The Triumph Speed Twin - quintessence of 'Britishness' - had Germany to thank for its existence. In 1902, Germans Siegfried Bettman and Mauritz Schulte grafted a Belgian-made Minerva motor onto a bicycle. Triumph were in business! It took three years for the Coventry-based company to produce a proprietary engine. It obviously ran well ... the phrase 'Trusty Triumph' was soon a part of the motorcycle vernacular.
The Speed Twin was launched in '37. Its parallel-twin engine layout made it faster and smoother than its single-cylinder rivals. The 498cc motor made 29bhp. Top speed was 90mph - heady stuff at the time. The new bike was the brainchild of Edward Turner. It showed courage, as well as design acumen. The motorcycle industry is inherently conservative. In Britain, at least, single-cylinder 'thumpers' monopolized the market for years. Turner's Speed Twin broke the two-wheeled mould.
Turner was Triumph's head of design/general manager. His 'admin' duties clearly did not hinder his creativity. The Speed Twin looked the business! And with a dry weight of just 365lb, it was agile, too. Edward Turner - visionary that he was - had dreamed up a bike ahead of its time. His Triumph Speed Twin was a blueprint for all that was to come. 'Brit bikes' were on the march!