There are plenty of books about Triumph motorcycles but what you find in this one covers ground where no one else has trod. The Triumph Story is the culmination of several year's hard work, on top of a riding lifetime on two wheels.
In preparing The Triumph Story, Dave Minton went back to primary reference sources, to factory records, to the VMCC and Triumph Owners' MCC archives, to the remaining men of Meriden themselves, and so has penned an account of far more importance than simply a list of evolving motorcycle models, their designations and attributes. In many ways this book is as much as social history as it is an automotive one: as Triumph the company and Triumph the bikes progress and change, so you can see the reflection of British society developing with them.
The author's aim with this volume was to cover a broad scope as the sub-title explains; Racing and production models from 1902 to the present day. That's well over a lifetime of bikes -- an awful lot of ground to cover in a single volume! And after reading it, cover to cover, it's clear that Dave didn't simply want to re-tread old stories. Instead he examines each era of Triumph and brings his own unique experience and understandings to bear. You're then on firm ground, because no one is better than Mr Minton when it comes to sharing those understandings.
With the massive proliferation and success of the Triumph twin from 1950 to 1980, it is so easy to associate the marque with those bikes and very little else. But Dave shows his readers that Triumph was a great marque long before Edward Turner.
Although the book is definitely at its strongest early on, don't let me mislead you into thinking that it's all about vintage machinery. Far from it. Dave leads the reader through Triumph's early years to the first Tigers singles -- and from there you hit Speed Twin territory.
For the mechanically-minded, there's a whole chapter devoted to the engineering of Triumph's parallel twin -- and for those who prefer action rather than spanners Dave recounts the glories of Triumph's racing days across the decades. In fact for my tastes there is possibly a little too much racing -- I would have liked to read more from Minton himself recounting his own experiences of riding the bikes on the road -- but if you look again at the subtitle then you'll see that Dave does indeed place the track above the tarmac in his priorities for this tale.
Where this book bogs down slightly is in The End; the chapters which tell the story of decline and fall are hard to read. It could just be me, of course -- that whole era is depressing and, although Dave explains that the madness wasn't limited to motorcycling, it's still gritty reading. The return to production and the Hinckley years, by contrast, are an honest, uplifting account. Where some recent Triumph books have been horribly sycophantic, Dave doesn't pull any punches when talking about the flaws of the modern bikes -- which means that you really believe him when he singles some out for heartfelt praise. It takes a brave man to criticise Bloor's bikes (and, I suspect, one who isn't reliant upon road test vehicles any more!).
Faults? An occasional suspect fact, the odd incorrect caption, a lack of attention from the publisher, perhaps -- little serious enough to detract from the book's overall appeal.
Dave makes some contentious arguments in here: it's up to you whether you choose to agree or argue the toss. Either way you will be treated to a good read (it took me a week to finish and I normally rattle through a novel a day), and some beautiful illustrations. The use of archive period material is extensive, and some shots are so beautiful you want to cut them out and frame them.
It's impossible to capture all of Triumph in a single book, but this one gets close. Between the pages you'll find the spirit of Triumph, rumbling and revving and waiting to be released.
The Triumph Story definitely is NOT a glossy picture book. It is a heavyweight, almost academic text, suitable for the enthusiast reader who wants to understand a great deal about the marque. It's not a buyer's guide nor a picture book -- so look elsewhere if that's what you're after!