You’ll recognise it from all those sepia-toned, grainy photos. The historic 1901 Triumph started off a legacy of motorcycles that recently achieved the milestone of one million Triumphs rolling off the assembly line. That original motorcycle was thought to be long lost, but it recently made a reappearance when leading vintage Triumph collector Dick Shepherd unveiled the bike.
“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,” says Shepherd.
“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. With an engine number that is consistent with references in Minerva’s engine records of a 1901 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.”
The prototype was built on a standard Triumph pedal bike using a motor built by Minerva, a Belgian manufacturer. The bike was meant to gauge interest in the public for a motorbike. Obviously, there was plenty, and Triumph made its first official sales just a year later in 1902.
The newly restored bike was first unveiled at the UK’s Motorcycle Live show, but is now being housed at Triumph’s Factory Visitor Experience, where it will be on display next to the millionth bike. It’s rare that such a piece of history should somehow survive all those years only to re-emerge and be restored to its original glory—something not to be missed out on.
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