1910 Imperial Triumph No. 16 Ladies Cycle & Triumph Cycle Co History

1910 Imperial Triumph No. 16 Ladies Cycle with rear band brake

(Now sold)


“The Triumph cycle is a British product throughout, easy to ride, smart in appearance, elegant in design, and reliable to a degree.” – Civil Service Gazette, 1906.


This is a charming early Ladies Loop-frame cycle in superb original condition.


Bicycles of this era were luxury items, so I suppose Triumph could afford to display their name in a more elaborate fashion…

She is easy to ride, and surprisingly small for a cycle of this era.


Compare the size of the Triumph with that of the 1919 Swift (which is still not as large as most ladies bikes of the era).


When I got the Triumph, she still sported her original front tyre.


Despite the novelty of a 99-year-old tyre, it was not really good enough to use. As I couldn’t resist taking the Triumph out for a spin, I fitted a new tyre and tube.


The brakes fitted in this year are a lever slip-up front brake and inverted lever operated contracting band on the back.


The wheels are 26″


Frame number is 26317.


Though a catch-phrase generally applied to the Model H Triumph motorcycles that motivated so many of our troops during WW1, Triumph actually started using the slogan ‘Trusty Triumph’ in 1910.



“This is the lady’s machine par excellence…”

The 1906 Triumph catalogue lists this bicycle, which had few changes by 1910.


Note, at the bottom of the above catalogue page, the free £1000 insurance policy given with this machine. I’m not sure that inspires confidence in riding it!

I orignally thought this 1910 Ladies Triumph was a ‘Royal’ rather than an ‘Imperial.’ The difference appears to be in the design of the bottom tube. The Royal (below) is straight, while the Imperial (above, and on this bicycle) is curved.




More of this catalogue is reproduced below




Our Imperial Lady now has a companion, and they can be found canoodling in our garden shed on moonlit nights. With all due respect, her trusty pal is four years younger. Yet his whitewall is new, while she retains her original old Dunlop. Who do you think is the boss?


The 1914 Gents Roadster naturally has his own page: go to the main page of the website and scroll down (on the right hand side) to 1910…

To go to the main page, simply click at the top of this website where it says


(or click on these links)




Siegfried Bettmann

Siegfried Bettmann was a German immigrant from Nuremberg who started work in England with the White Sewing Machine Company as a translator helping to sell sewing machines. Siegfried was very aware of the public enthusiasm for bicycles, so in 1884 he founded the company “S. Bettmann & Co”, to sell bicycles made by the Birmingham firm, William Andrews, but labelled under his own name. In 1886 Siegfried changed the name of his company to the “Triumph Cycle Company Limited”, as he considered the trade name Triumph to be a positive and exciting name that was readily understood in a number of languages. His business flourished.

In 1887, Siegfried Bettmann was joined by the engineer Mauritz Johan Schulte, also from Nuremburg, and they set their minds to the production of their own bicycles, which began at their Coventry factory in 1889. It was in the late 1880’s that the internal combustion engine began to develop into a more reliable and useful power source, so Bettmann and Schulte thought about adding motor powered bicycles to their range of products. At first, they considered building the Hildebrand & Wolfmuller motorcycles under license, and imported one in 1895 for testing. They also considered building the Beeston Humber motorcycle, but both these plans came to nothing, so they decided to produce their own motorcycle.

The Triumph No 1In 1902, the ‘No 1’ (as their first motorcycle was known) was built. It was designed by Mauritz Shulte, using a strengthened bicycle and a 2.25bhp one-cylinder Belgian Minerva engine driving the rear wheel by a belt from the engine crankshaft. The bicycle pedals, chain and crank were retained to both start the engine and provide power in the event of engine failure. The Minerva engine was chosen as it was one of the best available. These powered bicycles proved a great success so their next challenge was to build a motorcycle of entirely their own design.

In 1905, the first all British completely Triumph designed and built motorcycle was built. It was designed by Mauritz Schulte and Charles Hathaway, who was the Triumph works factory manager and an enthusiastic motorcyclist and gifted engineer. The new Triumph motorcycle had a 3 bhp 363cc side-valve engine with, unusually, the crankshaft mounted on ball bearings. It was also equipped with alternator ignition (with an option of the Simms-Bosch magneto for an extra £5). The motorcycle could cruise at 35 mph and top speed of 45 to 50mph. They produced 250 in their first year.

In the following years Triumph continued to develop their design, always testing and proving each idea to ensure good reliability. In 1906 they added a new front fork design and by 1908 the engine had a displacement of 476cc with a power output of 3.5bhp and a variable pulley system to allow the crankshaft to wheel ratio to be varied between 4:1 and 6:1 allowing the rider to tackle inclines as well as get speed on the flat. To change the ratio, the rider had to stop, screw the pulley wheel in or out, adjust the length of the belt but adding or removing short segments of the belt, before they could continue. Not the sort of change one would wish to do regularly!

The good reliability and handling of Triumph motorcycles brought success on the racing track. Jack Marshal won the 1908 Isle of Man TT on a Triumph and a well known observation, “Eight Triumph’s started, and eight finished…” helped reinforce Triumph’s reputation for reliability. In 1910, Triumph introduced a small, foot operated wet drum clutch that allowed the engine to run freely when the bike was stationery. This allowed the engine to be started whilst it was on it’s stand, rather than having to bump start the engine whilst pedalling. Triumph were now building thousands of machines a year and their reputation was continuing to grow.

In 1911, Mr. Ivan Hart-Davies rode a specially equipped Triumph from Land’s End to John O’Groats (900 miles) in just 29 hours and 12 minutes; an average of 30mph. This broke the previous record of 6 days created by A. E. Catt. Remember, macadamized roads where only just patented in 1901, so most roads at this time would be very rough and there was very limited suspension!

At the outbreak of the First World War, Triumph were producing their type A, which had an output of 4bhp from it’s 550cc engine. From late 1914, the Type H was bought in large quantity by the British Government to equip the army despatch riders and by the end of the war in November 1918, over 30,000 had been produced for military service. The Type H had a chain driven primary drive and a belt driven final drive. It used a Sturmey-Archer three-speed hand operated gearbox, a multi-plate clutch and a kick-starter. It was this motorcycle that won the nickname ‘The Trusty’ through it’s great reliability under difficult conditions. It was also the first Triumph motorcycle not to be equipped with pedal power.

In 1919, Bettmann wanted to broaden the range of items manufactured by Triumph. Schulte disagreed, so sadly left the company, ending the first phase of the company.

{credits: http://www.scripophily.net for the 1898 Triumph Cycle Co certificate; short history from John’s Model H website – http://triumphmodelh.com/History.html%5D



1935 Triumph TS100

My 1935 German Triumph is very much in the style of the early Triumph motorcycles, being an uprated bicycle frame with a proprietary engine attached, in this case a 98cc Fichtel and Sachs with 2-speed hand-change gearbox.


It’s not easy to appreciate its scale in these photos, but it is obviously much smaller than the much larger early Triumphs such as the ‘H’ on which it is modeled.


With pedal-start and upright riding position, it feels like you’re riding a pioneer motorcycle.


Fitted with the 1932 Fenton Zip Juvenile sidecar, its scale is even more confusing.







At the bottom of the page above it quotes ‘no female labour.’





Published on September 28, 2008 at 7:05 am  Leave a Comment  

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