If things in motorcycling had gone the way that Triumph anticipated to, this is what we would be on today, and still going strong. In fact, the Thruxton is many people’s option and I can understand why. The bike captures the very essence of an era long gone and brings it back for us to enjoy its wonders once again.
The 2008 Triumph Thruxton is a modern day representation of how racing Triumphs would have looked back in the sixties when they dominated the tracks. In order to achieve that, Triumph made it look like it sited all its life in a museum or its restoration was finished yesterday. Many will be amazed to find out that this true work of art had just rolled out the production line because it simply reminds of the times when nothing else but a powerful engine and a courageous rider were needed for a first place on the podium.
Starting with the new millennium, riders could enjoy the revived Bonneville which was a motorcycle standing as the starting point for all Triumph models featuring two cylinders.
After the Bonneville, Triumph played its other aces that it kept hidden in its sleeve, the America model in 2002 and the Speedmaster only a year later. But none of these motorcycles were more powerful than the Bonneville and the motorcycling public together with their voice, the motorcycle press, started wondering when the acclaimed café racer from Triumph would see the production line.
All the models before it were very successful, but when the Triumph Thruxton was launched in 2004, riders simply couldn’t believe their eyes. It was exactly what their senses told them they needed and their consciences required.
Triumph had taken the Bonneville engine, increase the bore and fit larger pistons while keeping the 360 degree firing interval (instead of 270 degree on the America and Speedmaster) and it ended up with a parallel-twin that developed 69bhp, 7bhp more than the one found on the Bonneville.
The latest Triumph at that time was marketed either Red or Black painted, but who cared? We had a café racer back in our hands and we wore more willing to enjoy it than ever before.
Back in the early days when it came to café racing bikes people would imagine an engine, two wheels, a seat and the handlebars, all strategically positioned so that they will set the rider in an uncomfortable, but aerodynamic riding position. Today, with the Thruxton things aren’t very different as the bike is called a café racer mostly thanks to the way it is perfectly proportioned so that it would look like an incursion in Britain’s sixties.
People who are attracted to this style find the Thruxton overwhelmingly good looking. Defining for this category is the way the fuel tank (individualized with the help of the Triumph badge and rubber knee grippers), seat, and rear end are practically lined up as well as the stylish handlebars and mirrors which are placed in order to give the sporty riding position that the Thruxton features. I’ve always thought that Thruxton’s rear end looks like the one of a bee as this modern day replica of the early-days machines is impressively finished.
The exhaust system exits on both sides of the bike making it look the same, no matter on what side you’re on while admiring it. It will shine beautifully in front of the coffee shop, as well as the spoke wheels, a must at that time.
Colors available for 2008 are meant to give it a nice, distinctive look (not that the bike is hard to identify). Whether you prefer it Jet Black with Gold Stripe, Tornado Red with White Stripe, or Aluminum Silver with Red Stripe, it won’t let the admiring eye to be taken off of it.
It was a true honor for me to get a feel of how boy racers in 50’s and 60’s would have felt while riding Triumphs and Nortons. I was also anxious to see how the engine pulls through the rev range as I was delighted to see my way on an early-day Triumph which is actually more powerful than the Bonneville.
Before jumping on it a giving it a go, I apologized to my lower back for the harsh ride that I thought it would experience, but the biggest surprise was delivered to me from the beginning of the test ride. It isn’t as uncomfortable as I believed it would be so I could now orientate towards processing that very important feedback that it delivers.
I used the choke as it was a cold, morning start and hit the start button, the engine firing right up. After letting it worm up for more than a few minutes and using the time to get a thicker pullover underneath my jacket, I put it into first and I was on my way.
The 865cc parallel-twin engine accelerates impressively strong all the way up to the rev range, where maximum power and torque are obtained. I preferred changing gears around 6000rpm when the vibrations see their way through the handlebars and announce you that it may be time to shift another gear. Even so, the engine can rev higher, but there are no surprises left for me there.
Clutch action is firm, leaving the rider well aware of the disengaging point which makes it perfect for fast departures in first gear. The throttle is very tempting so I didn’t find myself riding in another gear that wasn’t fifth for a very long time. This bike looks like it retains only the necessarily, but it surely comes with a lot on fun included because it is easy to be ridden at around 120mhp. Actually, you won’t even be needed to downshift when it comes to highway passes. It has enough power in fifth gear and it can go up against most modern bikes. In fact, this is a modern bike, excepting its styling.
I could get used to the sound coming from the parallel-twin and the way this bike handles. Slow speed maneuvering aren’t its favorite, but when it comes to high speed cornering, this bike really shows what it’s made of. I enjoyed leaning it close to its limits, which were close to mine, I could say. The bike would have gone even further if it would have featured a fairing, but Triumph wouldn’t be true to its heritage in this case, so we have to go with it as it is. Almost impeccable! I am used to be protected from the wind, and the Thruxton gave me a lesson on how a real early days bike feels at high speed and not only.
Also a small down point are the suspensions which tend to reach their limits quite easily and remind the rider about the apologies that it gave to the most demanded part of its body at the beginning of the test ride. I consider the suspensions a necessarily sacrifice for this masterpiece-looking motorcycle, and it kind of brings the down side of the bike in the rider’s attention after a few hours of riding. It is like Triumph made this purposeful.
The brakes are efficient and manage to bring the Thruxton to a complete stop, problems excluded. Also being easy to use and very reassuring both the front and the rear brakes are perfect for the bike. Once they’ve wormed up, there’s nothing compared to a strong braking feel before a tight corner. I recommend you not to underestimate this Triumph even though you are riding motorized arrows for a living.
Ever since it was launched, the Triumph Thruxton was offered for small bucks compared with what it takes down the road. A few years passed, the colors changed, but the MSRP of $7,999 remained the same. This demonstrates the way Triumph is used to satisfy their customer; not only with the product itself, but with the numbers on the price tag hanging on the handlebars.
By creating the Thruxton, Triumph has successfully managed to bring life into the old and make us get a feel of how motorcycles were in a time when everything was simpler. That Bonneville parallel-twin engine is one great unit that properly powers this filled-with-heritage Thruxton. Best individualized through its exterior design and a best seller thank to its low suggested retail price, it is impossible to find a better one out there.
Engine and Transmission
Type: Air-cooled, DOHC, parallel-twin, 360 degree firing interval
Bore x Stroke: 90 x 68mm
Compression Ratio: 9.2:1
Fuel System: Twin carburetors with throttle position sensor and electric carburetor heaters
Final Drive: X ring chain
Clutch: Wet, multi-plate
Chassis and Dimensions
Frame: Tubular steel cradle
Swingarm: Twin-sided, tubular steel
Front Wheel: 36-spoke, 18 x 2.5in
Rear Wheel: 40-spoke, 17 x 3.5in
Front Tyre: 100/90 18
Rear Tyre: 130/80 R17
Front Suspension: 41mm forks with adjustable preload
Rear Suspension: Chromed spring twin shocks with adjustable preload
Front Brakes: Single 320mm floating disc, 2 piston caliper
Rear Brakes: Single 255mm disc, 2 piston caliper
Width (Handlebars): 27.4in
Seat Height: 31.1in
Rake/Trail: 27 degree/97mm
Weight (Dry): 451lbs
Fuel Tank Capacity: 4.4 gal
Maximum Power: 69bhp at 7,200rpm
Maximum Torque: 53ft.lbf at 6,400rpm
Colors: Jet Black with Gold Stripe, Tornado Red with White Stripe, Aluminum Silver with Red Stripe
The Thruxton’s 865cc, air-cooled, twin cylinder power plant, the most powerful of Triumph’s twin cylinder line-up, has a peak power output of 69bhp delivered at 7400rpm and peak torque of 52ft.lbf arrives at 5800rpm. The engine shares the same 360° firing interval as the Bonneville, as well as featuring ‘hot’ camshaft profiles and a compression ratio of 9.2:1.
Twin carburetors with throttle position sensor and electric carburetor heaters.
Sporty riding position, with stylish bar-end mirrors, engineered specifically for the Thruxton, come standard.
Wrapping the motor is a precisely crafted chassis that inspires confidence; its harder edge delivering real sporting character. The sturdy, preload adjustable 41mm telescopic forks and twin rear shocks give superb suspension action and compliance while sharper steering geometry, a wheelbase of 1490mm and 18 inch aluminum-rimmed front wheel all aid steering input.
A fully floating 320mm front disc and twin-piston brake caliper provide powerful, but sensitive, braking performance.