It’s The Original Café Racer, But With More Power And Better Handling

Triumph Motorcycles took last year’s Thruxton R and levied a bevy of improvements to create the new-for-2020 Thruxton RS. The tuneup is far from just being a facelift. Power increased almost 8 horsepower on the torque-rich powerplant, the bike dropped about 13 pounds from its curb weight, and grunt comes on earlier for a broader, more useful powerband. Triumph finished it off with top-shelf safety electronics, contemporary style, and a two-tone paint package over a blackout frame and powerplant.

  • 2020 Triumph Thruxton RS
  • Year:
    2020
  • Make:
  • Model:
  • Engine:
    Parallel Twin
  • Displacement:
    1200 L
  • Top Speed:
    135 mph
  • Price:
    16200
  • Price:

2020 Triumph Thruxton RS Design

2020 Triumph Thruxton RS
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2020 Triumph Thruxton RS
- image 873317
the Thruxton RS shows an appropriate blend of classic design elements with lots of goodies hidden under the hood.

There’s just something about Triumph’s new-old style machines, a Britishness that’s hard to ignore, especially the models that are of the café racer persuasion such as the Thruxton RS. Sure, the inverted forks and clip-on bars mark it as a modern machine, but the classic knee pockets in the tank and bullet-fairing rear end tie right in with Triumph’s own storied café-tastic history.

Deflector-style fender uprights protect the inner fork tubes and seals from their mounts at the fork feet. Rather than running with a bullet fairing up front, Trumpet kept it clean with dual headlights, each in its own housing, and nothing else for a look that is both dated and clean. An LED daytime running light and LED turn signals complete the forward lighting so, in spite of the classic looks, the lighting is entirely modern with high-visibility performance.

The blackout treatment starts early with darkened rims, headlight cans, instrument housings, and side covers to go with the similarly monochromatic engine and side covers. Bar-end mirrors add to the custom vibe with blackout treatment of their own, and you can go ahead and pencil me in as a fan. I love how bar-ends make the hand control area look. I mean, if you have to have mirrors at all, that is.

The teardrop profile graces the 3.8-gallon fuel tank ahead of a precipitous drop to the 31.9-inch high saddle. If you’re looking for the p-pad, you’re looking at the wrong bike as the Thruxton RS has its tail encapsulated in a racer-style fairing. That’s bad news if you like to share the fun with a friend, but to be fair, this model is named after a race after all — the Thruxton 500 — so it should come as no surprise that the factory was disinclined to add a bunch of girlfriend-gear out back.

Rearward LED lighting ensures that you remain visible to following traffic, and the blackout treatment runs all the way back to the rear fender and wheel to visually tie the bike together. All-in-all, the Thruxton RS shows an appropriate blend of classic design elements with lots of goodies hidden under the hood. An LCD instrument screen joins the analog speedo and tach to round out the instrumentation and act as an interface for the higher electronic functions.

2020 Triumph Thruxton RS Chassis

2020 Triumph Thruxton RS
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2020 Triumph Thruxton RS
- image 873310
2020 Triumph Thruxton RS
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Tight steering geometry converts into some very decisive handling, giving the Thruxton RS an eagerness in the corners that would be the envy of the original café racers.

Tubular-steel members on the Thruxton RS make up the traditional double-downtube/double-cradle frame that completely cups and supports the powerplant rather than using it as a somewhat-vulnerable stressed member like so many modern machines do. The steering geometry is remarkably short with a 22.8-degree rake angle and 3.6-inch trail length, and that converts into some very decisive handling characteristics gives the Thruxton RS an eagerness in the corners that would be the envy of the original café racers.

Showa provides the front suspension with race-inspired, inverted, 43 mm Big Piston Forks with the full trinity of adjustments. Out back is a different story as we find a pair of Öhlins shock supporting the rear end and tame the aluminum swingarm on the same trifecta of tweaks. Suspension travel is 4.7 inches at both ends, which should be plenty for even the grittiest urban jungles.

Laced rims are symmetrical at 17 inches each, and this year, they come lined with Metzeler Racetec RR hoops in a 120/70 up front opposite a fat, 160/60. Not only do these tires come with a full sportbike-style tread that wraps around for deep lean angles, but the rubber composition is such that the tires are quite sticky to make them safer for hard cornering on everyday surfaces.

Frame: Tubular steel cradles
Swingarm: Twin-sided, aluminum - Clear anodized
Front Suspension/ Travel: Showa 43 mm USD big piston forks, fully adjustable/ 4.7 in (120 mm)
Rear Suspension/ Travel (Rear wheel): Fully adjustable Öhlins twin shocks with piggyback reservoir/ 4.7 in (120 mm)
Rake: 22.8º
Trail: 3.6 in (92 mm)
Front Brakes: Dual 310 mm Brembo floating discs, Brembo M50 4-piston radial monobloc calipers, ABS
Rear Brakes: Single 220 mm disc, Nissin 2-piston floating caliper, ABS
Front Wheel: 32-spoke 3.5 x 17 in, aluminum rims
Rear Wheel: 32-spoke 5 x 17 in, aluminum rims
Front Tire: 120/70 ZR17
Rear Tire: 160/60 ZR17

2020 Triumph Thruxton RS Drivetrain

2020 Triumph Thruxton RS
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2020 Triumph Thruxton RS
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2020 Triumph Thruxton RS
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This engine has a quicker spool-up time than its predecessor, and I reckon this is where some of that power increase comes from.

There’s usually no hiding a radiator on a bike, but the blackout treatment under the tank of the Thruxton RS kind of swallows it up and the polished cooling-fin edges on the head draw the eye and sell the air-cooled look in profile though it be a lie. Even the configuration of the engine contributes to the look of classic Britishness the Thruxton line brings to the table with a vertical-twin layout and mechanical-slide carburetor-styled throttle bodies. I appreciate the attention to detail and care about looks that led the factory to spend the R&D monies on something that is so clearly a vanity item.

A single over-head cam times the 8-valve head to keep the top end simple, and there’s a 270-degree offset in the crank so the engine has something of a lope at idle; something that is not a classic reproduction. A 97.6 mm bore and 80 mm stroke gives it a 1,200 cc displacement and smokin’-hot, 12.06-to-1 compression ratio that’ll settle for nothing less than top-octane road champagne.

Riding Modes come as part of the stock equipment package, as does a Traction Control feature to round out the safety and control electronics with a slip-and-assist clutch as a final layer of safety netting that mitigates the drag torque effect and helps prevent rear wheel hop.

This engine has a quicker spool-up time than its predecessor, mainly due to a 20-percent reduction in rotating mass, and I reckon this is where some of that power increase comes from. Power flows through a six-speed transmission with 83 pound-feet of torque that max out at 4,250 rpm and 104 horsepower at 7,500 rpm, and the overall drive ratio pushes the RS to a top speed of around 135 mph.

Engine: Liquid-cooled, 8-valve, SOHC, 270° crank angle parallel-twin
Displacement: 1,200 cc
Bore x Stroke: 97.6 mm x 80 mm
Compression: 12.066:1
Max Power EC: 103 hp (77 kW) @ 7,500 rpm
Max Torque EC: 83 lb-ft (112 Nm) @ 4,250 rpm
System: Multi-point sequential electronic fuel injection
Exhaust: Brushed 2-into-2 exhaust system with twin brushed silencers
Final Drive: O-ring chain
Clutch: Wet, multi-plate assist clutch
Gearbox: 6-speed

2020 Triumph Thruxton RS Pricing

2020 Triumph Thruxton RS
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2020 Triumph Thruxton RS
- image 873342
2020 Triumph Thruxton RS
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MSRP is $16.2k and comes in black or a two-tone colorway with distinctive graphic.

The 2020 Thruxton RS base model rolls for $16,200 MSRP. A full line of accessories give you ample opportunity to boost that sticker ex sale. Among the more notable is the heated-handgrips feature that is plug-and-play because the bike comes pre-wired for it.

Instrument Display and Functions: LCD multi-functional instrument pack with analog speedometer, analog tachometer, gear position indicator, fuel gauge, range to empty indication, service indicator,clock, trip computer, scroll and mode buttons on handlebars, heated grip ready, fuel consumption display, traction control status and riding mode display.
Color: black, two-tone gray w/ graphic
Price: $16,200

2020 Triumph Thruxton RS Competitors

2018 - 2019 Honda CB1000R Neo-Sports Café
- image 768589
2020 Triumph Thruxton RS
- image 873319
It's a close match, but I give the win to Triumph for a better electronics package.

Retro styling is in right now, no doubt about it, but so is neo-retro, so I feel like it’s fair to draw on the Honda CB1000R ABS from its Neo-Sports Café family as my competitor for the Thruxton RS. I’m usually not a fan of modern takes on dated bikes, but the CB1000R is the exception that proves the rule. Yeah, I know, aesthetics are subjective, but for me Honda really hit the mark with this one.

Looks aside, the chassis comes with adjustable suspension and ample brake hardware that comes backed up by an ABS feature to break even with the Thruxton in that respect. Honda opts for the power of an inline-four to drive its entry, and it displaces 998 cubes with 143 horsepower and 76 pound-feet of torque against 104/83 for the usual kind of trade off you get between a twin and a four-banger.

Triumph’s Thruxton RS meets its match yet again in the electronics, almost. The CB 1000R has a variable power-delivery feature, tunable engine braking and traction control, but Triumph holds onto a razor-thin edge with a corner-sensitive component added to its traction control system. Honda’s biggest win comes at the checkout counter. The current CB 1000R “Neo-Sports Café” rolls for a relatively low $12,999, and that kind of price difference is sure to steer some business Honda’s way.

He Said

“Man, I love me that classic British look, and it’s astounding to see how enduring, and endearing, it has been over the years. The electronics suite is just a little lagniappe, a little icing on the cake, and I really don’t care so much about the power deficit against the Red Rider machine. Café racers need to be quick, if not outright fast, but the primary concern should be maneuverability, not brute force.”

She Said

My wife and fellow motorcycle writer, Allyn Hinton, says, “The new flagship model for the Thruxton line, the RS is top of the line. More power and less weight is the overall theme, case-in-point the magnesium cases we saw on the Street Twin. It’s all about performance and updated electronics, finally. The RS has an IMU so you have all those fancy corner-sensitive systems. It’s a really nice bike, and if you’re going to take the Thruxton R and make it better, this is the way to go.”

2020 Triumph Thruxton RS Specifications

Engine & Drivetrain:
Engine: Liquid-cooled, 8-valve, SOHC, 270° crank angle parallel-twin
Displacement: 1,200 cc
Bore x Stroke: 97.6 mm x 80 mm
Compression: 12.066:1
Max Power EC: 103 hp (77 kW) @ 7,500 rpm
Max Torque EC: 83 lb-ft (112 Nm) @ 4,250 rpm
System: Multi-point sequential electronic fuel injection
Exhaust: Brushed 2-into-2 exhaust system with twin brushed silencers
Final Drive: O-ring chain
Clutch: Wet, multi-plate assist clutch
Gearbox: 6-speed
Chassis:
Frame: Tubular steel cradles
Swingarm: Twin-sided, aluminum - Clear anodized
Front Suspension/ Travel: Showa 43 mm USD big piston forks, fully adjustable/ 4.7 in (120 mm)
Rear Suspension/ Travel (Rear wheel): Fully adjustable Öhlins twin shocks with piggyback reservoir/ 4.7 in (120 mm)
Rake: 22.8º
Trail: 3.6 in (92 mm)
Front Brakes: Dual 310 mm Brembo floating discs, Brembo M50 4-piston radial monobloc calipers, ABS
Rear Brakes: Single 220 mm disc, Nissin 2-piston floating caliper, ABS
Front Wheel: 32-spoke 3.5 x 17 in, aluminum rims
Rear Wheel: 32-spoke 5 x 17 in, aluminum rims
Front Tire: 120/70 ZR17
Rear Tire: 160/60 ZR17
Dimensions & Capacities:
Width Handlebars: 29.3 in (745 mm)
Height Without Mirror: 40.5 in (1,030 mm)
Seat Height: 31.8 in (810 mm)
Wheelbase: 55.7 in (1,415 mm)
Dry Weight: 434 lb (197 kg)
Tank Capacity: 3.8 U.S. gal (14.5 L)
Fuel Consumption: 58 mpg (4.9 l/100 km)
Details:
Instrument Display and Functions: LCD multi-functional instrument pack with analog speedometer, analog tachometer, gear position indicator, fuel gauge, range to empty indication, service indicator,clock, trip computer, scroll and mode buttons on handlebars, heated grip ready, fuel consumption display, traction control status and riding mode display.
Color: black, two-tone gray w/ graphic
Price: $16,200

Further Reading

Honda CB1000R

2018 - 2019 Honda CB1000R Neo-Sports Café
- image 768583

See our review of the Honda CB1000R.

Triumph Bonneville Thruxton 1200 / 1200 R

2016 - 2019 Triumph Thruxton 1200 / 1200 R
- image 757120

See our review of the Triumph Bonneville Thruxton 1200 / 1200 R.

Triumph

ALLYN IMAGES: DO NOT DELETE
- image 791470

Read more Triumph news.

TJ Hinton
T.J got an early start from his father and other family members who owned and rode motorcycles, and by helping with various mechanical repairs throughout childhood. That planted a seed that grew into a well-rounded appreciation of all things mechanical, and eventually, into a formal education of same. Though primarily a Harley rider, he has an appreciation for all sorts of bikes and doesn't discriminate against any particular brand or region of origin. He currently holds an Associate's degree in applied mechanical science from his time at the M.M.I.  Read More
About the author

All images featured on this website are copyrighted to their respective rightful owners. No infringement is intended. Image Source: triumphmotorcycles.com, honda.com

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