Table of contents
- Spotlight: History of Triumph 20 years of triumph in Hinckley / England
- 20 years of triumph
- Interview with the Triumph owner
- History – The time of Hinckley
- Triumph in racing
- Image cultivation in the cinema
- Triumph meeting: Tridays
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20 years of triumph in Hinckley / England
Spotlight: History of Triumph
20 years of triumph in Hinckley / England
Sure enough, the history of Triumph goes back more than just twenty years. Much further. The current chapter in the history of well over a hundred years officially begins in 1990.
20 years of triumph
The English are notorious for their quirks. For example those who like to build three-cylinder. But also for their restraint, for classic understatement. And when it comes to the game of hide-and-seek that preceded the rebirth of what is now Triumph Motorcycles Limited, the term restraint in itself is pure understatement. After John Bloor, a multi-billion dollar building contractor from Derbyshire, a county in central England, bought the naming rights to Triumph in 1983 and the ailing company in nearby Meriden closed its doors at the same time and forever, there was initially radio silence.
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Interrupted only by a few Bonnevilles that the British enthusiast Les Harris built for another five years – with a license from Triumph, i.e. from John Bloor. But he had completely different plans, wanted nothing more to do with the oily co-running Twins. In 1988 he put an end to them by not renewing Harris’ license.
Even today, Bloor denies his employees as “JSB” (S for Stuart) it is common that even the slightest form of sentimental emotion would have contributed to the purchase decision. No, Bloor wanted more than just to keep a big name alive. The building lion that comes with “Bloor Homes” already had one, wanted a second large company. With a big name.
And initially made everything appear very small to the outside world. Meanwhile, a small team is starting up in an inconspicuous office on behalf of Bloors and forging plans, looks at motorcycle production sites around the world, especially in Japan, and prepares market analyzes, especially for Europe. Technicians start developing their own engine.
It’s a four-cylinder, water-cooled, 1200 cubic meter, four valves, two overhead camshafts. Modern for the late eighties, absolutely revolutionary for England. In 1987 the engine ran on a test bench for the first time. Everything is hidden, the motorcycle world has no idea. In the meantime, Bloor buys a 40,000-square-meter plot of land and first has a high fence erected all around, then the first factory building is built on it – the start of the new company headquarters in Hinckley.
The Triumph Trident 750/900 was one of the first bikes to be produced after it was taken over by John Bloor.
The bang can be heard at the end of December 1989: “Sensation! Radical new beginning of triumph” headlines MOTORRAD in issue 1/1990. With an invitation to the new factory and a first glimpse of what’s to come, two brand new three-cylinder and one four-cylinder, Bloor ends the game of hide-and-seek. because “Germans are very technology-oriented and demanding”, According to a marketing man, the Triumph leadership initially considers Germany to be the most important market. It was also the largest in Europe at the time, much larger than the British one. That is why MOTORRAD is allowed to be the first to carry the news of the resurrection out into the world.
Six months later, on June 29, 1990, the cloak of silence fell (almost) completely: motorcycle journalists from various European countries were invited to England, where the Triumph management team proudly presented them with an undisguised three-cylinder roadster – it will be later Trident are called – presented and a fully faired 900cc sports tourer, the later Trophy. The model names and the fact that they still have an arrow in their quiver with the four-cylinder Daytona are only revealed by the clever British at the IFMA trade fair, a quarter of a year later in Cologne.
At the beginning of 1991 the final production start began in Hinckley: Trident, Trophy and Daytona, two triples, each as a 750 and 900, a four-cylinder as a 1000 and 1200. The concept is as ingenious as it is simple: a construction kit. The structure of the engine is identical in all models, works as a three- or four-cylinder and its size can be varied using different hubs – and there are already six models.
The frames also fit universally, one for all. During the seven years in secret, the developers have done a great job. And broken with typically English quirks: Every supplier part no longer has to come from one’s own island. On the contrary. “Only the best, worldwide”, was the motto instead. So forks and struts came from Kayaba, the brakes from Nissin, the carburetors from Mikuni, the instruments from Nippon Seiki, everything from Japan, the wheels partly from Japan, partly from Germany, the tanks initially exclusively from Germany. And the English made an unusually high percentage of parts in their own factory right from the start.
Triumph’s current bestseller – the Street Triple with a creamy 675 engine.
Nevertheless, Triumph botched the start in Germany. Due to technical problems at the start of series production, it will be March before the first bikes arrive on the continent via the canal. Too late for the (then) motorcycle-crazy Germany. Nevertheless, a whopping 2200 machines are sold in the first year, 800 of them in England. And Triumph learns quickly from mistakes, replaces the undersized timing chain tensioner of the four-cylinder immediately after the first engine damage, and already in 1992 allows customer requests such as higher windshields and lower seats to flow into the series. Then it all happens in quick succession.
In 1992 the 5000th Triumph rolls out of the factory, the Daytona comes with a longer stroke with 900 and 1200 cubic meters, and the Tiger touring enduro for 1993 is presented as a completely new model. In the same year, Triumph exported the first bikes to Japan, and in 1995 exports to the USA began. The annual production of motorcycles from Hinckley climbed from 10,000 in 1993 to over 12,000 in 1995. By now it is clear: Triumph is back and is now playing in the global player league.
To this day, there is much speculation about the background to this unique comeback in motorcycle history, especially as far as John Bloor is concerned and the sums he has invested in Triumph from his private fortune. There are no official statements on this. However, Triumph has never denied rumors that talked of 80 to 100 million British pounds (around 95 to 120 million euros today). It has been more than twenty years since the rights to the name were bought until, officially, Triumph Motorcycles was profitable for the first time in 2004. From an economic point of view, Bloor’s commitment has paid off. And from the point of view of millions of motorcyclists anyway. With refreshingly different ideas, high quality and functionality, Triumphs stand out from the crowd today more than ever. Congratulations and happy birthday!
Interview with the Triumph owner
British self-made man John S. Bloor
- Comes from a small family, father was a miner
- Started construction apprenticeship at 15
- At 17 already self-employed as a plasterer
- At 19 start from “Bloor Homes”-Construction company, now one of the largest in England
- Privately collects old cars
- Regarded as calm to introverted, shy of the public
John Bloor (66), owner and financier of Triumph since 1983, today Chairman of the Board of Directors.
? Mr. Bloor, you have been known to take care of an incredible number of details. Take care of the day-to-day running of Triumph today?
! I am here almost every day. If not, I’ll be at my construction company just twenty minutes up the street. When I’m here, I drop by all over the plant. I attend meetings on various topics and watch what is going on. When a decision has to be made, the most logical solution will prevail, whether it comes from me or someone else. I am not here to rule others. If there are discrepancies, I am involved and look at the connections.
? Believe that you are more involved than the bosses of other similar sized companies?
! Yeah, probably stronger than most.
? Drive a motorcycle yourself?
! Not now, but I used to drive for many years.
? What is your goal based on triumph?
! Keep doing things better.
? Better than you before, or better than other motorcycle manufacturers?
! Better than we did before. But we also always keep an eye on the competition. We are watching the market very closely.
? On this market there are, for example, speed bikes with 200 hp and a top speed of around 300 km / h. Triumph had a corresponding prototype practically ready. But it never came because it was a four-cylinder. In retrospect, the decision not to build four-cylinders at all was the right one?
! Absolutely! The three-cylinder set us apart more from the competition, and the twins are traditional triumph territory. In later years that was of course the three-cylinder too. The decision has evidently paid off.
? It is conceivable for you to reverse this decision?
! No, no one intends to do that.
? What short-term and long-term plans does Triumph have?
! Short and long term are identical. We will continue to bring out new motorcycles every five years. Some of them may be modified in between, because five years is quite a long time in the motorcycle industry.
? The Rocket III came out five years ago. The largest production bike ever. Can we now expect another model to strike in this way??
! I don’t see a motorcycle of this size at the moment. But we have some very interesting models planned that are different from anything we’ve done before. Ultimately, however, it is up to the buyer to decide how they will work.
? Are you nervous when Triumph releases a new model??
! No, customers always find things that we overlooked. But usually these are just small details. In general, our forecasts are very precise; we know the loads a motorcycle is exposed to by customers.
? In your opinion, how is the motorcycle market changing at the moment??
! We know the naked bike market has grown and continues to grow. The same goes for the enduro market. The popularity of super athletes, on the other hand, is often subject to fluctuations. In my opinion, this has a lot to do with the customer profile. Younger drivers who tend to drive a super sports car are more affected by a recession than older ones.
? How did the economic crisis affect Triumph??
! This recession is unprecedented. The worst since the 1930s. We have taken great care not to overcrowd our warehouses. Even so, last year was the best for Triumph in the UK market. The crisis did not affect new models. We are just cautious in the face of an unprecedented market situation. (In Germany, Triumph 2009 had the smallest drop in registrations after Harley with 2.1 percent. Red.)
? The original British brand Triumph has had components such as frames and, since 2006, entire bikes manufactured in its own factories in Thailand. why?
! We explain our plant in Thailand by saying that otherwise we would not have this company, that we only remain competitive if we manufacture some of our products in a cost-effective country – under the permanent supervision of 16 long-term employees. Our competitors have their components manufactured all over the world, a fact that many keep silent. By the way, there are many Japanese plants in Thailand…
? How do you feel when you see a triumph on the road?
! When I see one in the parking lot, I usually look at its condition and how it is being driven. And I hope the customer is happy with it. The customer always comes first for us. But right in second place, if not on the same level, are our employees.
? Do you have something like an entrepreneurial slogan?
! People are our most important asset and money is the raw material. If I may briefly explain: There are companies that have forgotten that. Namely, those led by fund managers and analysts who focus on the stock market rather than the future.
In this sense, good luck for the future!
Ingo Heller, 53, Heller & Soltau, St. Michaelisdonn (Schleswig-Holstein), Kawasaki dealer for over 25 years, Triumph dealer since 1992, one of the first in Germany.
? You have been with Triumph’s ascent from the start. What made you so sure that the rebirth of the brand will be a success?
! Nothing made me safe back then. But when I read about the brand’s comeback – in MOTORRAD, by the way – I was immediately interested. I didn’t have a Meriden triumph myself before, but I knew their weaknesses. Anyway, English motorcycles, the motto “all swimming in oil” still applied. At IFMA 1990 I saw the new Triumph motorcycles for the first time. They were a bit conservative in terms of design, but at least I fit in with my 1.90. And they no longer had inch threads, but metric threads. So I thought, yes, you can take it with you to the workshop. They were already smart in Hinckley back then…
? Triumph has copied a lot from the Japanese manufacturers, but has developed completely independent motorcycles that meet Japanese standards. What are the main differences between British and Japanese bikes for you?
! When we talk about quality, the differences are not immediately apparent. But there is. The materials in the small things are of higher quality at Triumph. Triumph, for example, started building flexible steel hoses very early on. Or many screws are basically made of stainless steel and have not been jammed in place even after five years. The processing is at the same or higher level.
? What was (or is) the most successful Triumph model in your eyes?
! The T 595: aluminum bridge frame, single-sided swing arm, injection, strong three-cylinder with open almost 130 hp, great handling – it was absolutely independent, different from the Japanese and very different from BMW. Then Speed triple 1050, which is derived from the T 595, Sprint ST 1050, Daytona 675 and the Street Triple.
? And what the biggest flop?
! Clearly, the Adventurer. Very bad. And then it was purple too …
? Germany, as John Bloor emphasized from the start, would become the most important market for Triumph alongside England. Why do you think? He thought so?
! Something was going on in Germany back then, a lot of motorcycles were being sold, and full throttle was allowed. And money was made. In Germany, motorcycles were also the most expensive.
? What would you recommend to John Bloor for the future?
! Motorcyclists are not getting any younger and there are hardly any children. I see that many of my customers are switching back to lighter motorcycles. They don’t need 150 hp either. So I would advise him to build lighter bikes. But maybe he already knows that himself. The Tiger 800 that is to come is going in that direction.
History – The time of Hinckley
The 1959 Triumph T120 Bonneville.
In 1887, the German businessman Siegfried Bettmann from Nuremberg founded the Triumph Cycles Company bicycle factory in Coventry. 1902 followed the production of the first motorized Triumph and with it the start as a motorcycle manufacturer, in 1923 the first car. 1935 Separation of the auto and motorcycle division. 1946 restart in Meriden, 1951 takeover by BSA, but the name Triumph remains. 1959 T120 Bonneville (Photo) as the most successful model to date. But it cannot stop the decline in the 1970s, in 1983 bankruptcy and exit in Meriden.
Triumph in racing
Triumph was also involved in racing for many years.
In 1908 Jack Marshall won the Single Tourist Trophy on a 3.5 hp single cylinder Triumph. He also drives the fastest lap on the Isle of Man – although he has to change an exhaust valve during this time! After a long period of abstinence from sport, a few TT and a few GP successes followed in the 1960s and 1970s. Paul Smart and Tom Dickie proved the durability of a T150 Trident in 1970 with a surprise victory in the 24-hour classic Bol d‘Or. In 1994 Hinckley created the Speed Triple Challenge, a motorcycle brand cup. In Germany the Street Triple Cup as an inexpensive entry into racing with increasing popularity.
Image cultivation in the cinema
Triumph bikes were also very popular in the cinema.
Marlon Brando drove a 1953 Thunderbird (The Wild), James Dean 1955 Tiger (Because they don’t know what they are doing) and Steve McQueen (photo) 1963 a Trophy TR6 (Broken Chains). McQueen also drove Triumph privately. The bike appearances in the cinema were probably a clever product placement, but they certainly are today. The most spectacular: In Mission Impossible 2, Tom Cruise engages in a long chase with villains on a Speed Triple that changes tires while driving.
Triumph meeting: Tridays
You can’t get more triumph than this: The Tridays.
Every year at the end of June the Austrian town of Neukirchen am Grobvenediger (Hohe Tauern) is transformed into the Triumph City of Newchurch. In 2011 (June 23-26) the Tridays will take place in the alpine village for the sixth time, the largest triumph meeting in the world. For a crazy weekend, the main street in Picadilly Circus, bars, bikes and stages offer a full program. During the day, the pass and mountain roads all around lure you to go on tours. More information: www.tridays.com
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