It’s widely believed that Triumph began plotting its transition into the motorcycle market as far back as 1895 after Muaritz Schulte got a look at a motorized bike designed by Hildebrand and Wolfmuller. Reportedly, Schulte was so taken with the motorcycle that he convinced Siegfried Bettman to consider manufacturing them under license from Hildebrand and Wolfmuller.

As enticing as the prospect was, the Triumph brain trust opted to put the idea on ice, believing such a vehicle wouldn’t fare well in the English markets. They were likely wise to believe so, as motorized vehicles were heavily restricted in Great Britain at the time due to the infamous Red Flag Act. Backed heavily by stagecoach and locomotive company leaders who feared personal motorized vehicles might replace them, the Red Flag Act restricted the speed of a “horseless vehicle” to 2 mph in a city and 4 mph in the country.

These laws also required at least three individuals per motorized vehicle, including one to walk ahead, carrying a red flag to alert the public of oncoming traffic. Believing such restrictions limited the commercial appeal of a motorcycle, Triumph kept out of the market until the Red Flag laws were repealed.

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