Triumph Thruxton R 118

The name Thruxton comes from a racetrack in the south of England in Hampshire, where – back in the 60s – Triumph successfully raced its parallel-twin machines. A triple win in the Thruxton 500 endurance race in 1969 established Triumph as a force to be reckoned with in motorcycle production racing.

As Triumph’s fortunes waned in the 70s and 80s, many thought that the hallowed name from Meridien was consigned to the scrap-heap of history. Hope resurged when John Bloor bought the rights to the Triumph Engineering name, and re-established it as Triumph Motorcycles.

In 2004, the Thruxton name re-emerged as the Triumph Thruxton 900. At the time, Triumph – at its Hinckley works – was producing a series of successful triples, notably the Speed Triple and Trident. To differentiate the parallel-twin engine from its triple counterpart, a decision was made to make the Bonneville line of parallel-twins, which included the Thruxton, distinctly old-school and retro.

Triumph Thruxton R 131

This packaging worked, over the past decade, as sales for the Bonneville series was strong. There was a demand for a low-key, more relaxed type of motorcycle, that appealed to gentlemen riders and the fairer sex. Since the more universal type of motorcycle role was performed by the Bonneville, it fell to the Thruxton to take up the ‘retro-sports’ mantle for Triumph.

With the recent launch of the 2016 Triumph Thruxton R, we wondered how significant were the changes made in bringing the air-cooled 900 cc twin over to the Euro 4 compliant 1,200 cc mill. A riding buddy was kind enough to bring along his 2015 Thruxton 900 during our photoshoot, and we lined it up alongside the 2016 Thruxton R to see what the differences are.

Triumph Thruxton R 119

Now that the deadline for Euro 4 comes ever closer, many manufacturers are either pushing legacy bikes into the grace sales period allowed for non-Euro 4 compliant bikes in 2017, or stopping production altogether. Thus, the era of large, air-cooled engines for motorcycles will go the way of the dodo, much as it did for cars back in the 90s with the last of the Porsche 993s.

To that end, Triumph developed a brand-new 1,200 cc Bonneville engine, designed to go into its range of retro-styled machines. While the 2016 Bonneville T120, T120 Black, as well as the 900 cc Street Twin, get the upright parallel-twin, the Thruxton R takes things a step further.

As we lined up the two Thruxtons side-by-side, two things were readily apparent, the weight of the Thruxton 900, and its length. The Thruxton 900 weighs 205 kg, compared to the Thruxton R’s 203 kg. While a 2 kg difference might not sound like a lot, the much larger 1,200 cc Bonneville engine has to be taken into account.

Triumph Thruxton R 127

The wheelbase for the Thruxton R shrank to 1,415 mm from the Thruxton 900’s 1,500 mm. That 85 mm difference shows in the Thruxton R’s more responsive handling, while the extra wheelbase length aided the Thruxton 900’s stability at high speed.

The trade-off here, of course, is the much better handling of the Thruxton R compared to the previous generation. Saying that, either Thruxton works well for high-speed cruising on the highway, with the 900 having a very slight edge in stability, and the R winning in the suspension compliance stakes.

Suspension is another area where the Thruxton R has taken a great leap forward. Coming standard with 43 mm upside-down Showa big piston forks, which are fully adjustable, the R outclasses the Thruxton 900’s 41 mm Kayaba forks. Both retro-bikes come with 120 mm travel up front.

At the back, both bikes carry twin shock absorbers, but the R carries fully adjustable Ohlins with 120 mm of travel, while the 900’s Kayabas are only adjustable for preload, with 106 mm of travel.

Brakes are another area where the Thruxton R puts the Thruxton 900 in the shade, with twin Brembo 310 mm floating discs grabbed by Brembo four-piston radial Monobloc calipers, with the rear stopped by a single 220 mm disc and two-piston Nissin. Both bikes carry braided brake hoses as standard.

That the performance of the Thruxton R’s braking is improved over the previous generation cannot be understated, compared to the Thruxton 900’s single 320 mm floating-disc with two-piston Nissin caliper, and the single 255 mm disc at the back with a Nissin caliper.

Wheels are another area that has been changed, with a 17-inch 32-spoke hoop now gracing the front. This makes fitting sporty rubber easier in front, as opposed to the Thurxton 900’s 36-spoke 18-incher, that tended to limit tyre choices.

Triumph Thruxton R 116

Sizing at the rear is identical, with a 17-inch spoked wheel for both bikes, but the Thruxton R wears a 160/60 32-spoke wheel shod with Pirelli Diablo Rosso Corsa as standard, compared to the 130/80-17 40-spoke wheel on the Thruxton 900.

Perhaps the biggest change is the engine, the new Bonneville parallel-twin now displacing 1,200 cc, compared to the previous generation 865 cc. Power is naturally up, with the Thruxton R’s 96 hp at 6,750 rpm and 112 Nm torque at 4,950 rpm bringing the R into a different league when pitched against the Thruxton 900’s 69 hp and 70 Nm of torque.

More telling is that the new engine design puts out 62% more torque than the previous version. This also applies within the Bonneville range, as the T120 only puts out 105 Nm of torque at 3,100 rpm, compared to the Thruxton R’s 112 Nm.

Liquid-cooling helps keep things on an even keel, doing the job of controlling engine heat and emissions, and an even better job of keeping things quiet. That we didn’t notice the narrow radiator on the Thruxton R speaks highly of the lengths Triumph’s engineers went to to make the unit unobtrusive.

On the fuelling front, the EFI on the Thruxton R now hides inside throttle bodies designed to look like the Amal carburettors of the 50s, as opposed to the 900’s Keihin styled throttle bodies. Both bike carry multi-point sequential fuel injection.

Another difference is the gearbox, with the Thruxton R driving six cogs against the Thruxton 900’s five-speed unit. The chains are also different, with the R getting an O-ring chain, and the 900 having an X-ring unit.

Physically the differences between the R and the 900 are also apparent. The Thruxton R has handlebars about an inch or so taller than the 900, the change being made in response to owner feedback. Handlebars are wider on the 900, at 950 mm, compared to the R’s 745 mm. At the back, the 900 gets pillion accommodation, something that is missing from the Thruxton R.

The fuel tank is another difference – the Thruxton 900’s 16-litres giving a touch more range than the Thruxton R’s 14.5-litres. Fuel consumption was not recorded for the Thruxton 900, but riding the Thruxton R around the country-side gave us about 5.9-litres per 100 km.

Styling also saw another change, the Thruxton R’s much narrower and sportier unit more in keeping with the racing-inspired looks of the R, compared to the more rounded tank on the 900. The clocks were also different, despite both machines having twin round dials.

Triumph Thruxton R 114

LCD readouts on the Thruxton R displayed all information apart from speed and engine revs, and these included the ride modes, ABS and traction control, which is equipment not found on the Thruxton 900. The readouts also included a trip computer.

Several comments were made about the price of the 2016 Triumph Thruxton R, which retails for RM91,900 currently, compared to the Thruxton 900’s RM59,900 previously. Don’t forget, the new price includes the premium, full-adjustable suspension, Brembo brakes, and 500 cc extra.

Triumph Malaysia is currently looking to reposition the price of the 2016 Thruxton R, as well as the Bonneville T120 and T120 Black, in August. The standard 2016 Triumph Thruxton will not be brought in to Malaysia as the price difference between the standard and R models, based on the equipment specification, is not justified.

GALLERY: 2016 Triumph Thruxton R
GALLERY: 2015 Triumph Thruxton 900