Triumph Thruxton R Review
It’s hallucinatory. I’m crouched down, chest flat on the tank. The verdant scenery is passing by in a blur as the bike shoots forward at an alarming rate on a narrow country road with stone walls separating it from lush green meadows. The corner of my eye catches the speedo needle suspiciously floating past the hundred mile mark. My mind seems to have teleported back in time. Back to the Isle of Man. On a 1970’s Thruxton 120R race bike. Except this is a back road in Portugal and between my legs is the new Thruxton R. Enthralling.
The country roads of Portugal proved to be the perfect battleground for the Thruxton R.
Flashback aside, the new Thruxton is quite interesting with modern bits clad within a tight fitting aluminium skin with a single seat and hump. The Thruxton sits on top of the Bonneville range with engines in a higher state of tune and a superior set of tyres. The tank harks back to the original café racer with its deeply scalloped knee recesses. The rear cowl neatly converts into a single seat and the rear fender too is a shorter unit. The Monza-style fuel filler cap looks just right and clip-ons replace the earlier single-piece handlebar. The headlamp gets distinctive DRLs while the tail lamp is an LED affair encased in period-era lamps. The twin upswept megaphone exhausts in stainless steel finish complete the look. The Thruxton R is at the pinnacle of the range with high-spec gold-hued suspension bits that lend to the exotic look. The previous Thruxton sold well globally owing to this retro styling and the new one ramps things up. The resultant silhouette is tighter than the earlier Thruxton and is closer to the original. Then there are a host of accessories on offer to work on that quintessential café racer look.
The Thruxton R is blessed with sublime handling
The all-new 1200cc engine is liquid-cooled, but in the interests of keeping things retro, Triumph have effectively managed to make it look air-cooled with cooling fins on the cylinder head. The radiator is neatly hidden between the front downtubes and, like the old Thruxton and Bonnie, the faux carburettor covers on either side hide the sequential fuel injectors. The engine’s external dimensions remain similar to the earlier Thruxton despite a capacity hike of close to 300cc. The Thruxton uses the ‘High Power’ version of the new 1200cc parallel twin. The higher state of tune comes thanks to a larger airbox, high compression heads and a new crank that is lighter by 45 per cent and allows the engine to rev quicker. While the rev ceiling is lower than its predecessor, the performance gains are much more – 41 per cent more power and 62 per cent more torque in a package that now weighs less than the original.
Power is rated at 96bhp at 6750rpm of which 68 per cent power is there for the taking at 4500rpm. 112Nm of torque is delivered at 4950rpm. The beauty of the engine is in the way the power and torque is delivered, in a smooth rising surge all the way up to the redline. The engine is refined despite being high strung and except at crawling speeds, pulls cleanly and enthusiastically.
Retro -faced dials get a plethora of warning lights
The seat is long enough to adjust and find your sweet spot and riders upto six feet should be able to tuck their knees in to the tank recesses. The clip-ons are set just right for the old-school sporty stance and isn’t as committed as it appears to be. The aluminium rear sets and heel plates are from the Daytona 675 and allow you to lock your heels for more committed corners.
New 1200cc motor offers good balance between tractability and power
Our ride started from Cascais, situated off the Atlantic coast and leaving the coast, we headed out to the N9-1 motorway.Portugal enjoys Mediterranean climate with temperatures remaining below the 17-degree mark even during the day. Quite a lot of wind blows in from the Atlantic to make riding on motorways at high speeds a ridiculous affair and it leads to the lower back cramping up. The Thruxton R is definitely not for motorway riding then. What it is up for is carving up the mountain passes which we do as we head towards Sintra and then on towards Gradil taking the back roads. The route takes us through quaint towns and densely wooded mountain passes and here, the Thruxton R is a revelation. Those of you have ridden the older Thruxton will remember it to be a lazy handler and reluctant to turn in. You had to really get your bodyweight into the mix for it to deliver. The new Thruxton feels sublime and it is down to a reduction in wheelbase courtesy a shorter and lighter aluminium swingarm and a reduced rake of 22.8-degrees – earlier it was 27-degrees. The front wheel size is also down from 18- to 17-inches on the Thruxton R facilitating easier turn in. Then there are top-spec fully-adjustable Showa big piston forks and twin Ohlins dampers at the rear (the base Thruxton gets Kayaba units). The tyres too are top-kit Pirelli Diablo Rosso Corsas (Thruxton gets Pirelli Angel GTs). The result is a sweet and quite involving motorcycle which seems to read your mind as to how fast and deep into the corner you wish to go – and it takes you there.
The brakes are phenomenal. Twin 310mm floating discs are clamped by radially mounted four-piston Brembo monoblocs and have both the ferocity and the precision to stop on a dime. I did scare myself silly at the start while an attempt to squeeze the front brake with my index finger felt akin to grabbing a fistful. They are quite astounding and are only to the R. The regular Thruxton gets Nissin brakes on stock 310mm discs. Also, ABS is non-intrusive and can be switched off. The ride surprisingly isn’t as stiff as the earlier version. We did encounter broken tarmac and elevated manholes at speed and the suspension did quite a good job of soaking it up without throwing the rider off.
On the way back from Gadril, lead rider Lee, astride a Tiger Explorer, took a few select riders on a quick blast through the pass and then across deserted back roads leading to Sintra and that proved to be the highlight of the ride. The Thruxton R was in its element, clipping apexes and scraping pegs. The motor wakes up post 2000rpm and does a little headshake each time you shift at the redline, each shift accompanied by pops and crackles from its twin megaphone-shaped exhausts. The power and torque surge is in equal measure and just right for this kind of bike – heady but never over the top. Three power modes are on offer – Rain, Road and Sport, all of which give 100 per cent power with Rain mode reducing throttle sensitivity while Sport mode dishing out the opposite. The traction control cuts a bit late allowing the bike to slide a fair amount on loose surfaces and you also have the option to switch it off completely.
Top-spec radially-mounted monobloc Brembos have fierce bite
The new Thruxton R is priced at Rs. 10.90 lakh with the high-spec kit it comes with. You could argue that the Speed Triple is far cheaper but that would be missing the point completely. The Thruxton R is dripping with heritage. This is one of those bikes you could park in your living room and stare at for hours – though I don’t recommend doing that as it is even nicer to ride than to look at. It takes you back in time without forcing you to accept any compromises. It has the performance and handling to keep pace with modern bikes. It really is the best of both worlds: old world charm and modern-day capabilities. Truly one of the best retro-themed bikes you could buy today