By John Burns
Triumph the Art of the Motorcycle
The Definitive Story of the Finest Motorcycles Ever Made
By Zef Enault and Michael Levivier
When it comes to motorcycle books, probably no other marque has been more well-documented than Triumph, but if you had to have only one Triumph book to bring you from inception to 2017, this one would have to be it.
Siegfried Bettmann and Mauritz Schulte, a pair of Germans who’d emigrated to England in the 1880s, dealt in White Sewing Machines and bicycles before combining forces and changing the company name from Bettmann Importing & Exporting to Triumph. They built their first motorcycle in 1902 by inserting a 211cc Belgian-sourced Minerva engine into a modified bicycle frame.
By 1907, Triumph was producing 1000 motorcycles a year, helped along by Bettmann’s salesmanship. He’d added 200 more salesmen to his staff and a pair of riders to take part in long-distance rallies, shortly after 376 new motorcycle brands had appeared at the 1903 London Trade Show. In 1907, Triumph took second and third in the first Isle of Man TT. In 1908, Triumph’s new 3.5 HP, with all-new two-speed transmission, won the TT outright. By 1913, the German immigrant Bettmann had been elected mayor of Coventry, in which Triumph’s Priory Street Works would expand to 310,000 square feet and employ up to 3000 workers before smacking up against the Great Depression in 1929.
Maybe it was all too much too fast; Bettmann’s new automotive division was already heavily in the red by the time of the Depression, and by 1936 the owner of rival Ariel was able to buy the Triumph motorcycle …read more