When motorcycle daredevil Evel Knievel attempted the longest jump of his career — 141 feet over the fountains at Caesar’s Palace, Las Vegas, on New Year’s Eve 1967 — he did it riding a Triumph. It was a logical choice given Triumph’s reputation for performance and scorching acceleration. The bike’s 650cc twin platform engine set the land speed record — 214.46 mph — as the world’s fastest motorcycle in 1956, a title it held (save for 17 days) for 17 consecutive years.
Through the Fifties and Sixties, names such as Steve McQueen and Marlon Brando cemented the Triumph legend, while numerous land speed records and race track successes gave bikes like the Thunderbird, Bonneville, Tiger and Trident iconic status.
The first Triumph motorcycle is produced, powered by a 2.2hp Minerva engine and subsequently known as No. 1.
A new 450cc motor making 3.5 hp is produced. As annual production reaches 1,000 units, the factory moves the main production to a larger site on Priory Street in Coventry.
Triumph is chosen to supply the Type H ‘Trusty’ motorcycle for Allied military service. Of 57,000 manufactured, 30,000 of the 499cc air-cooled single cylinder bikes see active service.
The Coventry factory, now standing at 500,000 sq ft and employing 3000 people, produces 30,000 units per annum.
Triumph’s car and motorcycle businesses are split. Edward Turner is appointed as chief designer.
Turner unveils the 498cc Speed Twin (T100) that has a top speed of over 90 mph. It is the definitive British motorcycle and establishes a pattern for Triumph bikes that will last more than 40 years.
Over 50,000 motorcycles are sold to the military as motorcycle production is geared towards the war effort. The Priory Street factory is demolished on November 14, 1940 in the blitz of Coventry. Temporary premises in Warwick are used until a new plant opens in Meriden in 1942.
With the return of peace, the company focuses on three models, the Tiger 100 (piloted to a maiden win at the 1946 Manx Grand Prix by Eric Lyons), the Speed Twin and the smaller touring 349cc 3T. All models feature a telescopic front fork.
Marlon Brando rides a 650cc Thunderbird 6T in ‘The Wild One’.
Johnny Allen hits 193 mph on the Bonneville Salt Flats, riding a streamliner powered by a tuned 650cc Thunderbird motor. It’s the start of a remarkable era of performance dominance, when Triumph held the absolute motorcycle land speed record for 15 consecutive years, except for one brief 33-day period.
The iconic T120 Bonneville 650 is introduced. Named in honour of the location of the setting of countless World speed records, the Bonneville is destined to become one of the greatest motorcycles, and the highest selling British twin of all time
A TR6 650 Trophy is ridden, jumped and crashed by Bud Ekins, and more famously Steve McQueen, in ‘The Great Escape’.
Buddy Elmore wins the Daytona 200 on a factory-prepped 500cc Tiger. The Gyronaut X-1, a streamliner powered by two Triumph 650cc motors, records 245.6 mph on the Bonneville Salt Flats.
Gary Nixon proves that last year’s Daytona 200 win was no fluke by repeating the feat aboard a Tiger 100. Further racing success is enjoyed in the Production TT by John Hartle on a production TT. 28,700 Triumphs are sold in the USA.
The 750cc Triple finally makes an appearance, powering both the Trident and the BSA Rocket 3. Evel Knieval attempts to jump the fountain at Caesar’s Palace casino in Las Vegas on a Bonneville.
Malcolm Uphill wins the Production TT on a Bonneville. In the process he puts in the first-ever lap over 100 mph on a production motorcycle. Motorcycle production at Meriden peaks at approximately 46,800 units.
Malcolm Uphill again wins the production TT on a Triple destined for further fame and subsequently referred to as Slippery Sam.
Bonneville production continues after the workers form a co-op to keep the Meriden factory going. Slippery Sam wins the ten lap Production TT for the fifth year running.
The Meriden factory closes its doors. John Bloor acquires the Triumph name and Meriden site and licenses a small number of Bonnevilles to continue to be produced by Les Harris in Devon.
The first ‘new‘Triumph motor, a 1200cc four-cylinder, runs on a test bench.
Triumph returns! Six new models are unveiled at the Cologne Show: The unfaired Trident 750 and 900 Triples, the touring Trophy 900 Triple and 1200 Four and the sports-oriented Daytona 750 Triple and 1000 Four.
The game-changing Speed Triple is introduced and secures Triumph’s return to motorcycle sport at the inaugural ‘Speed Triple Challenge Race’. Triumph confirms is return to the USA with the introduction of a new subsidiary, Triumph Motorcycles America being founded. Planning permission is granted for a new factory on a 40-acre site in Hinckley.
The Triple Connection clothing range and accessory range of products are launched Production stand at around 12,000 units per year. The 30,000th Hinckley Triumph manufactured, a Thunderbird, ships to Australia.
The Daytona T595 bursts onto the scene. Its stunning styling contributed to lengthy deposit lists. 12 months later, a T595 became the 50,000th motorcycle to be manufactured at Hinckley.
A decade after Triumph’s rebirth, the Bonneville returns to the Triumph line up. The bike appealed to not only riders who remembered the Bonneville, but also to those who appreciated the modern function and guaranteed good handling of a modern day parallel twin.
A massive fire gut the main factory 1 assembly plant. The factory is rebuilt, refitted with state of the art tooling and manufacturing motorcycles less than 6 months after the fire. The Daytona 600 super sports bike is released and enjoys a magnificent victory at the Isle of Man TT in 2003 in the hands of Kiwi, Bruce Anstey.
Another game changer. The Triumph Rocket III is released. The figures from the Triple engine are simply astonishing. 2,294cc, 140 Cubic Inches and 147ft.lbs torque at 2500rpm. At launch, and to this day, it remains the largest production motorcycle in the world.
An all-new, 675cc Triple Daytona is released. The 675 goes on to win the respected Supertest ‘King of Supersports’ award for an unprecedented four years consecutively. As factory 4 in Thailand opens, build volume rise to 41,974 units.
The Street Triple, a mix of the styling and entertainment of the Speed Triple and the power and handling of the Daytona 675 bursts onto the scene and instantly creates a new, and highly successful segment in the motorcycle marketplace.
Triumph takes its first journey in the ‘R’ sector with the launch of the Street Triple R. Higher specification braking and suspension elevates the class-leading package to new heights.
Triumph Hinckley’s first belt driven bike, the 1600cc parallel-Twin is launched and brings Triumph’s reputation for handling and engineering excellence to the mainstream cruiser market. The bike impresses US magazine Cycle World enough to vote it as their ‘Cruiser of the Year’.
Triumph launches the Tiger 800 & 800XC, Speed Triple, Daytona R, America, Speedmaster and Thunderbird Storm. The greatest number of launches in any year for Triumph.
110 years of motorcycle manufacturer is celebrated with a host of new bike launches. The Tiger Explorer, a 1215cc shaft driven adventure bike makes waves in the growing adventure sector. The same engine is used to power Triumphs new Trophy. To round off a busy year, there are major updates to the 675cc Street Triple and Daytona platforms. Sales reach 50,000 units, supported by the opening of a new subsidiary in Brazil.
As Triumph’s market share in the +500cc sector reaches 6.2%, expansion continues with Triumph’s launch into India.