Triumph Thruxton

Triumph Thruxton R

The Triumph Thruxton started life in the 1960s, when a handful of Triumph Bonneville production bikes were modified for racing in endurance events like the Thruxton 500.

The bikes, officially known as Triumph Thruxton Bonnevilles were incredibly successful and, in 1969 took first and second places in the Thruxton 500 and carried Malcolm Uphill to a 99.99mph average 750cc production TT win.

The name disappeared until 2004 when the Triumph Thruxton 900 was announced. The new bike would encapsulate the retro charm of those old racers within the convenience of a modern machine.

Triumph Thruxton Bonneville

1965 Triumph Thruxton Bonneville

A Triumph Bonneville T110 piloted by Mike Hailwood and Shorey won the Thruxton 500 in 1958, but from 1962, Norton managed three wins in a row. The endurance event was initially entered by dealers and individuals running stock production bikes, but the Norton 650SS that started its winning streak in 1962 was built under close supervision from Doug Hele, Norton’s race shop chief.

At the end of 1962, Hele moved from Norton to Triumph and set about building a version of the Bonneville to compete with his own creation. Thruxton Bonnevilles were taken from the standard T120 production line to order and prepared for racing by an experimental department.

In May 1965, 52 Triumph Thruxton Bonnevilles were produced incorporating several engine modifications. With its distinctive tank and terrifyingly short and exposed downswept handlebars, the original Thruxton is a thing of beauty from a bygone era of racing.

Triumph Thruxton 900: A weak imitation

Triumph Thruxton 900 Ace

Fast forward to 2004, and a new, modern Triumph decided to resurrect the Thruxton name for a café race-inspired retro sportsbike. Just as the original Thruxton was a sportier version of the Bonneville T120, the Thruxton 900 was a sportier version of the Bonneville 900 of the time.

Although the machine looked the part, the first modern Thruxton failed to hit the mark. MCN said at the time that it "doesn't have the punchy power you'd expect of a big twin. It also sounds dull, boring almost. Compared to buying a well restored Triton 650 for the same money, the modern day Triumph Thruxton is a weak imitation of genuine cafe racer cool."

Triumph Thruxton 1200 and R: The real deal

2016 Triumph Thruxton R

In 2014, Triumph released two new versions of the Thruxton using the 1200cc parallel twin found in their Bonneville T120, Bonneville Bobber and Bonneville Speedmaster.

As well as increasing the output of the Thruxton from 69bhp to 95.6bhp, Triumph also employed the same geometry and wheelbase they used on the Triumph Speed Triple, ensuring that the new bike would boast performance to match its looks.

The Thruxton R took its dedication to performance a step further with the addition of Öhlins shocks, Showa Big Piston Forks and Brembo brakes.

Triumph Thruxton TFC: Limited-run carbon chic

Triumph Thruxton TFC

In 2019, Triumph unveiled the first bike to come out of their recently formed Triumph Factory Custom (TFC) department. Triumph are going to make 750 models of the Thruxton TFC based on the Thruxton R.

A beautiful one-piece carbon fairing is the most obvious change to the bike, but elsewhere the engine has been lightened and tweaked, even better suspension added and hand painted gold coachlines applied.

The result of all this work is not only a jaw-droppingly beautiful motorcycle, but also a weight-saving of 5kg and a power increase of 10%. The TFC cost £17,500 at launch, which is £5100 more than the standard Thruxton R of the time.

What are the Triumph Thruxton’s rivals?

Triumph Thruxton R with BMW R nineT Racer

There’s seemingly no shortage of retro-inspired motorcycles on the market these days. The most obvious competition is probably the BMW R nineT Racer, which uses BMW’s 1170cc oil/air-cooled boxer twin to produce 110bhp but has lower spec suspension and brakes than the top Thruxton models.

The Ducati Scrambler Café Racer is another option, which uses a smaller 803cc V-twin engine but still produces 73bhp. The Ducati also comes in a little cheaper at £9995.

At the more budget end of the spectrum, the Suzuki SV650X adopts café racer styling and costs just £5699. Obviously, the spec is a lot lower than the more expensive machines, but the plucky SV is still a joy to ride.

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