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Triumph found the very first motorcycle they ever built - the 1901 Prototype!

Ahead of the 120th-anniversary celebrations, a vintage Triumph collector found the very first prototype motorcycle they built in 1901!

Triumph 1901 Prototype rediscovered

Developed way back in 1901 - a year before Triumph Motorcycles was officially established - there was a motorised bicycle developed to test the waters. Dubbed the 1901 Prototype, a vintage Triumph collector (Dick Shepherd) came across the motorcycle, restoring it to its former glory.

Unveiled (for the second time, I guess) at Motorcycle Live this year, the Prototype machine will be featured front-and-centre in a dedicated 120-year anniversary display at the Triumph Factory Visitor Experience from the 22nd of January. 

Adding to this monumental rediscovery is the promise that it’ll also be started up and ridden in public for the first time in over 100 years.

1901 Prototype at the Triumph Factory Visitor Experience

Speaking on the discovery and unique history behind the prototype, Dick Shepherd said:

“Having been approached by a friend of a collector, who had sadly recently passed away, to evaluate an old Triumph I was incredibly excited to discover that the bike they had featured unique details that were not present on the first production Triumphs. Along with the bike, the collector had also received a letter from Triumph, dated in 1937, that outlined the bike’s unique origins and provided key details.”
 
“With an engine number that is consistent with references in Minerva’s engine records of a 1901 first Triumph engagement the historic significance of this motorcycle became incredibly clear.”

Triumph 1901 Factory Dick Shepherd

 
“As a lifelong passionate fan of the history and achievements of this incredible British brand, to have discovered this amazing survivor and restored it to the glorious condition it would have been in when it first went on display in 1901, has given me an immense amount of satisfaction.”

Prior to its discovery, the prototype was long-rumoured to exist, and was referenced in advertising and reviews from 1901 as a means to gauge public demand for a Triumph motorcycle.

It was developed from a standard Triumph bicycle fitted with a Belgian engine from manufacturer Minerva. 

motorised bicycle

Triumph 1901 Prototype rediscovered!

Quite clearly a landmark discovery, the UK manufacturer is now able to fill a whole new chapter for the history books - one that they will be celebrating next year, alongside their 1 millionth bike built in the Hinckley HQ. 

If you fancy seeing the Prototype in person you can head to the Triumph Factory Visitor Experience in Hinckley, open Wednesday - Sunday 10 am - 4.30 pm, and get a tour whilst you’re there!

Now watch: Triumph Speed Triple 1200 RR (2022 review) - oh, how things change!

Triumph Speed Triple 1200 RR (2022) Review. Test Ride and Impressions