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From 1963 all Triumph engines are of unit
In 1969 Malcolm Uphill, riding a Bonneville, won the Isle of Man
Production TT with a race average of 99.99 miles per hour (160.92
km/h) per lap, and recorded the first ever over 100 miles per hour (161
km/h) lap by a production motorcycle at 100.37 miles per hour (161.53
km/h). For many Triumph fans, the 1969 Bonneville was the best
Triumph ever.
American sales had already peaked, in 1967. In truth, the demand for
motorcycles was rising, but Triumph could not keep up.
In the 1960s, 60% of all Triumph production was exported, which,
along with the BSA's 80% exports, made the group susceptible to the
Japanese expansion. By 1969 fully 50% of the US market for bikes
over 500 cc belonged to Triumph, but technological advances at
Triumph had failed to keep pace with the rest of the world. Triumphs
lacked electric start mechanisms, relied on push-rods rather than
overhead cams, vibrated noticeably, often leaked oil, and had
antiquated electrical systems; while Japanese marques such as
Honda were building more advanced features into attractive new
bikes that sold for less than their British competitors. Triumph
motorcycles, as a result, were nearly obsolete even when they were
new. Further, Triumph's manufacturing processes were highly
labour-intensive and largely inefficient. Also disastrous, in the early
1970s the US government mandated that all motorcycle imports must
have their gearshift and brake pedals in the Japanese configuration,
which required expensive retooling of all the bikes for US sale.
The British marques were poorly equipped to compete against the
massive financial resources of Japanese heavy industries that
targeted competitors for elimination via long-term plans heavily
subsidized by the Japanese government. Triumph and BSA were well
aware of Honda's ability but while the Japanese were only making
smaller engined models, the large engine market was considered
safe. When the first Honda 750 cc four cylinder was released for sale
to the public, Triumph and BSA were facing trouble. A 3-cylinder
engined motorcycle was developed to compete against the Japanese
fours: the BSA Rocket 3/Triumph Trident.
The 1970 Tiger/Bonneville re-design and taller twin front down tube
oil tank frame met a mixed reception from Triumph enthusiasts at the
time, and was insufficient to win back those already riding the
Japanese bikes that had hit the markets in 1969; the Honda 750 Four,
and the Kawasaki 500 Mach 3. The Triumph 350 cc Bandit received
pre-publicity, before being quietly shelved. Triumph was still making
motorcycles, but they no longer looked like the bikes Triumph fans
expected. The Trident attracted its own market, but the Japanese
bikes were improving more rapidly.
1971 Triumph Daytona The parent BSA group made losses of 8.5
million pounds in 1971, 3 million for BSA motorcycles alone. The
British government became involved. The company was sold to
Manganese Bronze Holdings, which also owned Norton, AJS,
Matchless, Francis-Barnett, James-Velocette and Villiers.
Norton Villiers Triumph
1977 Triumph Bonneville T140 VA new company called Norton
Villiers Triumph (NVT), managed by Dennis Poore, emerged in 1972
when the BSA group collapsed under its debts. Government help led
to a merger with the Manganese Bronze Holdings subsidiary Norton-
Villiers. The three remaining brands to be produced by the company
were combined to create the new group name of Norton-Villiers-
Triumph (NVT). However, this restructuring would result in a number
of closures and redundancies, due to the withdrawal of the
Conservative government aid (as an inducement to Dennis Poore to
take on Triumph) by the then Labour Minister, Roy Hattersley. After
many consultations with the factory personnel explaining the
consolidation necessary to face the Japanese challenge, in
September 1973 NVT Group chairman Dennis Poore finally
announced the closure of Meriden works effective February, 1974. Of
4,500 employees, 3,000 were made redundant. Faced with
unemployment and having their products handed over to a rival firm,
the workers at the Meriden factory demonstrated against a move to
Small Heath, Birmingham, the BSA site and staged a sit in for two
years. With political backing of the newly-elected Labour government
and, in particular, the then-minister for trade and industry , Tony
Benn, the Meriden worker's co-operative was formed supplying
Triumph 750 cc motorcycles to its sole customer, NVT.
The new company's manufacturing plant and its designs were not
able to compete against the Japanese so 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 start of the new company. For five years
from 1983, about 14 were built a week in peak production. In the USA,
due to problems with liability insurance, the Harris Bonnevilles were
Bloor set to work assembling the new Triumph, hiring several of the
group's former designers to begin work on new models. The team
visited 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 at a 10-acre (40,000 m2) site in Hinckley, Leicestershire. Bloor
put between £70million and £100million into the company between
purchasing the brand and breaking even in 2000.
TT600A new range of motorcycles using famous model names from
the past arrived in 1991. New 750 cc and 900 cc triple-cylinder bikes
and 1000 cc and 1200 cc four-cylinder bikes 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.
There were early problems and the four-cylinder 600 cc sports TT600
was described in reviews as "unpleasant at low revs due to a
lethargic and unpredictable throttle response, with anonymous
styling". As sales built, the big fours were phased out of the lineup
and parallel twins and triples became the marketing and development
focus of Triumph's marketing strategy. Triumph also decided to
exploit demand for retro motorcycles with modern engineering. The
865 cc versions of the Triumph Bonneville and Thruxton look and
sound original but internally they have modern valves and counter
The Triumph Rocket III - the largest production motorcycle in the
world for their contemporary range, the triple is Hinckley Triumph's
trademark, filling a niche between European and American twins and
four cylinder Japanese machinery. The 2,294 cc (140.0 cu in) triple
Rocket III cruiser was introduced in 2004. The first 300 Rocket III
models were already sold before they were produced, and there was
a long waiting list for Rockets into 2005. Triumph's best selling bike is
the 675 cc Street Triple. In 2010 they launched the Triumph Tiger 800
and Tiger 800 XC, dual-sport motorcycles, which uses an 800 cc
engine derived from the Street Triple, and is designed to compete
directly with the market leading BMW F800GS.
At the same time as production capacity increased, Bloor established
a new network of export distributors. He has previously created two
subsidiary companies, Triumph Deutschland GmbH and Triumph
France SA. In 1994 Bloor created Triumph Motorcycles America Ltd.
In 1995, the Triple Connection clothing range and the accessories
range of products were launched. Triumph made a commercial
decision to design all their own motorcycle clothing rather than
license other producers.
At 21.00 on 15 March 2002, as the company was preparing to
celebrate its 100th anniversary as a motorcycle maker, its main
factory was destroyed by a fire which began at the rear of the facility.
At the height of the blaze over 100 firefighters were tackling the fire
which destroyed most of the manufacturing capacity.
Nevertheless, the company, which by then employed more than 650,
quickly rebuilt the facility and returned to production by September
that year. Furthermore, in 2003, Triumph opened a new
manufacturing facility in Thailand. An assembly and painting facility
in Thailand was opened in 2006 by Prince Andrew. In September
2008, Triumph announced that they were expanding their Thailand
factory to increase capacity to over 130,000 motorcycles.
The Triumph Group announced sales of 37,400 units in the financial
year ending 30 June 2006. This represented a growth of 18% over the
31,600 produced in 2005. Company turnover (revenues) rose 13% to
£200 million ($370 million), but net profit remained static at around
£10.3 million due to recent investment in production facilities.
On 21 July 2008, Triumph held a Global Dealer Conference where
new models for 2009 were launched, including the official
announcement of the parallel twin-cylinder Triumph Thunderbird
The Daily Telegraph business pages of 4 June 2009, reported Lord
Digby Jones, the former Minister of State for Trade, becoming
chairman of Triumph motorcycles (Hinckley) Ltd as well as
announcing the new 1600 cc Triumph Thunderbird 1600 twin cylinder
model and Chief executive, Tue Mantoni's 'cautious' general market
outlook for 2009 given the prevailing global economic downturn and
despite a 19% rise in sales. 2014-16 sales rose 4.5% globally.
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