Triumph Thruxton R retro (2016 - ) review
The Thruxton R is the flagship of Triumph’s modern Bonneville family, offering the look of a classic café racer with a very modern dynamic
The Auto Trader expert verdict: ★★★★★ ★★★★★ 4.5
The Triumph Thruxton R offers performance, style and exhilaration in abundance. Whereas the previous generation Thruxton was a novice-friendly pastiche, the reinvented Thruxton R is a bonafide performance retro. The sweet exhaust burble, positive six-speed gearbox and sweet handling make it as entertaining and engaging for experienced riders as it is accessible for those ready to relive their youth.
- Classic styling
- Modern performance
- Exudes quality
- Those performance parts don’t come cheap
- Purists may baulk at historically inaccurate 270-degree crank
- Poor pillion comfort
Interested in buying a Triumph Thruxton?
The Triumph Thruxton is one of the most illustrious models in the British marque’s great history, starting life in the 60s as a homologated, café racer version of the T120 Bonneville. While the Thruxton badge was revived in 2004, this new-for-2016 version is re-presented as two models: the Thruxton and Thruxton R, the latter featuring more custom touches and performance-focused parts.
Both the attention to detail and quality of finish here is as good as we have seen from Triumph. The retro Triumph checklist of cooling fins, chromed exhaust clamps and triangular crank cases are all present, although some may consider the fake carburetors disguising fuel injection to be mere artifice. That said, nobody can argue it’s a feel-good motorcycle the moment you lay eyes on it.
If the Triumph Bonneville T120 represents comfort, then the Triumph Thruxton R is attack. The 805mm seat height is taller than the Bonneville T120 and canted quite far forward but the omission of any tank pads means your legs float around in the breeze rather than grip on. Combined with the single seat hump and clip-on bars, it offers a racy, focused stance with a great sense of occasion, although gentlemen riders will need plenty of breathers from this saddle.
Basic irritations that plagued the previous Triumph Thruxton are thankfully no more. The Monza-style fuel filling cap now features a lock, the awkwardly located ignition chamber has been relocated in front of the top yoke and there’s an under-seat USB port that enables you to charge your phone. Further features include a slim digital screen that displays information including gear position, odometer, average economy, fuel range and time, while a proper pillion seat is optional.
Performance & braking
The Thruxton R uses a ‘high power’ version of Triumph’s 1200cc liquid cooled parallel twin that features in the Bonneville T120. However, the cylinder heads have been skimmed to boost the compression ratio to develop 96bhp at 6750rpm and nearly 83 lb ft of torque at 4950rpm. It also uses a lighter crank to make the engine rev faster and shorter final drive gearing to make it accelerate quicker. The result is a rich mix of torquey low-end drive and usable top end power, helping the bike feel as happy cruising through a village as it is hitting the rev limiter on a track day. Purists may baulk at the historically inaccurate 270-degree crank, meaning it sounds more like a 90-degree V-twin as opposed to a traditional Bonneville, but most people will be having too much fun to care.
Traction control and ABS are standard issue, though both can switched off, the six-speed gearbox is assisted with a slipper/assist clutch and has rifle bolt precision.and there are three rider modes: Rain, Road and Sport to help tailor the response of the ride-by-wire throttle.
On bumpy surfaces, the R settles the bike quickly, it’s eager to turn in with lots of lean angle available with those pegs well out of the way.
Ride & handling
The ride quality is so assured and the handling of the Triumph Thruxton R so agile that it feels closer in spirit and dynamics to the BMW R nineT than its limp predecessor. The clip-ons offer plenty of lock-to-lock for maneuverability, but it’s the combination of Showa big piston front fork and adjustable Ohlins rear shocks that offer immense control on bumpy surfaces, while still transmitting feedback through the front wheel so you’re always aware of the grip limits.
The 14.5-litre fuel tank and estimated 61mpg will mean you’ll get 198-miles between fill-ups, although that’s optimistic given the way you’ll be riding. Triumph also has its own TriStar PCP finance that allows you to pay for the bike on low monthly payments.
The Triumph Thruxton R may be retro in theme, but this is a thoroughly modern motorcycle. It’s too early to report on any mechanical or electrical glitches, but we’re expecting this bike to live up to Triumph’s well established, exacting standards.
Warranty & servicing
The Triumph Thruxton R comes with a manufacturer-supported two-year, unlimited-mileage warranty. Servicing intervals have increased from 6,000 miles on the previous-generation Thruxton to 10,000 miles.
The level and quality of standard components is very high on the Thruxton R, but there are still plenty of official parts to put your own stamp on the Thruxton R. Heated grips and stainless steel Vance & Hines silencers are popular additions, though you can also specify a so-called ‘Track Pack’, which features a half-fairign, drilled tank strap, smaller clear indicators, and diamond-knurled grips.
The reinvented Triumph Thruxton R is much more than a Sunday afternoon plaything. Finally, it does as a good job of going fast, as it does looking fast and is the most exciting retro to come out of 2016.