Triumph 1914: Buying, fettling and riding a beast from the past

Posted on by Mike Evans

My article on the Brough Superior Club’s diamond jubilee washout spurred a latent fascination in motorcycling among several readers. Paul said that with my background in motorcycling — having been a bike journalist for several years in my 20s — I should do more on the subject. 

The 1914 Triumph in repose. Image Paul Gander

So I thought I would give you a little bit of entertainment on the topic of starting and riding a 1914 single-speed, clutchless, brakeless (well almost) 550cc Triumph “motor bicycle.” I realise this is a bit off-piste, but it's fun all the same. On the veteran and vintage circuit, this Triumph is a common sight and I've often been tempted to buy one. I've always wondered just how easy or difficult they are to ride. Now I know. It's a sobering thought that bikes like this were the mainstay of army communications during the First World War. 

I warn you, this is not for the faint of heart, so watch the video at your own risk. And if you want full chapter and verse on buying, fettling and riding a 104-year-old veteran bike, then read the full story here at written by Paul Gander.

To my shame, I confess that during my time as a road tester and feature writer on Motor Cycle, I never managed to get aboard a bike as old as this. Even the classic motorcycles I tried all had clutches and gears, and some semblance of working brakes. However, having read this article and watched the video, I don’t think I will be rushing out to buy a veteran two-wheeler.

If this little article has piqued your interest, have a look at Paul Gander's review of his father's motorcycling holiday in 1953. Some wonderful period shots here. And one of the bikes was the Brough Superior SS100.


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