1897 Royal Triumph No 1AA for Gents

It took me over a year to get this 1897 Triumph from the previous owner, but I eventually managed, in 2013, However, I was faced with a dilemma. It was in wonderful preserved original condition but its front tyre was perished which made the bicycle unrideable. It’s a 30″ size and tyres in that size are not available. I kept it as is (“in its juice” as they say in France) for a few years, but then curiosity got the better of me and I just had to ride it.

So a friend fitted a new tyre to its front wheel for me. This involves using a 28 inch ‘cushion tyre’ – ie it is not pneumatic – and stretching it over the rim by heating it up to soften it. It needs three people with tyre irons to get it onto the rim, and they must be careful not to lose a finger while they are doing it.

I wanted to preserve the original 30 inch tyre (below), but sadly it broke into pieces while being removed from the wheel rim.

In June, 2018, I worked at the International Cycling History Conference in London. As the 1897 Royal Triumph now had its new front tyre fitted, I took it to ride. It was too tall to ride comfortably around London with its usual Victorian saddle. Lowering the seatpost not only made riding it easier, it gave the machine an interesting profile.


A month later, I also rode it on the Benson Veteran Cycle Run in Oxfordshire. At the first pub stop on the Ride, I was able to do an ‘Old and New’ photo – my 1897 Triumph Roadster v a 1950s Triumph TR2 speed record car



Here it is at The Museum – 1897 Royal Triumph No 1AA for Gents