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Triumph Prototype restored

(Dec 5, 2021)

Triumph 1901

Triumph UK has unveiled the restored prototype of the marque's first production motorcycle, a 1901 220ccc Minerva-powered machine.

At the time, Triumph was owned by Siegfried Bettman and Maurice Schulte -– two Germans. Bettman went on to become Mayor of Coventry.

Triumph 1901

The machine was discovered and restored by leading vintage Triumph collector Dick Shepherd (above).

Long rumoured to exist and referenced within advertising and reviews 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 demand. Sales began in earnest in 1902.

1904 Triumph

The company went on to also use engines from JAP and Fafnir, before Schulte (pictured above in 1904) completed design of their own single-cylinder powerplant.

“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,” Shepherd says.

“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."

Recently unveiled at the UK’s Motorcycle Live (NEC) show, the 1901 prototype will feature in a dedicated event at Triumph’s Factory Visitor Experience on December 14, where the machine will be ridden in public for the first time in more than 100 years.

Triumph 1901

Triumph 1901

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