col. Claude Holbrook, who handles m r otorcycle procurement fo the War Office and orders Triumph bikes for the Army joined . Holbrook later Triumph.
In 1915, the first stop lights were fitted to American cars. TT races halted by war. In 1915, the Cleveland Motorcycle Company (USA) builds a two-stroke "Lightweight" almost an exact copy of Triumph's Junior model, and continues production of it until 1924. In 1916, Excelsior (USA, owned by Schwinn) builds its own Junior clone, the L18. Ivor Davies says the company was licensed by Triumph to manufacture the machines until 1920. In 1917, US company Henderson merges with Excelsior in Chicago, under Ignatz Scwinn. In 1918, Bayerische Motoren WerkeAG (BMW) is founded in Germany. In 1915 British Post Office uses motorcycle riders to deliver mail. In 1915, BSA built a large four-storey workshop to accommodate huge production increases during the war. In 1915, Edward Turner got his first ride on a motorcycle (a Light Tourist New Imperial).
After a quarrel, Maurice Schulte leaves company and retires with a generous 15,000 pounds 'golden handshake.' Schulte had apparently argued with Bettmann who was opposed to Schulte's proposal to drop bicycle production and move into car manufacturing. Schulte did not want to stay with two-wheelers, but Bettmann did. Colonel Claude V. Holbrook joins, and takes over Schulte's role as General Manager. Holbrook, however, agreed with Schulte about car manufacturing and would quickly drop bicycle manufacturing and start car production.
Col. Claude Vivian Holbrook
Triumph announced the end of its participation in future TT races, but this would prove short-lived. Model D, single-gear version of the H model is rushed into production. Triumph designs a roadster seat with adjustable tension spring to regulate seat firmness.
Iron foundry strikes in Britain reduce output of all motorcycles. Danish firm Nimbus founded: making 750cc in-line fours with shaft drive until the late 1950s. BSA makes its first V-twin, a 770cc machine aimed at the sidecar market. Francis-Barnett makes its first motorcycles. Alfred Scott leaves the motorcycle company to found a car company. DKW (Germany) founded by Danish Jorgen Rasmussen. In the first three years following the war, about 100 new motorcycle manufacturers were started in the UK. William and Tom Henderson leave Excelsior to form a new company, Ace, making in-line fours until 1924. Carl Neracher (USA) takes out patents on a new motorcycle design, to become the Ner-A-Car of 1921, also manufactured in UK. Fritz Cockerell produces the Pax, a three-cylinder rotary-engine motorcycle with the engine in the rear wheel. Adalberto Garelli (Italy) establishes a factory to build his motorcycles (prototypes were built from 1914-18). First post-war Olympia motorcycle show in the UK boasts 112 companies making motorcycles. Post WWI: manufacturers change from bicycle saddles to softer, longer seats designed for motorcycles. Indian (USA) launches model 101 Scout. Model 'SD' (Spring Drive), 550cc, offered with large-diameter rear spring shock absorber outboard of clutch and first all-chain transmission through Triumph's own three-speed gearbox. Based on the model H engine, with new frame. German branch of firm now back in business and building own models (variations on British models). An enlarged version of the Junior is offered at 269cc and built under license in the USA and Germany. Bettmann establishes the charitable Annie Bettmann Foundation.
TT races resume with alterations in course. Carlo Guzzi designs the first bike for the Italian firm Moto Guzzi, a 500cc four-stroke single. Swedish firm motorcycle firm Monark founded (first motorcycles are labelled Esse). 200,000 cars registered in Britain, 260,000 motorcycles. Bicycle sales top 3 million this year. Just under 2 million cars made in the USA. Gene Walker (USA) races Indian to record 72.6 mph (116.9 kmh). Indian (USA) launches Chief model. Rim brakes replaced by internally-expanding drum brakes. 500cc four-valve first Triumph ohv machine, Model 'R' introduced; 20- 21bhp, four-valve ohv head with twin valves set at 90 degrees apart. Similar to SD model (below the crankcase mouth), the top half was designed by fuel technologist and engine designer Harry Ricardo (later Sir Harry) and Major Frank Halford (an enthusiastic motorcycle racer at Brooklands who rode a TT Racer). Earns the nickname 'Riccy' from its designer. Uses a machined steel cylinder and an aluminum piston. Only one Riccy finishes in the TT race, coming in 16th. Ricardo was an engineer who developed the modern understanding of engine breathing and combustion processes. In November, Halford broke the 500cc world hour record at 76.74 mph on a Riccy, along with 50-mile standing start (77.27 mph) and the one-mile British record (87.8 mph). Triumph engineers also build 500cc side-valve for TT races.
Britain introduces "tax discs" to register license fees on motorcycles.Petrol pumps go into general use in the UK. BSA produces its first motorcycle, a side-valve 770cc V-twin. BSA also unveiled an exciting new machine, intended to race in the TT. Used inclined engine, duplex frame, vertical valves, aluminum slipper-type pistons, one-into-two exhaust manifold, two independent oiling mechanisms. Secret project cost over 10,000 pds and took 18 months. Initial tests at Brooklands had promised speed, but at the TT, all six machines entered were sidelined by the end of the second lap -mostly the result of melted pistons. After a family disagreement, George Brough leaves his father's motorcycle factory and sets up his own operation, Brough Superior. Carl Neracher launches his Ner-A-Car motorcycle; 221cc two-stroke, later upgraded to 350cc four-stroke. Production only lasted until 1926. Italian Benelli brothers build their first motorcycle. DKW manufactures its first motorcycle.
Scotland Yard creates its first motorcycle squad, using BSA machines. BMW (Germany) makes its first motorcycle engine, a twin. Bianchi (Italy) expands, shows its first unit-construction 600cc sv V-twin. Douglas Davidson, riding a Harley-Davidson, is the first to break 100 mph on a motorcycle at Brooklands. Autoglider introduced: one of the very first scooters. 373,000 motorcycles registered in Britain.
Riccy appears in production, but with a cast-iron cylinder, hand shifter, shorter stroke, bicycle-type brakes and Druid front forks, at a cost of 120 pounds. Top speed is 135 kmh (84 mph). Electric lights and horn offered as options on Triumph bikes. Maj. Halford breaks the flying mile, 50 mile and one hour record at Brooklands, riding a Riccy. He also broke the 500cc one-hour record at 123.49 km/h (76.74 mph). Walter Brandish on a Triumph Riccy finishes second in the Senior TT.
The Triumph 'Riccy' model 1922 Norton makes its first ohv singles. First endurance race, the Bol d'Or held in France. First Indian Chief produced in USA, designed by Charles Franklin. World land speed record set at Brooklands: 108.48 mph. P&P (Packman and Poppe) make first motorcycle using a 250cc White and Poppe engine. New lightweight class, 250cc, added to TT races. Car company Vauxhall Motors hires Maj. Frank Halford to design an in-line four motorcycle, but the project is dropped in 1924. British firm Sheffield Simplex makes Ner-A-Cars under licence. Packman & Poppe launch their first motorcycle prototype, a 250cc two-stroke. Bianchi (Italy) opens sales office in the UK. First Italian grand Prix held. Jack Sangster, production manager at Rover automobiles, goes to work for his father at Ariel. 350cc unit-construction, three-speed Model LS announced - very advanced for its day but it proved unpopular. Has Triumph's first engine-driven oil pump - rider no longer required to pump oil pressure by hand. Bettman buys the premises of the Dawson CarCompany at Clay Lane. The Dawson was originally designed by Arthur Anderson (formerly of Singer and Lea-Francis), but was unsuccessful on the market. First Triumph cars produced: Model 10/20, an open tourer based on the Dawson, with 23.5bhp 1393cc four-cylinder engine designed by Ricardo, hydraulic rear brakes, and produced until 1925. "Junior" increased to 249cc, gets clutch and kickstart. A 'Riccy' comes in second in the Senior TT race.
Bayerische Motoren Werke - BMW - (Germany) makes its first motorcycle, the 500cc R32 twin, powered by a boxer engine and using shaft drive, designed by Chief Engineer Max Fritz. Alfred Scott dies. First sidecar race entered into TT program. Douglas introduces a banking sidecar, designed by Freddie Dixon. First Manx Grand Prix is run. First real moped is produced (the Clement, from France). French firm Motobecane is founded, produces first motorcycle, a 175cc, belt-driven machine. Chater Lea (UK) rider breaks 100 mph (160.9 kmh) barrier. Internal expanding brakes are put on chain-driven models.
Triumph introduces its own spring front fork and drops the popular Druid fork still used by several other companies. Last year for Ricardo four-valve machines, last year for Model H "Trusty." 346cc LS produced, an advanced three-speed machine that wasn't very popular.
World's first competitive 'scramble' cross-country race is held on March 29 on Camberley Heath, Surrey, giving birth to the sport of motocross. Racer and engineer Howard R. Davis founds HRD. American Motorcycle Association (AMA) founded, takes over the ailing Federation of American Motorcyclists (FAM). Ace (US) closes. Ultralight class, 175cc, added to TT. BMW (Germany) develops sports model from R32, called R37 - racer Franz Bieber wins first Germany Road Championship for BMW Mass-produced 500cc side-valve Model 'P' with three-speed gearbox and all-chain drive at 42p.17s.6d - least expensive 500cc ever offered. It causes a sensation. Produced at a rate of 1,000 a week. However, the standard of production is low on the P model (including discarding valve guides and an asbestos-rope front brake). Triumph's reputation is tarnished by the low quality and design flaws. Twenty thousand were produced before the improved Mark II (late 1925) restored some of the public confidence in Triumph. Competitor George Bell, manufacturer of the Banshee, closes shop and joins Triumph. Junior's ("Baby's") last year. Triumph production occupies 500,000 sq. ft. and employs 3,000 people to make 25,000-30,000 units a year. Sidecars are also made in-house. Triumph sales depend heavily on export, with catalogues in ten languages (including Japanese).
Val Page joined Ariel this year. James Norton, 56, dies. Czech-made Bohmerland in production (until 1939). Claude Temple breaks the 100mph lap at Brooklands on a Temple-Anzani. Female riders Marjorie Cottle, Louise Mclean and Edyth Foley compete in the ISDT and win gold medals. Construction of 17.6-mile Nurburgring racing circuit (Germany) started. First German Grand Prix held. Czech-made Bohmerland motorcycle starts production (ends in 1939). UK bans all motorcycle events on closed public roads. The Motorcycle publishes drawings by Edward Turner of a single-cylinder engine with overhead cams.
Strong sales of Model P continue, with models N, Q and QA offered as well.
In New York City, USA, Reggie Pink opens his motorcycle shop. He would later become the first major American dealer in Triumph motorcycles. Sidecar races dropped from TT program because of lack of entries, didn't return until 1954. BSA manufacturers just under 30,000 motorcycles this year. Front-wheel brakes introduced. First British Grand Prix (auto). Production reaches 30,000 machines a year. Triumph's first "modern" motorcycle, 500cc two-valve two-port ohv Model TT developed by Victor Horsman, Brooklands racer/tuner, and later a Liverpool dealer. This supersedes the Riccy model R which is dropped. Horsman's two-valve design would be the basis of Triumph engine design until Val Page's models in 1934. Lineup includes eight models including introductions of Model W and Model P (?) with unusual 274cc engine. Model 13/35 car produced this year only; 1873 cc, four cylinders. Model 15, 2170cc, four-cylinder car made 1927-1930.
SD model with a Gloria sidecar attached
Edward Turner, an independent working alone in his own shop, designs and builds his first bike, a 350cc single. This would bring him to the attention of Ariel's Jack Sangster. Cleveland (USA) closes. Auto Cycle Union selects as British B squad for the ISDT the team of female riders Marjorie Cottle, Louise Mclean and Edyth Foley. Nurburgring racing circuit (Germany) completed. Because of the 1925 ban on road events, sand-track racing develops popularity in the UK (continued until 1939). Oil-lubricated engine with dry crankcase introduced. First European speedway race organized. The Motor Cycle publishes a photograph of Edward Turner's first patented engine, called the Turner Special.
Triumph adopts fashionable saddle tank instead of their traditional flat gas tank, but only on certain models. First move away from traditional green colour scheme to black with gold lines or pale blue panels on black. Motorcycle lines slashed to four models. A two-valve TT sportster is offered. Super Seven car introduced, 747cc, four cylinder (*see note below) with hydraulic brakes, worm drive, dual connecting rods and three speeds (the early Super series of cars were named according to their horsepower). Triumph would make 17,000 Super Sevens in seven years. Bettmann is elected president of the British Cycle and Motorcycle Manufacturers and Traders Union association, 1928-29.
This year Edward Turner was invited by Jack Sangster to join Ariel. Vincent HRD founded by Philip Vincent after buying the rights to HRD, which had gone into liquidation. Stanley Glanfield designs a new model Rudge for dirt-track racing. It becomes very popular and other companies rush to copy it. At the Motorcycle Show in Olympia, 17 manufacturers exhibit dirt track models for racing, including Scott, Zenith, Royal Enfield, Triumph, Rudge Whitworth, Douglas and others - 138,417 people paid for admission to that show. Vincent HRD introducesthe first triangulated, swing-arm rear suspension. Velocette offers first positive-stop foot-change gear system. First speedway grass track races held in UK. BMW makes its first 750cc motorcycle, the R62 - the largest displacement for the company until 1973. Annual production of 30,000 units a year achieved. Back to eight models, now with saddle tanks. German branch TWN (Triumph Werke Nurnberg) achieves autonomy, sold off after Wall Street crashes, continues to make motorcycles until 1957, but also made typewriters with Triumph logo. A 350cc TT model is offered 1929-30 only. 350cc CO provided enclosed OHV gear anda dry-sump pressurized oil system. Triumph cars competed at the Monte Carlo and Irish TT races.
This year at Ariel, Jack Sangster sets up Edward Turner, Val Page (boss) and Bert Hopwood to work in the design shop. Jawa is founded in Czechoslovakia. This year 731,298 motorcycles are registered in Great Britain, 18,000 more than in 1928. Numbers would decline after the Crash and not reach this high again until 1950. Cleveland company (USA) stops production. NSU drops sports cars to concentrate on motorcycles. Italian firm Mondial founded in Milan. First JAWA produced (Czechoslovakia). Britain's premier 'Wall of Death' stunt rider, Tornado Smith startshis rides, doing 110,000 miles of wall-riding stunts by 1948. He retired in the late 1960s. NSU (Germany) stops building cars. Almost 4.5 million cars made in the USA. Edward Turner, 28, marries Edith Webley. Ernst Henne sets world motorcycle speed record at 216km (134 mph) on a BMW.
175cc Model 'X' two-stroke, two-speed at 23p.17s.6d. with lights and leg shields (also called 'Junior'). This is their first all-unit construction motorcycle. Triumph tries inclined engines in its new lineup. 500cc ohv CTT offered. Due to financial problems and pressure from creditors (notably Lloyds Bank), Bettmann is demoted from Managing Director to Vice-Chairman, and Lloyds bank appoints a "Mr. Graham" as manager. Bettmann was demoted to Vice-Chairman of Triumph in 1930 Managing Director. Super 8 car introduced, 832cc, 21 bhp, four cylinder. Triumph's Scorpion car - a 1.2 litre, six cylinder - was also released in October this year. Donald Healey finished 7th at the Monte Carlo race in a Triumph Super Seven, the highest place for any British car. Ariel closes its doors, but comes back after Jack Sangster (son of founder, Charles) buys it and restructures it in 1932. Their Square Four is the hit of the 1930 Olympia Motorcycle Show. JAP introduces a new line of speedway motors. The motorcycle industry suffers great losses after the Wall Street Crash. New Hudson launches a revamped line of motorcycles this year, but as the Depression sets in, there are few buyers. CZ (Czechoslovakia) makes its first motorcycle. NSU (Germany) purchases its competitor, Wanderer. UK Road Traffic Act does away with overall speed limits. Sachs (Germany, founded 1895) produces its first motorcycles. Puch (Austria) makes first supercharged racer.
250cc ohv model WO introduced. 343cc NM introduced. Britain issues its first Highway Code laws. Inclined engine designed by Val Page. Jack Wickes, 16, joins Triumph as print boy. This year triumph puts the Coventry Climax engine in its cars. Ariel releases its Square Four, designed by Edward Turner.It would continue in production until 1959. Model X reduced to 150cc and joined by new models, including the Silent Scout. The 1.2 litre side-valve Scorpion was introduced by Triumph in 1930.
Matchless takes over AJS to form Associated Motor Cycles. Ariel starts producing its Square Four bike. Henderson (USA) ceases production. Australian engineer Philip Irving joins Vincent HRD to design an engine. Excelsior (USA) Closes its doors, leaving only Indian and Harley as major US manufacturers. Metropolitan Police (London) create their first motorcycle squad using BSA and Matchless machines.
Val Page (age 40), designer for JAP (he designed the engines used in the Brough Superior SS100 and SS80 models) and more lately Ariel fame (where he was Edward Turner's boss), joins Triumph (Ariel closed in 1930 but was reconstituted in 31-32). Bicycle manufacturing plant is sold to a Mr. Downes, who took over the manufacture of Triumph motorcycles in Coventry (Bettmann later wrote he considered giving up bicycles a mistake). The Southern Cross Designer Val 1.2 litre sports car Page The car company switches to engines built by Coventry-Climax.
Sophisticated 150cc two-stroke (later ohv four-stroke) 'Silent Scout' models, designed by Page, introduced with special cams and followers to reduce clatter. Silent Scouts boast inclined engine. Page also designs 250, 350 and 500cc sizes. Called Model A (548cc - about 600-800 sold) , B (493cc - about 1,000 sold) and BS (S for Sport, high-compression 7:1 model - only about 200 sold). Britain scraps motorcycle taxation by weight and adopts engine capacity instead. Several Triumph cars are made this year: Super 9, 1018 cc (30 bhp), four cylinder; Model 12/16, 1203cc (27 bhp), six cylinder; Southern Cross in 1087cc (40 bhp) and 1232cc four-cylinder models. The Southern Cross gained the company distinction in successive Monte Carlo and Alpine rallies. Scorpion is withdrawn from production. Doug Healey is Technical Director. Triumph wins the prestigious Maudes Trophy for excellence for their road models. Bert Hopwood becomes Chief Draughtsman at Ariel. The first sodium street lights in the UK are erected in Purley Way, Croydon, Surrey. The first pedestrian-operated street-crossing lights are put up on Brighton Road, Croydon. Rear-view mirrors become compulsory in the UK. Brough Superior offers a four-cylinder three-wheeled model using a modified 796cc Austin Seven automobile engine. New Hudson ceases motorcycle production. Italian bicycle maker Antonio Malaguti sets up shop; began making motorcycles in 1934. New range of single cylinder machines designed by Val Page. Page's 'flagship' model 6/1- 25bhp, four-speed 650 vertical twin (designed for sidecar market, it had a 360-degree crankshaft and a helical gear primary drive) proves a commercial failure. Other companies' twins at this time were all V-twins. Single cylinder 500cc CD model has Bowden carb. Engine closures introduced to reduce noise and save cost of polishing hidden parts. Page's design philosophy favours modular engine and bike design, with units sharing the same chassis and other components. Val Page's Model 6/1, also Triumph's first vertical twin
Triumph puts 98cc and 150cc Villiers engines in XV/1 machines (but sold under the Gloria badge) to take advantage of new tax laws. They soon replaced them with Triumph's own inclined 147cc engine in the X05/1 and X05/5 models (the latter was the sporty version). Siegfried Bettmann, 70, retires and is replaced by Col. Holbrook as Managing Director. Harry Perry breaks 500 mile record on a 6/1 at Brooklands. The Gloria line of cars is introduced with the Gloria 10, 1087cc, 40 bhp, four cylinder. The company decides not to manufacture family cars any more. Name changed to Triumph Co. Ltd. The model range stabilized Triumph's motorcycle business. Page designs single 493cc 5/2 (a basic utility-plus-sidecar model), 5/4 (deluxe: the same engine as the 5/2, but with a chrome tank and headlight) and 5/10 racing models. NM model no longer produced. Gloria car was produced 1934-37 Triumph team forced out of Senior TT following mechanical problems in their early Mk 5/10 racers. Gloria 12 car is produced in 1232cc (40 bhp) and 1496cc (42 bhp) , four cylinder engines (made through 1937). One ragtop model was called the Monte Carlo. Also introduced were the Gloria 6, 1476cc (52 bhp), all six cylinders, and Dolomite 8 Super Sports, 1990cc (140 bhp), eight cylinders. The Dolomite came with a 100 mph Brooklands certificate. But if the highly-advanced car was greeted with excitement by the automobile press, some sources sayit also faced several suits over patent infringements (others say this is just an old rumour). Only a half-dozen were made. 1934 Foot shifters were now in common use throughout the motorcycle industry, replacing hand shifters. Vincent HRD releases motorcycles using Irving's new engine design. Grindlay-Peerless ceases production. A New Imperial laps Brooklands at 103 mph, but a Triumph later does it at 105. German firm Maisch Company (Maico) founded. Italian government drops road tax for motorcycles; Malaguti begins making his first motorcycles. Austrian company Steyre-Daimler-Puch AG Puch is formed, an amalgamation of three firms. Mark 5 (Mk 5) models 5/5 and 5/10 (a full-blown racer) 500cc in production. It was a two-port racer, specially tuned, special tank, alternative pistons, etc. Model 3/1 offers 343cc, side valves, but limited performance. Still, it was a truly modern roadster. Triumph offers foot-change gear shifters as an option on their 650cc vertical twin models. Ad for Gloria car (click above for more) The motorcycle industry remained stable, but the car side of the firm ran them into financial difficulties, so motorcycle production was halted to focus on building automobiles at their Foleshill Road plant, in Coventry. They stop building smaller cars to concentrate on the largerGloria models (the 2.3 litre model was based on the Alfa Romeo 8C - a joint venture with Alfa Romeo for a Coventry-built version of their classic 8C 2300 Monza sports car). But only three were made. Gloria 6 car made (1476cc, 52 bhp), plus Gloria 6/16 (1991cc, 55 bhp), Gloria 6/16 Sports (1991cc, 65 bhp). The Gloria Southern Cross (SX) was made, a short-chassis Gloria.
An urban speed limit of 35mph (30mph?) is established in the UK. Also, this is the first year for UK driving tests. TT organizers allow engines to be warmed up before races. On May 13, T.E. Lawrence, riding his Brough Superior SS100 crashed. He died in hospital six days later. Norman Cycles founded in Kent to manufacture bicycles. BMW adopts telescopic forks. Indian (USA) launches Sport Scout model. Triumph decides to split car production from motorcycle into two separate and independent companies in January. Ariel owner John Young ("Jack" but known to the company as "JS") Sangster buys the Priory Street (motorcycle) works for 5,000 pounds (41,530 for the entire purchase according to Ivor Davies) and assembly-line workers take a drop in pay. He changes the company name to Triumph Engineering Company (registered by Sangster in 1906). Sangster appoints Ariel's Edward Turner, 35, (designer of the Ariel Square Four) as General Manager and Chief Designer. Turner also receives a 5 per cent commission on net profits of the company, and is a shareholder with 4.9 per cent of the equity. His first act is to clear a space on the production floor for his office and an adjacent drawing office. After a brief period during which Stanley Evershed is Chairman, Bettmann is asked by Sangster to be the chair of the new company because of his reputation in the industry. Val Page joins BSA (he left Triumph four months before the takeover). Bert Hopwood joins Triumph as Turner's Design Assistant. Ted Crabtree, of Ariel, is appointed Chief Buyer. Racer Freddie Clarke becomes Chief Development Engineer. Jack Sangster, top, and Edward Turner, bottom. Turner revamps the line of 250, 350 (3H) and 500cc Mk 5 singles into just three sports roadsters: the Tigers 70, 80, and 90 are the result. He adds polished cases, new paint designs, upswept exhausts, single-tube frames, enclosed valve gears and chrome petrol tanks. Last year for the 5/10 and 6/1. Reggie Pink, New York, first imports Triumphs and becomes the first major US Triumph distributor. Dolomite 14/60 car made by Triumph Motor Car Company, 1776cc, 65 bhp, four cylinders. Production of Gloria 12 continues. The car company decides not to make any more 'pure' sports cars and would not make any more until 1951 when the TR series was started. The car company reverts to using its own engines.
Calthorpe ceases production. Bob Fisher rides a New Imperial motorcycle to win the 250cc TT race. It is the last time a British motorcycle will ever win in this class. Husquvarna offers its first moped, a 98cc machine. Suzuki is first Japanese motorcycle company. In July, Turner introduces the 500cc Speed Twin, selling at 75 pounds. It takes the motorcycle world by storm and would prove the definitive British bike. This 27bhp parallel-twin model (some say was based on the engine design of the Riley 9 car, which Turner owned) set the trend for motorcycles and its form continued well into the 1980s. It was capable of travelling 90 mph (145kph) and weighed 361 lb. (166kg). Speed Twin - pre-war model Triumph wins the Maudes Trophy again for its designs this year. A 600cc side-valve model 6S is introduced for sidecar work. Alf Camwell, Works manager, is responsible for closing down the car side. Freddie Clarke joins Triumph to head up an engine development section. This year 'Experimental 1" is made, a prototype Tiger T100 with a new tank shape.
Sunbeam is sold to Associated Motorcycles (AMC). Italian firm Moto Morini is founded. First Daytona 200 held. Cimatti (Italy) is founded. Ernst Henne sets new land speed record for motorcycles on a BMW at 279.5 kmh (173.3 mph). Original Triumph works in Much Park Street sold. Last year for the Tiger 90 single. Tiger 100 twin announced. It is a sporty version of the Speed Twin: 33bhp, reaching 100mph (160kph) but proves to have handling problems and steering wobble at high speeds. Holbrook is knighted. Triumph begins plans to rebadge New Imperial's 200cc single with some design upgrades, and sell it as their own small bike. However, it never got to market. 1938 T80 Bill Johnson and Wilbur Ceder buy British and American Motors, a small motorcycle shop in Pasadena, California. They sell Triumphs, Ariels, BSAs and Indians. They also host their first motorcycle show to give the public a look at the new bikes. After several tests of motorcycles from numerous manufacturers, the Metropolitan (London) Police choose the Speed Twin for their own use. They buy two dozen initially, and would buy thousands over the next several years.
Chater Lea ceases motorcycle production. New Imperial factory closes, the company bought by Jack Sangster. He continued production of their motorcycles until war broke out in September, 1939. Norman releases its first motorcycles, a 98cc autocycle similar to a modern moped, plus a 125cc single. BMW adopts rear-plunger suspension system, delivers its 100,000 motorcycle. DKW rider Ewald Kluge becomes first German to win the TT. Tiger 90 discontinued. T100, with top speed of 95-100 mph, becomes a popular model in US. TT races put on hold again. Reggie Pink concentrates on Triumph sales. The Tiger 85 is announced, but never produced. Edward Turner's wife dies in a car crash near Coventry. 1939 T100
Freddie Clarke sets a new 350cc lap record at Brooklands, doing 105.97mph on a Tiger 80, then sets another doing 118.02mph on a bored-out 503cc T100. Val Page returns to Ariel. Sangster buys the bankrupt New Imperial name for use as a manufacturer of no-frills machines. But plans to resurrect the line are halted by the war, and never brought back. World War II declared and within six weeks, 1,400 Triumph motorcycles are requisitioned from the factory for war use. This year, Reggie Pink, New York, offers all of Triumph's 13 bike models in his shop.
Car company is in receivership, acquired by Standard Motor Company. Later, the Triumph car company was taken over by Ward's, internationally-known coach makers headed by former Technical Director, Donald Healey. Because of the war, the car plant closed in October and would never re-open as just Triumph again. Financial troubles force Rudge Whitworth to close, but production is taken over by Norman. Norman later halts production during the war. Velocette puts a swing-arm rear suspension on its racers. First vintage race for machines built before 1930, held at Donnington Park. The last speed records are set at Brooklands: 143.39 mph by Eric Fernihough, plus a 124.51 lap set by Noel Pope. The track closed when war broke out and never reopened. First international motocross event is held, in France. British motorcycle exports are only 19,000, compared to almost 34,000 for Germany. BMW riders win top two TT races. In January, the British government reduced production demands, allowing Triumph to manufacture bikes for the civilian and export markets again. In March, the French government contracts to buy 500cc side-valve bikes from Triumph. In May, the British government again requisitions bikes, halting civilian production. By July production for the military is up to 300 machines a week. Coventry factory bombed 350cc side-valve vertical twin with rigid frame and girder forks (3TW based on Tiger 85 design) and 3HW (350cc ohv based on the Tiger 80; a "potentially great" bike, it offered a top speed of over 70 mph, weighed 240 lbs. and had a six inch ground clearance) singles approved for Services. Bert Hopwood believed the 3TW was a seriously flawed design. Fifty prototypes were made for testing, but destroyed in the Blitz. Hopwood wrote this was a "favour" to the War Office.
Priory Street works destroyed by German bombers on November 14 during blitz of Coventry. Initial batch of 50 350cc twins ready to go out are destroyed. This was the end of this model and motorcycles were never again built at this plant. The staff salvage all of the usable tools and parts from the rubble, only stopping when an unexploded bomb is found among the debris. The Blitz also destroyed all of Triumph's technical records, drawings and designs. Production moved to temporary location in Warwick, while a new factory on the Birmingham-Coventry road outside Meriden is being built. Sangster sells Ariel to BSA group. Canadian distributors Sammett & Blair (east) and Nicholson Brothers (west) selling Triumphs into US market, bringing much-needed foreign currency to Britain. Bruce "Boo Boo" Pearson wins 32 out of 36 competition events in California riding a Tiger 100. Johnson and Ceder move shop to Los Angeles, rename it Johnson Motors. Edward Turner visits Johnson Motors.
First US drive-in gas station with island pumps is built in Detroit. Brough Superior ends production after making about 3,100 motorcycles. Royal Enfield builds its first twin, a 500cc. Velosex (France) makes its first motorcycle, a 38cc two-stroke. Edward Butler, one of the earliest motorcycle pioneers, dies. Francis-Barnett factory is demolished in same night raid that destroys Triumph. in 1940, German bombing raids also damaged the BSA factory in Birmingham, including a large section of the 1915 workshop, killing 53 workers on the night shift. A second raid, two nights later, almost completely destroyed the old 1863 structure. In two raids, BSA lost 1,600 machine tools - more than lost in the entire blitz on Coventry. At this time BSA had 67 factories across the country.
Temporary premises acquired in Warwick and production restarts in June. 310 and 500cc side-valves in production by June for Services (advanced 3TW never built). Work on new factory at the village of Meriden started (reputed to be at the geographic centre of Britain). The company also built 6kW generators for RAF based on the Speed Twin engine, but using light alloy cylinder head and barrel. Called the AAPP (Airborne Auxiliary Power Plant), the design went on to become thebasis of the post-war Grand Prix engine. Triumph also worked on a target-towing winch for the Navy.
Annie Bettmann dies. Triumph exports are cut off. Turner's "sprung hub" was supposed to go into production this year, adding 17 lbs to the weight of a bike. But the war delays introduction until 1948. Levis ceases production. BMW builds R75 motorcycle with sidecar for German military. New factory at Meriden in production mid-year for military, with single-cylinder 350cc ohv 3HW based on pre-war 3H (basically a Tiger 80 but without an air filter, which required major servicing every couple of thousand miles), but improved with enclosed valve gear, etc. Forty thousand built for military during war, out of a total of 49,700 motorcycles produced. Triumph also made aircraft components, track links, steering housings and two-wheeled stretcher carriers. Turner designs a generator using a Triumph vertical twin engine for the Air Ministry. After a blazing row with Jack Sangster, Turner quit and moved to BSA as chief designer, where he worked on a side-valve vertical twin. Bert Hopwood becomes Triumph's new designer and works on a new side-valve model to challenge Turner's military machine for BSA.
W. 'Smokey' Dawson, in Wolverhampton (starts manufacturing plunger-type rear suspension for motorcycles, starting the DMW company's road into motorcycle production. Sanglas (Talleres Sanglas SA, Spain) starts motorcycle production.
Bert Hopwood designs the 500cc, side-valve twin TRW model for the military, at therequest of Jack Sangster (partly to challenge Turner at BSA who was working on a military 500cc twin), but it was never produced. prototypes were released in february, ahead of BSA's planned launch. The design would become the post-war TRW model. In late October, Edward Turner returned to Triumph. Hopwood worked on design for an inline four-cylinder 700cc engine that could produce 50 bhp. Turner's return to Triumph scuttled the plan. Edward Turner is Managing Director again. Alfred "Rich" Child, Harley-Davidson's Asian sales agent, approaches Triumph to become their exclusive, factory-authorized importer into the USA. Turner and Sangster decide to stick with Johnson as their official distributor.
Ariel, still run by Charles Sangster and his son Jack, is sold to BSA. Reggie Pink signs an exclusive deal with Harley-Davidson and stops selling Triumph motorcycles. Spanish motorcycle firm Montesa founded. During the war years, Triumph built 50,000 motorcycles. Large stock of used 3HW and 3SW (side-valve) models bought from War Department for reconditioning and repainting in new colours, sold in Britain for civilian use. In March, four twins and one single are announced, but the single and one twin never see production. The Speed Twin, Tiger 100 and 350cc 3T are made. They are fitted with telescopic forks (replacing the old girder front forks), but are otherwise the same as pre-war models. Turner designs the forks, but first models spew oil when bottoming out, so they are reworked by Freddie Clarke. Johnson draws up plans for a US nation-wide dealer network and accepts applications for Ariel and triumph franchises. JoMo moves to a new location in Pasadena, investing $85,000 in renovations, including six hydraulic lifts in the service area. JoMo drops its Indian franchise, but picks up California-made Mustang, Lucas electrical products, Amal carbs, John Bull and Dunlop tires.
The car company, independent since 1936, is purchased by Coventry automobile maker, Standard Motor Company (est. 1903 by Reginald Maudslay) to form the Standard-Triumph Group. A subsidiary, Triumph Motor Co. Ltd. was formed and produced the Triumph 1800 Saloon and 1800 Roadster this year. MV (Meccanica Verghera) Agusta (Italy) makes its first bike, a 98cc two-stroke. German motorcycle manufacturers restricted by Allies to making 60cc machines after the war. AMC releases its first hydraulic front forks, based on BMW design.
Note - re: 1928 cars One source says the Super Seven car was 7747cc (7.7l) although this is unlikely. However, many other contemporary manufacturers produced equally large big-litre automobiles: Minerva made a 6l car in 1929 and Hispano Suiza a 6.6l racer (increased to 8l around 1930). Mercedes Type S (1927) was 6.8l, the Grosser Mercedes of 1930 was 7.7l. Seven-litre vehicles were built by Renault (7.5l) in 1906; Leyland (Straight Eight), Dusenberg and Peugeot. Packard made a 6l Twin Six (a V12 from around 1916). Austin also had a 10l car around 1910. But these weren't the largest engines of their day. Mercedes also made an 11.5l in 1906 and 12.75l in 1908. Fiat made a 7l Vee Twelve in 1921 and a 10.5l in 1910. In 1929 Itala built a 12l car, Napier a 16.5l in 1901 and a 14.5l in 1907; Panhard a 13.7l. But the largest of all was the 21-litre giant made by Benz in 1913!. Source (among others): Early Cars, by Michael Sedgwick, Weidenfeld and Nicolson, London, 1962. Civilian production resumes at Meriden. All-twin cylinder range announced - 350cc 3T Deluxe (designed originally for production in 1940 and loosely based on the aborted 3TW), 500cc Speed Twin (redesigned for 1946 with telescopic forks, separate magneto and dynamo), 500cc Tiger 100. Triumph's popular Speed Twin continued production after the war. Telescopic forks were on all models, with the spring wheel extra. Tiger 85 twin (a sports version of the 3T) and 3H single are announced but not produced. Only about a dozen shops in USA handle Triumphs in the first year after the war.
Ernie Lyons wins first Manx Grand Prix on redesigned Tiger 100 (built by Freddie Clarke and based on wartime generator engine but using Triumph's first attempt at rear suspension - a sprung hub). Turner, who was anti-racing (and away in America on a tour),was furious - but he threw Lyons winner a victory dinner anyway. Clarke resigned and joined AMC as Chief Development Engineer. A small batch of Lyons' T100 was made for sale. Bert Hopwood left after an argument with Turner over racing and stayed away 14 years. Ivor Davies joins Triumph. Total output this year was 9,477 machines, 44 per cent for export.
TT races resumed. Ducati produces its first bike, the 50cc Cucciolo. Soichiro Honda creates the Honda Technical Institute in Hamamatsu, Japan. German manufacturers allowed to build 125cc, then later 250cc machines. In April, UK motorcyclist CE Allen holds a rally in Surrey to form the Vintage Motor Cycle Club (38 enthusiasts of pre-1930 machines attended). First Vespa scooters made by Piaggio (Italy). Ossa (Spain) founded. Parilla (Italy) founded, starts making first motorcycles and enters races. There are 200,000 motorcycles registered in the USA after the war. That number would triple by 1960.
Spring rear hub introduced. Edward Turner tours California, visiting film sets in Hollywood and rubbing shoulders with film stars. David Whitworth scores racing success on a T100 on the continent. 3TU prototype made, based on revised pre-war New Imperial design and originally intended at carry New Imperial badges, but proves too slow and is not produced. Doug Hele leaves Douglas and joins Triumph. The post-war 3TU prototype: poor performance but great style... note the heavily-valenced fenders, similar to an Indian Chief, and solid wheels.
Bert Hopwood joins Norton, where he designed the Norton Dominator 500cc twin-cylinder engine this year. Soichiro Honda builds his first two-stroke engine. AMC takes over Francis-Barnett. First Lambretta scooters made (Italy). In July, a motorcycle rally and race event in Hollister California becomes a nationally-publicized 'riot'. A famous photograph of a drunken biker perched on top a Harley surrounded by dozens of empty (many broken) beer bottles gets printed in Life magazine. The photo was later proved to be staged and the 'riot'involved only a fraction of the attendees acting rowdy.
TR5: 500cc 'Trophy' TR5 - Triumph's first trail bike - is introduced following success in International Six Day Test (ISDT - the bike was named after the official British racing team won the award). The engine was originally built by Triumph to power generators for the RAF in WW2: it has aluminum heads and barrels and is light, torquey and powerful. The team won the next four years' contests. 500cc Grand Prix (GP) model announced, based on T100. Alex Scobie road tests the GP. Henry Vale wins the ISDT riding a customized 5T roadster. Triumph making 12,000 bikes a year, 60 per cent of them are exported, but American sales are declining. Turner is persuaded to enter a trio of 500cc twins in the Senior TT, but they are all retired during the race, which strengthens Turner's opposition to competition racing. Vale is hired and becomes Triumph's competition shop boss and chief engineer, until 1966, making and designing all of the company's trials and scrambles models. The military-use 500cc TRW design is finalized, based on 5T and TR5 components. It is also the world's first mass-production motorcycle to use AC electrics. From November on, all machines used an all-new, shorter-wheelbase chassis. The British team wins the prestigious International Six Day Trials (ISDT) on Triumph Trophy bikes. Riders on the team included Allan Jeffries, Bob Manns, Len Bayliss, Jimmy Alves and Alex Scobie. This bike was released for production in 1949 as the TR5.
Pete Colman is appointed by JoMo to set up a US dealer network, working with sales manager Andy Anderson.
Soichiro Honda starts making motorcycles in Japan, attaching second-hand US Army generator engines to bicycle frames. They also make Honda's first motorcycle: the 98cc two-stroke Model D ("Dream"). Royal Enfield releases its first parallel-twin, a 500cc roadster. Vincent HRD releases its Series B Black Shadow and Series C Black Lightning. Norman returns to production with a new autocycle and a 197cc lightweight. Norton makes its first parallel twin prototype and later shows the complete Dominator at the Earl's Court show. Aermacchi (Italy) makes first motorcycle. Silverstone race circuit opens. First BSA Bantam produced, a 125cc two-stroke called the D1. BMW returns to motorcycle market with 250cc single R24.
650cc Thunderbird 6T (designed by Turner but made into a workable machine by his drawing-board guru, Jack Wickes) was launched on Sept. 20 with three models racing 500 miles at 90mph (800km at 145kph) for a demonstration at Montlhery. Although basically a revamped, bored-out Speed Twin, 6T is designed to satisfy export (mostly American) market, offered as capable of a full 161 kmh/100 Top: Montlhery Thunderbirds. From left: riders Len Bayliss and Bob Manns, BBC correspondent David Martin, rider Alex Scobie, Ivor Davies. Below: Thunderbird nacelle.
mph. Thunderbirdquickly becomes favourite of police forces worldwide. Nacelle headlamp enclosure is put on all models (moving gauges from top of tank - see Thunderbird photo at right). The name came to Turner while on a US tour. He stayed at the Thunderbird Motel in South Carolina. 25hp TR5 model Trophy produced (based on Speed Twin, designed for offroad use, but with excellent highway ability, easy starting and excellent braking). It became the mainstay of the AMC "Class C" racing until 1969. American versions combine components of the T100 and grand Prix Trophy to make a fast desert racer. Triumph Owners Motorcycle Club founded. 5/3W 500cc side-valve built for military, based on 3TWO, destroyed in Coventry blitz. Jeffries wins gold at the ISDT (winning again in 1950 and 51). The Mark II sprung hub is introduced. JoMo signs over 100 US dealers by the end of the year.
Triumph production is up to 12,000 motorcycles, 60 per cent for export. After disputes with director Joe Craig over Norton's expensive involvement with racing, Bert Hopwood leaves Norton for BSA. Norton introduces its own parallel twin, the 500cc Model 7 Dominator, designed by Hopwood. AJS and Matchless introduce swinging-arm frames. US Federal Trade Commission charges Harley-Davidson with making illegal exclusive-deal contracts with its dealers and forcing them not to take other lines. Bert Hopwood designs 250cc engine using bevel-gear for valves, for BSA. Alfred "Rich" Child sets up a BSA network in the USA,adding dealers faster than JoMo. BSA production is at 1,000 units a week by 1950. Indian director Ralph Rogers acquires US distribution rights for AJS, Douglas, Excelsior, Matchless, Royal Enfield, Norton and Vincent for his 1,000 dealer network. He founds Indian Sales in the UK as a distributor for the bikes. Sales of British bikes to the USA are only 4,275 machines this year, compared to 25,107 to Australia. Scott sold to Matt Holder. Velocette introduces 149cc LE, the bike that would break the company. Harley drops springer forks for improved hydraulically-dampened telescopic forks. World Championship series of Grand Prix races organized, with sidecar races included. Restrictions on size of German motorcycles lifted. Norton wins first Daytona 200 in USA. CZ and JAWA merge to form CSAZ, but still market bikes under original names. Rumi (Italy) changes from textiles to motorcycle manufacturing (ending around 1959). BSA 500cc Gold Star is launched Painted fuel tanks with pressed styling bands and badges are used due to temporary lack of lining capacity. Edward Turner opts for "low-chrome" policy, bans the use of chrome fuel tanks on future models (they weren't used again until the Bonneville Royal Wedding edition in 1981). Thunderbird in production; the world's first "superbike," it can achieve 100 mph at a reasonable price. performance improvements come mid-way through year when carb size is increased. Turner believes 650cc is the practical limit for vertical twins. Last year for the GP model (although T100C continues its tradition). The Mark 2 sprung hub is used in bikes this year. Turner establishes US-based Triumph Corp., in Maryland, a wholly-owned east coast distribution company created to serve eastern US markets. Denis McCormack, 48, is first president. After 1950, more Triumphs would be sold in the USA than in any other country, including Britain. Top: 1950 Thunderbird poster. Middle: Triumph star rider Jim Alves, centre, chats with an official (far right) during one of the ISDT events. On the left is Edward Turner and right of Alves is Henry Vale. Bottom: TRW military model.
The 500cc TRW is introduced for military use (see 1943). Basically it was a Trophy. It would never receive any form of rear suspension and was the last Triumph with a rigid frame. Almost 16,000 were made, mostly sold to Canadian and Indian armed forces. Three versions were made: Mk 1, 2 and 3. In April, Jack Sangster and Edward Turner attend a motorcycle show in New York. US imports of Triumph bikes are up to 1,000. The Tiger gets a 'twinseat' bench seat. Bob Fearon joins Triumph as Works Director, from BSA, replacing the retiring Alf Camwell. The British team - again riding on Trophy models - wins the 1950 ISDT in Wales, and star rider Jim Alves wins a gold medal for his success. Factory output is up to 14,306 machines, two-thirds of them for export. Petrol rationing ends in Britain. The "second golden age" of motorcycling begins as sales climb. There are over 700,000 motorcycles and 4 million cars registered in the UK. Britain is the largest manufacturer of motorcycles in the world. They're so positive in their outlook that British bike companies decide not to hold an Earl's Court trade show this year, although many attend shows on the continent. Geoff Duke makes his racing debut at the TT riding a Norton. Vincent drops its HRD initials because of consumer confusion in the USA with Harley-Davidson. MV Augusta debuts its first motorcycle in Italy. The last Morgan "cyclecar" is listed, a four-cylinder, three- wheeler. Hell's Angels Motorcycle Club formed in Fontana, California, named after a WW1 bomber squadron stationed near Los Angeles. First motorcycle race at Thruxton, a former RAF base in Hampshire. German car manufacturer Simson makes first motorcycle. Kreidler (German) opens its factory. Sidecar maker Watsonian produces a 996cc motorcycle but the market isn't excited, so it is soon dropped. BMW makes first post-war boxer, the R51/2. 1951 Triumph Corporation (TriCor) in Baltimore (USA) starts operating with Denis McCormack as head, Johnson as VP. They divide the US into eastern and western territories. US imports are up to 2,730, a value of 680,000 pounds.
Sangster sells Triumph to BSA for 2.5 million pounds - the same company to which he sold Ariel in 1939. He joins the BSA Group as member of the board. Turner's holdings in triumph earn him ten percent of the sale.
Race kit for Tiger 100 introduced. This year's models are restyled with new paint (painted gas tanks replace chrome on all models) and first dual seat introduced. Thunderbird slate-blue changed to brighter, metallic shade. Siegfried Bettmann, 88, dies on Sept. 24, leaving several bequests of Coventry, including his library of nearly 2,000 books.
Top: Contemporary Triumph
advertising poster. Bottom: BSA lo Harley Davidson complains about Triumph's progress in racing and marketing to the US tariff Commission, demanding a high duty (40%) on all imported motorcycles. They claim Triumph is'dumping' its machines at artificially low prices. Among their witnesses is former Triumph pioneedealer, Reggie Pink. Walt Fulton wins Catalina Grand Prix on a Thunderbird and Bobby Turner breaks 132 mph on a Tbird at Bonneville. Changes to the Trophy include heads with splayed ports and barrels with closely-pitched fins (based on T100 cylinders). This year, Triumph offers only four models, all 500cc and up, compato 19 models from BSA. London Police put two-way radios on motorcycles. In December, Harley Davidson announces a 45ci knucklehead to compete with British bikes. Suzuki builds first prototype motorcycle. Nacional Motor SA (Spain) starts production of motorcycles. NSU (Germany) and Felix Wankel enter into agreement for production research andevelopment. Ossa (Spain) builds first motorcycles. KTM founded in Austria, makes its first motorcycles. Tiger 100, ridden by Bernard Hargreaves, wins Clubman's TT in Isle of Man at 82.45mph (132.68kph). By the early 1950s, demand for Manx Norton engines to power Formula Three cars left many Manx Featherbed frames available. Designers start putting Triumph engines into the frames, creating 'Tritons.' John Viccars was the first noted Triton builder, putting 500cc and 650cc Triumph engines and gear boxes into Norton frames. 1952 Thunderbird The US Tariff Commission decides against HD's complaint and the hearing gives Triumph addedpublicity. Harley is charged with restrictive trade practices instead. There are 32 British motorcymanufacturers at this year's June show in Earls' Court. New four-stroke single announced in November for Earl's Court show, called the Terrier. Engineinclined forward 25 degrees. Last year for the 349cc 3T: Turner feels it takes precious resourcesaway from development of bigger twins. Grand Prix model dropped. Triumph produces the 7ST prototype, a 734cc side-valve twin based on the TRW, known as the'Jumbo.' It was aimed at sidecar use, but performance was mediocre and surpassed by the Thunderbird. A swinging-arm model was built in 1957. The 149cc, unit-construction Terrier is announced.
Norton puts its parallel twin engine in a Featherbed frame to produce the Dominator 88. Suzukmakes its first engine, a 36cc two-stroke called the Power Free, designed to clip into a bicycle frame. Vespa scooter launched. made under license by Douglas. Vespa sales are 150-200 a weDouglas soon launches a sidecar for the scooter. Wilhelm Heiz sets the land speed record on a 500cc NSU at 180 mph. New Hudson closes. British scooter Swallow Gadabout ceases productioFirst European motocross championships for individuals held. Vespa Club of Britain formed. FIMestablishes a European 500cc Championship for motocross. AMC takes over Norton. R68 is BMWfirst production model to reach 160 kmh (100 mph). Despite Turner's original intention to concentrate on larger engines, a 150cc ohv Terrier T15, fospeed single with a sloping engine, is introduced at 98 pounds (125 with taxes). It's the first lightweight for Triumph since 1933. Triumph directors Edward Turner, Bob Fearon (Works Direcand Alex Masters (Service Manager) ride from Land's End to John O'Groat's for a 1,000-mile Terdemonstration and publicity stunt called the "Gaffers' Gallop." They average 36.68 mpg and getfuel consumption of 108.6 miles per gallon! The race kit is dropped, replaced by the T100C with kit already installed, with twin carbs this yeonly. The 5T gets an alternator. AC lighting and ignition tested on a Speed Twin. A folding kickstand is offered as an option for the first time. Cliff Guild, master tuner, joins TriCor.
American manufacturer, Indian, stops making its own motorcycles and instead imports Royal Enfield and other British machines. Associated Motorcycles Corp (AMC) buys Norton. They wereabsorb AJS, Matchless, James and Francis-Barnett lines but collapsed in 1966. Royal Enfield mathe 692cc Meteor, the largest parallel twin on the market. Shaft-drive, four-cylinder Wooler promised, but not delivered. J. Casal (Portugal) forms Metalugica Casal. MZ (Motorradwerk Zschopau) founded in Germany. Mandatory crash helmets introduced in Britain.
Tiger 110 (T110) announced - very high performance (8.5:1 pistons), sporty version of the Thunderbird (42bhp comparedto the Tbird's 34). It's Triumph's fastest motorcycle to date, nicknamed the "Tiger-Bird" in the USA. Swinging arm rear suspension is used on Tigers 100 and 110 (but not the entire line). 200cc Tiger Cub T20 announced (replacing the 150cc Terrier version by 1957), "Tigerized" with a twin seat. The sprung hub, introduced in 1939, ends production (to almost everyone's relief). The 6T gets an alternator, swinging fork suspension and bigger bearings. A 6T/AC model includes AC ignition and lighting. Folding kickstands are standard with all models. Triumph is now a major force in racing in the USA. Turner makes his first visit to Japan. The Wild One is released, starring Marlon Brando riding a 1950 Triumph Thunderbird 6T. It is the first Hollywood film where a motorcycle's tank badge is clearly displayed. Marlon Brando rode a 1950 Thunderbird 6T in the 1954 movie'The Wild One' about a motorcyclerally in Hollister, California - althoubased on a real rally, the events inthe movie were fictitious. Howevethis movie came to symbolize bikefor many in the untutored public.
Flashing indicator lights become mandatory on cars in the UK. Suzuki makes its first motorcycle90cc four-stroke called the Colleda. Serious streamlining becomes the standard on the race circVincent Series D released. A sales slump hits UK motorcycle companies this year. Felix Wankel(Germany) begins work on new four-stroke engine design. Sidecar races return to Isle of Man Tfor the first time since 1926. Yamaha makes its first motorcycle. Johnny Allen clocks 193mph (3l0kph) on Bonneville Salt Flats, in a 650cc Triumph powered streamliner. Amal Monobloc carbs introduced. Ford adopts Thunderbird name for new sports carafter legal agreement with Triumph. GM registers name "Bonneville" for a car (and would challeTriumph over the use of the name in 1992). All models now use swing-arm frame. Centre standare strengthened. Spark plugs changed to Lodge instead of KLG. Amal Monobloc carb first fittedSpeed Twin. The TR6 Trophy is produced: 650cc, built to suite AMA desert racing regulations. This is the firsttrue "American" Triumph model. The first models were T110 Sports engines in a TR5 chassis. Thtop speed was 105 mph. More than a beefed-up 6T, the engine had several performance modifications. The TR5 with its swing-arm frame marks the birth of the modern enduro machineThe T100/R is announced for the US market, Triumph's first production racer since the GP modeIn October, JoMo ceases retail sales to concentrate on distribution.
Bert Hopwood leaves BSA for Associated Motorcycles (Norton). Douglas introduces its last modthe 350cc Dragonfly. Nippon Gakki founds Yamaha to to make motorcycles using WW2 aircraftmachinery. The first bike was a 125cc two-stroke single called the YA-1 or Red Dragonfly. RoyaEnfield licenses a subsidiary company in India to make its Bullet model. Vincent closes in December. European bikes dominate the racing circuits. Twenty-eight scooter makes are sold inBritain this year. There are more than 80 motorcycle manufacturers in Japan this year, but mosare driven out or business or amalgamated within a decade. German Horex introduces its first motorcycle, the advanced Imperator 400cc twin. Suzuki starts production of its first bike, a 125two-stroke. Norton finally drops its side-valve models. Norton rocked by six-month labour strikcausing severe financial loss. BMW produces full swinging-arm suspension for its models.
After a boardroom struggle over power and control, Jack Sangster becomes Chairman of BSA Group, removes Sir Bernard Docker as chair. He appoints Turner his chief executive of the automobile division, which also makes Triumph, BSA and Ariel motorcycles. Johnny Allen achieves 214.4mph (345kph) at Bonneville. However Federation Internationale Motorcycliste (FIM) cites a technicality (based on the timing gear) and refuses to recognize his world record. Triumph takes legal action, but gets nowhere. Terrier dropped, but the Cub gets offroad, competition and sports models. Rubber-mounted fuel tanks brought in. The entire line gets full swing-arm suspension. Triumph's Meriden factory was theMecca for motorcyclists in the 19560s.
The light alloy "Ton Ten's Delta" cylinder casting is introduced to combat overheating in iron cylinders. Last year for the 150cc Terrier. In late year, the Thunderbird is offered in a new AztecRed colour. A racing model, TR5/R is added. TR6 Trophy added to line - initially dubbed "Trophy-Bird" in the USA. The 650cc is built to suit Adesert racing regulations. This is the first true "American" Triumph model. The first models were T110 Sports engines in a TR5 chassis. The top speed was 105 mph. More than a beefed-up 6T, engine had several performance modifications. It became the most popular Triumph model untithe Bonneville arrived. A rare TR5R model was a competition bike that incorporated the best paof the TR5, TR6 and T100 models. There are approximately 300 Triumph dealers in the USA. BSA forms Automotive Division with Turner as chief executive (comprises BSA, Ariel, Triumph, Daimler Co. and Carbodies - makers of London taxicabs). Harley introduces its Sportster model.Last year for the Clubman TT race. Sunbeam ceases production. Petrol rationing returns to Western Europe during Suez war with Egypt. German aircraft manufacturers introduce the Toura scooter built until 1959. Motosacoche (Switzerland) ceases motorcycle production. Suez Crisisfollowed by petrol rationing, spurs motorcycle sales in UK and Europe. BSA board ousts directorBernard Docker and replaces him with Jack Sangster. Unit construction 350cc 'Twenty One' 3TA (21 cubic inches, the first all-unit motorcycle made byTriumph, designed by Turner/Wickes) introduced for 21st Anniversary of Triumph Engineering CLtd. Has first "bathtub" rear enclosure, which proves a sales failure in US. Many US dealers remenclosures to sell bikes. Putting this enclosure on other models is Triumph's and Turner's first major mistake, and hurts sales in the US where riders prefer a "naked" bike. Triumph celebrates its 21st birthday with a grand dinner at the Hotel Leofric in Coventry, near tsite of their first factory on Priory St. Tiger 110 offered in optional two-tone paint colours. Edward Turner builds prototype scooter. Ne'garden gate,' 'grille,' 'mouth organ' or 'harmonica' tank badge introduced (similar to design nowon 1996 Thunderbird). Triumph was the first major British firm to go to unit construction. AmalMonobloc carbs replace SU carbs on the 6T. Speed Twin gets a colour change to "Gold Bronze."
TWN Motorcycles is bought by Grundig and closed. Golden Jubilee for TT race. First World Championship motocross race held. France's Rene Gillet closes. Leopoldo Tartarini starts Italijet(Italy), making children's motorcycles. FIM's 500cc European motocross championships are elevated to World Championship. FIM grants 250cc motocross European Championship status.
Tiger Cub is built with a swinging-arm frame. Speed Twin dropped in old form after two successdecades, but remodeled version remains in production until 1966 (the new form is actually a 50version of the Twenty One). 3TA arrives in the USA. Mike Hailwood and Dan Shorey win the 500-mile endurance race at Thruxton on a T110. "Slick Shift" gearbox introduced for 500 and 650 models, offers semi-automatic transmission, but motorcyclists dislike it and many were retrofitted with traditional shifters. The 5T and TR5 are dropped in August, although a twin carb TR5/AD (D for Delta head) is introduced in USA. At a pconference in October, the Tigress scooter is unveiled in 175cc two-stroke (Bantam engine) and250cc OHV four-stroke twin-cylinder engines (also sold as the BSA Sunbeam: the Triumph scoowere blue, BSA's were green). Derek and Don Rickman create their first Metisse model, using a Triumph T100 engine, in a BSAGoldstar frame and gearbox, with Norton forks. Triumph test rider Percy Tait hit 128 mph on a prototype Bonneville at the Motorcycle Industry Research Association test track. The Bonnie is tshow stopper at the 1958 Earl's Court Motorcycle Show. Edward Turner, however, thought the Bonnie was a bad design and told Frank Baker, Triumph's experimental department manager, "This, my boy, will lead us straight into the bankruptcy courts." A Tiger Cub wins the Scottish Six Day Trials, the toughest of them all. The T20/J Junior Cub is introduced in USA. Bill Martin, California Triumph dealer, sets a new AMA two-way record for 20machines on a Cub of 139.82 mph over the measured mile. A one-way speed of 141.31 mph is recorded. Buddy Holly and the Crickets buy Triumph motorcycles: a 6T and a TR6A trophy.
The first parking meters in the UK are put up in Grosvenor Square, London Ariel Leader releas250cc two-stroke designed by Val Page. AMC introduces unit construction for AJS and Matchlefour-stroke singles. These are also the first 250cc machines to carry that brand name since 193Last year for the Square Four ('Squariel'). Royal Enfield introduces its Crusader Air Flow mode250cc machine with full fibreglass fairing and windshield. In November, Norton announces theifirst 250cc machines, designed by managing director Bert Hopwood, never very successful selleAn Isle of Man scooter rally draws 200 entries. Germany's Horex closes. Honda Supercub introduced: sells 720 million worldwide by 1973. Isle of Man scooter rally draws 200 entries. FirSoviet motorcycles show in the west at the World Fair in Brussels. Victoria, Express and DKW (Germany) merge to form Zweirad Union AG. Peugot (France) drops motorcycle production andconcentrates on bicycles and mopeds. Francisco Bulto leaves Montessa (Spain) to found his owncompany, Bultaco. The introduction of the 46bhp 650cc T120 Bonneville twin - although the model isn't even featured in the company's owncatalogue! It is basically a Tiger 110 twin (42bhp) fitted with splayed inlet ports, single-piece camshaft and twin Amal carbs but no air filters. The Bonneville was destined to become one of the greatest motorcycles of all time. Its name commemorated the world record run and the model was an immediate and long lasting success. However, despite American pressure to release a twin-carb 650, the first model, with its nacelle and heavy mudguards is not popular in America. Tricor wanted a sportier look. A special twin-carb trophy - TR7A - is also released this year. The 5TA (with bathtub enclosure) joins the 3TA. 175cc and 250cc Tigress Scooters also in production, unpopular in USA. Although designed by Turner, they were actually made by BSA. The T100 is discontinued in June but replaced by other models. Top: Tigress Scooter. Bottom: 195Bonneville New model Speed Twin on the market. Bill Martin sets new AMA two-way record in a Tiger Cub-powered streamliner (139.82 mph). He also achieves a one-way speed of 149.135 mph. Turnerdesigns Daimler SP250 sports car (2.5l, V-8 engine) and Majestic Major (4.5l). All 560 and 650 models get a new crankshaft.
Honda enters the TT race, the first Japanese manufacturer to do so. Honda also enters US markthis year, and sells 250cc Dream in Holland and the UK. Dave Degens forms Dresda Autos to manufacture and market Tritons (Triumph engines in a Norton Featherbed frame). More than 250,000 scooters are registered in the UK. English motorcycling was at its peak this year, with 331,806 motorcycles, mopeds and scooters selling. The Ariel Square Four, which started in production in 1931, is gone. Denmark's Nimbus closes. Friedl Munch founds Munch MotorcyclesGermany. BSA is Triumph's biggest US competitor, with 250 outlets in the west compared to Triumph's 150. BSA 250cc twin scooters are a sales flop. Peak year for British motorcycles: mortwo-wheelers registered than before, export sales at their peak. Honda enters the TT race.
T120 revamped with twin-cradle frame and forks, separate headlamp, new seat; offers 110mph(177kph) performance. A new Bonneville sells for 285 pounds. Thunderbird fitted with bathtub enclosure (until 1962). TR6SC Trophy introduced, and dominated most of the major American classic competitions, including the Jack Pine Enduro, Catalina Grand Prix and the Big Bear Run (latter for four years in a row). This year Johnson imports about 3,000 Triumphs (12 models) intthe USA. T100A, sports version of 5TA, without the bathtub enclosure, introduced to replace Tiger 100. Bonnie redesigned to TR6 specs, nacelle removed. Edward Turner tours Honda, Suzuki and Yamaha plants in Japan and is shaken by the scale of tproduction: Japanese companies produce more than 500,000 motorcycles a year, compared to 140,000 British (Honda alone turns out 1,000 lightweight motorcycles a day - at a time when noBritish company could make that many in a week!). US brochures include TR7/A Bonneville RoaSports and TR7/B Bonneville Scrambler (later became the T120C from 1961-65) this year onlyBad experiences with outside electrical components and AC generators earn manufacturer Lucasthe name, "Prince of Darkness" with Triumph riders. Trophy discontinued in September, but reappears in February 1961 as TR6B Trophy-Bird Scram(or TR6S/S), a single-carb version of the T120. By this time there are 470,000 scooters on Britains roads.
Triumph shows a Speed Twin with an electric starter at Earl's Court, but production is limited toBritish police bikes. BSA Group makes record profit of nearly 3.5 million pounds in its centenary year. Eric (no relatto Edward) Turner joins board as chief executive and deputy chair. BSA starts to become a factoin decision-making at Triumph around this time. Indian firm splits, sells Matchless motorcycles uit ceased trading. Kawasaki builds its first complete bike, a 125cc two-stroke. They also boughtJapan's oldest motorcycle manufacturer, Meguro (founded 1924), which had been producing copof British bikes. Suzuki team enters TT race. Honda enters TT races with 125cc and 250cc teamand places in top 10 with both. Fewer than 60,000 motorcycles sold in the USA. AMC posts a prof 219,000 pds. Suzuki enters a team in the TT races. Harley-Davidson and Italian firm Aermacform a new company to make and sell the Italian company's smaller scramblers and street bike Bert Hopwood Bert Hopwood resigns from AMC, accepts Turner's offer to work for Triumph as Director and General Manager because Turner is under pressure to retire.Hopwood conceives three-cylinder bike (engineer Doug Hele completes drawings). Jack Sangster, 65, retires, hands over Chair to Eric Turner. T110 in its last year. TR6 Trophy introduced as its replacement, essentially a Bonnie with a single carb. The Bonnie gets modifications to the angle of its steering head (and again in 1966). Work starts on Hopwood's three-cylinder engine design. Bert Hopwood examines a bike on the 500cc assembly line in the Meriden plant. In the early 1960s, demand for Tritons revived, with Dave Degens' Dresda Tritons proving excellent machines, and winning many races. Steve McQueen rides a TR6 in movie "The Great Escape." All models get a modified head angle and floating brake shoe. The TR6SC "Desert Sled" Trophy Special is made for the US market until 1966.
Honda wins most of the 125cc and 250cc class events at the TT race and also wins its first Grand Prix. The Standard-Triumph Group (Standard purchased the independent Triumph car company in 1945) is taken over by Leyland. Daimler sold to Jaguar (Edward Turner's V-8 becomes part of Jag Mark II). This is the centenary year for BSA. BSA acquires Churchill Machine Tool Co., making it the largest machine tool operation in the UK. Norman sells motorcycle business to the Raleigh Brothers. AMC faces a deficit of 350,000 pds this year. Yamaha and Suzuki introduce motorcycles to Europe. Suzuki enters 250cc TT race and places well, wins World Championship race in 50cc class. Argentine GP is first championship race held outside Europe. Terrot (France) closes. First Russian-made motorcycles on sale in Great Britain. Kawasaki launches a full range of bikes from 50 to 500cc.
Doug Hele joins Triumph from Norton and takes over the experimental department. Hele redesigns the Triumph frames for better stability and torsional stiffness. Bill Johnson (not the US dealer) sets a new World Record at 224.57mph (361.40kph) with 650cc streamliner (this time recognized by FIM). Final year for pre-unit Bonnie. TR6 S/S (Street Scrambler) replaces TR6, T100/A becomes sportier T100S/S. The Thunderbird loses its "Slickshift" transmission and gets comprehensive redesign including unit construction. Bill Johnson, owner of Johnson Motors, Pasadena, one of the first U.S. Triumph dealers, dies of a heart attack. Partner and financial manager Wilbur Ceder takes over. All 650 twins after October are now produced as unit-construction. Two-stroke Tina scooter in production, with automatic transmission. BSA Group hires consultants McKinsey & Company to study BSA and Triumph in order to streamline operations and product lines. The report also studied the US market. It recommends integration of the two companies. Eric Turner decided their sales projections weren't high enough, so he ignored them and from then on had his accountants make the projections, rather than dealers or distributors. Royal Enfield upgrades its twin to the 736cc Interceptor. Excelsior stops production. Honda is selling more bikes in the USA than the rest of the motorcycle industry combined. AMC closes the Norton works in Birmingham in July, merges Norton with Matchless. All Nortons to be built in the Matchless plant in London. Belgian company FN (founded 1899) closes its doors. Bridgestone (Japan) starts making motorcycles: two-stroke 90 and 175cc machines. FIM grants 250cc European motocross event World Championship status. The The last BSA Gold Star is made. Tiger 90, high performance 350 3TA introduced, similar to T100S/S. All 650s, (including Bonnies, Tbirds, TR6, Trophy) are built with a new unit construction engine/gear box. Tina T10, 100cc scooter with automatic transmission introduced (designed by Turner). The US-only TR6SC, a pure desert racer with straight pipes, was produced: basically a single-carb T120, very fast. 650s all get new coil ignition. First year for T120 unit construction models. The Bonnie undergoes numerous and significant upgrades to its engine, gearbox, transmission and frame (after toying with a duplex design, Triumph instead made a larger diameter downtube to combat wobble and weave). A special TT model (T120C/TT) is produced until 1967 for the USA, due to the encouragement of Bill Johnson, of Johnson Motors ("Jo-Mo"). This is a stripped-down racing model, only made until 1966 for the US market. Two US dealers on a camping trip come up with the idea for the T20M Mountain Cub, combining Tiger Cub, Sports Cub and trials Cub parts. First sold in USA in 1964, proves very successful.
BSA closes the Ariel factory at Selly Oak. The last Ariels in production, the Leader and Arrow, are manufactured at BSA's factory in Small Heath until 1965. Norton Atlas released. AMC acquires James. Norman ceases production. Norton works at Bracebridge St., Birmingham, closed. BMW (Germany) gets a new boss, Karl-Heinz Sonne, and the shareholders get their first dividend in over 20 years. Instead of shutting down the motorcycle side as threatened, Sonne decides to build a new factory for production. British Motorcyclists Federation (BMF) formed.
Edward Turner retires as CE of the Automotive Division (which includes motorcycles), but retains BSA Directorship. He was apparently by this time bitter over the direction the company was taking. Bert Hopwood hoped he'd be appointed as Turner's successor, but the job went to BSA's Harry Sturgeon. BSA management now took over Triumph policy completely. Sturgeon decided to streamline the motorcycle side after an international business consultant (McKinsey) recommended treating the two companies as one. Arthur Jakeman joins Hele's experimental team. Henry Vale is the foreman. Hopwood brings in Doug Hele for development and race chief. Hopwood and Hele are a brilliant combination, but their efforts are thwarted by Triumph's board of management.
This year only eight Triumph Thruxton machines are made, basically standard production Bonnevilles pulled from the line and sent to Hele's department for upgrading. They produce 54bhp and many of their modifications become standard on later production bikes. Tiger 100 loses skirt, Tiger 90 soon follows. Bert Hopwood takes over from Turner and recommends a modular design concept and advanced production techniques, but his ideas were rejected by the board of governors. Dennis McCormack retires from TriCor after 14 years as president, replaced by financial manager Earl Miller as VP and GM. The actual president is Harry Sturgeon who tours the USA with Turner in the fall. Triumph sells 6,300 bikes in the US. Larger scooters dropped in October, and with them went the 250cc twin engine. TRW dropped. Bonnies get 12v electrics. Sports Cub T20/S/H and Mountain Cub T20M introduced. Briton Jeff Smith wins World Motocross Championship on 500cc BSA. Sprite (UK) starts making 246cc scramblers in Birmingham. Casal (Portugal) makes first motorcycle. German racer Helmut Fath founds URS motorcycle company. Tiger Cubs are supplied to the French Army, using T20S/H Sports Cub specially adapted. Dave Degens wins Barcelona 24-hour race on his own design/build Triton. Prototype triple engine tested in Bonneville chassis. Sturgeon sees the triple as the group's response to large-capacity Japanese bikes. All 650 twins got new forks and a modified rear brake. 1965 Bonneville The Bonnie gets an extra inch travel in its front suspension. Tina underwent several minor modifications and gets renamed the T10. The Bonnie Speedmaster T120R and Highway Trophy TR6SR introduced for US market. Johnson imports 6,531 Triumphs into the USA, while TriCor brought in 8,807. Since 1958, Triumph had exported more than 54,400 machines, plus spare parts, to the US, for a value to the company of over 3.5 million pounds. The BSA Group purchases the controlling interest in JoMo, consolidating it with TriCor. Trouble comes when executives are told to administer both BSA and Triumph lines. Dealers of both makes are forced to carry both lines, and call it the "merger from Hell." Many dealers quit in protest. This year, 52 Thruxton Bonnies are made in May, the most ever produced. Triumph is making 600-800 bikes a week, 80 per centof them bound for the USA. Improved T10 scooter replaces the Tina, but remains unpopular.
Last year for Ariel production until 1970. The UK sets a 50 mph speed limit. Honda produces its first bike to compete against the British makes, the 450cc CB450, also called the Black Hawk, with electric start and oil tight. Velocette introduces the 500cc Thruxton, their last machine. Kawasaki is the first Japanese company to open a US office. This year, 609,000 motorcycles and scooters are imported into the USA: 33,406 from the UK, 465,000 from Japan. Harley-Davidson becomes a public company. Bob Leppan's streamliner, the 'Gyronaut X1,' with two 650 Triumph engines sets new US record at 245.6mph (395.2kph) but is not recorded because FIM engine limit is 1,000cc. American Buddy Elmore wins Daytona 200 on works-prepared Tiger 100 - Triumph's first Daytona road race victory - at an average speed of 155.5 kmh (96.6 mph). Nacelles dropped and the 6T loses its partial fairing. Final year for Twenty-One 3TA and Speed Twin 5TA models. All models got new, simpler ('eyebrow') tank badges this year. Performance mods this year boost the Bonnie's output, and changes are made to the angle of the steering head. The TR6 raced only 0.7 seconds slower than the T120 in the quarter mile, and only 4 mph less top speed. Tiger Cub manufacturing taken over by BSA to replace their failing sales of the Bantam model. The new Bantam Cub has the Triumph engine, but a BSA frame and other parts. It lost its skirt and nacelle, but was never very popular. Only eight Thruxton Bonnies are made this year. Managing Director Harry Sturgeon died of a brain tumour, replaced by an executive from the Sperry Gyroscope company, Lionel Jofeh. Jofeh used an outside agency, Ogle Design, to develop radical new styling for the planned 750 triples. They also created new design changes for the TR25W and BSA B25 250cc singles. They created distinct designs for the BSA Tristar (later Rocket) and Triumph Trident. Edward Turner works on a large-displacement, four-cylinder engine design, which is never built. Bob Dylan crashes his 500cc Triumph motorcycle, receiving facial cuts and several broken neck vertebrae.
Associated Motorcycles (AMC) collapses, but is restructured laterwhen Manganese Bronze Holdings takes over. They put Norton's name in the forefront over AJS and Matchless. Panther motorcycles closes. Francis-Barnett and James cease production when AMC closes. AJS and Matchless soon follow, and Norton line severely pruned when all singles dropped. BSA plagued with faulty ignitions on their 650cc machines. German firm Zweirad Union (Victoria, Express and DKW) merge with Fichel and Sachs (which also owned Hercules Werke). Suzuki releases its Super Six, a popular six-speed, two-stroke twin that outsold the T20.
The twin carburetor 500cc Tiger 100 Daytona (T100T) is introduced to celebrate their 1966 victory. Gary Nixon wins the Daytona 200 on a Tiger 100. Edward Turner, 66, retires from the BSA Board and Harry Sturgeon takes his place, convinced Triumph has to be in racing. John Hartle wins production TT on a Bonneville. Harry Sturgeon dies, is replaced by Lionel Jofeh.
Prototype Tridents and BSA Rockets tested in California. All 650 twins get an improved oil pump. BSA takes over the production of the Triumph catalogue this year. Triumph and BSA under Jofeh set up an expensive, common research laboratory at Umberslade Hall (becoming known as "Slumberglade Hall," "Marmalade Hall" and "Mecca" because they "mecca balls up of everything"). The employees are predominantly engineers, many fresh from university, few (if any) are initially from the motorcycle industry. The cost to run the think tank, with its 300-member staff, was about 1.5 million pounds a year. A massive computer system worthy of NASA is installed. This year 28,700 Triumphs are sold in the USA, mostly Bonnevilles, but about 30 per cent were Trophies (TR6). This was the peak year for Triumph exports to the USA, selling 24,700 machines for 7.5 million pounds. Triumph releases T100R Daytona Super Sports, first twin-carb 500cc machine since the pre-unit T5RAD. Also releases T120/R road model. The UK speed limit is increased to 70 mph. This year, breathalyzer tests are introduced in the UK. Honda withdraws from GP racing. Ariel cease production. Matchless ceases production. Royal Enfield sells off machines and stock. Bridgestone sales hit slump under new US anti-pollution laws. NVT hires Dr. Stephan Bauer from Rolls Royce to design their new Commando model with isoclastic frame. Italian Bianchi closes. Parilla (Italy) closes motorcycle production. Bianchi (Italy) ceases motorcycle production. Late summer announcement of a three-cylinder 750cc Trident T150; 58bhp, 125mph (201kph), designed by Hopwood, Hele and Wickes. It was the first, modern, multi-cylinder production motorcycle. It had a four-speed gearbox. It was nicknamed "Tiger 100-and-a-half." The Trident/BSA Rocket-3 was the first cooperative venture by BSA and Triumph since the companies were amalgamated in 1951. The modest TR25W single. This year Triumph began the switch from British standard to UNF threads, causing a lot of confusion and additional costs. TR25W Trophy introduced: it's really a mediocre BSA B25 Starfire machine with Triumph badges. Bonnie gets twin-leading shoe front brake. Last year for the TT model (?). Changes are made to the Bonnie's swingarm pivot. Donald Brown, vice president of BSA Inc. (New Jersey) meets with then-Illinois designer Craig Vetter to discuss a re-design of the BSA triple that would suit American desires for a chopper-cum-cafe racer. Lucas manufactures a contact-breaker set for the Bonnie with individually adjustable points, improving the timing. Gary Nixon takes the AMA number one plate for Triumph.
BSA launches its four-speed Bantam. A shipment of 4,000 BSAs land in the USA but prove damaged by salt water en route, and are returned to the factory. BSA USA is charged with the cost. Fastback 750cc Norton twin launched. Royal Enfield closes. Honda introduces four-cylinder CB750. A black and chrome BSA A50 Royal Star is made, to be acquired in 1998 by this author. Fantic (Italy) sets up production factory. Bridgestone ceases motorcycle production with its last model, the 90cc Sports.
Malcolm Uphill, riding a Bonneville, wins the Production TT in Isle of Man with a race average of 99.99 mph (160.9kph) per lap with first ever over 100mph (160kph) lap by production motorcycle 100.37mph (161.52kph). The Bonneville remained the sports twin of the decade. Cub dropped. T150 in production. A beautiful example of a classic Triumph Bonneville Twin electric horns introduced for Bonnie. Meriden making 900 bikes a week, but production quality varies wildly. Production peaks at around 46,800 units this year. US magazine Cycle World becomes first to test new Trident. Jofeh incorporates US distributors TriCor, Johnson Motors, BSA-Western and BSA Inc. into one company, BSACI (Birmingham Small Arms Company Incorporated), with Peter Thornton as new president, with HQ in Verona, New Jersey. Thornton was an advertising executive with a large ad agency who had been a consultant for Triumph earlier. Thornton announced three BSACI subsidiaries: Triumph Motorcycles Inc., BSA Motorcycles Inc, and Top Gear (an accessory distributor). TriCor had not shown a financial loss since 1950. Triumph however, cannot keep up withdemand from US market. They are making 900 bikes a week now, but quality varies wildly. As a result, Triumph's warranty costs have risen dramatically over the past decade. The British Army stops using its TRWs and replaces them with 500cc ohv based on the T100s. Percy Tait finishes sixth in the Hutchinson 100 on a factory-prepared triple. Independent designer Rob North designs flex-free frame for triple engine, and BSA/Triumph orders eight frames from him in November, in time for Daytona. Craig Vetter's prototype triple design is completed. Triumph adopts scalloped tank stripes for Bonnies, based on design that originated in the early 1960s with a Detroit automobile painter named "Gurley." This year, Honda sells over 30,000 CB750s in US alone, with total sales of 1 million. Kawasaki releases its H1, a 500cc triple. Yamaha pulls out of racing, leaving only Kawasaki as the only Japanese manufacturer still involved. Suzuki works on a two-stroke GT750. 32,721 British motorcycles imported into USA, mostly Triumphs. Harley-Davidson and Aermacchi bought by American Machine and Foundry group (AMF). NSU (Germany) taken over by Audi and motorcycle production ended. After years of slumping sales, BMW (Germany) releases a line of new, modern motorcycle designs, which see a monumental increase in sales. Simplex (Holland) taken over by Gazelle and closed. Malcolm Uphill repeats his win in Production TT, but this time riding a Trident, known as "Slippery Sam." BSA and Triumph using many parts in common. "Beauty kit" offered to turn Trident into "traditional" Triumph styling. Edward Turner, right, with his last Slippery Same Trident built for TT races. takes fourth place in its first year. design, the Triumph Bandit, a 350cc twin
Tridents take the top three qualifying speeds at Daytona with a highest speed of 165.44 mph. Tridents win the second and third place in the race. This was the year of the last major press and trade launch for the company, held in November. Included in the lineup was a 350cc twin with dual carbs and five speeds, designed by Edward Turner (retired), his last project, but revamped by Bert Hopwood and Doug Hele. It was to be sold as the Triumph Bandit (and BSA Fury with cosmetic changes), with 34 bhp capable of 110 mph. Financial problems forced the model to be cancelled before it was produced despite announcements in company brochures. However, several pre-production prototypes were made and are still in existence. This year Triumph and BSA held a massive promotional joint launch of their new line; 16 bikes in total. Despite the huge festive event, delays prevented the production of newer models, so the factory cranked out T100s and Bonnies at a faster rate to meet consumer demands. This led to a shortage of parts, which were all used too soon, and a three-month standstill until new models could be tooled. But poor design by Umberslade Hall caused production to halt again while design mistakes were fixed. Meanwhile, BSA's new computer system continued to order parts until belatedly told to stop. BSA Group's overdraft reaches 22 million. Bonnie camshafts treated by nitriding hardening process, get improved ventilation. Cycle World showcases Vetter's new design in its September issue as "the next BSA Three." TriCor in the US builds 204 750cc Bonnies (T120RT) for the AMA's new 750 racing series. This lead to Triumph UK increasing its engines to 724cc in 1973. Yamaha releases its 650cc twin Bonnie clone, the XS-1, aimed at Bonneville market with two extra hp and lower cost. BSA releases a 49cc three-wheeled scooter, as the Ariel 3, an unsuccessful and unstable model that helped break the company. Ironically, Ariel's first machine was also a tricycle. Suzuki is first Japanese firm to field a motocross team. Public noise complaints severely limit races at Thruxton. Bombardier (Canada) forms Can-Am motorcycle division, working with BSA motocross champion Jeff Smith to develop a new line. After more than 500,000 made, the last BSA Bantam - now a 175cc model called the D14/4 - rolled off the line.
The first project from Umberslade Hall that goes into production is a new, tall (31 inches) frame design, with the oil reservoir in its top tube which is fitted to all BSA and Triumph 650 twins (the frame was actually designed for Umberslade by outsider Rob North, on contract). Stephen Mettam, 29, was in charge of the group's five-man styling team. But Umberslade Hall, with 300 employees by 1970, is downsized after the company posts a 2.5 million pound deficit by mid-year. The need to reduce the new design's excess height causes severe production delays for the new bikes. Financial problems also forced Triumph out of racing. The new Bonnie is called the T120R (R for road). It also incorporates other design changes aside from the oil-bearing frame, including new hubs, twin leading shoe brakes, paper air filters, new headlight, rubber-mounted tachometer and speedometer. But the engine remains the same. Tridents win Production TT (Ray Pickrell) and Formula 750 (Tony Jefferies) races in Isle of Man. The two firms had been linked commercially for some time, but decidedon a major revamp, because of the emergence of Japanese motorcycle companies. T120 gets oil-in-frame chassis and unpopular visual redesign. Singles dropped at end of 1971. Trident "Slippery Sam" wins consecutive production TT races five years running: 1971-75. Bert Hopwood recommends making a production version of the racing triple - 84 bhp at 8,250 rpm - but his suggestion is ignored. Triumph and BSA plan for a major revamp with new machines to be launched at a lavish press review this year. Singles are dropped at the end of the year. Trident gets new forks and hubs. Eric Turner resigns as chair, but remains on in an advisory capacity. He is replaced by Brian Eustace as CEO. McCormack resigns from TriCor. BSA Group loses 8.5 million pounds, 3 million at BSA alone, and this is the last year for most of BSA's motorcycle production. In response to the losses, the Board commissions more management consultants to study the problem. Eric Turner resigns, and Lord Shawcross takes over as Chair, with support from Dept. of Trade and Industry. Lionel Jofeh retires as Chief Executive, replaced by Brian Eustace another outsider. Company sold to Manganese Bronze Holdings, which also owns Norton, AJS, Matchless, Francis-Barnett, James-Velocette and Villiers. New company, Norton Villiers Triumph (NVT) managed by Dennis Poore. Velocette goes into liquidation. SWM (Italy) founded. US motorcycle market has grown from 50,000 in the mid-1950s to 2.1 million in 1971. BSA Group loss reduced to 3.3 million pounds. The company decides to reduce its workforce from 3,000 employees (1,750 at Meriden alone) to 1,000 by consolidating production. Ray Pickrell wins both Production TT and Formula 750 races in the Isle of Man. An estimated 250,000 Bonnies built. TR6 becomes TR6R Tiger 650 for road and TR6C Trophy 650 for trail (replacing the Tiger 100 offroad). The Trophy Trail would later become named the TR5 Adventurer. It was really a 'Tribsa' - made of BSA B50 Victor frame with a T100 engine. Trident (now the T150V) and 650s go to five-speed gearboxes but brittle metal results in broken gear teeth on many bikes. T120RV gets optional 5-speed gearbox (standard on the T150). Umberslade Hall closed in January. Craig Vetter's triple is put into production in June, a BSA engine with his American styling, but as BSA was in its death throes, the tank badges were changed to Triumph and it was called the X75 Hurricane. Vetter was paid $12,000 dollars for his work, but had a difficult time collecting it and it took several months. 1,183 engines were put aside for X75 production but nobody is sure the total number of machines finally produced. Bert Hopwood draws up plans for a new range of SOHC modular designs based on a new 200cc single which could be "doubled up" to make up to a 1,000cc five-cylinder engine. Hopwood draws up plans for a Thunderbird III, an 830cc triple with67 bhp at 8,300 rpm and an electric start.
BSA launches its own triple, the Rocket 3. It is similar to the Trident, but has a sloping motor and a different frame. Both bikes use the same forks and hubs. Norton launched its Commando Interstate with 65bhp. Kawasaki releases its H2, an upgraded 750cc triple. NVT acquires a licence from NSU to make Wankel-rotary engined-bikes. Originally intended as BSA machines, they get changed to Norton for its P41 project. URS (Germany) closes. Carabela (Mexico) starts making 125 and 200cc motocross machines. Can-Am (Canada) creates first prototype motorcycles. 1973 Edward Turner dies in his sleep at his home, August 15. BSA Group merged in July in a government-encouraged "shotgun wedding" with Norton-Villiers as Norton-Villiers-Triumph - with NV's chair, Dennis Poore as new NVT Chairman (Poore rescued Norton from the brink in the 1960s). Starts with 10 million-pound capital Bonneville increased to 724cc then later that year to 744cc, renamed T140. Trident T150V gets 10-inch front disc brake. Tiger goes to 750cc as the TR7RV (street scrambler version) or TR7 Tiger road version with five-speed gearbox and front disc brake. The 490cc trail model becomes the TR5T Adventurer (and Trophy Trail). X-75 Hurricane model built from Trident (with BSA Rocket's sloping engine) for US market, designed by Californian Craig Vetter, with three exhausts all on right side, but it doesn't sell well. The Tridents are built at Small Heath alongside the BSA Rocket Three. An experimental 1,000cc four-cylinder Triumph designed by Doug Hele, nicknamed the Quadrant was built this year, apparently capable of 125 mph, but it came too late to help the company. It was made mostly from existing stock parts, mostly Trident, but the camshaft was built outside the factory. The project is kept secret by Hele until completed. Top: NVT chairman Dennis Poore. Middle: Craig Vetter's X-75 Hurricane. Bottom: Quadrant, four-cylinder prototype. The experimental team was transferred to Kitts Green, Birmingham, where they continued working on the T160 and the Norton Wankel engine. TR5MX Avenger, a 499cc motocross single, is built. Really it's a BSA B50M with Triumph badges. Lastyear for the TR6. Without warning, in September Poore announces the closure of Meriden works effective February, 1974. Of 4,500 employees, 3,000 are to be let go. Faced with unemployment and having their products handed over to a rival firm, the workers rose up. This immediately starts an 18-month employee 'sit-in' and the closure of the Meriden plant. By late 1973, all models except the T120 are discontinued. Poore considers using the Triumph name on cheaper Norton models. The BSA name was abandoned this year, the inglorious end of one of Britain's greatest - and largest - motorcycle companies. Trading in BSA is halted on the London Stock Exchange and the remaining assets were passed to NVT. NVT makes prototype Wankel-engined Norton in Triumph frame, using T140/T150 parts. NVT continues to market850cc Commando. Kawasaki introduces 900cc Z1. Simonini (Italy) founded.BMW releases R90/6 and R90/S, at 900cc their largest displacement models to date.
Bert Hopwood retires. Trident production launched at BSA Works, Small Heath. Tiger 100 dropped. TR5MX in last year. When BSA Group introduces modernized production process using non-craftspeople as assembly workers, quality falls. Sir Harry Ricardo, designer of the Riccy, dies (but his company would live on to design the Hinkley Triumph engines). The Quadrant is shown to the NVT on October 29; Dennis Poore was amazed by it. Tiger 100 road model dropped. The newly-elected Labour government announces the formation of the Meriden Motorcycle Cooperative under the supervision of Tony Benn, and gives the group a 5 million pound grant. However, Norton-Villiers retained the rights to the name, and to market and sell the motorcycles. This resulted in constant fighting between the Cooperative and NVT. Only a few machines are produced this year because of blockade at the Meriden plant. The blockade was temporarily lifted mid-year, but after talks broke down, it was resumed in October. First year for the British Grand Prix race at Silverstone. Trident NT160 electric-start model announced. In March, Meriden workers' cooperative started manufacturing of 750cc Bonnies and TR7V Tigers resumes in Meriden (the famous T120 and smaller twins are discontinued). This was also the last year the Trident, one of the great British bikes, was made. Lord Weinstock's giant GEC company bought 2,000 Bonnies for 1 million pounds, saving the company, and advised the Cooperative on establishing a sales and marketing operation. Late model Triumph Trident. Last batch of T120 (650cc) Bonnies is released by Meriden Co-op. From mid-year on, the factory only made 750cc machines. Ten-lap Production TT won by 'Slippery Sam', fifth consecutive win of this single machine! American market shows signs of collapsing. T150 becomes T160, restyled with BSA's angled engine (like Rocket 3 - both engines were made in the BSA factory) and improved frame. Trident gets front and rear disc brakes, electric starters and left-hand gear changers. A total of 27,480 Tridents would be made in its seven-year life. Tiger and Bonnie are made with left-hand shift pedals for US market to meet new American legislation. Right-hand shifts werestill available as factory modifications - at extra cost. Jack Wilson rides 1,000cc turbocharged Trident at 192.33 mph (309.65 kmph). British government turns down NVT's request for more funds. Quadrant is run and tested in January. Alan Barrett rides it at 90 mph, but keeps it below 6,000 rpm. Hele was impressed and called it a "nicer machine than the Trident." But the accountants at NVT decided the project was too expensive and killed it. The single working prototype would later (post 1976) be purchased by the National Motorcycle Museum. Triumph was still contemplating Hopwood's five-cylinder machine at this date, a 1250cc machine called the Grand Superbike. Several top Triumph employees were fired this year, including Henry Vale, Jack Wickes, Les Williams, Ivor Davies, Arthur Jakeman, Norman Hyde and some of the company's best and most experienced managers and designers.
Ailing Dutch motorcycle firm Eysink is bought, but closes in 1977.
Only two models are made this year: T140V and TR7RV, both 750cc, five-speeds. The last batch ofT160s are made for the Cardinal Police Service. New models also have to satisfy new and stringent US legislation under the Environmental Protection Agency. BMW launches 1000cc R100 RS, the first full-fairing production machine in the world. Triumph's T140V, made in Meriden. After fighting over who had rights to sell Triumph motorcycles for many years, Triumph marketing rights and assets sold by NVT to Meriden Cooperative. NVT is bankrupt. The limited edition Silver Jubilee T140V is made to commemorate Queen Elizabeth's 25 years on the throne and to celebrate the acquisition of the marketing rights. The Silver Jubilee is a T140 Bonnie with cast alloy wheels and special finish.1,000 for UK, 1,000 for the US, and about 400 more made for export later. 1977 Bonneville T140 Production creeps up to 350 machines a week, 60 per cent still going to the USA. The T140V was about 30lbs heavier than the old T120.
This year, Enfield Bullets made in India since 1955 go on sale in the UK. Norton P41 project moved to Birmingham. TT loses itsstatus as a World Championship race. NVT makes Easy Rider moped, builds its last Commando. Yamaha and NVT cooperate tomake 750cc triple for police use. British GP race gets full world championship status. New smoother-running prototype vertical twin developed, with new electrics, designed for police work. Halogen lamp introduced. New Amal Mark 2 concentric carbs in use. T140E is fitted with new cylinder head and different carburation to meet US emission control laws.
British Leyland makes its Triumph car division part of the specialty group, Jaguar-Rover-Triumph Ltd. Scott Motorcycles cease production. Norton Motorcycles Ltd. formed as a motorcycle division, makes several Wankel-engined prototypes. NVT only making mopeds and Yamaha-engined motorcycles now. NVT drops agreement to market Meriden products. Don and Derek Rickman have now become second largest UK motorcycle manufacturers. Model T140E Bonnie comes in American (small tank and high bars) and European (low bars, large tank, replacing the T140V) models. T140D Special has alloy wheels. Electronic ignition is introduced. The Bonnie wins the "Machine of the Year" award in Motor Cycle News (MCN) - a questionable honour this late in the Bonnie's life, owing more to the bike's reputation than its competency against the (mostly Japanese) competition. The T140D special is released for the American market, with new head, new Amal MKIII carbs, Lucas Rita ignition system, and a lower7.9:1 compression to reduce vibration.
First Paris-Dakar rally held, 9,320 miles (15,000 kms).
The Meriden debt reaches 2 million pounds (above the earlier loan). T140E Bonneville 750 Executive (with fairing, panniers and top box - also noted as T140PE?) announced (doesn't make it to the US market until 1981). Electric starter announced. Electronic ignition becomes standard. T140 Executive model with fairing and panniers. In October, the British government writes off 8.4 million pounds owed by Triumph, but still leaves company owing two million to Britain's Export Credit Guarantee Dept. Triumph would experiment with several designs in its last years, none able to stop the decline. BMW launches enduro R80/GS using monolever full-swinging single arm suspension on rear wheel. T140 Bonneville Royal celebrates marriage of Prince Charles and Princess Diana (only 250 made. It had electric start and a chrome fuel tank). 650cc Thunderbird revived as low-budget machine. Phoenix model rumoured: 900cc ohc twin with modular concept for one-four cylinder bikers, 500cc-1200cc sizes. Nothing came of the project. The TS8-1 has an eight-valve engine and twin headlamps. Eight-valve TSS model planned but doesn't reach production until 1983, too late to save the company. A 744cc Tiger Trail is shown at the Paris motorcycle show, and a 649cc version also built using the Thunderbird engine. Electric start is standard issue now. The Labour government waives the Cooperative's debt and allows the group to become a limited company with the workforce as its shareholders.
Lord Hesketh tries to launch his own motorcycle company with a V-twin that had promise, but the company was underfunded and died shortly after, in 1982. Norton Motors makes its rotary-engined bike, the Mark II, later called the Interpol II, sold mostly to police forces and the British armed forces. Civilian version (P43) is called the Norton Classic, and is made until 1988. TSS model, with alloy, eight-valve engine (based on an earlier Westlake kit) and optional rubber-mounted frame, and TSX custom, with alloy wheels and high bars (designed by Wayne Moulton, the man behind Kawasaki's LTD model), are manufactured. They proved to be super-fast bikes with 60bhp and a top speed of 130 mph, lumbered with badly-manufactured, porous engine cylinder and head from outside suppliers. John Minnono wins the BoTT Modified Production class in Daytona on a TSS model. Triumph's fabled "Phoenix" bike project promises to be the great British revival - but never appears.
Lord Hesketh closes his plant for the first time. TSS-engined T58-1 with rubber-mounted, eight-valve engine aimed at police use is designed. The TR6 is reduced to 600cc. A prototype water-cooled, 900cc bike called the Phoenix (the engine was also known as the 'Diana') is designed in early 1983 (a water-cooled, twin OHC vertical twin). Also, the Thunderbird was reduced to 600cc, and offered with twin carbs as the Daytona 600. Last year for the TSX. But Meriden's money was running out and car sales were rising while bike sales were dropping. Triumph-badged Hesketh in front of the Meriden plant
Production of Bonneville was discontinued at Meriden when the firm went into liquidation in the fall. This year the almost-penniless company flirted with taking over the Hesketh motorcycle and even took one and put Triumph badges on it. John Bloor, a 53-year-old wealthy English property developer and builder, with no personal interest in motorcycling, becomes interested in the Meriden factory site for development. He rescues Triumph by buying the name and manufacturing rights (Enfield India lost, bidding 55,000 pounds to the Official Receiver). Bloor licenses Les Harris, of Racing Spares, in Newton Abbott, Devon, to continue to produce the Bonnie in small numbers for five years, 1983-1988. Due to problems with liability insurance, the Harris Bonnevilles were never imported into the USA. About 14 were built a week in peak production. This was the peak year for sales for many motorcycle companies around the world. Hesketh restructures and comes back with a revised Vampire motorcycle, but closes after making only 40. BMW K series launched at Paris Motor Show. Meriden factory is demolished, and the site acquired for a housing estate, which retains a link to Triumph's history by using Bonneville and Daytona in road names. New Triumph company initially examines the Phoenix ('Diana') engine as the basis of a new line, but is soon dropped in favour of a modular three- and four-cylinder design. Meriden factory demolished
Last year for the final car to carry the Triumph name, the Acclaim, made by Leyland working with Honda. Bloor continued with the development of his new line. He bought machine tools required for prototype work and set up a state of the art facility in Hinckley, Leicestershire, two kilometres from the old company's headquarters. In June, Harris started producing and selling his Bonnevilles, with Italian forks and German controls, but British engines and frames. They are built by five-man production teams at Harris' Newton Abbot site. The engine was based on the pre-electric start Bonnie, with a TSS-type crankshaft.
Last year for street-legal two-stroke motorcycles in the USA. After Watsonian Sidecars is bought out by its managers, it moves from Birmingam to the Cotswolds to continue production. BMW launches first triple-cylinder engines in K75. The first new Triumph engine - a 1200cc four cylinder.
st stand. Investors headed by Philippe Le Roux take over Norton, forming Norton PLC. Le Roux leaves in 1991 and the UK Dept. of Trade launches an inquiry into the company's activities. BMW launches largest enduro in the world: R100 GS, using double-joint rear wheel winging-arm paralever suspension. Manor Hotel in Meriden, much used years ago by the company for sales conferences and similar functions, builds a new bar called the 'Triumph Bar', decorated with a photographic display illustrating the history of Triumph from start to finish. Production equipment is ordered for John Bloor's new company. The last Harris Bonneville is produced and Harris decides not to renew his manufacturing licence. A 10-acre site is purchased in Hinckley for the production facility. John Bloor, saviour of today's Triumph company 1988 Last Norton Interpol produced, although Norton Commander (P52) made for police and army. Civilian version P53 is also made. Production continues until 1994. BMW is first company to offer ABS on motorcycles.
Production tools arrive for John Bloor's new company. Estimates of the company's capitalization range from 40-80 million pounds ($60-$120 million USD), all of it from Bloor himself, without bank financing. Bloor starts to set up his dealer network this year.
Triumph lives again. At the Cologne Motor Cycle Show, six new Triumph models are shown, powered by three- and four-cylinder DOHC engines with high horsepower and torque, all liquid-cooled: Trident 750 and 900; Trophy 900 and 1200; Daytona 750 and 1000. 2,390 machines are sold this year, 974 into the UK. Triumph's new factory is completed on an 11-acre site. The company has around 50 employees, producing about five bikes a day. Triumph's new factory in Hinckley Six models are produced based on first models shown: Daytona 750 and 1000. Trophy 900 and 1200, and Trident 750 and 900 roll of the Hinckley production line. About 1,200 bikes are produced with a workforce of 91, in a plant that took up a small patch of their 11-acre site. First Triumphs are sent to Germany before UK distribution begins, followed by Holland, Australia and France Anthony Smith of Ricardo Consulting Engineers, Sussex (related to the same Ricardo who designed the Riccy model in 1921) and Triumph engineer S. G. Stewart read a paper called "The Design of Lightweight Reciprocating Components for a New Family of High-Speed Motorcycle Engines" at the Society of Engineers international congress, in Detroit, Mich. This paper divulges some of the origins of the new Triumph engines - as an original Ricardo design. The T3 and T4 motors use wet cylinder liners. Triumph production uses a 300-hour salt-spray test on their parts - their closest competitor uses only 250 hours. Each hardening furnace does cold slow-bake nitriding on-site, a process used only by Mercedes and Porsche, but Triumph's process is longer, at 30 hours.
BMW makes its 1,000,000th motorcycle.
The 5,000th motorcycle leaves the Triumph factory in October. GM challenges Triumph over use of name "Bonneville" but attorneys work out a deal between the parties (details unknown). The Daytona 1200 is launched at the NEC show in Birmingham, with a claimed 147bhp, higher than allowed on British roads.
Introduction of the Daytona 1200 to the European market. The 10,000th motorcycle leaves the factory in July. This year saw the introduction of in-house painting and plating - a huge investment to back the place of Triumph as a quality product. All engine and frame components were treated to an epoxy powder coat in graphite for Sprint and Trophy, and wrinkle black for Trident and Daytona models. The Sprint and Daytonas were also restyled with lighter rear bodywork and solid colours. The Daytona 750 and 1000 models were replaced by 900 and 1200, long stroke versions of the modular motor. The 900 was identical in spec to the Trident and Trophy 900s but the 1200 retained the high-compression pistons (12:1) and high-lift "red" cams of the 1000 to produce 147ps (to DIN standard measurement) against the 1000's claimed 125ps. Daytona models replaced with new versions. Tiger introduced. Canadian investors take over the Norton and BSA marques. Their first act is to demand the return of 10 classic motorcycles loaned to British museums by their predecessors. BMW introduces new generation of boxer engines in its R1100 RS. BMW launches first single since the post-war years, the F650. This is also BMW's first chain drive bike, uses a Rotax engine made in Austria and is partly built by Aprilia in Italy.
Launch of Triumph in Canada at the Toronto bike show, January. Plans of expansion to in crease capacity for production of Triumph in the next century receives the green light with permission to construct a new plant on a site greater than 400,000m2. Founding of "Triumph Motorcycles of America" completing the return of Triumph to the largest market in the world. Triumph re-enters the competition ring with the introduction of the "Speed Triple Challenge Race" in Donnington Park in England. At the Cologne show Triumph launches the much-awaited Thunderbird with its nostalgia styling and detuned (70bhp) engine. The engine castings were also new and the frame substantially modified: a ground-up redesign of the T309 standard to meet a particular set of design objectives, within the limits of modular production. The machine took 18 months to develop at a cost of over 1 million pounds. It took the company 9-12 months to re-tool for its production, including adding extra chrome plating facilities. The 1994 Triumph catalogue shows the floor plan of the factory Speed Triple café racer also launched. The Super III was also released, mostly known as a 'go faster' Daytona 900, with plenty of carbon fibre ancillaries, high compression motor with hot cams making 115ps. It also sported mega Alcon six- pot because the diecasting method for the cylinder head was beginning to fail, due to wear on the dies. The Super III was launched with a pressure sandcast method, developed and produced for Triumph by Cosworth, saving a lot of weight in the castings and improving quality by insuring consistency of dimensions. Brembo three spoke alloy wheels are used on Daytona, Trophy and Sprint models. The Tiger is introduced: a new direction for Triumph and the first use of a plastic tank on a Triumph, plus the most sophisticated suspension on any Triumph ever.
The Trophy 1200 was retuned for more low down by using the milder "blue" cam profile, shared with the Tbird and Adventurer models, instead of the original "green" cam profile of the Trident etc.
Triumph enters the US market again for the first time since the close of the Meriden Cooperative. Triumph buys back UK dispatcher Andy Utting's 1992 Trident after 250,000 miles. Although the engine was hardly touched in that time, Utting went through 30 pair of tires, 120 oil changes, 24 sets of brake pads, two speedometer cables and 14 chain and sprocket sets. In exchange, he got a new Daytona 900. The workforce is up to 300 this year and production was around 12,000 units a year. The Thunderbird is manufactured and Triumph dedicated 25 per cent of its production capacity to the bike this year. It has spoked wheels laced by the same firm that spoked Triumph's original wheels (36 spokes in front, 40 in back). The compression is dropped from 10.6:1 to 10.1:1, lowering the horse power from the stock 83 to 69. It reaches it maximum torque at 4,800 rpm (about 110 kmh). The braking system uses the largest diameter disks on Hinckley Triumphs to date: 320mm front and 285mm rear. The author gets his first test ride on the Tbird this summer, courtesy Triumph Canada and J&R Cycle. Triumph launches its own line of clothing and accessories, called Triple Connection.
Trophy redesigned for sport touring market. The Adventurer introduced, a 'custom' Thunderbird with a bobbed tail, different colour schemes and higher handlebars, meant primarily for the American market. Thunderbird suspension upgraded.
A black Thunderbird is the 30,000th Triumph made, delivered to Australia. Pamela Anderson starred in the movie Barb Wire, riding a new Triumph Thunderbird. She also a Triumph Tiger. Tom Cruise would later ride a Triumph Speed Triple in Mission Impossible 2.
Work starts on a second Triumph factory capable of producing 50,000 bikes a year (compared to 15,000 currently). Jack Lilley's Daytona finishes 33rd in the Isle of Man Production TT. It's the first triple in the race.
Thunderbird gets extra chrome components as standard. T309 Daytona model dropped, replaced by T595 Daytona - challenging the top-end sportbike market previously ruled by the Ducati 916 - and the 'naked' version, the cafe racer T509 Speed Triple, both sporting new engines, frames and computerized ignition systems. They are the first departure from the modular production philosophy of the Hinckley plant and receive generally rave reviews in the motorcycle press for their handling, power, style and comfort. T412 Daytona 1200 remains in production. Top: Author's 1996 Triumph Thunderbird in rare Aegean blue colour, one of only five of this colour to be imported into Canada. Below: MCN artist's conception of T600 sports twin to be named 'Bonneville.'
Total production passes 50,000 this year. More than 11,000 motorcyclists have toured the Hinckley factory since it opened in 1990. Triumph has about 350 employees working two shifts, from 8 a.m. to 11 p.m., producing around 80 bikes a day for 35 countries around the world. Motorcycle pioneer and competitor, Jack Lilley, 79, dies. In June, Nick Sanders, 39, sets a new world record for circumnavigating the globe by motorcycle. He does it in 31 days, 21 hours on a Daytona 900, riding alone through four continents, covering 18,000 miles. Sander's first world record came in 1981 when he rode a bicycle around the world in 138 days, covering 13,609 miles. He broke that record in 1985, doing it in 78 days. In 1993, he practiced for the motorcycle event in 1993, riding 38,000 miles around the world. In August, Motorcycle News (MCN) stuns the world with news of a planned T600, four-cylinder 600cc 110bhp sportbike from Triumph based on the T595 technology, weighing about 185 kg (407 lb). According to MCN, Bloor rejected a 750cc version of the Daytona and a 680cc triple. Triumph's share of the British market for 700cc-plus bikes has risen from 13.7 per cent in 1995 to 21.2 per cent, prompting Bloor to continue his success with a new model. British TV show Two Fat Ladies features two outlandish but highly competent women chefs who travel around the UK on a Triumph Thunderbird with a sidecar attached. TE Lawrence's final and fatal SS100 Brough Superior is sold to a private collector for $3.3 million. BMW launches its first cruiser, the R1200C.
A new Triumph cafe racer emerges! The bottom photo shows the new Thunderbird Sports model, which boasts an 83 bhp engine (same as the Tiger), dual front disks and a different air system. See those upswept exhausts - shades of Craig Vetter and his X75 Hurricane! Triumph also announces a Sprint Executive model for 1998, plus (in the author's view) the most beautiful Trophy ever made, in exquisite "platinum" coloured finish (see below). The photo on the right is a French custom design Triumph, called the X90, which alsohearkens to Vetter's design. January 2-4: Triumph Canada again has a booth in Bar Hodgson's International Motorcycle Supershow in Toronto, Canada's largest motorcycle show. They show off the new Thunderbird Sport in yellow/black and red/black models, plus the new platinum Trophy 900 and the T509 in the 'unusual' new "roulette green" colouring. Top: X90, French custom Triumph design. Middle: New Triumph Thunderbird Sport model. Bottom: New Triumph TT Legend, a stripped down Thunderbird, was announced for production in 1999.
The new Sprint Executive was not in evidence. Also on hand was marketing manager Chris Ellis' own T595, complete with racing decals and track wear. An unusual mild spell allows the author to ride his Thunderbird on Jan. 3, then most of the week Feb. 21 to 28, and again Mar. 9 - keeping alive the British tradition that Triumph riders will ride in any weather. 14,000 kms clocked by August. Rumours of a twin-cylinder 800cc vertical-twin bike named the Bonneville are still around - production scheduled for 2001? Can anything live up to the Bonneville name? Classic Bike (Oct. 1997) even showed a drawing of what a two-cylinder Bonnie could look like in the Hinckley style. But are they ready to break away from the triple? All eyes are on Bloor's team at Hinckley, waiting for the return of the legend... At the Frankfurt Motorcycle Show new models show include including a 600cc TT sportbike model and an enhanced Tiger. A new company announces the revival of Norton motorcycles, with V-eight engines and astronomical price tags. The Norton Nemesis would never make it beyond prototype stage and the company folded in 1999.
Triumph releases its awesome Sprint ST, along with a revamped Tiger. Triumph also launches 600cc sport bike, the TT600, getting awesome reviews in the motorcycle press. The ambitious entry into the heavily-contested 600cc class garnered a lot of attention, but the TT is still a work in progress, needing enhancements to better compete with the Japanese models. In the last year of the old millennium, Triumph launches its new Bonneville 800cc twin in the fall. The styling is more modern than the W650 (see below). The new Bonnie has optional accessories that make it look very nice (and much more traditional like the W650), but at additional cost. The author sees his first Bonnie at the International Motorcycle Supershow in Toronto, January 2001. Also: a new Tiger is released, using the 955 EFI engine common to the Daytona and Speed Triple. Production topped 100,000 total units and output is about 125 units a day.
In 2000, Kawasaki released it W650 in North America. This air-cooled vertical twin, with kickstart and centre stand, is based on the original W1. It owes its looks and styling to the mid-1960s Triumph Bonneville. The bike had been launched in Japan in 1998 to fuel the growing retro phase there. It was released for Europe in 1999, proving very popular among a small but boisterous crowd of admirers. Kawasaki allegedly gave in to pressure from North American riders to get the machine into their own market. Only two colour schemes were made available on this continent, although six are advertised on Kawasaki's Japanese web site. The bike is a stable, comfortable mount, producing a claimed 48 hp. It handles well, can make around 180 kmph, and vibrates in a similar fashion to the original Bonnie. It uses a 360-degree twin engine, but has a bevel-gear driven cam (note chrome shaft cover on right side of engine). BMW starts building its own engines for F650 series, adds fuel-injection to the line.
As a new millennium begins, Triumph continues to enhance and hone its lineup. The new 955 engine got placed in the Tiger and Sprint, while the Daytona received upgrades. More significantly, the2002 Bonneville sees two new models, the T100 and the Bonneville America. The former is the same as the 2000 Bonnie, but with tachometer, knee pads and other cosmetic additions. It is designed to celebrate Triumph's 100th anniversary of motorcycle manufacturing.The America is designed to appeal to the cruiser market, with lower seat, straight-slash-cut pipes, gas-tank instruments and forward controls. In 2003, Triumph announced its Speedmaster, a sportier version of the Bonneville America, and one that appearsto be getting excellent reviews in the motorcycle press. The Thunderbird Sport was revived as a model in the lineup, despite lukewarm reviews in the past. In 2003, I purchased a beautiful green-and-gold Triumph Bonneville T100. Unfortunately, personal circumstances, exorbitant insurance rates and increasing lack of time to ride forced my decision to sell it in June, 2004 - and spent the summer and fall without a motorcycle. However, I plan to return to Triumph in 2005 or 2006.
Many publications differ in dates for various models, depending on whether they print the date of the machine's announcement (often in the catalogue for the subsequent year's models) or its development, or if they print its actual production date (usually the year following the catalogue's publication). Where there are conflicts in dates, I usually choose Davies' timeline or Bacon's model dates. Also note that American models may have different dates and/or model identification.