A Veteran Triumph motorcycle

A 1911 Triumph 3 ½ HP. This page is all about a 1911 Veteran Triumph motorcycle.

In November or December of 1911 or maybe January of 1912 a Mr John Hugh Haine of Eastbourne, East Sussex bought himself a splendid new motorcycle.

At the time it was about the best you could buy - it was a 3.5hp Triumph. He probably bought it from his friend and the local Triumph dealer a Mr Tom Gander (my grandfather).

At the time it was about the best you could buy, at the previous years TT races, Triumphs like this had won the race and taken the first 8 places with the fastest bike averaging almost 48mph over the mountain course.

The registration was and still is AP1740 with AP being for East Sussex and 1740 being the 1,740th vehicle registered. Vehicle registration only began in January 1904.

We do not know how much Mr Haine used his new bike, but we suspect enthusiatically as we have found a period advert where he is selling the bikes original wheel and clutch and upgrading it (in 1912) to a new state of the art 3 speed hub. Mr Haine was born c1872 and was part of a prosperous local family that owned the local undertakers. The business still exists at the same address - Haine & Sons, 19 South Street, Eastbourne.

With the start of World War 1 in 1914 many people volunteered and Mr Haine was probably rejected as being too old, but as the war dragged on and casualty's mounted older men were allowed to join up. Mr Haine or shall we call him Hugh, joined up on the 10th June 1916.

Sadly I do not have a picture of Hugh Haine, but the Haine family have very kindly found one of his brother Charles Haine taken in 1915 and here he is with his wife Mabel.

Thanks to the very knowledgeable Geoff Morris, I now know that the bike below is a 1914 Matchless and probably a model 8B.

I do not know what his ill health was but for whatever reason he sold his motorcycle AP1740 to Tom Gander and Tom kept it until 1946. Since then it has passed through a few caring owners and in April 2014 I was able to buy it and bring it back into the family. It remains in remarkably original condition and further down the page is a picture of it in the 1920's with large sidecar attached with Tom Gander at the controls.

Its known history:

1911 November/December - bike newly built

1912 Maybe January 1912 bought by Mr. Haine

1918 Mr. Haine sells it to Tom Gander

1946 my Grandfather sold it for 1 to a local man Mr. S.K. Rolfe. At the same time my grandfather also sold his 1908 Moto Reve LB923 also for 1 - it also still exists somewhere.

Mr. Rolfe used the Triumph in a number of events for old bikes, including The Pioneer Run and Banbury. The bike was featured in Motorcycling March 27th 1947.

1954 Mr. Rolfe sold it to Mr. Gordon Little. Gordon used it extensively in many events in the UK and Europe and taking many Concours and Originality awards.

1973 Gordon sold it to Mr. Geoff Morris (then registrar of the Sunbeam Club).

1976 it passed to Roger Phillips a local friend of Geoff's. Geoff removed the original lights, speedo and a few other bits and carefully stored them. Roger used it in Numerous Pioneer runs and other veteran events.

2011 Geoff Morris buys it back. Geoff regretted parting with it and was able to buy it back and reattached all of the original parts that he had been keeping for over 30 years.

2014 April Geoff very kindly sold it to me Paul Gander and it is now back in the family.

The bike has spent its entire life in either Sussex or Surrey.

What is a Veteran Motorcycle? A veteran Triumph motorcycle is one made before the 1st January 1915 - so even the youngest veteran motorcycles are now almost 100 years old. The veteran Triumph was one of the most popular motorcycles when it was new and today it remains one of the most numerous of the veteran motorcycles that exist - many in running order.

We now think of veteran motorcycles as unreliable and not able to travel more than a few tens of miles before they would splutter to a halt and require extensive tinkering before they would continue. This view is very wrong.

By 1911 you could buy a motorcycle that would keep going for much longer than any man could endure and be a practical and reliable form of transport.

Rubbish you say .... well did you know that in 1911 the Auto Cycle Union stopped all further attempts on the endurance riding from the furthest northern point of Britain (John o’Groats) to the most southern (Lands End). They did so after Ivan B Hart-Davies set the final official ACU record in 1911 on a 1911 Triumph, covering the 886 miles in 29 hours and 12 minutes and averaging just over 30mph. At the time the national speed limit was 20 mph. Now you may scoff at 30mph as you think of blasting down a modern motorway, but in 1911 the roads were small, rutted and unsurfaced and you were effectively riding offroad in modern terms. Many of the towns would have roads covered in cobbles which when covered in the droppings from the millions of horses that were still the primary means of transport for most people, made them very slippery. Now think again of averaging 30mph over 886 miles over dirt tracks in 29 hours! Factor in the huge number of horses and other hazards you would need to slow for and the numerous punctures from the huge volume of nails scattered by the millions of horses. Other notable performances of Triumph riders in 1911 included:

The 1911 Triumph is widely regarded as the first useable reliable motorcycle produced.

My Grandfather thought so for he kept his 1911 Triumph until 1946. Below is the earliest known picture of it in the early 1920's.

Kids have arrived and a sidecar has been attached and if you look carefully you can see their little faces in the sidecar.

Veteran Triumph 1911

My Grandfather had his own motorcycle and cycle shop mostly at 34a Church Street, Old Town, Eastbourne in East Sussex. He was in business from around 1909 (or may be bit earlier) until WW2. The picture below was taken in 1926 and shows a small part of his shop on the right of the butchers and what very much looks like a Triumph logo painted on the window. In 1911 the bike shop was run my a Mr BJ Smith and my Grandfather is listed in a 1910 business driectory as being at 8 Arundel Terrace as a Cycle and Motor Agents. By 1918 Thomas Gander had moved to 34a is listed in business at 34a as a cycle engineer.

34 church street eastbourne

The Triumph will have come with a lovely little booklet about the bike and how to ride it.

The previous owner has probably the worlds most extensive library of period Triumph Literature and below are copies of some of the pages and booklets relevant to the 1911 Triumph.

veteran triumph handbook

Inside this booklet ...

veteran triumph handbook

and below is another page showing how reliable these bikes can be...

Albert Catt Triumph motorcycle

veteran triumph motorcycle handbook

The 1911 Triumph Sales Brochure below.

veteran triumph literature

Below are a couple of pages from this brochure

veteran triumph literature

veteran triumph literature


Triumph also published a Repairs and Sundries Catalogue and below are a few pages from the 1911 edition.

veteran triumph repair catalogue


veteran triumph repair catalogue

veteran triumph repair catalogue

veteran triumph repair catalogue

On the 8th November 1910 The MOTOR CYCLING magazine had an initial review of the 1911 Triumph, below

1911 Triumph Motorcycle review

Probably the main literature aside from the weekly publications to guide motor cycle rider at this time was a useful little book called Hints and Tips for MotorCyclists.

It tells you all you need to know to choose, own and ride a bike of the time.

This is the original book owned by AP's first owner Mr Haine and kept by my grandfather Tom.

hints and tips for motor cyclists 3rd edition

1911 Triumph

It is full of little period gems such as the text below.



John Hugh Haine's military record card.

He joined as a Private in the Army Service Corps Motor Transport, seemingly confirming his interest in things mechanical. Whilst his military record card doesnt say either way - he may well have been a despatch rider and continued riding motorcycles as the motorcycle magazines of the time were running active campaigns to get riders to sign up and become desptach riders. I have not found any history to show what he did in the war, but know he was discharged on 5/2/1918 – reason given is AO/265/17 which means “having served his country and still of military age, and served overseas on active service, is now discharged through disablement or ill health”. It would appear that he was wounded or injured and hence left the Army - he was 46 year old at the time so he must have been very patriotic to sign up so late in life for a War. As we are now in the centenary of WW1, we hope to add more of Hugh if we can find more and maybe even a picture of him aboard his Trusty Triumph.

John Hugh Haine WW1 record


My grandfather Tom on AP with his daughter Dorris and his son Geoff in the sidecar. Taken near Lewes, East Sussex.

1911 Triumph


In 1946 my grandfather sold the Triumph to a local man Mr Rolfe for 1 and Mr Rolfe rode it in the following years 1947 Pioneer Run.


1911 Triump

Many thanks to Baz of the Sunbeam Club for letting me copy a few pages from his 1947 Pioneer Run Programme.

Pioneer Run 1947

Pioneer Run 1947

Pioneer Run 1947

Mr. Rolfe used it in various Pioneers and Banbury's during his ownership.


Mr Rolfe sells it to Gordon Little for 30.


1911 Triumph1911 Triumph


At the Sittingbourne Rally

1911 Triumph


The picture below was taken in 1958 and shows Gordon Little standing on the right. Veteran motorcycles already had a following with people buying them to enjoy and use.

Gordon was a great enthusiast of veteran motorcycles and especially veteran Triumphs and used AP1740 extensively often travelling over 100 miles in a day - just to prove that a veteran motorcycle can still be used.

veteran triumph motorcycle 1911

In 1958 Gordon wrote to Triumph to tell him about his bike and see if they had any parts to keep it running, the reply he received is below.


In 1962 it was still owned by Gordon and was featured on the cover of a program for a veteran motorcycle and vintage motorcycle event.

veteran triumph motorcycle 1911



By 1974 it had changed owners and was owned by Geoffrey Morris and a postcard of it was created, see below.

veteran triumph motorcycle 1911


In 1975 the owner lent it to Ian Hallett to do the Pioneer on. Ian was visiting from New Zealand and is pictured below on the run and looks like he is making good progress!

1911 veteran Triumph Pioneer Run

It completed the 1975 Pioneer and here it is standing at the finish at Brighton with Sid Morris the father of the then owner.

veteran triumph motorcycle 1911


My father Geoff is writing out his address and some of AP1740's history for its then owner Roger wearing the red outfit.

It only took me 32 years from this meeting to bring it back into the family.

Below is my Dad. AP was the first bike he travelled on as a baby and the first bike he rode as a youngster.

1911 Triumph


In the mid 1980's the then owner Roger, very kindly let a very young looking me have a ride on AP1740.

My steed at the time was my first Ducati, a 1981 500 Pantah which I bought when I was 17.


Geoffrey sold it to a friend called Roger but bought it back in September 2011 and below are a few pictures of it then.

It is a very original veteran Triumph. Many veteran motorcycles are restored to "as new " condition, but it is nice to see one in unrestored condition.

veteran triumph motorcycle 1911

veteran triumph motorcycle 1911

veteran triumph motorcycle 1911

It may be the most original 1911 Triumph veteran motorcycle that exists.

Having not been started for 10+ years, in the autumn of 2011 we filmed it returning to life, see -


Once it has been checked over it will start much more easily. If you like veteran motorcyles or veteran Triumphs then the Pioneer Run is a UK event for veteran motorcycles that runs in March every year. It will usually have a great many veteran triumphs and around 300 veteran motorcycles taking part.


Geoff very kindly delivers AP to me in April 2014.

1911 Triumph


It completes the Pioneer Run. I ride it from my home in West Sussex 50 miles to the start, completed the Pioneer and ride it home completing around 150 miles.

Below, on the left is Geoff Morris and in the middle is Roger Phillips - they have owned the bike from 1974.

1911 Triumph


Steve, my cousin setting off at dawn from Windmill Hill, Sussex to ride to the start at Epsom.

1911 Triumph

Sadly the Trusty failed to complete the 2016 Pioneer - Steve rode it c50 miles to the start and then the oil tank failed.


Steve has a second go and reaches the Pioneer start with only a couple of minor issues

and sets off for the run in fine style ...

and completes the Pioneer.

A short list of essential things I have learned ...

A 50 grade oil is considered to be the ideal. When the engines were built at the factory they had 4 full pumps of oil put into the engine and they should always have about the same volume when running. I have read this in various period publications and it has been recorded as a teacup of oil or about two egg cups of oil – so before they started exact measuring of things! So I would suggest to be sure how much oil you have – start it and warm it then drain the oil and see how much you had in it. Then put in 4 pumps of oil and run it and give it oil every 5 miles or so depending upon load/speed. When you get back from your ride drain the oil and see how much is in it. It obviously blows/leaks out as you go but you will be able to see if it is retaining about the teacup of oil needed to keep it healthy. In some old publications including one Triumph one it suggests draining the oil after every ride and refilling. I shall be doing this in future as it will remove any muck that’s trapped in the oil and ensure you set out on each ride with the correct amount at the start. Another publication suggests flushing the motor with paraffin every now and again and then re oiling which seems a good idea. If after your ride you have a teacup of oil in the sump then you are oiling it about right. Less oil left and give it more when riding and vice versa. I think if you put in too much then it will just blow out more and if you have loads in the sump it will be less easy to turn over the engine due to the drag of the oil.

If you have a fixed engine (no clutch or gears) then you adjust the gearing by the front pulley. I have been running a 5.5:1 ratio and it would climb anything and run to a maximum of around 45mph. 6:1 shoul get even a tired bike up any hill and 4.5:1 is probably the norm for flatter roads and a higher top speed. If you intend to switch between ratios then have two drive belts at the correct length for each.

Should you wish to say hello or give a novice veteran rider some advice, my email is:


With AP1740 back in the family it was time to get it back on the road.

To see my progress see - http://www.go-faster.com/1911Triumph.html

Prior to owning AP, I rode a 1914 Triumph and had numerous adventures see -  http://www.go-faster.com/1914Triumph.html

My father was a very keen rider and you can see one of his adventures here - http://www.go-faster.com/SS100.html

Movies of Veteran Motorcycles

I have managed to find a few old movies from Pioneer Runs from long ago.

In 1955 Gordon Little organised a Pioneer Run to Paris - all 160 miles! if it, you can see a short video here:


I have also managed to find a movie of the 1961 Pioneer run and that is here:


If you are looking for more information on veteran Triumphs then below are a list of excellent sites:



If you are looking for more information on old Triumphs, then a series of excellent booklets are available via the link below:


http://veterantriumph.co.uk/ - this site are the main manufacturer of early Triumph parts and a font of all knowledge. These are THE Veteran Triumph experts.

http://www.bertpol-vintagemotorcycles.com - this is a Dutch site that also makes parts for Veterans, restores bikes and sometimes has bikes for sale.

And if you feel inspired to buy one, then I have created a page of places where you might find one for sale -


An excellent book about riding an early Triumph has been written by Noel Whittall. I have read it twice so far! You can buy it at Amazon (see below) and no doubt other places.


As people have contacted me asking where they could a similar Veteran motorcycle, I have created a web page listing any that are for sale or recently sold - so you can get an idea of values.
See: http://www.go-faster.com/VeteranMotorcycleForSale.html

I have now (January 2012) I bought a 1954 Triumph T110 and created a page about Triumph T110's.

As people have contacted me asking where they could buy a Triumph T110, I have created a web page listing any that are for sale or recently sold - so you can get an idea of values.
See - http://www.go-faster.com/TriumphT110ForSale.html

I have a page about the TVR Griffith 500, see http://www.go-faster.com/TVR_Griffith_500.html