Triumph are at the heart of the Classic British Motorcycle World, with the hallmark of any classic Triumph being its great performance, exceptional handling & stunning good looks. Triumph motorcycles maintains a rich and colorful history that can be traced back to the late 1880's. Prior to the first Triumph motorcycle being produced at Coventry circa 1902, the company were known for sewing machines and notably their bicycles.
The company was founded by Siegfried Bettmann, who had emigrated from Nuremberg, Germany, in 1893. Originally an import company who then sold bicycles under its own name.
In 1886 another native of Nuremberg, Moritz Schulte, joined Bettmann as a partner. Schulte encouraged Bettmann to transform Triumph into a manufacturing company, and thus began producing the first Triumph-branded bicycles in 1889. Triumph decided to extend production at Coventry to include motorcycles with the early Triumph motorcycles essentially bicycle frames fitted with single-cylinder engines. During the first few years the company based its motorcycles on those of other manufacturers, but in 1904 Triumph began building from their own designs, and in 1905 saw the first entirely in-house designed 'Triumph motorcycle'.
The beginning of the First World War was a boost for Triumph as production was switched to provide for the Allied war effort, this too happened again in the Second World War. In WWII bombing destroyed the Coventry factory but two years later production began again in Meriden, England, in a new factory (production of Triumphs continued on this site until 1983).
Along with the 'Speed Twin' and 'Triumph Tiger' their most well-known and best-selling motorcycle was the Bonneville. The Bonneville arrived at a time when motorcycle enthusiasts wanted style as well as power (end of the 1950's). The name Bonneville comes from the famous Bonneville Salt Flats in Utah, USA, and was chosen to celebrate the achievements of Texas-born racer Johnny Allen, and his record-breaking Triumph-powered Cee-Gar streamliner. The name was an inspired piece of marketing and the 'Bonnie' was very popular because its performance more than matched that of its rivals, but more so, because it was a much better looking bike than any of the others at the time.
1963 saw a renewed public interest in the Triumph brand with the release of the film "The Great Escape", in which the actor Steve McQueen rode a Triumph TR6 650 Trophy.