2016 Triumph Thruxton R - RIDE REVIEW

Style and substance rowdily coexist

2016 Triumph Thruxton R on-track action
Okay, so maybe the racer-boy mod leathers are a bit much, but the 2016 Triumph Thruxton R acquits itself well on the racetrack. As it should for being a sporty bike of $14,500 MSRP.Jeff Allen

Contemplating the Amal Monoblock "carburetors" on this 2016 Triumph Thruxton R, I am reminded of an expression of a friend of mine who used to do stand-up comedy and had a bit about "fake" augmented parts of female anatomy. "Fake? If they're in the same room with you, they're real." And I find myself unable to tear my eyes away from these fake carbs. It's like in drama: the willful suspension of disbelief. I should be offended that a pair of covers shaped like 389s shield us from seeing the horrors of the truth and reality of ride-by-wire EFI and the magic that allows this bike to run so great. I should be pissed that there aren't even any fake throttle cables going into the tops of the "carbs." But then again, don't builders always try to hide the cables anyway?

2016 Triumph Thruxton R static left-side view
New-gen Bonneville line feature engine-cover designs that take styling inspiration from unit construction bikes of 1963 and later.Jeff Allen

The bottom line is that even ugly motorcycles don't ignore design. And I haven't found anything at all ugly on the Thruxton R, which nails the retro-sportbike-café racer vibe all the way down to its carbs. The polished alloy top triple clamp, the aluminum strap "holding" the fuel tank, the suede-y seat with red stitching, the conical rear hub. Under that pretty quick-release alloy gas cap…is a locking black plastic screw-off unit.


Mix it all up with killer modern suspension (a sublime fully adjustable Showa Big Piston fork and a pair of adjustable Öhlins shocks), Brembo brakes, and freakin’ Pirelli Diablo Super Corsa tires on those wire-spoke alloy rims and you have a mash-up of new and old that works exceptionally well. And at least the Brembo Mono­block calipers are real…

Recent extensive seat time testing the new Norton Commando 961 makes it impossible not to bring up here. Pretty much everything that is the Thruxton R is what the Commando would like to be. There is an airiness to the presence of the Commando that the Thruxton doesn't have, but the rest of the Triumph's package is sweet, indeed.

Thruxton R nails the retro-sportbike-café vibe all the way down to its carbs.

For some reason, the power character of motorcycles often finds expression in my mind through liking to the character of different cuts of meat. My Yamaha WR250R is like a spicy chicken breast, my old '58 Triumph Trophy was a lamb shank, and my Norton 850 Commando is a lot like a thick-cut filet (bone in). The Thruxton R expresses itself like a perfectly cooked entire beef tenderloin. It's tender and loooong and carries a density and flavor that satisfied from first bite to last. But it also feels ever so slightly too dense. Okay, I'm riding off to the pub…

The 97.6 x 80mm, 1,197cc parallel twin actually has pretty weird power delivery for a sporto bike like this, with 87.4 hp at 6,750 rpm and 75.0 pound-feet of torque at 3,730 rpm. In terms of power, you are living in the now. What­ever the revs (staying under the 7,100-rpm redline), it's: Turn throttle, go! But when I was tucked in and arcing toward the exit of a corner, I did want a bit more top-end zing.

2016 Triumph Thruxton R on-track action
Output is pushing 90 rear-wheel horsepower on the CW dyno, with a healthy 75 pound-feet of torque at just 3,730 rpm. It's got a wide band of torque and leaps ahead any time the throttle opened. Top-gear roll-on times are exceptionally quick (see specs). The 270-degree crankshaft mimics 90-degree V-twin sound, and the Thruxton R is a great-sounding powerplant.Jeff Allen

We took the opportunity to spin a bunch of laps on the Triumph at Buttonwillow Raceway and were impressed overall. Assistant Editor Will Steenrod said, “Holy torque! It hits peak torque right away and can carry a wheelie for the whole rev range.” But he also noted that when fuel sloshed in the tank under heavy braking or at deep lean, the fuel pump was sucking air and causing the engine to stutter at the worst possible instant—something we’ll have to look into a bit more. But this was isolated 100 percent to the track.

I personally wish for a 360-degree crankshaft because I love the sound of a classic British twin, but it's impossible to argue with the euphonious exhaust note provided by the 270-degree crank. The sound is sort of the modern British expression of the retro Ducati SportClassic sound, with, to extend the food analogy, lots of rich gravy.

Somehow the Thruxton manages to be all the things it wants to be without feeling forced. And let me tell you, if it’s on the same road as you, it is most definitely real.

PRICE $14,500
DRY WEIGHT 469 lb.
WHEELBASE 55.4 in.
SEAT HEIGHT 32.0 in.
1/4 MILE 11.66 sec. @ 115.45 mph
0-60 MPH 3.1 sec.
TOP GEAR 40-60 MPH 3.1 sec.
60-80 MPH 3.0 sec.
HORSEPOWER 87.4 @ 6750 rpm
TORQUE 75.0 lb.-ft. @ 3730 rpm
BRAKING 30-0 MPH 31 ft.
60-0 MPH 126 ft.
2016 Triumph Thruxton R static right-side view
Our Thruxton R testbike features an inverted for, radial-mount Brembo brakes and fully adjustable twin shocks, components which make up the lion's share of the $2,000 premium over the standard Thruxton's $12,500 MSRP.Jeff Allen
2016 Triumph Thruxton R on-track action
Those 17-inch wire-spoke wheels are fitted with excellent Pirelli Diablo Super Corsa tires and work great with the very fine suspension to make for fun handling.Jeff Allen
2016 Triumph Thruxton R on-track action
It's pretty easy to spot the coolant radiator from this angle, but the Thruxton R's liquid-cooling system is very well hidden.Jeff Allen
2016 Triumph Thruxton R on-track action
Not a cafe in sight at Buttonwillow Raceway in Willows, California, but the "racer" part was nailed.Jeff Allen