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19th century

Triumphs on eBay
DUHC #876719 04/04/22 9:25 pm
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Originally Posted by DUHC
19th century

That’s a long spread of time. Nearer 1801 or 1900?


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Originally Posted by Irish Swede
A lot of high tank British army officers came out of the two schools you mention above.

When a war begins, they are in charge, and almost every British war has begun with a military disaster (French & Indian War, American Revolution, Zulu War, WW I as examples.) Those officers who bought their commissions, rather than earning them, were "experts" in two things: losing battles and getting many of their soldiers killed.

After those clowns were wiped off the officer rosters (or wiped OUT in battle) men with real abilities arose to take over and lead on to victory.
But when the war was over, the British General Staff reverted to the same old system and the same old type of losers - losers with influential patrons.

(But I'm only Irish, so what do I know?)

The sooner you accept being American, the happier you’ll be.

Google says buying British commissions ended in 1871, so any WW1 British officers who had bought a commission had been officers for 43 years. I am impressed by that.


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Wonderful discussion!!

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Triton, maybe the massacre of British troops by the Zulus at Ilsandiwana had something to do with the end of commission purchases?

Of course good old Lord Chelmsford ("CHUMPSford") who's arrogance and incompetence caused it probably got a medal and a knighthood out of it.

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Picture of Chelmsford dam I took some years ago, up the road from Ilsandiwana, and not far from Blood River either.

According to google they have not changed the name yet. A bit surprising.

[Linked Image from i.imgur.com]


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Historically, in Europe, most senior military commanders were incompetent, as were most politicians re: avoiding and fighting wars.

It took politicians nearly 100 years to achieve World War 1, but they succeeded in the end. It only took them 20 years to achieve World War 2.

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From what I've seen here in America, if you can't find an honest JOB, you become a politician.

Then you can leach off the taxpayers, who have REAL jobs.

Were are drifting a bit... Try to keep it about Bob, BSA, Triumph, Meriden Co-op, and if politics keep it revelant to the subject. Thank You Gentlemen.
John

Last edited by John Healy; 04/05/22 2:58 pm. Reason: Trying to keep a drift into general politics.
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Thank you Mr. Healy for passing on a great story about Bob Myers. What a guy!

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I wonder if Triumph could have soldiered on, maybe more as a cottage industry Son of Triumph, with the 1969/70 TR6 & T120? OK, I know by the time of their demise it was ten or so years on from there, and it wouldn't have been enough to sustain a whole factory, but maybe to survive as an offshoot niche manufacturer.

What I'm thinking is something along the lines of the Caterham 7 sports car car here in the UK. For those that aren't familiar with this car, it was made by Lotus, as the Seven, and had got up to Series 4. Lotus decided that they wanted to move upmarket and stop producing this model, so one of their dealers Caterham Cars said they'd take on manufacturing rights of the earlier Series 3, the previous more loved model. This is still being manufactured to this day, albeit in developed form. If you call the Series 4 oil in the frame, and Series 3 pre oil in the frame, you can maybe see my rambling point.

I remember back in the early '80s there was at least one dealer who would supply you with a completely rebuilt version of that 69/70 model.

The current revived Triumph Bonneville, and its variants aren't quite the same thing, and whilst I'm sure they're nice bikes, they're not as nimble and as iconic as the earlier late Sixties model.

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So it sounds like between the labor problems, corporate structure change and leadership infighting, no matter how good the competitive or non-competitive design may have been by Triumph then BSA at the time, it was doomed and the American dealers got caught holding the bag? Being from the US, I typically get one side of the story. It was always my understanding that the US drove the market. 50-60-70 years later here, it's easy to forget that they were manufacturing for money, not my current hobby. When were the actual "glory years"? Later pre-unit or mid-unit construction? Sounds like production numbers wouldn't necessarily tell the story.
Reading through Rod Coates's TSBs to dealers in the mid 50's early 60's does seem to relate "push" on the dealers to sell whatever the factory decided to send.
Were there issues between Tri-Cor and JOMO or were they fairly united to the cause?

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"> What I'm thinking is something along the lines of the Caterham 7 sports car.... <"

The Caterham 7 could out-perform most sports cars until recent years. In contrast, the T120 / T140 fell further behind the performance of Japanese bikes as the 1970s progressed.

The 1971 T120 should have had a five speed gearbox, reliable electric start, front disc brake and no oil leaks; that might have kept Triumph going for a bit longer. Pay Cosworth or Weslake to design and build 4 cylinder engines?

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A British bike with a Cosworth engine? It exists, albeit a 2 cylinder

https://www.bonhams.com/auctions/22125/lot/158/

[Linked Image from i.postimg.cc]

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What I was thinking was not to attempt to compete with the Jap market, as that was doomed to failure. Instead sell the bike as a niche anachronism. Triumph grasped this to a certain extent in their '70s US ads with 'some bikes are faster etc, but nothing handles like a Triumph'. What I was thinking was drop all the pretence of making a modern bike and instead sell it to those who wanted a slice of the glory days - there were still many that did, but not on the previous volume basis, hence there would have been a need to downsize the manufacturing output. Even in the 1970s people were acknowledging that the earlier late '60s bike was a classic.

Caterham went back to the previous model with a simpler aluminium body, back to basics Ford Kent engine etc, the Mk3, whereas Lotus were making the all fibreglass Mk4 when they dropped the model.

Obviously, all now overtaken by events, but it's interesting that one of the best sellers of the revived Triumph range was a replica/pastiche of that '69 Bonneville (although admittedly with a 5 speed box and disc brakes......and more size & weight.....).

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Originally Posted by DUHC
What I was thinking was not to attempt to compete with the Jap market, as that was doomed to failure. Instead sell the bike as a niche anachronism. Triumph grasped this to a certain extent in their '70s US ads with 'some bikes are faster etc, but nothing handles like a Triumph'. What I was thinking was drop all the pretence of making a modern bike and instead sell it to those who wanted a slice of the glory days - there were still many that did, but not on the previous volume basis, hence there would have been a need to downsize the manufacturing output. Even in the 1970s people were acknowledging that the earlier late '60s bike was a classic.

Caterham went back to the previous model with a simpler aluminium body, back to basics Ford Kent engine etc, the Mk3, whereas Lotus were making the all fibreglass Mk4 when they dropped the model.

Obviously, all now overtaken by events, but it's interesting that one of the best sellers of the revived Triumph range was a replica/pastiche of that '69 Bonneville (although admittedly with a 5 speed box and disc brakes......and more size & weight.....).


I think it was hardly possible to go from Meriden’s mass production of what were fairly cheap bikes in the 1960s, to production of the same bikes in tiny numbers, at a reasonable price and of acceptable quality.

The latterday Lotus Sevens are built by their owners, with mass produced engine and drivetrain components, or the owner pays through the nose to get someone to build it for them.


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@ DUHC. A major reason for buyng a Seven (Lotus and Caterham) was the performance advantage over other similarly priced sports cars. On some roads / tracks, a Seven could out-perform expensive exotic machinery. I can't see a performance advantage in the 1970s for a British twin cylinder motorcycle with an engine design originating from the 1930s or 1940s.

In the UK in the 1970s it was possible to acquire a working Brit bike for nothing, such was the general dislike of many used Brit bikes. Was the 1969 Triumph T120 regarded as a desirable bike in the 1970s? I can't recall, manic Japanese two-strokes were top of my list at that time.

The British motorcycle industry in the early 1970s was a shambles, I'm reading " Shooting Star: The Rise & Fall of the British Motorcycle Industry" , gob-smacking is one description. Worth a read, can be found as a pdf online for nowt.

What would have sold mass-produced motorcycles in the UK early 1970s onwards? Probably performance, reliability and low cost. As I dimly recall, there was a point when a new Triumph Bonneville was more expensive than a new CB750.

What would have sold relatively low numbers of "niche" expensive motorcycles in the UK early 1970s onwards? Perhaps racing success, unique design, unique styling and reliability? Monocoque ally frame and Cosworth engine would have been possible; wouldn't have been cheap though. Tony Foale was building monoshock bikes in 1976, perhaps earlier, so monocoque monoshock ally frame and Cosworth engine would not have been a huge leap. Give it to Mike Hailwood to race at the Isle of Man.

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Stripped of the burden of the warranty generated by BSA's A50/A65, the T150/A75 triples and their 250, the Triumph factory, and bikes they made, were quite profitable. The situation was only made worse by the arrogance of managment of BSA on both sides of the pond. This, especially during the extravagance of the Peter Thornton era.

The effort to badge engineer the two marks in 1971 was ill conceived, done with little, if any, market studies of their largest customer base. Why would you send a motorcycle into the US that you hand little, if any ability, customize, with a seat height perfect for a 6'-6" basket ball player, and in a muted color that could only be justified if you wished to punish your dealers.

A prime example with paint was the 1969 Trident. Supplied to Italy in a gloss black with a candy red scallop and to the US with a "pea soup green" paint that must have been rejected from some industral paint customer. The scallop design and the choice of colors for the Italian tank almost made the Ogle "toaster" design look like it was a motorcycle. Yes, the Ogle T150 tank design looks like their "Award" winning toaster.

It took over 10 years to get the handlebar selected at each yearly dealer meeting to finally show up on our shores. I had a cellar full of Triumph's "Western" bars. To sell the bikes we almost universally had to put on the bar that finally showed up on the 1973 T140. We bore the expense of the bars and cables just to make the sale.

At the dealer meeting each year one of the staff would make the trip to the local motorcycle accessory shop. There he would buy some 6, or 8, odd bars. They would line up bikes on the floor with different bars and we would vote as to which one the bars the bikes should come with. You guessed it. For years the dealers picked the same handlebar, but they never did show up on our shores on the T120.

Why would you let the US managment spearhead a racing program for a bike that had little consumer interest and spending more than a million dollars of money they didn't have. Then allow US management to initiate a warranty program that was not paying the dealers for work performed. This alone created a financial burden for BSA that was never settled.

So we only just got rid of Peter Thornton, who had to be shuffled around in a chauffer driven limosine and fly only First Class, when Triumph was burdened with Dennis Poore. I gloss over 20 years of my life.

What if Triumph was able to re-invest their profits instead of trying to fill the financial pit created by BSA. Would Triumph have survived... I have my opinion. Did Harley survive by giving the customers what they wanted when they wanted it, you bet they did (Well, in my opinion that is until Wall Street got involved).

Oh, Triumph did survive. It just took someone who understood business and did his market research. When he introduced his Triump, old Triumph enthusiats flocked to his door, and they still do.

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...motorcycles still are too tall; even taller than ever. In most you need 1.82m minimum to be somewhat comfortable but better 1.86m. I understand that new generations are taller now but not all people are tall and bikes sell all over the World. And what is the point to have the gravity center so high?

-T140 appeals is way better in my opinion with the low handlebar and square tank, keeping some sport lines than the US specs trying to be a T120. Do not look sporty and is only good to ride INTO the city so at low speed; pretty bad for the road with the wind.

-Rear wheel and specially the tyre is too narrow. Something that ALL the brands in all the cc range accepted that is an ERROR as you see with the new bikes. There is no any that have those silly tyres. Specially bad on the tridents.

-If Triumph had been continued with the cooperative, the late 80s models would be awful; squared engines, horrendous very difficult to sell models

-Do what the supposed customers want is not so good. The consumer is just that; today I buy this but tomorrow I buy that; that is not what loyal niche customers are. I see a plenty with Yamaha HI FI audio. They have been ruining the great outer design of the high end stereos due what "people" mention in the audio forums. They do EXACTLY what those supposed customers want but most do not understand design or have plain bad taste (due to ignorance) no eye for the smooth lines et all.

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John, your "handlebar story" mirrors the one that Ted Hodgedon, of BSA's USA distribution, told me about the annual dealers' meetings, where every attending dealer brought his own set of aftermarket handlebars and said "THIS is what my customers want!"

Ted would take all of them in a room, and later would settle on one average bar that he would send to Birmingham,...only to have to go through the same process all over again the next year.

The '67 Lightning" in my garage has it's original factory handlebars...about18 inch-high semi-ape hangers. UGLY.

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Thanks to all for continuing to tell this story.

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