Triumph Thruxton Review

Triumph Thruxton Review

Motorcycles in their different forms mean a wide variety of things to people and reliving a legacy or a bygone era or a part of it is one of them. The Café Racer is one such popular theme, which has been worked upon by motorcycle makers across the globe. But when British motorcycle maker Triumph’s manifestation of this classic British theme was launched in India, we had to take a look at it and assess its prowess, both in terms of delivering charm and technology. The fact that we already have a couple of café racer themed motorcycles in the country, our interest and expectation levels had gone up a few notches.

Design

The thing with making a café racer is that it just doesn’t need to represent a form of riding but is a riding culture in itself, which makes too many lines too thin to cross while engineering. One yardstick to measure the balance on either sides of these lines is the authenticity of design. If this was the single-largest determinant, the Thruxton 900 is already a winner! But then there’s more to a motorcycle than looks, all of which has been discussed in the sub-sections elsewhere in this review.

Triumph Throxton 900 IMG 3036

 

The authenticity to the heritage of the café racer theme is outstanding yet impressive by modern visual perception standards. The British-sounding colour ‘Brooklands Green’ with a golden stripe running across the bike adds a classic fair along with a high-quality feel. The low-slung forward handlebars, bar-end mounted chrome rear-view mirrors, rear-seat cowl (removable for second-passenger) and headlamp bikini fairing make the Thruxton a blast from the past, which can manage to steal the show from many modern and more expensive bikes. 

Triumph Throxton 900 IMG 3052

 

The detail to design and the quest for authenticity is such that the fuel-injection unit in the classic-looking engine compartment too has been made to look like a carburettor! A closer look at the engine for any enthusiast would indicate the presence of a push-rod tube, which sounds pretty much in line with times dating back to 1960s, but also outdated by modern technical standards. However, given the way most British auto companies are on a roll these days, this seems hard to be true, which it is. Designed to look like a pushrod, the unit actually conceals modern dual-overhead camshafts.

Triumph Throxton 900 IMG 3158

 

There are motorcycles, which are styled to be loud and move around with a theatre-full of drama but the Thruxton instead is subtle, elegant yet strong enough to command a 180o turn of the necks of onlookers. In fact, we don’t find any motorcycle from the Triumph line-up to sport a loud and flashy styling language. The Thruxton may not be a rock-concert on move but is more like the classical play, which ends up with lesser numbers but more awards.

Powertrain

The engine is an interesting bit to know about, especially when you consider its modern internals and its attempt to match the retro character. The 865 cc parallel twin is the same unit found in the Bonneville and an untouched tuning means the numbers stay the same at 68 hp and 69 Nm of torque. The numbers might not sound exciting but the performance is adequate.

Triumph Throxton 900 IMG 3040

 

The motor starts off and settles down into a gentle hum, after which acceleration is brisk through all gears. Beyond about 3,500 rpm, the engine delivers a strong and linear acceleration, making this a motorcycle which can be ridden easily by riders graduating from much smaller engines. Since it is a café racer, it’s important to point out that the machine is capable of hitting the ton (100 mph/ 160 km/h) and go a bit beyond that as well.

Drivability is excellent, making it an easy machine to ride through traffic from an engine perspective. The engine itself is butter-smooth and that was one of the very few things we found amiss in the entire package. The engine is in fact so smooth and vibration-free that at times one finds it to lack the aural character usually associated with motorcycles of this genre. Even close to the redline the engine doesn’t stays smooth and the handlebars, footpegs and seat too remain largely devoid of vibration. In engineering terms, this definitely is a plus and surely there would be people who would appreciate it. We though would’ve liked a louder note from the beautiful twin-upswept exhausts. Fuel-efficiency was something we didn’t test using the traditional methods but expect it to be between 20 and 25 km/l.

Handling

The Thruxton 900 is built on a tubular steel cradle chassis, with a twin-sided tubular steel swingarm. Suspension comprises of 41 mm Kayaba forks with adjustable preload and 120 mm of travel at the front, while at the rear there are Kayaba twin-spring shockers with 106 mm of travel. A 320 mm single-disc with Nissin two-piston floating caliper is mounted upfront on the 18-inch wheel, fitted with 100/90 Metzeler tyres. At the rear one finds a single 255 mm disc with a two-piston floating calipers.

Triumph Throxton 900 IMG 3146

 

On the move, all of this hardware translates into a comfortable and balanced riding experience. Straight-line stability at high speed is good but despite the small fairing, wind-blast can be bothersome over longer durations. The soft suspension offers good ride quality over broken surfaces, especially the ones that we ride on. At high speed corners though, the soft springs do cause more than wanted movement at times and limit the cornering abilities of the chassis and the sticky Metzeler tyres. That doesn’t mean you can’t take on corners fast. It’s only the lack of that little extra composure, mid-way through a corner, that is missing but is very much acceptable for the Thruxton’s positioning.

Triumph Throxton 900 IMG 3062

 

The riding ergonomics are simple and consist of a forward-stance with rearset footpegs. At speeds and through corners the riding posture is fine and the forgiving nature of the chassis means you can shift your weight from one end to the other a lot quicker than the looks might suggest at first. The issue with this riding posture though is the same as found with all motorcyles sporting it. Extra weight on the front wrists causes the onset of fatigue and sore muscles after a long ride and manoeuvering through tight spots and u-turns too isn’t fluid. That said, café racers were not meant to cover long distances, so if you’re looking for a tourer, the Bonneville makes more sense at little lesser money. Thruxton though wins the case solely on the way it looks and the way it handles through most of what riders would put it through.

Round-Up

If practicality was brought into perspective, the Thruxton seems off due to its distance-limiting riding posture and uncomfortable slow-speed manners. But then, practicality can rarely leave behind a legacy or for that matter even act as a reflection. The Thruxton hence is not something you would buy for sheer performance or day-to-day practicality. You would buy a Thruxton for the spirit it reflects from a notorious yet glorious era of motorcycling.

Triumph Throxton 900 IMG 3074

With that in mind, the somewhat expensive price tag of Rs 6.95 lakh, ex-showroom, Delhi starts to feel more acceptable. Add in the fact that you get a proper retro-looking motorcycle with the reliable technologies of present age along with an expanding service network, and the price tag seems justified for the character the Thruxton possesses. It’s a unique motorcycle with much to appreciate and little to complain. If only the exhaust was a bit louder! 

Text: Arpit Mahendra

Photo: Bharat Bhushan Upadhyay