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Triumph isn’t just one of the most well-known British motorcycle brands – it’s also the longest surviving one.

In this blog post, you’ll discover 7 things you didn’t know about Triumph, including:

 

  • What the company first distributed
  • A famous movie motorcycle stunt which used a Triumph
  • What’s the biggest mass-produced motorcycle…in the world?
  • Which renowned wizard was delivered on a Triumph?

1. Triumph used to distribute sewing machines

Yes, you read that right – despite becoming famous for their motorcycles, Triumph distributed sewing machines during their early years.

And by “sewing machines,” I don’t mean bikes with small engines – I mean actual sewing machines – the kind that looks like this:

image of sewing machine
Photo by FOX from Pexels

2. Marlon Brando Rode a Triumph in The Wild One

Loosely based on the sensationalist reports of the Hollister Riots in 1947, The Wild One from 1953 was one of the first outlaw biker movies and made Marlon Brando into an icon – just like his bike.

Brando’s bike was a Triumph – specifically a 1950 Triumph Thunderbird 6T.

3. A Triumph Can Be Seen in The Great Escape 

Let’s stay at the movies, with one of the most recognized motorcycle scenes in movie history.

In this scene in The Great Escape from 1963, Steve McQueen attempts to escape the Germans by jumping the border on a stolen German motorcycle.

Or at least, it’s supposed to be a German motorcycle.

In reality, it’s a resprayed Triumph TR6 that was made to look like a German motorcycle.

(Most likely a Zundapp K500 or a BMW K75 – both of which the Wehrmacht used.) 

The Triumph TR6 used in the movie can be viewed at the Triumph factory museum in Hinckley, UK.

4. The Triumph Rocket III is the largest mass-produced motorcycle in the world

Original image by TR001, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons
You thought that the Suzuki Hayabusa was the most powerful mass-produced liter-bike?

Forget about it – that honor goes to the Triumph Rocket III, with its 2,294 cc engine, which puts out a widow-making 127 horsepower.

That’s almost twice the power of the second generation Haybusa’s 1,340 cc engine!

5. The Full Name of the Company is “Triumph Motorcycles Ltd”

Out of all the classic British motorcycle brands, Triumph is the one that has survived the longest.

Although the name isn’t what it used to be.

The name of the original company founded in 1885 was “Triumph Engineering.”

Then, when this company went bankrupt in 1983, another company called “Triumph Motorcycles Ltd” bought it out.

It’s this company that owns the Triumph brand name and the intellectual property.

6. A Triumph Can Be Seen in Wallace and Gromit: A Close Shave

So far, we’ve seen Marlon Brando to Steve McQueen ride around on Triumphs, and now we can add an inventor and his dog to that list.

In the 3rd Wallace and Gromit short from 1995 titled A Close Shave, the duo uses a Triumph as their workhorse for their bungee window-washing service.

Specifically, a Triumph Tiger Cub, which also makes a background appearance in A Matter of Loaf and Death: 

#7. How The Triumph Bonneville Got Its Name

image of triumph bonneville T120
Rama, CC BY-SA 2.0 FR, via Wikimedia Commons
In 1955, motorcycle racer Johnny Allen set a speed record of 344 km/h (or 214 miles per hour) on the Bonneville Salt Flats in Utah, USA.

Although he didn’t break the record on a motorcycle, but rather a special streamliner vehicle called the “Devil’s Arrow” (pictured below), the 650cc engine came from a Triumph T-Bird.

As such, when Triumph introduced a new motorcycle model in 1959, they named it “The Bonneville” to commemorate the speed record at the Bonneville Salt Flats.

BONUS: Guess Which Famous Wizard Was Delivered on a Triumph?

In the opening scene to Harry Potter & The Philosopher’s Stone from 2001, the character Hagrid arrives on a flying motorcycle to deliver baby Harry at 4 Privet Drive.

And as you probably already figured out, that motorcycle is a Triumph – specifically a 1959 Triumph T120.