We test SA's bike of the year
Share this article:
By Denis Droppa
Johannesburg - Triumph’s Thruxton cafe racer is back, perkier and prettier, delivering retro charm with modern mechanicals.
With a healthy power hike after the parallel-twin engine was increased in size from 865cc to 1200cc, the new-generation bike is available in two flavours: the standard Thruxton selling for R154 500 and the Thruxton R at R174 500, with higher-specification brakes and suspension.
Stopping duties on the R are entrusted to Brembo while the springy stuff comprises race-bred fully adjustable Showa forks up front, and fully-adjustable Ohlins twin shocks at the rear. The R also wears grippier Pirelli Diablo Rosso Corsa tyres and is adorned with higher-quality finishes.
Named after the Thruxton circuit in the UK where Triumph enjoyed racing successes in the good old days, this café racer lays on the classic charm with wire-spoked wheels, twin rear shocks, and numerous period-authentic styling cues from the 1960s.
There’s some beautiful detailing on this retro-styled street machine, an alluring display of chrome, brushed metal and anodised surfaces that make you just want to gaze at it.
This bike is so seductively pretty you could probably park it inside your house as an objet d’art without offending your spouse too much.
And it comes with more accessories than Lady Gaga - a cataloge of more than 160 personalised parts to tease your budget. These include a dual seat, as the standard saddle has no space for a pillion.
Beneath all that golden-oldie posturing is a high-tech bike with a fuel-injected engine, ABS brakes, and a switch that changes the response of the ride-by-wire throttle to three different modes.
With 72kW and a gutsy 112Nm (the latter on call at just 4950rpm) this bike’s all about heaps of low-revving torque, almost diesel-like in its generation of grunt without having to make the engine sweat. However, the 1200cc engine is redlined at only 7000tpm, running out of revs at about the same point where superbikes are just getting into their powerband.
That makes its performance very easy and accessible without the need for constant gearchanges, though these take place effortlessly through a six-speed transmission that isn’t at all clunky.
The ‘60s authenticity is in the styling only, not the mechanicals, while the optional Vance Hines exhaust system fitted on the test bike delivers a very fruity sound too.
The Thruxton R’s a compact and wieldy bike, very easy to handle even for shorter riders, with a comfortably upright seating position that doesn’t strain the wrists.
The lack of any wind protection ensures that high-speed antics will be kept to a minimum, although the Thruxton R is easily capable of more than 200km/h.
On the famously twisty ‘22’ road between Sabie and Hazyview in Mpumalanga, the British bike also proved its ability to scoot around corners like a startled rodent, where its compact size and nimble nature kept it within sniffing distance of considerably more powerful bikes.
The comprehensive instrumentation, housed in attractive chrome-ringed clocks, includes a trip computer with fuel consumption, gear indicator, and fuel levels.
The previous, air-cooled 865cc Thruxton was all about style and charisma but somewhat lacking in power. The new 1200 still has all the swinging-sixties styling allure, but now you’re able to keep up with your mates on breakfast runs. An all-round winner. - Star Motoring
Triumph Thruxton R
Engine: 1197c liquid-cooled parallel twin.
Bore x stroke: 97.6 x 80mm.
Compression ratio: 11:1.
Valvegear: DOHC with four overhead valves per cylinder.
Power: 72kW at 6750rpm.
Torque: 112Nm at 4950rpm.
Induction: Multipoint sequential electronic fuel-injection.
Ignition: Digital electronic.
Clutch: Cable-operated multiplate wet clutch.
Transmission: Six-speed constant-mesh gearbox with final drive by chain.
Front Suspension: 43mm Showa inverted cartridge forks adjustable for preload, compression and rebound damping.
Rear Suspension: Ohlins gas-charged piggyback shock absorbers adjustable for preload, compression and rebound damping.
Front brakes: Dual 310mm discs with Brembo radial mount opposed-piston monoblock callipers and ABS.
Rear brake: 220mm disc with dual-piston floating calliper and ABS.
Front tyre: 120/70 - 17 tubeless.
Rear tyre: 160/60 - 17 tubeless.
Seat height: 810mm.
Kerb weight: 221kg.
Fuel tank: 14.5 litres.
Price: R174 500.
Follow Denis Droppa on Twitter @DenisDroppa