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In 1893 Hildebrand and Wolfmüller from Munich made an applicable motor two-wheeler with a four-stroke petrol engine. They put the engine into a special frame as a whole. The back wheel was directly propelled with the piston-rods of the two-cylinder motor, which so with the engine formed one whole . Despite some disadvantages, that this unique construction had, this “motor bicycle” - “Motorrad” was very popular. It was even produced under a licence during a certain time in France, where it was named “ La Pétrolette”. In the 1960s, despite internal opposition from those who felt that it would dilute the macho image of the brand, Triumph produced two scooters; the Triumph Tina, a small and low performance 2 stroke scooter of around 100 cc with automatic clutch and a handlebar carry basket, and the Triumph Tigress, a more powerful scooter available with either a 175cc 2 stroke single or a 250cc 4 stroke twin engine for the enthusiast.

In 1962, the last year of the "pre-unit" models, Triumph used a frame with twin front downtubes , but returned to a traditional Triumph single front downtube for the unit construction models that followed. The twin down tube, or duplex frame, was used on the 650 twins, as a result of frame fractures on the Bonneville. Introduced in 1959, for the 1960 model year, it soon needed strengthening, and was dropped in 1962, with the advent of the unit engines for the 650 range. The 3TA (21) was the first unit construction twin, soon followed by the short-stroke, 490 cc "500" range.

From 1963 all Triumph engines were of unit construction

In 1969 Malcolm Uphill, riding a Bonneville, won the Isle of Man Production TT with a race average of 99.99 mph (160.9 km/h) per lap, and recorded the first ever over 100 mph (160 km/h) lap by a production motorcycle 100.37 mph (161.52 km/h). For many Triumph fans, the 1969 Bonneville was the best Triumph ever.[citation needed]

American sales had already peaked, in 1967. In truth, the demand for motorcycles was rising, but Triumph could not keep up.

In the 1960s, 60% of all Triumph production was exported, which, along with the BSA's 80% exports, made the group susceptible to the Japanese expansion. By 1969 fully 50% of the US market for bikes over 500 cc belonged to Triumph, but technological advances at Triumph had failed to keep pace with the rest of the world. Triumphs lacked electric start mechanisms, relied on pushrods rather than overhead cams, vibrated noticeably, often leaked oil, and had antiquated electrical systems; while Japanese marques such as Honda were building more advanced features into attractive new bikes that sold for less than their British competitors. Triumph motorcycles as a result were nearly obsolete even when they were new; further, Triumph's manufacturing processes were highly labour-intensive and largely inefficient. Also disastrous, in the early 1970s the US government arbitrarily mandated that all motorcycle imports must have their shift and brake pedals in the Japanese configuration, which required expensive retooling of all the bikes for US sale.

The British marques were poorly equipped to compete against the massive financial resources of Japanese heavy industries that targeted competitors for elimination via long-term plans heavily subsidized by the Japanese government. Triumph and BSA were well aware of Honda's ability but while the Japanese were only making smaller engined models, the large engine market was considered safe. When the first Honda 750 cc four cylinder was released for sale to the public, Triumph and BSA were facing trouble. A 3 cylinder engined motorcycle was developed to compete against the Japanese fours: the BSA Rocket 3/Triumph Trident.

The 1970 Tiger/Bonneville re-design and taller twin front downtube oil tank frame met a mixed reception from Triumph enthusiasts at the time, and was insufficient to win back those already riding the Japanese bikes that had hit the markets in 1969; the Honda 750 Four, and the Kawasaki 500 Mach 3. The Triumph 350 cc Bandit received pre-publicity, before being quietly shelved. Triumph was still making motorcycles, but they no longer looked like the bikes Triumph fans expected.