classic triumph motorcycle

The History Of Triumph Motorcycles

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Triumph Motorcycles is a privately owned British motorcycle company that was formed more than 100 years ago. Since its establishment, the bikes have attracted a loyal following in America, in particular, and in the 1960’s and early 1970’s were often ridden by stars and seen in films. The company started from humble beginnings, and despite numerous setbacks, it now has a 500,000 square feet plant and produces approximately 30,000 motorcycles every year.

Of the various models produced by Triumph, the Bonneville is the one most responsible for the enduring popularity of the brand. The Bonneville was made famous by Richard Gere, Marlin Brando and Clint Eastwood in their respective classic movies. Steve McQueeen also made this bike famous when he used it in his 1963 movie known as The Great Escape which remains one of the best war movies of all time. The Bonneville was in high demand overseas and export sales were a primary source of the company’s revenue around this period.

Even though the company achieved so much success with the unveiling of the Bonneville in the 1960s, it was during that time that it started heading in the same direction as its struggling peers in the motorcycle industry. It was under so much pressure from Japanese rivals as well as unions who blocked cost cutting. It racked up huge losses and had to endure a series of takeovers as the government struggled to keep it alive. The troubles continued in the 1980s when Triumph relied on orders from Ghana and Nigeria for police motorcycles in order to continue surviving. It was declared bankrupt in 1983.

After being declared bankrupt the company went into receivership during which time Triumph’s owner, John Bloor, bought the name and manufacturing rights from the official receiver. Unfortunately, the company’s new manufacturing plant and designs were not good enough to compete against the Japanese brands. This forced Bloor to relaunch Triumph Motorcycles immediately. For about five years after relaunching the company, about fourteen motorcycles were built on a weekly basis in peak production. But they were never exported to USA due to problems with liability insurance.

Triumph Motorcycles has continued to survive even after going through an endless series of challenges. It has always had its own distinctive character as well as a history of manufacturing motorcycles that end up being design classics. In 1991, it was relaunched by John Bloor who invested millions into its new Leicestershire base. Bloor also established a sub-assembly plant in Thailand.

The latest results from Triumph Motorcycles show the success of the marketing strategy that John Bloor has implemented since the company’s relaunch. However, it is has not been a smooth journey. In 2002, about half of Hinckley factory was destroyed by major fire. Another major setback for this company was the 2008 recession as well as the collapse in the housing market. It forced John Bloor to breach banking covenants on the debt in his company known as Bloor Holdings which controls Triumph. However, Bloor was able to successfully renegotiate the debt with banks later on.

Last modified: November 30, 2017

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