Model Evaluation Triumph Thruxton

Model Evaluation Triumph Thruxton
Model Evaluation
four-valve parallel twin is built in two model-specific
configurations. The Scrambler and American-style
Speedmaster and Bonneville America cruisers are fitted
with 270° crankshafts that deliver rhythmic power pulses
Triumph’s retro café still delivers a classic flavor
more akin to a 90° V-twin’s, while the Bonneville and
Thruxton hold fast to Triumph tradition with a 360°
by Scott Rousseau
crank, on which the rods and pistons rise and fall together
(the cylinders fire on alternate power strokes) to deliver
an exhaust note that should be familiar to classic 1960s
‘Bonnie fans. All of Triumph’s Classic models share the
same 90.0mm x 68.0mm bore and stroke to achieve a
displacement of 865cc, and they’re all fitted with a
closed-loop Keihin multipoint sequential electronic
fuel-injection system, whose twin 36mm Keihin throttle bodies are cleverly disguised to look like old-fashioned
CV carburetors.
In keeping with its hot rod theme, the Thruxton offers
the most performance in the line by virtue of its slightly
higher compression ratio, 9.9:1 vs. 9.2:1, and the difference on the dyno is clear enough. The Thruxton churns
out an extra 5 hp and a little more than 2.5 lb.-ft. of peak
torque compared to the Scrambler, giving it a faster top
speed and marginally quicker acceleration. Our test unit’s 61.7 hp
F NOT FOR engineer Doug Hele, the original Thruxton [email protected] 7250 rpm and peak torque of 47 lb.-ft. of torque @ 6750 rpm
neville might never have existed, and if not for that, Triumph
propelled it to a top speed of 125.9 mph, although its 0–60 mph
certainly wouldn’t be reaping the rewards of the Thruxton’s
is decidedly lackluster, taking 5.01 sec. compared to the Scramrich heritage by offering its modern retro Thruxton today.
bler’s 4.94 sec. However, the Thruxton makes up for it on the top
Spirited away from Norton to Triumph in the early 1960s by
end by turning 13.28 sec. @ 99.61 mph in the quarter-mile, makanother former Norton employee, Bert Hopwood, the brilliant
ing it the quickest of Hinckley’s retro twins, but frankly we expect
Hele was selected as Triumph’s Chief Development Engineer at
more from a machine bearing the Thruxton’s hallowed name.
a time when production road racing was hotly contested among
Maybe it’s just as well, because keeping the Thruxton engine
British and European manufacturers keen to “Win on Sunday,
singing near its torque peak quickly overcomes the effect of its
sell on Monday.” While at Norton, Hele had overseen the develbalance shaft and generates a lot of unwelcome vibration through
opment of that company’s production-based Domiracer twin,
the handlebar and footpegs. In fact, venturing beyond 4000 rpm—
which proved to be as fast as Norton’s own GP-bred, single-cylinjust half of the Thruxton’s available rev range—is enough to inider Manx racers. After jumping ship, Hele planned to do the same
tiates the bad vibes. Fortunately, the engine is flexible enough to
for Triumph.
be lugged, making a healthy 41 lb.-ft. of torque from as low as
Hele masterfully modified a limited number of Triumph’s
2750 rpm, and it is happiest when short-shifted and kept between
650cc T120R Bonnevilles plucked from the Meriden assembly
3000–4000 rpm, where its engine remains relatively smooth and
line, equipping them with special racing parts and renaming them
its handlebar-end-mounted mirrors are practically distortion-free.
Thruxton Bonnevilles in homage to England’s Thruxton circuit,
In its happy place, it’s still good for 65–70 mph in fifth gear,
home to the famous 500-mile endurance event that was producmore than enough for freeway use, and smooth EFI response
tion motorcycle racing’s equivalent to the Indianapolis 500. As
makes the Thruxton a lot of fun for casual cruising on the street
they were not given special serial numbers, the exact quantity
or nostalgic tours down your favorite country lanes. Unlike
built for homologation purposes remains unclear, but is estimated
Ducati’s successful-but-now-discontinued Sport Classic models,
to be between 52 and 68 units, making the original Thruxtons
the Thruxton simply doesn’t deliver modern high performance
among the rarest Triumphs ever. In their day, the Thruxton
disguised in classic packaging. It does, however, deliver consisBonnevilles performed exactly as Hele intended, dominating their
tently good fuel economy. We averaged 46.8 mpg, giving the
class at the Thruxton 500 from 1965–67 and further hogging the
Thruxton a theoretical range of 196.5 miles—not too bad for a
podium with a 1-2-3 finish in 1969. The Thruxton’s success
900cc twin.
improved Triumph’s streetbikes, too; many of Hele’s Thruxton
The Thruxton’s cable-operated, oil-batch clutch and shortinnovations, such as an exhaust crossover pipe, twin-leading shoe
throw five-speed transmission are identical to its Bonneville and
front brakes and an extra oil feed to the exhaust cam, became
Scrambler siblings, but while its clutch engagement is reasonstandard equipment on Bonnevilles from 1968–1970.
ably smooth, its friction zone lacks a modern feel, and the transFirst introduced in 2004 as the café racer-styled hot rod of
mission isn’t as slick-shifting as previous Triumph twins we’ve
Triumph’s Classic range, the modern Thruxton shares little more
sampled. To be fair, our test unit had run just enough miles to be
than its name and basic engine architecture with the limitedconsidered broken-in, and we’d expect that the shift action will
production racer of the 1960s, and it comes up far short of the
get smoother over time.
genuine article in terms of innovative engineering. But if you’re
Lastly, and this is a constant gripe we have with Hinckley’s
looking for a motorcycle that’s a blast from the past with classic
twins, the Thruxton’s character is hurt by the strangled whisper
good looks to match, it just might be your cup of tea.
that exits its café racer-style, 2-into-2 (with crossover
pipe...thanks, Doug!) exhaust system. Its chromed, reverse cone
Engine & Transmission
megaphone mufflers have a racy look, but their tiny outlets reduce
If you caught our Model Evaluation of Triumph’s retro desert
the Thruxton’s thunder to a sound level that has to be quieter than
sled, the Scrambler (May 2012), then you’re already aware
required by the EPA. It’s the first thing we’d change to give the
that Triumph’s Hinckley-designed, air-cooled 865cc, DOHC,
Triumph Thruxton
Chassis & Suspension
The Thruxton’s double downtube tubular steel chassis is
identical to the Bonneville and Scrambler, the only noteworthy
differences being slight rake, trail and wheelbase numbers among
the three. The Thruxton’s 27° rake, 3.82" trail and 58.6" wheelbase are achieved by fitting 1" longer shock absorbers and also by
juggling its wheel sizes; the Thruxton gets an 18" front wheel
and a 17" rear.
A wet weight of 501 lbs. hardly qualifies the Thruxton as a
featherweight. Outweighing the 1960s and 70s Bonnevilles by
a good 80 lbs., it’s at least 100 lbs. heavier than most classic café
racers were once their owners stripped them of unnecessary parts.
And the Thruxton can’t hide its excess heft on the road. Its steering is precise but plodding, and side-to-side transitions require
vigorous steering efforts when negotiating corners in succession
at a rapid pace. Although you can
hustle the Thruxton down the road, it
isn’t much fun. Part of the problem is
that the Thruxton’s narrow, café
racer-style handlebar, which looks
great, robs the rider of much-needed
leverage in tight corners and/or at
slow speed, and its steering lock is
none too generous either. Trailbraking into turns is another sore
spot, as the Thruxton chassis will
stand up in protest if the front brake
is applied at all when leaning into
a curve.
Yet despite a 51.4% rearward
weight bias, the Thruxton’s lowslung chassis feels well-planted once
it is dropped into a corner. It holds a line well and isn’t easily
upset if you can glide into the turn and stay off the brakes, making high-speed sweepers a true joy. Its café-style, rearset footpegs
and upswept mufflers offer plenty of cornering clearance for
aggressive cornering, although if you’re daring enough to drag
a knee on the Thruxton, you might well qualify for hero status.
Ride it at a relaxed pace and the Thruxton delivers a rewarding
nostalgic experience.
Kayaba suspension components have been a part of the new
Thruxton’s recipe since the very beginning. Its 41mm telescopic
fork offers 4.2" of travel, the chrome twin shocks give 4.7", and
both ends offer preload adjustability, although we never felt the
need to adjust either because the suspension is very well sorted
as delivered. Its compression and rebound damping are on the
taut side but the Thruxton delivers a comfortable ride whether
cruising through town or strafing the nearest canyon, and
bottoming either end only generates a dull thud, not harsh metalto-metal clanking. The Thruxton’s suspension package is a key
contributor to its very good ride quality overall.
identical to the Bonneville’s rear tire. We have no complaints
about the Thruxton’s tire performance, though, as it was consistent and communicative throughout our testing sessions.
We can’t say the same about the Thruxton’s brakes, which
consist of a single 320mm semi-floating front disc—the largest
found on any of Triumph’s Classics models—and a 255mm nonfloating rear disc, both ends clamped by Nissin twin-piston
calipers. Yet despite its 10mm-larger front rotor, the Thruxton
consistently delivers the worst braking performance of Triumph’s
twins. Both the Scrambler and Bonneville in our most recent
evaluations managed good 60–0 stops of 121.3' and 117.2',
respectively, but the Thruxton requires a whopping 136.5' from
the same speed, and it isn’t an anomaly. The Thruxton that we
tested way back in February of 2005 required 133.8'. Part of the
problem may lie in its rearward bias, but it doesn’t help matters
that the Thruxton’s front brake also lacks initial bite and imparts
a vague feel at the lever. If it were our personal bike, we’d
experiment with different pad compounds and also replace the
Thruxton’s stock rubber brake lines with braided steel in search
of better performance and feel.
The rear brake yields decent power
and is easy to modulate, although
that’s little consolation in light of the
marginal front brake performance.
Thruxton more bark, if not more bite. If nothing else, a bit more
exhaust sound would mask the odd-but-typical Hinckley Triumph mechanical whirring noises that live inside the engine.
Ergonomics, Instruments &
The Thruxton perches the rider
31.4" above the ground, yet the overall layout of the cockpit gives it a low
and narrow feel. Its seat padding isn’t
generous, but its contour is very flat,
and we were surprised at how comfortable we were after 150-mile rides.
The riding position, too, is more
relaxed than it appears, with a handlebar located high enough so as not to place undue pressure on
the rider’s wrists, and footpegs that complete a slightly aggressive,
café-racer posture without cramping the rider’s legs. The only
problem that we ran into is that the Thruxton’s sidestand tang is
located directly under the left footpeg, and it’s hard to actually
lower the stand without bumping the shifter, which might cause
minor embarrassment if you’re trying to do it in front of someone
while the engine is running (don’t ask us how we know).
We can’t fault the Thruxton’s instruments and controls, but
there have been a few minor changes over the years, most likely
for simplicity and ease of manufacture among all the Classics. The
Thruxton we tested back in 2005 had true clip-on-style handlebars
whereas the latest Thruxton has a chrome one-piece handlebar that
is mounted atop the triple clamp. The instrument warning lights
have also been moved from a chrome panel below the large-face
electronic speedometer and tachometer up into the faces of the
gauges themselves. It’s a cleaner look but arguably not as classylooking as the older style. Even so, the layout is easy to read, and
the digital odometer, clock and dual tripmeters, while offering a
bare minimum of information, are all that’s really necessary.
Wheels, Tires & Brakes
We would love to try a Thruxton with the 17", seven-spoke, cast
mag wheels and radial tires that are fitted to its Bonneville sister,
as changing to that combination greatly improved the ‘Bonnie's
handling when we tested it in 2009. But holding to strict classic
aesthetics dictates laced wheels on the Thruxton, and the Excel
2.50" x 18" front and 3.50" x 17" rear rims on our test unit wore
a curiously odd mix of Metzeler tires. The front is a 100/90-18
Lasertec, while the rear is a 130/R80-17 MEZ2 radial, the latter
Final Thoughts
The Thruxton combines retro good looks with modern conveniences such as EFI and disc brakes for those who want to relive
the past without the hassles of recalcitrant drum brakes, Lucas
electrics or Amal carburetors. At an MSRP of $8799, it’s a retro
classic at an affordable price. If you’re a sportbike rider who yearns
to go old-school or a mature rider who longs for yesteryear, the
Thruxton is an excellent portal to the past.
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Model Evaluation
Left: Triumph’s 865cc Thruxton
twin is still the hot rod of the family, thanks to a slight bump in compression (9.9:1 vs. 9.2:1). Slightly
longer twin headpipes are the only
other visual difference. It shares
the same excellent-performing
Keihin closed-loop, sequential port
EFI as its Classic sisters. Its 5speed transmission is crisp-shifting, but its clutch is slightly heavyhanded and lacks a precise feel.
Above: The saddle lacks padding, but its
extremely flat contour spreads the load
evenly, reducing discomfort over the
long haul. The passenger pillion cover is
a classic styling cue and looks great, as
does the shiny metallic Brooklands
Green paint hue, which is new for 2013.
British bikes really look great in green!
Right: The Thruxton emits a lame exhaust
note, thanks to the tiny openings in its otherwise tough-looking reverse cone megaphone exhaust system. Until Triumph gets
this detail right, we suspect that its OE
mufflers will continue to clutter up garage
shelves around the world.
Left: A one-piece handlebar,
clamped by normal means compared to the old “clip-on” style of
earlier years, is comfortable for
long-distance riding. The bar-end
mirrors are a nice café racer touch.
Right: The Thruxton’s 41mm KYB
fork is adjustable for preload and
easy to dial-in, delivering an excellent ride in concert with the twin
shocks out back, but its 320mm
front disc is weak and lacks feel.
A big fan of Triumph’s classic twins, I’d never ridden its topof-the-line Thruxton, so my expectations were high when I first
swung a leg over our test unit. Thumbing the starter button produced the weak exhaust twitter that I’d expected—I need not go
any further there—and once underway I was disappointed by
the amount of vibration that invaded my gloves and boots whenever I gave it the gas hard. Its clutch feels weird, its transmission isn’t all that slick and its front brake is pathetic.
But once I got out to my favorite stretch of two-lane twisties,
the Thruxton and I came to an understanding. It made clear to
me that it wasn’t a Daytona 675R and shouldn’t be flogged. The
rest of the day was spent gliding along and appreciating a lot of
things, such as the Thruxton’s slightly heavy yet graceful handling through sweeping curves, its wonderfully composed suspension and its surprisingly comfortable ergonomics. Before I
knew it, my nostalgia trip had carried me a long, long way down
the road. This Thruxton is no rocket (no pun intended), but it’s
still a blast to ride.
—Scott Rousseau
As a first-hand witness to the café racer scene when I
studied in London many years ago, I remember how sleek, light and
lean they were—stripped down for more performance and fitted
with all sorts of clever tricks to improve their handling.
The new Thruxton may be the ideal way to reintroduce the look
of the café racer to riders who’ve grown too comfortable for the
spartan accommodations of the originals. Its handlebars are
no longer neck-stretching clip-ons, its rear-set pegs aren’t too
extreme, its seat is decently padded for jaunts between coffee
shops, and the overall presentation is very attractive.
Unfortunately, the café racer resemblance is only visual. The
engine’s exhaust note has all the gusto of a Honda 250 Rebel,
barely wheezing through miniscule outlets. The machine’s weight
is roughly 80 lbs. heavier than its old Meriden counterparts,
and it completely fails to achieve the agility of the new Bonneville
for some reason. Plus, I found the friction material in the Thruxton’s brakes and clutch remarkably devoid of feel. The lads at the
Chelsea Bridge would not be impressed.
—Dave Searle
2013 Triumph Thruxton
Type: ........ Air/oil-cooled parallel twin
Valvetrain: .. DOHC, 4 valves per cylinder, adjusting shims over buckets
Displacement: ..........................865cc
Bore/stroke: ................90.0 x 68.0mm
Comp. ratio: ..............................9.9:1
Fueling:..Keihin multi-point sequential
EFI, (2) 36mm throttle bodies
Exhaust: ....2-into-2 w/crossover pipe
Measured top speed ......125.9 mph
0–1/4 mile..................13.28 sec.
[email protected] 99.61 mph
0–60 mph ....................5.01 sec.
0–100 mph ..........................n/a
60–0 mph ......................136.53'
Power to Weight Ratio ........1:8.12
Speed @ 65 mph indicated ....62.7
Final drive: ......................X-ring chain
RPM @ 65 mph/rev limiter: 3940/8000
Front: ............Kayaba 41mm telescopic,
adjustable preload, 4.7" travel
Rear: ..Dual Kayaba hydraulic shocks,
adjustable preload, 4.2" travel
Horizontal (nose to)
A: Passenger seat
(middle). B: Rider
seat (middle). C:
Handgrip (center).
D: Passenger footpeg (center). E: Rider
footpeg (center).
Wheelbase: ................................58.6"
Ground clearance: ........................6.8"
Seat height: ................................31.4"
GVWR: ..................................946 lbs.
Wet weight: ........................501.0 lbs.
Carrying capacity: ..............445.0 lbs.
The Thruxton’s parallel twin isn’t
as raceworthy as its namesake,
and it vibrates more than we
care for, but its crisp fuel injection and excellent low-mid
power are very good. As per
usual with Triumph’s Classic
twins, its hushed exhaust note
makes aftermarket pipes a must.
61.70 hp
47.03 lb.-ft.
Low end
Top end
Instruments: ............Electronic analog
speedometer and tachometer, digital
Front: ........Single 320mm floating disc
odometer, dual trip meters, clock;
w/Nissin 2-piston, single-action caliper Indicators: ....Neutral, hi-beam, check
engine, low oil pressure, t/s, low fuel
Rear: Single 255mm non-floating disc
w/Nissin single-action 2-piston caliper MSRP: ......................................$8799
Routine service interval:........6000 mi.
Valve adj. interval:..............12,000 mi.
Warranty: ......2 years, unlimited miles
Front: ..100/90-18 (M/C 56H) Metzeler
Colors: ..........Brooklands Green, Matt
Lasertec on 2.50" x 18" laced wheel
Rear:....130/80R17 (M/C 65H) Metzeler
MEZ2 on 3.50" x 17" laced wheel
Vertical (ground to)
F: Handlebar (center). G: Rider footpeg (top). H: Rider
seat (lowest point).
I : Passenger peg
(top). J: Passenger
seat (middle).
–––Middleweight Standard–––
Riding Impression
Instruments/Controls :::;.
Attention to Detail
Battery: ..............................12V, 10Ah
Ignition: ......Digital mapped w/throttle
position sensor
Alternator Output: .................... 312W
Headlight: ..............................55/60W
Tank capacity: ........................4.2 gal.
Fuel grade: ..........................89 octane
High/low/avg. mpg: ....47.5/46.0/46.8
Classic looks pull off the retro theme nicely
DOHC twin delivers plenty of power for its role
Surprisingly comfy ergos for a café racer
Vibration is uncomfortable above 4000 rpm
Heavy and sluggish handling when the pace is brisk
When, oh when, will Triumph fit better-sounding mufflers?
Oil & Filter......................0.4..............$14.99+$70.00 $32.00
Air Filter....................0.5 ..........$31.99 ..........$40.00
Valve Adjust ...........1.5...........$75.91.........$120.00
Battery Access ..........0.2 ............MF ..............$16.00
Final Drive ................0.2 ................................$16.00
R/R Rear Whl. ..........0.3 ................................$24.00
Change Plugs............0.2 ............$7.98 ..........$16.00
Synch EFI..................0.75 ..............................$60.00
* MCN has changed the estimated labor rate to $80 starting March 2007
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