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Rebirth of the Triumph Motorcycle

John Bloor

In 1983 Triumph went into receivership (a process where an outside organization takes over the finances of a failing company). John Bloor, a 53-year-old plasterer turned wealthy English property developer and builder, who had little interest in motorcycles, had for some time wanted to start up a manufacturing business. Bloor became interested in Triumph, and particularly its still highly regarded brand name. Bloor bought the name and manufacturing rights from the Official Receiver. Enfield India lost, bidding £55,000 pounds to the Official Receiver.

A new company "Triumph Motorcycles Ltd" (initially Bonneville Coventry Ltd), was formed

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”. But the real success had first been achieved by a motorbike made by Werner brothers. They were Russians living in Paris. Primary they were journalists, later they earned their living by repairing and selling apparatuses as for instance cameras, binoculars, typewriters etc. In 1897 they got the idea of putting small internal combustion engine with a normal bicycle together.

The Harris Triumphs

Because the company's manufacturing plant and its designs were not able to compete against the now-dominant Japanese makers, Bloor decided against relaunching Triumph immediately. Initially, production of the old Bonneville was continued under licence by Les Harris of Racing Spares, in Newton Abbot, Devon, to bridge the gap between the end of the old company, and the birth of the new company. For five years from 1983, about 14 were built a week in peak production - excluding the USA, where due to problems with liability insurance, the Harris Bonnevilles were never imported

The Hinckley Triumphs

Bloor set to work assembling the new Triumph, hiring several of the group's former designers to begin work on new models. Bloor took his team to Japan on a tour of its competitors' facilities and became determined to adopt Japanese manufacturing techniques and especially new-generation computer controlled machinery. In 1985, Triumph purchased a first set of equipment to begin working, in secret, on its new prototype models. By 1987, the company had completed its first engine.

In 1988 Bloor funded the building of a new factory in Hinckley, Leicestershire. Bloor put between £70million and £100million into the company between purchase of the brand and break even in 2000.

A range of thoroughly modern machines using famous model names from the past arrived in 1991. Brand new 750 cc and 900 cc triples and 1000 cc and 1200 cc fours all using a modular design to keep production costs low - an idea originally put forward, in air-cooled form, in the early 1970s by Bert Hopwood but not implemented by the then BSA-Triumph company - were built and proved successful. As sales built, big fours were phased out of the lineup - Triumph's heritage is tied to parallel twins and triples, and these are the marketing and development focus of Triumph's marketing strategy today. Four-cylinder models found themselves competing head-on against Japanese machines, especially in the sportsbike market, and although competent could not generate sufficient profit for a relatively low-volume manufacturer like Triumph. In addition to modern machines, Triumph is now also carving out a niche in the motorcycle market based on nostalgic looking engine technologies and design. The 865 cc iterations of the Bonneville and Thruxton look like slightly revised versions of their 1960s counterparts - so although looking and sounding original, internally they include modern valves and counter balance shafts. For their contemporary range of motorcycles, the distinctive triple is Hinckley Triumph's trademark, filling a niche between European V-twin and four cylinder Japanese machinery. The 2294cc triple Rocket III cruiser was introduced in 2004 and proved highly successful.