Most Significant Triumph Motorcycles
The following list of Triumph Motorcycles were selected as the most significant Triumph motorcycles because they either marked new and significant innovation in motorcycle technology, they were an important turning point in Triumph history or were models that became iconic.
In 1902, the 'No 1' (as their first motorcycle was known) was built. It was designed by Mauritz Shulte, using a strengthened bicycle and a 2.25bhp one-cylinder Belgian Minerva engine driving the rear wheel by a belt from the engine crankshaft. The bicycle pedals, chain and crank were retained to both start the engine and provide power in the event of engine failure. The Minerva engine was chosen as it was one of the best available. These powered bicycles proved a great success so their next challenge was to build a motorcycle of entirely their own design.
In 1905, the first all British completely Triumph designed and built motorcycle was built. It was designed by Mauritz Schulte and Charles Hathaway, who was the Triumph works factory manager and an enthusiastic motorcyclist and gifted engineer. The new Triumph motorcycle had a 3 bhp 363cc side-valve engine with, unusually, the crankshaft mounted on ball bearings. It was also equipped with alternator ignition (with an option of the Simms-Bosch magneto for an extra £5). The motorcycle could cruise at 35 mph and top speed of 45 to 50mph. They produced 250 in their first year.
1915-1924 Triumph Model H
At the outbreak of the First World War, Triumph were producing their type A, which had an output of 4bhp from it's 550cc engine. From late 1914, the Type H was bought in large quantity by the British Government to equip the army dispatch riders and by the end of the war in November 1918, over 30,000 had been produced for military service. The Type H had a chain driven primary drive and a belt driven final drive. It used a Sturmey-Archer three-speed hand operated gearbox, a multi-plate clutch and a kick-starter.
Even though the slogan "Trusty Triumph" had been used in Triumph advertising as early as 1910, The Model H is the bike that earned that moniker. It was this motorcycle that won the nickname 'The Trusty' through it's great reliability under difficult conditions. It was also the first Triumph motorcycle not to be equipped with pedal power.
1937 Triumph Speed Twin
1937 proved a landmark year for Triumph with the launch of a range of revamped singles (known as Tigers) together with the remarkable 498cc Speed Twin (T100).
The Speed Twins and Tigers would be considered the definitive British bikes and would set the trend for all motorcycle manufacturers and the styling cues can still be seen on modern classic Triumphs (Bonneville, America and Speedmaster) today. The Speed Twin revolutionized motorcycling - it started well, ran well, had a reported top speed of over 90mph and simply defined everything what a modern motorcycle should be.
1949 - 1954 Triumph Thunderbird 6T
The 650cc Thunderbird launched in 1949 with three models racing 500 miles at 90mph. The Thunderbird quickly becomes favorite of police forces worldwide. Nacelle headlamp enclosure is put on all models
The Wild One is released in 1954, starring Marlon Brando riding a 1950 Triumph Thunderbird 6T. It is the first Hollywood film where a motorcycle's tank badge is clearly displayed.
1954 Triumph Tiger T100
Essentially the Tiger T100 & T110 are a 'sports' makeover of the 649cc Thunderbird twin. They were Triumph's fastest motorcycles to date, nicknamed the "Tiger-Bird" in the USA.
The Tiger T100 is the first motorcycle to use a swingarm rear suspension.
1959 Triumph Bonneville
The beginning of a legend for 50 years. Named for Johnny Allen's 193mph World Record run at the Bonneville Salt Flats in 1955 in a 650cc Triumph powered streamliner.
The Bonneville would be the basic platform for many other land speed world record attempts and for setting several other world land speed records on a motorcycle.
1972 Triumph Trident
The three-cylinder 750cc Trident is first introduced in 1968. The T150, with four speed gear-box, was the first, modern, multi-cylinder, (in this case a triple - hence the name Trident), production motorcycle.
In 1970, 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.
The 1972 Trident/BSA Rocket III, now with five speed transmission, is the basis for the world famous, U.S. only release, Triumph Hurricane X75.
1983 - 1988 "Les Harris" Bonneville
Les Harris of "Racing Spares," a Triumph parts supplier in Devonshire, South West England, was under contract by John Bloor, the new owner of Triumph, to continue manufacturing Bonnevilles on behalf of Triumph.
Because of the Les Harris Bonnevilles, Triumph has been in continuous production of motorcycles since 1902, making Triumph the oldest continuous production motorcycle manufacturer in the world.
1991 - 2003 Triumph Trophy 900 & 1200
The 1991 Trophy 1200 is the first motorcycle to roll off the new Hinckley assembly line after Triumph's rescue and reorganization by John Bloor.
The Trophy was also one of the new motorcycles to use Triumph's new modular system, which allowed engines across several bikes to use the same components saving on manufacturing and repair costs.
1994 Triumph Speed Triple
Triumph introduced the Speed Triple in 1994 as a part of their modular approach to manufacturing. The Speed Triple was the first factory street fighter naked sport bike (no fairing or body work) and set the trend for other manufacturers to follow suit. In essence, when it was introduced, was basicly identical to the Daytona sans bodywork.
The Speed Triple continues to be one of the most important models in the Triumph line-up as it has reached icon status in the motorcyling world and continues to develop a personality of it's own rather than being a naked version of any of the otehr current models. It has also become one of the more featured motorcycles in major motion pictures.
2000 Triumph Bonneville
After a 15 year absence from the Triumph line-up, Triumph reintroduces the Bonneville with a re-engineered 790cc 360 degree crank parallel twin.
In the following several years Triumph would also introduce two other motorcycles based on the basic Bonneville that would have a "retro" look to them; the Thruxton, a cafe racing style bike based on the late 1960s style street racers in England; The Scramber, an enduro style bike based on the street/dirt racing bikes of the mid-late 1960s in the United States.
2002 Triumph America / 2003 Triumph Speedmaster
With the 100th Anniversary of Triumph Motorcycle production, Triumph enters the cruiser market hard and heavy in 2002 with the introduction of the Bonneville America (in 2003 the name is shortened to America), a laid back relaxed cruiser with the same motor as the Bonneville (with the exception of a 270 degree crank). In 2003 Triumph introduces a leaner, meaner and sportier version of the America and calls it the Speedmaster. Destined to be all time classics, as they reflect the heritage of past Triumphs, both bikes continue to be an essential mainstay of Triumph and fierce competition in the American cruiser market.
2004 Triumph Rocket III
In 2004 Triumph shocks the motorcycling world with the world's largest production motorcycle, the Rocket III. Like the BSA Rocket 3, 35 years earlier, it features a three cylinder motor. However, it is a 2300cc inline three that produces 147 ft. lbs. of torque and 142 bhp. The Rocket III, has set the world land speed record for a production motorcycle over 2000cc on the Bonneville Salt Flats in Utah, reaching it's electronically set limiter of 140.3 mph.
2006 Triumph Daytona 675
On the other spectrum away from cruisers, Triumph has also excelled with their sport bikes. In 2006 Triumph introduced the Daytona 675. It is 675cc parallel triple that produces 53 ft. lbs. of torque and 123 bhp. The Daytona was "Motorcycle of The Year" several years and alse is the only motorcycle to win the MasterBike and Supertest 'King of the Supersport' titles three years in a row.
2009 Triumph Bonneville SE
Triumph's iconic nameplate, "Bonneville", celebrates it's 50th anniversary. Only 650 anniversary models are produced. In conjunction with the anniversary model, Triumph releases the Bonneville SE, with Seventies-look cast wheels and revised ergonomics for manoeuvrablity than ever before.
2010 Triumph Thunderbird
Triumph once again resurrects the Thunderbird name. This time as a standard cruiser filling the need displacement gap between the Speedmaster and Rocket III with a 1600cc fuel injected, water/oil cooled parallel twin which also exceeds all world wide emission standards.