Historic discovery
BikeBrewers are known for their preference of bikes that have been stripped to the bone and build from the ground up into new works of art. We get excited when builders light up their torches and switch on their grinders to send sparks flying in their workshops.
In this particular case we would not dare to request riding the bike in question and give it hell like we would normally do.

Following last week’s announcement of the production of the millionth Triumph from Hinckley, the iconic British motorcycle brand also proudly presents the first ever Triumph prototype! To be touched only while wearing white gloves.

The prototype from 1901
This is truly nothing short of an amazing historical find. The prototype was discovered and restored by leading vintage Triumph collector Dick Shepherd. The 1901 prototype rewrites the history books and actually adds a whole new chapter to the period leading up to Triumph’s official sale, starting in 1902.

The rumors about the existence of this very first Triumph prototype were persistent, as it was referenced to in advertisements and reviews that appeared in 1901. The prototype was developed on the basis of a standard Triumph pedal bike, with a motor supplied by the Belgian manufacturer Minerva. The brand did this to arouse interest and at the same time to gauge among the public whether there would actually be a demand for a Triumph motorcycle.

Surreal discovery
Dick Shepherd says: “When I was approached by a friend of a collector, who unfortunately had recently passed away, to appraise an old Triumph, I was exuberant. Especially when I found out that this bike possessed unique details that I had never seen on any of the the first production Triumphs. Along with the engine, the collector had also received a letter from Triumph, dated 1937, describing the unique origin of the motorcycle and providing important details.”

Continuing: “With an engine number consistent with references in Minerva’s engine data from a first agreement with Triumph in 1901, the historical importance of this motorcycle became immediately apparent.”

“As a lifelong fan of the history and successes of this incredible British brand, it gives me immense satisfaction to have had the honor to ‘unearth’ this amazing survivor. Added to that feeling is the fact it is incredible to have been allowed to restore it to the glorious state in which it would have been, when it was first exhibited in 1901.”

The 1901 prototype, which was first unveiled at the Motorcycle Live show in the UK, will be on display at a special event at Triumph’s Factory Visitor Experience on December 14th. For this special occasion, the machine will be ridden in public for the first time in more than 100 years.

This important historic bike will be on display together with the millionth Hinckley Triumph in a new showcase specially made for the 120th anniversary in Triumph’s visitor centre.

The Triumph Factory Visitor Experience is free to visit and is located at Triumph’s headquarters in Hinckley, England. It is open daily from Wednesday to Sunday, from 10:00 to 16:30.

The BikeBrewers team were invited for the opening back in 2017 and have been back a few times since then.
When visiting Birmingham on a road trip, make sure to add it to your stops. It is definitely worth spending some time in.

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About the Author: Ron Betist

Ron Betist grew up with motorcycles with a father heading the Amsterdam motorcycle police force. He has been riding (legally) for over 40 years and motorcycles are his true passion. With a life-long career in marketing and sales he has a huge international network. He joined as a contributor at BikeBrewers in 2017 to spread his word about bikes with the rest of the world.

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