…At this juncture we would like to say that Triumph Cycles and Motor Cycles are being used extensively by British, French, Russian, Belgian and Japanese forces in the field, including the Indian and Canadian contingents.
– Extract from the introduction to the 1915 Triumph catalogue
With their workforce going off to War, many smaller cycle makers stopped production in 1914. The more established manufacturers, with larger factories and useful facilities, turned their factories to war production. Triumph benefitted greatly from the War, with over 30,000 motorcycles manufactured and supplied to the Allies: by the end of the war, the company had become Britain’s largest motorcycle manufacturer.
The mass enlistment of the cycle industry labour force necessitated the recruitment of unskilled workers, many of whom were women. But apparently this was already an issue before the outbreak of war, with many companies recruiting cheaper labour to reduce costs. Triumph’s write up of the Royal Triumph No 10 Full Roadster in their 1914 catalogue reflects their opinion on this issue:
In this age of cheap labour it should not be lost sight of that TRIUMPHS are produced solely by male mechanics and skilled ones at that. It stands to reason that when skilled men are supplanted by cheap labour, the quality of the finished article must suffer accordingly.
1914 Royal Triumph No 10 Full Roadster
Sturmey-Archer ‘Model X’ Three-Speed
Frame No 234145
1914 TRIUMPH CATALOGUE
1914 TRIUMPH, FOUND IN FRANCE
I found this 1914 Royal Triumph in France. It seems to have spent most of its life there and, over the years, had been ‘frenchified,’ ie French accessories had been mounted in just about every available location. The owner, Christian, had managed to identify it from information on the Online Bicycle Museum, and felt it was appropriate for it to return home to England.
Perhaps it remained in France after WW1? (I’ve bought other bicycles from France in similar circumstances). So, as these rigs saw active duty in France 100 years ago, its first job after restoration was to become part of the Bicycle Ambulance (below)
Many thanks to Andrew Heaps, Triumph marque specialist