…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.
1912 Royal Triumph No 10 Full Roadster
Sturmey-Archer ‘Model X’ Three-Speed
28″ Wheels (40 spoke rear; 36 spoke front)
Frame No 227380
With Military Fittings & Sprung Seat Pillar
Like Premier, Triumph had German factories, legally separated because of the fear of war. The standard German models were heavy duty roadsters requiring no adaptation to be ready for war service. There was a much greater variety with the British model range, but every one of the quality makers had a heavy duty roadster available to turn into a war machine. With their sturdy construction and top quality components, Triumphs made ideal military bicycles. Despite the strength of the frame, they were lighter than the average German roadster. Triumph motorcycles were widely used during the war, and Triumph bicycles were supplied to the government for dispatch to any outpost requiring transportation.
Some vintage bicycles are sleek and racy, like a thoroughbred horse raring to go. Others exude menace standing still. The Royal Triumph’s lines evoke its motorcycle brother, with inverted levers and other distinctive Triumph features. But this thoroughbred became a workhorse. It has heavy duty front carrier, a rear fitting for bolting on a box, front gun clip, sprung seat pillar, and toptube-mounted canvas saddlebag. It was set up many years ago for serious haulage, and since the war it has provided transportation for a variety of craftsmen who needed to carry the tools of their trade. It oozes character, and is a true Triumph …as suitable for use today as when it was built 103 years ago.
1914 TRIUMPH CATALOGUE