1912 Free-engine Model
By 1910 Triumph motor cycles had gained the enviable reputation of quality and reliability. During 1909 a rider had described his machine in the motor cycling press as "the trusty Triumph". Triumph took the expression on board and in early 1910 the "Trusty Triumph" advertisement below appeared, and Triumph 'ran with the name' thereafter. (Contrary to what motor cycle books would have you believe, it was not the 1914-18 Despatch Riders who first coined the phrase, but certainly they used the expression, for of the alternative machine supplied by the War Department one Despatch Rider wrote home to New Zealand that he was pleased to have a Triumph again, "for we can destroy a Douglas in a fortnight."
With Triumph's hub clutch available in quantity three models were catalogued for 1910, and engine capacity of all models was increased to the competition recognised size of 500cc.
There were also many other less obvious changes, such as handlebars of a slightly different shape for more relaxed riding. Charles Hathaway's Patented automatic locking rear stand was first fitted that year. (Works Manager, Engineer and Designer, Charles Hathaway, was continually adding new features to Triumph's offerings, but they were too numerous to mention here; but they are all in the 'Early Years' booklet I wrote.)
1910 was also the year in which Triumph riders took the first eight places in the single-cylinder class at the Isle of Man TT Races. You might well imagine what that did for Triumph sales!
The 1911 engine capacity was unchanged but the crankcases were strengthened and the 'U' of the cast TRIUMPH disappered due to a strengthening portion. 'Spring tappets' were fitted, following their use with the 1910 TT Race machines.
Although there were also other changes, such as the mounting of an 'oil squirt' on the frame, the 1911 machines basically looked similar to the 1910 machines. (I never intended that this Web site would picture each and every model which Triumph made.)
Another model was added this year, in the form of a Tourist Trophy Roadster - a pedal-less road-capable machine for 'boy racers'.
Improvements continued for 1912. Adjustable tappets were fitted for the first time. (Previously one ground the end of a valve in order to obtain the correct clearance. Primative! Yes, but do not judge these engines by those of today. Everything has to start somewhere, and these years were the start of bikes which we ride today.)
A start was made on moving engine controls to be more accessible - 'user friendly', in today's jargon. The ignition control (advance/retard) was removed from alongside the fuel tank and was operated by a rocking lever operated by the left foot, while for the two TT Models operation was via a cable and a handlebar mounted lever.
As tends to be the case, lessons are learnt from racing experiences, and the previous tank screw caps were replaced by quicker-action bayonet fitting caps. (Changed back again in the mid-1920's, but that's 'progress' for you!)
1912 also saw the introduction of a single spring for the front fork, acting in both compression and tension, to replace the troublesome twin-springs of previous years. With small changes this was to remain through to 1924.
Triumph were regularly experimenting with 'gear attachments' so were well aware of 'the road ahead', but were not prepared to put anything on the market which would not be up to the expectations which Triumph owners had come to expect.
1910 - 499cc 3½ hp. 85mm bore X 88mm stroke.
........... Available as Roadster, Free-engine (hub clutch) or Tourist Trophy (Racing) Models.
1911 - As 1910, with the addition of a Tourist Trophy Roadster Model.
1912 - As 1911, and again a choice of four models.
Again, small improvements were being made year by year, and Triumph were well established throughout the world. Thanks to Siegried Bettmann's overseas White Sewing Machine Company contacts sales catalogues were being printed in a multitude of languages.
Following the Olympia Show of 1910 the British Daily Telegraph newspaper said that the Triumph Company held premier position and that, "The entire exibit was marked by the beautiful workmanship for which this firm has attained a world-wide reputation."
Triumph Models of these years are practical veteran machines, given the limitations of the still primative brakes, especially for the fitter rider. However, the convenience of the clutch hub makes these models also practical for those who like to have an engine running before attempting to 'hit the road'.
The engines had now reached a capacity whereby it became practical to fit a sidecar.
Production (and sales) still increasing.
1910 - Around 4,150.
1911 - Something in the order of 5,100.
1912 - Something in the order of 6,000.
Remember, that these production figures are the result of my researches as no official records have survived. I need details from YOUR machine to make my findings more accurate.
I have knowledge of Triumphs, or parts thereof, from this period surviving in Australia, Britain, Canada, Denmark, Germany, Holland, Ireland, Italy, New Zealand, South Africa and Southern Rhodesia (Zimbabwe).
For more details you really need to refer to the booklets I have written covering the Early Models.
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