1902 The first machine was produced in Coventry. Similar to most others, the Minerva engine hung from the bicycle frame downtube with belt drive.
Report from the 1902 Stanley Show
Motor Cycling, 26th November 1902
1906 Became a private company.
1906 They brought in the rocking front-fork.
1907-1914 The company kept to one model, steadily developing it, and enlarged the engine to 3½hp.
The Triumph patent carburetter has handle-bar control, and is sensible and economical. Ball bearings are retained on the engine main shaft. Spring tappets are now employed which not only relieve the hammering of the valves but keep the valve gearing taut when running idle in the cycle of operations.
Lubrication is effected by means of an inclined pump concealed in the forward part of the tank.
A refinement has been introduced by the fitting of gauze strainers to both oil and petrol-caps. The well-known 'Triumph spring forks will be retained, as well as the registered design variable pulley.
The free engine model Triumph will be a replica of the standard machine, but, of course, with the addition of the free engine clutch. This is a plate clutch located in the rear wheel. For the past two years it has been extensively used, and had proved itself very satisfactory. It adds only 10 lbs. to the weight and allows the machine to be started from rest.
The Tourist Trophy model is deprived of pedalling gear, and consequently a shorter wheel base is employed. This machine has already demonstrated its capacity for speed and reliability, as an instance of which in the last Tourist Trophy race of the eight Triumphs which started all finished, and, in fact, were, the first eight single-cylinder machines to pass the finishing post.
Cycle and Motor Trades Review
1912 Spennell's lists them at Priory st, Coventry (Tel. 542) and as manufacturers of motorcycles.
1914 The engine was enlarged again - this time to 4hp, and listed with various transmissions. Although it was well-known, the model was very dated. The 225cc Junior arrived, with a two-stroke engine, two speed and belt drive.
Triumph Cycle Co., Ltd., Coventry.
Nicknamed the "Baby" ostensibly as it was the smallest of the range, some claimed the LW was thus named because it never went anywhere without a rattle.
1915 The 550cc model H was introduced, with chain-driven Sturmey-Archer gearbox, but still keeping the belt final-drive. Some 30,000 machines went to the services and performed well.
1920 After the end of the Great War, the company continued with the H and the Junior, and added the all-chain-drive SD.
1922 Saw the introduction of the famous 499cc Ricardo model with four overhead-valves in the cylinder head. This machine soon became known as the 'Riccy', enjoyed some competition successes and was listed until 1927.
1923 The Junior was enlarged to 249cc and joined by the LS model, with 346cc engine, gear primary-drive, unit construction of its three-speed gearbox and Druid forks with a drum front brake. In the same year they also began to produce cars.
1925 Trade was slow so the company introduced their low-cost 493cc model P, to undercut their rivals, and set up to produce 20,000 machines.
1927 The range was up to eight models, the largest of which was 279cc to keep under a tax limit weight.
1928 The range was cut when the Super Seven car was introduced.
1929 They were back to eight models and all but one was updated with the fitment of a saddle tank. This helped to improve the style and set them up for the coming decade.
1930's Motorcycle business sold. Renamed Triumph Engineering Co.
1930 The Depression bit hard and the company searched for buyers so they introduced a 174cc two-stroke with two-speed gearbox built in-unit, and a six-model range of singles - all with upright engines and three speeds.
1961 The Triumph Engineering Co was a subsidiary of BSA with HQ at Meriden Works, Allesley, Coventry. Manufacturers of Triumph motorcycles and Tigress scooters. Employs 1,400 persons.
1962 The last year of the "pre-unit" models, Triumph used a frame with twin front downtubes, but returned to a traditional Triumph single front downtube for the unit construction models that followed.
1963 All Triumph engines were of unit construction.
In 1969 Malcolm Uphill, riding a Bonneville, won the Isle of Man Production TT with a race average of 99.99 mph (160.9 km/h) per lap, and recorded the first ever over 100 mph (160 km/h) lap by a production motorcycle 100.37 mph (161.52 km/h). For many Triumph fans, the 1969 Bonneville was the best Triumph ever.
In 1971 a five speed gearbox was introduced.
The parent BSA group made losses of 8.5 million pounds in 1971, 3 million for BSA motorcycles alone. The British government became involved. The company was sold to Manganese Bronze Holdings, which also owned Norton, AJS, Matchless, Francis-Barnett, James, Velocette and Villiers. A new company called Norton-Villiers-Triumph , managed by Dennis Bloor, emerged.
When the BSA group collapsed under its debts, government help led to a merger with the Manganese Bronze subsidiary Norton-Villiers. The three remaining brands to be produced by the company were combined to create the new group name of Norton-Villiers-Triumph (NVT). However, this restructuring would result in a number of closures and redundancies. Without warning, in September 1973 NVT Group chairman Denis Poore announced the closure of Meriden works effective February, 1974. Of 4,500 employees, 3,000 were made redundant. Faced with unemployment and having their products handed over to a rival firm, the workers at the Meriden factory demonstrated against a move to Small Heath, Birmingham, the BSA site and staged a sit-in for two years.
As scheduled, Trident production moved to the BSA factory in Small Heath in 1974, but as BSA used non-craft labour in manufacturing, quality fell dramatically. In October 1974 the Labour Government announced the formation of the Meriden Cooperative under Tony Benn, with a loan of £5million pounds - on the condition that NVT retained ownership of the name, and continued the sales and marketing of the machines. The cooperative resumed production in March 1975, but dropped production of the lightweight T120, to concentrate on the 750cc twin machines, the Bonneville and the Tiger, primarily for the USA market. The cooperative needed additional cash, and agreed a deal with Lord Weinstock's GEC company to sell 2,000 Bonnevilles for £1,000,000 together with consultation on setting up a sales force.
In 1983 Triumph went into receivership. John Bloor, a 53-year-old plasterer turned wealthy English property developer and builder, who had little interest in motorcycles, had for some time wanted to start up a manufacturing business. Bloor became interested in Triumph, and particularly its still highly regarded brand name. Bloor bought the name and manufacturing rights from the Official Receiver. Enfield India lost, bidding £55,000 pounds to the Official Receiver. A new company Triumph Motorcycles Ltd (initially Bonneville Coventry Ltd), was formed.
In 1988 Bloor funded the building of a new factory in Hinckley, Leicestershire. Bloor put between £70m and £100m into the company between purchase of the brand and break even in 2000.