History of Siegfried Bettmann & Early Triumph Bicycles

1912 Special Triumph ‘No 22’ Light Roadster



1911 JR Haswell 63mph Triumph


The very extensive sales of this model permit us to catalogue it at a price which competes with bicycles little known and of doubtful origin. It is thoroughly up-to-date in every respect, of a racy appearance, imparted by the sloping of the top tube and 26in wheels and upturned North Road handle-bar.

It is made throughout in our own works, of the highest grade material, by skilled mechanics, most completely equipped, and carries our full guarantee.

– Triumph Sales Catalogue

In the decade preceding World War 1, the high quality of Triumph bicycle and motorcycle manufacture ensured many racing victories. This, of course, fuelled sales, both at home and abroad.

The Gent’s Imperial and Royal Triumphs were the company’s top-of-the-range models, priced at £14 19/- 3d and £12 1/- 6d respectively. The basic Royal without any extras was £9 13/-. The ‘Special’ Triumph took over from the ‘Standard’ as one of Triumph’s budget lines, and the model featured here, the Special No 22, cost £7 18/-. What is particularly interesting is that, despite the cheap price of the normal roadster (No 21), the company added the No 22 Light Roadster with sloping top tube for the same price. It became a very popular machine because, despite the very reasonable price, the customer was still buying a bicycle made to the highest standards in Triumph’s own factory. And its racing style and light weight meant that the rider could use it for amateur racing events. All for £7 18/-!

To compare prices in 1912-1914 with the current day, multiply the sale price by 100 (approximate), i.e. the Special Triumph No 22 would cost just under £800 and the Imperial just under £1500.

1914 triumph catalogue 2


1912 Special Triumph ‘No 22’ Light Roadster

Sloping Top Tube

22″ Frame

26″ Wheels

Frame No 221216



1914 triumph catalogue 1

Though the transfers (decals) on the frame have faded somewhat, most of the box lining on this original Triumph Light Roadster has survived. The rear mudguard transfer is in good condition. The handlebar grips are torn as a result of needing to replace the brake cables; this is always a dilemma with inverted levers and cable brakes – whether to retain the original grips in damaged condition, or fit non-original replacements? The saddle is a rare early Brooks racing saddle. The white tyres are Vietnamese Sao Vang 26 x 1 1/2 (37-584 ERTRO or French 650), which my friend Alain brings me from France when I need them (they are not available in England).

Although Triumph did supply bikes with roller levers, most of its bikes were fitted with inverted levers. All other manufacturers had moved over to roller levers by 1912 at the latest; I knew Triumphs continued the trend, but I didn’t know for how long until I recently found a Triumph roadster with inverted levers from 1928.