1905 Triumph Veteran Motorcycle

In 1905 Triumph produced their first engine. To get publicity for this new machine Triumph approached the Rev Basil H. Davies (who famously wrote under the name of Ixion) to ride the machine and show how well it performed. The test claimed to have completed 1,279 miles in just 6 days without major breakdowns. Many decades later it transpired that during the test the frame broke and various other mechanical woes took place including needing a set of new valves every morning.

The Rev. Basil Davies (Ixion) and Mauritz Schulte used to often ride together, which would have been when Schulte told Davies that he had designed the Triumph engine, so whilst Ixion said as much and it has been erroneously reported as such ever since. Shulte had no engineering knowledge and it was Works Foreman Charles Hathaway who probably 'designed' the first Triumph engine.

Ixion was the foremost author on motorcycling for over 60 years. His works still stand today as a highly enjoyable and entertaining read.

In June 2015 we plan to reride one of the routes that Ixion took 110 years ago and will be accompanied by a friend Nick on his 1905 Triumph. The original ride started on Monday June 26th 1905 and we aim to replicate the run from Oxford to Bournemouth (ish!) and back which was run on day 6. So Wednesday 1st July 2015 will be exactly 110 years to the day that Ixion did it. We will be following the orginal rote where possible, but diverting off modern A roads and Motorways onto more appropriate small roads. When Ixion did it all the roads were dirt and gravel so we aim to have a short section of this for originality. I will publish the route as I work it out. I will take account of the "special needs" of early veteran motorcycles and will aim to avoid show stopping steep hills and look for left turn junctions.

The proposed route is here

If anyone else would like to join us for a c200 mile ride then please do get in touch - paulg@go-faster.com

Ixion said in his `Motor Cycle Cavalcade' of 1950 that Schulte had approached him to suggest some stunt which might convince the public of the merits of the Triumph machine, and an ambitious publicity test was devised to ride one of the new 3hp Triumphs for 6 days, averaging 200 miles per day. Mauritz Schulte and the Rev. Basil H. Davies (Ixion) shared the riding between them, and as Davies was 12 stone six routes from Oxford without formidable hills were plotted. Not mentioned in the original article, but late on the 5th day the duplex down tubes of the diamond frame fractured. Ixion was riding at the time."Engine power had been steadily fading throughout the 1,000 miles already covered and hasty examinations showed that the piston rings and cylinder bore had both worn unconsciously fast, while exhaust valves were pitting almost to the scaling point." Ixion did not know why Schulte had varied the standard frame but within hours he had readied a second machine with the normal frame layout. The test was restarted but Ixion fitted, and ground in, a new exhaust valve every evening! "Everything went off well this time and the 1,200 miles were covered with consummate ease", apart from Ixion's aching calf muscles due to pedalling. Following this Ixion said that Schulte set a metallurgist to devise better materials for the pistons and rings.

Ixion in `Reminiscences of Motor Cycling' - 1920 - made no mention who the riders were although the book was full of other personal experiences. He simply says that, "The rider broke his frame".

Below is a picture of Ixion on the very Triumph.

1905 Triumph Ixion

In prepartion for our epic ride on July 1st 2015, testing has been ongoing. I managed 160 miles in a day on my 1911 Triumph with only 5 breakdowns and Nick has been out testing his 1905 model.

In May, we attended another Ixion commerative event in Behhill on Sea, where in later years Ixion was the local vicar. We were lucky enough to meet some of Ixions descendants and family and they were all interested in our endeavors and were charming people.


Some of these pictures are by Nick and some are kindly donated by John Mijatovic from http://www.scribblers-inc.org/

In the picture below is Rick Parkington and Andrew Repton in the blue cap. Andrew is visiting from Australia and brought a very fine and frisky 1910 Norton.

1905 Triumph

Below is Nick in modern attire.

1905 Triumph

The 1905 Triumph prepares for the off...

1905 Triumph

Nick in period attire out on the roads of Sussex.

1905 Triumph

1905 Triumph

Back at the church after completing over 40 trouble free miles!

With the help of a friend and the excellent VMCC are a few pages of relevant 1904 and 1905 Triumph literature and below is the period account of Ixions epic trip from The MotorCycle July 10th 1905.

ixion 1905 article page 1

ixion 1905 article page 2

ixion 1905 article page 3


Triumphs marketing department were clearly on the ball as the week after the above article the following advert was published.

They seem to have taken a degree of poetic license as they forget to mention the broken frame and valves changed each day. However, it did complete the run.

This was probably the start of Triumph building its reputation as a reliable machine and their reputation and sales grew quickly from this point.

They seem to have had a real marketing and advertising push and published many adverts, seemingly more in the 1905 period than in later years.

1905 Triumph advert

The two pages below are taken from November 1904 and in these the exhaust end can is mounted low and by around May 1905 these have been moved further up.

1904 Triumph

1905 Triumph

Mr Ayton was a member of Coventry MotorCycle Club and seems to had some sort of association with Triumph in this period.

By 1907 he was making his own Ayton motorcycle and racing it in time trials, hill climbs and the TT.


Triumph 1905 advert

Below is a 1905 Triumph that is currently being restored. If you have any 05 Triumph parts then please get in touch.


Triumph Advert 1905

Triumph 1905 Brochure


Triumph 1905 brochure


Triumph 1905 brochure


Below is another page from a Triumph Brochure from either 1904 or 1905 - anyone confirm which?

It is probably 1905 and by 1906 the remaining stock of JAP engined machines were being sold off at £30 to clear - Thanks to Peter the VMCC Triumph guru who also tells me that perhaps as few as five Triumphs built from 1902 to 1905 still exist.

Triumph Brochure c1904 or 1905

The following adverts have been kindly provided by a friend Nick, who is restoring a 1905 Triumph.

1905 Triumph

1905 Triumph

1905 Triumph

1905 Triumph

At the 1905 running of the speed trials at Bexhill in East Sussex a 1905 Triumph was raced by a Mr F Hulbert.

The Triumph has the same registration as featured in the 1905 Triumph literature, so it was it a factory owned machine? Maybe.

Certainly Mr Hulbert was a works supported rider by 1907 and maybe before.

Bexhill motorcycle races 1905

1905 Triumph

1905 Triumph

Between June 1905 and June 1906 45,735* motorcycles were registered in the UK and Ireland.

At the time the UK population was c38 million and the male life expectancy was just 50 years.

You can read my ramblings about my 1914 Triumph on my 1914 Triumph pages.

* as reported in The Motor Cycle July 23rd 1906.