Whatever happened to Baby Triumphs?

Although there were around 11,600 lightweight Triumph two-strokes made in a production run of a dozen years, survivors are now rarities.

Words: ANDY WESTLAKE Photographs: GARY CHAPMAN

If you are someone who gives your motorcycles a name, let me introduce you to ‘Hugh’ (Hughie to his friends), a 1924 Triumph Junior now belonging to West Country enthusiast Colin Groves.

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You might know the model by its more normal nickname of ‘Baby’ – given to the little two-stroke because it never went anywhere without its rattle! – but of the 11,000 paddle start lightweights that rolled off the Coventry production lines during its 12-year production run, it’s now quite a rare machine.

Colin Groves, left, and Andy Westlake contemplate the Baby Triumph.

Hughie is made more unusual as although for the 1924 season Triumph updated the 225cc engine to 249cc and added a clutch, this example, wearing the number plate of HU 2630 (first registered in 1924) is still a 225cc model and has no clutch.

If you are a regular reader of The Classic MotorCycle you might recognise the name of Hughie’s current owner for three of his guardian’s previous wards – a Matchless Model X, an OEC and a 1920s Cotton – have appeared in the magazine, though unlike them Hughie came fully restored when he joined the ever-growing larger Groves collection in February 2017.

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The unusual Triumph front fork arrangement. Note the belt, a ‘DR’ rider trick in case of spring breakage.

I was keen to ride the Triumph two-stroke, but before I paddled it into action, Colin told me a little about how, for the last 60 years, motorcycles have been such an important part of his life.

“My father was a keen motorcyclist and between the wars he, along with the brothers Wilf and Jeff Sleightholm, were founder members of the Farleigh grasstrack club.

Bikes were everywhere throughout my childhood, and as soon as I reached 16 in 1957 I bought myself a 1948 Matchless G3L. This carried me to work each day and also took me to local sporting events in Somerset and Wiltshire.

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Final drive by belt, with the rear brake operating on the belt rim too.

“Over the years I’ve owned and restored scores of different machines but I have always loved those made in the 1920s and early Thirties and nowadays most of my collection is from that era.

I’m always on the lookout for unusual bikes and when I saw a Grigg advertised, I contacted the dealers to see if we could negotiate a deal.

“After protracted negotiations they (West Midlands Motorcycles) agreed to take a Model 9 Sunbeam in part exchange, but only on the understanding I have both the Grigg and the ‘Baby’ Triumph.

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Read more and view more images in the July 2019 issue of TCM – on sale now!

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