Turn me loose! – Triumph Thruxton R

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A few issues back we tested the new 1200cc Triumph Bonneville, which is in itself a damn fine motorcycle. Now meet its wilder half – the Thruxton R.

If ever a machine were created to be let loose on sweeping country roads, it’s this one. Sure, it is today what is generally referred to as a Café Racer, but that sells the Thruxton way short. Don’t forget that the original Thruxton was born from the race track successes at the Thruxton Nine Hour in England, piloted by the likes of a young Mike Hailwood, amongst others. We could rave on about the model’s history for pages here, but let’s leave that and cut straight to the all-new model, because it’s a beauty, and shares nothing but the name with previous models.

At the media launch, I had the opportunity to try several examples, which differed slightly in specification, over some delicious riding country in the Albury region, plus a day squirting around a brilliant little circuit that has been constructed as part of the TAFE College near Wodonga. There are two basic models, the Thruxton and the Thruxton R, and it’s the latter that we will mainly concentrate on here. The new engine, in Thruxton R trim, is all about torque, not peak power, with stacks of urge between 2,000 and 6,000 revs, after which there’s no point in doing anything except changing up. The slick six-speed gearbox (top being a genuine overdrive) is mated to a ‘slip-assist’ clutch, which while not a full slipper, certainly makes down-changes extremely smooth and predictable. The engine runs the 270º crank introduced on the new Bonneville, and this departure from the old 360º set up is as much about meeting the strict Euro 4 and 5 emissions targets than actual performance.

Play racing at the Wodonga TAFE track.

The liquid-cooled engine is exceptionally smooth, which it should be with two diametrically opposed ‚ balancers, one fore and the other aft – the right side balancer cunningly hidden under what looks like (but isn’t) the traditional points cover on the timing case. The R model features switchable ABS and Traction Control, with three riding modes: Sport, Rain and Road, which can be selected on the move. The exhaust system was developed especially for Euro 5 and works extremely well. During the test, I rode a couple of bikes fitted with the optional Vance & Hines slip-on megaphones, but I reckon the standard system gives a better spread of power in the mid range.

Chassis-wise, the Thruxton R has Showa big piston cartridge forks, with Öhlins rear suspension; both are fully adjustable. There’s a pair of twin floating Brembo discs grabbed by racing style Monobloc calipers up front, and the 17 inch wheels are shod with super grippy Pirelli Diablo Rosso Corsa tyres. Both the R and the standard Thruxton sport an alloy swinging arm, although this is polished on the R and painted black on the other one. The standard Thruxton differs from the R in having conventional Showa forks and twin rear units, with conventionally mounted brake calipers instead of the radially-mounted jobs on the R. Out of the box, both versions come with raised clip-on handlebars that will be ideal for the majority of riding, with a pair of big retro-style instruments that contain a wealth of information. During the launch I also rode a standard Thruxton that was fitted with the optional bikini fairing and lower slip-ons, and around the test track this was an even better proposition as it gave a lower riding position.

Service intervals are now 16,000 km, and the transponder key linked to an engine immobilizer makes for a nice security touch. Of course, both models scream out for your personal touches, and to this end there are more than 100 dedicated accessories including a quick-fitting pillion seat and footrests, the bikini style fairing, lower clip-on handlebars, plus a factory race kit that includes exhaust system, camshaft, and washable twin air filters.

While the R is the glamour model, there’s little wrong with the standard Thruxton, and having ridden both on the test, I found the performance to be very similar. And there’s a significant price saving. The Thruxton 1200 has a RRP of $18,700, with an extra $200 for the Metallic White version, while the Thruxton R comes in at $21,100. Triumph Australia say they have been swamped with orders for the new Thruxtons, and it’s easy to see why. My day in the hills put a smile on the dial, and at the track, tight though the 1.6km lap was, both versions showed they can be flung about heartily. With the traction control switched off, drifting out of corners is easy, and I never wanted for more braking power. There’s even talk of a special Thruxton R race series in UK which sounds like a brilliant idea. Can we have one as well?

Thruxton R
The all-new Thruxton R comes in red, green, silver or black.


Off-the-shelf – 2016 Triumph Thruxton R 1200

Engine: Twin cylinder water cooled, 270º crank. Digital inductive ignition, electronic fuel injection
Power/torque: 97Ps @ 6,750 rpm/112Nm @ 4,950 rpm
Bore x stroke: 97.6 x 80mm
Comp. ratio: 11.0:1
Transmission: Six-speed gearbox with slip-assist clutch, chain final drive.
Front: Showa 43mm USD cartridge-style forks, fully adjustable
Rear: twin Öhlins shocks, fully adjustable.
Front: Twin floating 310mm front discs with Brembo radial-mounted 4-piston calipers with ABS.
Rear: single 220mm disc, Nissin 2-pistonm floating caliper with ABS
Frame: Steel tubular full cradle with alloy swinging arm
Seat height: 810mm
Wheelbase:  1415mm
Dry weight: 203kg
Fuel capacity: 14.5 litres

Report Jim Scaysbrook • Photos Ben Galli and Dean Walters

This article first appeared in Old Bike Australasia Issue 62.