120 years ago, motorcycles, as we know them, are just mere bicycles fitted with a small internal combustion engine (ICE), with some even fitted with a steam engine. Power is then transferred from the engine to the rear wheel via a belt which was usually made out of leather.
In an amazing historic find, a pre-production Triumph motorcycle prototype has been restored and will be displayed to the public.
Discovered and restored by leading vintage Triumph collector, Dick Shepherd, the 1901 Prototype rewrites the history books, adding a whole new chapter prior to Triumph’s official sales which started in 1902.
Long rumored to exist and referenced within advertising and reviews that appeared in 1901, this first Triumph prototype was developed from a standard Triumph bicycle, with an engine provided by Belgian manufacturer Minerva, in order to generate interest and gauge the public’s demand for a Triumph motorcycle.
“Having been approached by a friend of a collector, who had sadly recently passed away, to evaluate an old Triumph, I was incredibly excited to discover that the bike they had featured unique details that were not present on the first production Triumphs. Along with the bike, the collector had also received a letter from Triumph, dated in 1937, that outlined the bike’s unique origins and provided key details,” said Shepherd.
Shepherd also added that the bike’s engine details are consistent with the records of the time when Minerva – a Belgian firm that existed until 1938 – was still producing engines for other companies.
“With an engine number that is consistent with references in Minerva’s engine records of a 1901, [the] first Triumph engagement the historic significance of this motorcycle became incredibly clear.”
“As a lifelong passionate fan of the history and achievements of this incredible British brand, to have discovered this amazing survivor and restored it to the glorious condition it would have been in when it first went on display in 1901, has given me an immense amount of satisfaction,” Shepherd added.
First unveiled at the UK’s Motorcycle Live show, the 1901 prototype will be featured in a dedicated event at Triumph’s Factory Visitor Experience happening on December 14, 2021, where the machine will be ridden in public for the very first time in over 100 years.
This incredible, historic motorcycle will then be on display, alongside the millionth Hinckley Triumph, in a new, specially created 120-year anniversary display, hosted within Triumph’s Factory Visitor Experience.