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  • Writer's pictureBrock Lane

The Journey of Triumph: From Bicycles to Motorcycles and Back Again

This vintage ad would have sat upon the countertop of a hardware store or car dealership 40+ years ago. It's for a solid brass belt buckle featuring the logo of the Triumph Motor Company.

Countertop display ad for a solid brass belt buckle, circa 1980s
Countertop display ad for a solid brass belt buckle, circa 1980s

How it All Started

The name "Triumph" evokes images of powerful motorcycles cruising down the open road, but this iconic British brand's history has a fascinating beginning that dates back to the late 19th century. Founded in 1885 in Coventry, England, the Triumph Motor Company actually started as a bicycle manufacturer under the name of the Triumph Cycle Company. This unique journey takes us from bicycles to motorcycles, and, interestingly, right back to bicycles again...

Triumph cycles vintage ad poster

The Bicycle Roots The company's origin story can be traced to a German immigrant named Siegfried Bettmann. In an era when bicycles were rapidly gaining popularity, Triumph focused its efforts on crafting high-quality bicycles. The late 1800s witnessed a bicycle boom, and Triumph took advantage of the trend, creating bicycles known for their durability and craftsmanship.

The Shift to Motorcycles It wasn't until 1902 that Triumph took its first step into the world of motorcycles. These early motorcycles featured innovative designs, reflecting the engineering expertise the company had developed through its bicycle manufacturing. Triumph's motorcycles quickly garnered attention for their performance and reliability.

Triumph Bonnevile motorcycle vintage ad poster

Triumph Motor Cars

Triumph's journey didn't stop at motorcycles and bicycles; it extended to the world of automobiles as well. In the early 20th century, the brand expanded its horizon, embracing the challenges and opportunities presented by the emerging automobile industry. Triumph's automobile venture began in the 1920s, and one of the notable models that left a mark on automotive history was the Triumph Gloria. Introduced in the 1930s, the Gloria showcased Triumph's commitment to innovation, design, and performance.

Triumph Gloria classic car automobile

The Triumph Gloria The Triumph Gloria was a series of cars produced from 1934 to 1940. It encompassed a range of body styles, including saloons, coupes, and convertibles. What set the Gloria apart was its advanced engineering and sleek design, which made it a standout in its era. The Gloria featured cutting-edge engineering elements, such as independent front suspension—a technology that was ahead of its time. This innovation contributed to a smoother and more comfortable ride, setting the Gloria apart from its contemporaries.

Facing Challenges Triumph's history, like many long-standing companies, was marked by financial challenges and changes in ownership. Yet, the brand managed to retain its reputation for innovation and quality, even as it navigated through various transitions.

Triumph Daytona 750 vintage ad poster

Reviving the Motorcycle Legacy

After a hiatus due to financial difficulties, Triumph experienced a significant revival in 1991. The company introduced the Daytona 750, marking the official reentry of Triumph into the motorcycle industry. This momentous event rekindled the brand's presence, reminding the world of Triumph's legacy in the realm of motorcycles.

A Full Circle: The Trekker E-Bike

Triumph cycles Trekker E-Bike electric bicycle

In a surprising and poetic twist, Triumph came full circle in 2020 with the launch of the Trekker, an electric bicycle (e-bike). This move resonated with the brand's beginnings as a bicycle manufacturer. The Trekker, while symbolizing Triumph's contemporary approach to mobility, also pays homage to its roots. This e-bike demonstrates the brand's ability to embrace modern innovation while honoring its history, mirroring the company's journey from bicycles to motorcycles and back again.

The Triumph Motor Company's story is a testament to its enduring legacy, showcasing its evolution from crafting bicycles to becoming a renowned name in the motorcycle world. The brand's ability to adapt and innovate, while still respecting its roots, has solidified its place in history. As Triumph continues to journey forward, its rich past serves as a foundation for the future, where motorcycles and perhaps even new horizons await.

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About the Author:

Brock Lane has an MS in Applied economics and operates multiple shops on Etsy, eBay, and Shopify. He maintains an inventory of over 10,000 rare and unique belt buckles, leather belts, and other goods. He leverages his sales history and professional background to write about trends in online retail marketplaces. Brock is an eBay affiliate and earns commission from linked products & shops.

Shop for vintage belt buckles on Brock's Etsy Shop

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