The first Triumph motorcycle was built in 1902, essentially a bicycle fitted with a two-horsepower engine. But Triumph's big innovation came in 1910, when it introduced the first practical motorcycle clutch. Sales soared, and the British military bought over 30,000 Triumph bikes during World War I.
1923 saw another revolutionary change, the Triumph 'Model LS,' with an oil pump in the engine, rather than a hand pump. The 'Model P' was introduced in 1925, and sold well. During World War II, Triumph sold over 50,000 bikes to the military, but their plant was bombed in 1940. After the war, their three main models were the 'Tiger 100,' the 'Speed Twin,' and the '3T.'
Marlon Brando rode a 1950 Triumph Thunderbird in the 1954 film 'The Wild One,' and sales began climbing in the U.S. The 'T120 Bonneville 650' was introduced in 1959, and remained one of Triumph's most popular bikes for over 20 years. A few years later, the 'TT' and the 'Trident' came along, and were popular, but the company hit financial troubles and stopped production in 1983 (it was resurrected in 1994).
Enthusiasts love classic Triumphs, which are known for their high speeds and racing capabilities. They're also valued for their aesthetic qualities.