1904/1905 Special Triumph ‘No 1C’ Roadster

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81 Isledon Road, Holloway, London N. Sept 28th, 1904

GENTLEMEN – I purchased a No 2 “Triumph” bicycle from your agent Mr Lane, of Swaffenham, last June, and can say it is the best cycle that money can buy, though I have ridden a cycle since the old wood boneshaker days, and tried all makes. I was never so pleased as I am with this machine, it is perfect and quite a picture to look at. 

Yours truly, W. Worsley

– extract from ‘Testimonials’, 1905 Triumph catalogue

Such was the standard of design and workmanship in the cycle industry that Britain produced the best – and the most expensive – bicycles in the world. Triumph’s place at the top end of the market was assured. But they were aware there was also a demand for cheaper machines. So they made a ‘Special’ model without the trimmings. It was priced at £8 5/- as against 10 guineas for the Royal and 13 10/- for the Imperial (these are the prices without the 2 speed gear which was an optional extra).

But the cheaper Triumph models were made in the same factory, to the same high standard, which could potentially affect sales. So Triumph subsequently opened a new factory, the ‘Gloria Cycle Co’, with that company’s name on the bicycles …though still actually made by Triumph to the highest standards!

It made sense for companies to utilise their facilities and agent networks to cover both ends of the market, though it still did not really answer the question of what the top models offered for the extra cash apart from the cachet of owning one of the most expensive bicycles in the world.

Prestige of ownership is not to be underestimated though: it’s as relevant today as it was in 1905. A Triumph has a distinctive style, and a company history that has stood the test of time as a result of its motorcycles, which made their name during World War 1. You can see catalogue illustrations of the 1905 Triumph motor bicycles further down the page; it’s interesting to compare them to the Triumph bicycle which, with its inverted levers, has a similar profile. And examine Triumph’s published list of aristocratic patrons below…

1904/1905 Special Triumph

‘No 1C’ Roadster

27″ Frame

28″ Wheels

‘No 2’ Flat handlebar

Frame No 68843

(Now sold)

This early 1900s Triumph has an impressive frame size. Its 27 inch frame would be suitable for a rider over 6ft tall. Policemen favoured them, as a tall village bobby on a 27 inch frame bicycle could easily see over front hedges and into people’s houses while doing his daily rounds.

The machine is in good condition all round. The chainwheel appears to have been replaced at some time in its life and it was restored around 20 years ago by the previous owner, who also applied a Triumph transfer (decal) to the steering head. The head clip on a Triumph carries an engraving of the company name; I’ve rubbed the paint off there to expose the outline of the word TRIUMPH.

The revolving bell works fine, the tyres hold air, the brake cables and rubbers are in good order, so – assuming you’re tall enough to get on it – this rare machine is ready to ride.