First Ride Review
About the Thruxton: Take everything you just read about the T120, and toss it out the window. Despite the shared platform, the same engine and even an identical radiator, these are two completely different animals. Each bike is focused at totally different riders, with engineering aimed to showcase varying and disparate performance highlights. As a result, each has its own specific identity.
Where there’s careful attention to traditional styling on the T120, the Thruxton R is perfectly happy to welcome the present, and it’s got the components to show it: Brembo 4-piston radial monobloc floating calipers flank the gorgeous 32-spoke, 17-inch front wheel, which is shod with sticky Pirelli Diablo Rosso Corsa rubber. An upside-down, adjustable Showa Big Piston fork is topped with a gleaming polished yoke and trick clip-ons. And there’s no missing the gold-hued adjustable Öhlins piggyback shocks out back, to smooth the road jitters. A classic locking Monza gas cap (the first on a production bike) and a brushed stainless-steel upswept reverse megaphone exhaust completes the performance accessory parade.
After flogging both bikes in quick succession, it’s hard to believe these two Bonnevilles are made by the same company. From the T120, you get a reserved, gentlemanly riding experience. On the Thruxton, well…crack the throttle and hang on for dear life. One punch of the starter button will confirm you’re not just on another custom Bonnie with clip-ons and rearsets. The air box is larger, the high-compression pistons spin a “low inertia crank,” according to Triumph, and the Thruxton’s ECU gets tweaked to put out more ponies than the T120. That’s because it houses the “high power” variant of that 1200 mill, which has even more torque than the T120’s “high-torque” unit. The Thruxton’s peak reading of 82.6 lb-ft (claimed) comes much higher in the rev range, at 4,950 rpm, compared to the T120’s 3,100 rpm. Adding even more pucker factor is the power, with the Thruxton topping out a peak of 96 horsepower, which hits at 6,750 rpm. The Thruxton is also more responsive throughout the rev range, as evidenced by the roll-on wheelies that seem to be only a blip away.
Rolling up into the sweeping mountain roads to Sintra, an old walled city north of Lisbon, our group picks up the pace to get a better idea of the bike’s handling properties. If a super-compact 55.7-inch wheelbase and 22-degree fork angle seem aggressive, they are, but the Thruxton R never feels skittish; quite the contrary, it’s always well planted, no matter which cobblestoned sweeper we happened to be railing around. With its stubby wheelbase (and equally stubby swingarm) and sharp head angle, the R leans and turns like a much lighter machine, and the six-speed transmission affords a good spread of gearing options, while the triple discs with Brembo calipers at both ends are more than competent, with good, progressive power through the span-adjustable lever. There’s a torque-assist clutch, too, so your wrist doesn’t seize up from multiple pulls of that lever. Unlike the T120, the Thruxton’s suspension is appropriately stiff right out of the box, with the Showa fork working wonders to keep the Pirellis well planted as we railed around fast coastal sweepers. The Ohlins shocks too, were more than up to the task, providing a firm, but very well damped ride. And with the Thruxton R, there are no worries about talking the talk; the tone out of the dual brushed exhausts sounds fully deep and throaty, and all business.
As on the T120, there’s a ride-by-wire throttle, but here you get three riding modes: Road, Rain and Sport. As you’d expect, Rain is the mellowest of the three, with Sport requiring a bit more careful throttle input. ABS is standard, and can be switched off, as can the traction control. If you’re rolling, you have to close the throttle and pull in the clutch to make your choices. And even with all this new electronic wizardry, Triumph says service intervals on the Thruxton are now 10,000-miles, increased from 6,000.
Stuart Wood, Triumph’s head of engineering, may have said it best; “ We made the Thruxton to act exactly as you’d think it would when looking at it.” In other words, it’s a bike with sporting intent that’s backed up with enough solid engineering and quality components to actually get that job done.
Best of all, the factory has rolled out a large catalog of bolt-on parts (over 160 pieces) to back up any number of weekend customizing ideas.