The Resilient was hardly a milestone of design, in fact I would call it a publicity stunt, albeit a clever one, by Bettman and Schulte of Triumph.
The boom time of the middle nineties, when the aristocracy took to the wheel, had all but petered out. The Hyde Park set had grown tired of it. Cycling was beginning to appeal to a wider and less well-heeled public and prices had to fall. Cheap American machines were now available and the British cycle trade needed to pull something out of the bag. Rudge were the first to respond, under C. Vernon Pugh, their Managing Director, who in 1897 introduced a system of net cash prices which effectively slashed the cost of buying one of their machines. The trade was amazed, but were forced to follow suit. In this stressful situation, the contribution of the Triumph Cylce Company for the ’98 season seems almost to fall into the novelty market. The Resilient dosen’t seem like much of an effort to combat the attack by Rudge.
The cycle shows then must have been amazing. Manufacturers would have been cutting each other’s throats to get publicity for their machines, and therefore sales. At a time when there was a real risk of serious damage to the business with the price-cutting war, I think Bettman and Schulte would have been in the same sweat as everyone else unable to change production methods quickly in the way Rudge’s had by introducing American-style assembly. What they needed was an eye catcher, dare I say ‘a gimmick’. What better than to have a striking machine that looked different from the now standard diamond frames everyone else had to show, and claim that it cured one of cyclists’ complaints – jarring on rough roads. The Resilient Framed Triumph was that machine. Its lyrical lines and quality of manufacture made sure people saw it.
Just look at the Triumph stand from the 1899 Glasgow show. Wouldn’t you look twice? In a hall full of diamond frames, wouldn’t these delicate looking machines catch your eye?
– Andrew Heaps, Boneshaker magazine, Vol 13, No 20, Summer 1989
Announced in 1898, the Triumph Resilient was described as a ‘spring-frame.’
Resilience is the ability of a material to absorb energy when it is deformed elastically, and release that energy upon unloading.
The Triumph Resilient is not a spring-frame – or ‘cushion frame, as it was known in America – in the traditional sense, where articulated joints or springs or a rear ‘shock absorber’ provide the flexibility. Instead, this unique design incorporates a curved top tube, down tube and seat stays to create an entire bicycle that is flexible.
There was thought to be only one surviving Triumph Resilient, this one with frame number 22798. It was owned by Andrew Heaps, who was previously the V-CC Triumph marque enthusiast. His definitive 1989 article on the subject is reproduced (with thanks) further down this page.
A second machine was rumoured to exist. From its frame number, Andrew found a record of it on the register, owned at one time by the late John Pinkerton who was the world’s top expert on early British bicycles. But, mysteriously, its existence had not subsequently been confirmed, and it surprised us all when it came up for auction in May 2013. There was strong bidding for it, and I was lucky to get it.
In 2018, Andrew needed to raise funds for the ongoing restoration of his early motorised quadricycle, so now I have ended up with his Resilient too. It’s fitted with wooden mudguards and a front plunger brake, which, according to the catalogue specification, makes it a model 24. The prefix ‘AA’ is added to the model number because it’s a 25″ frame size.
1898 Triumph Resilient Model 24AA
Frame No 22798
THE RESILIENT TRIUMPH
By Andrew Heaps
Triumph Resilient information, catalogues and information with thanks to Andrew Heaps
Two colour Triumph Resilient catalogue extracts with thanks to Derek