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Triumph Thruxton RS : The King Of Modern Cafe Racers

The Triumph Thruxton RS is the latest model from Triumph to take the legendary name and evolve even further on the back of the previous Thruxton R.

It was released in 2019 for the 2020 model year and it was a bike that received more than just a cosmetic uplift from its predecessor; instead it came out with more power, better handling and higher quality components resulting in overall more attitude.

You have to understand the roots of the new Thruxton to really get to grips with why Triumph have taken the RS in the direction that they have. 

In 1965 the first Thruxton Bonneville was built, taking a T120 Bonneville as the base. It was a bike built for homologation purposes so it could compete in the Endurance races of the time. 

We can’t be sure on how many were actually built at the Meriden factory but we know that officially 52 were made to to meet the homologation requirements. After that many Bonneville’s received race-tuned parts to make them “Thruxton’s”. 

Triumph’s celebrated Thruxton got its name from the manufacturers success at the Thruxton race circuit in Hampshire, England. 

The first modern day Cafe Racer came in 2004 with the air cooled Thruxton 900 which were produced at the new Hinckley site until 2008. 

In 2016 the Thruxton 1200 appeared alongside the sportier Thruxton R. 

The bikes have remained consistent in the Triumph line-up and from what we can see there is no sign that they will be removing the Thruxton any time soon. 

The edgy cafe racer is a firm favorite among Triumph enthusiasts.  

Let’s look at the latest and greatest with a review of the all new RS model.

2022 Thruxton RS Review

Triumph Thruxton RS on the twisties
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The Triumph Thruxton RS Cafe Racer is at home both on the inner city streets or on the wide open twisties

Thruxton RS Engine

First things first let’s start with the new Thruxton RS engine which was improved above the preceding R model.

The 1200cc parallel twin is a staple for Triumph, and it has all the looks of the classic air-cooled British twins of the early days. 

Except it isn’t air-cooled and the fins are just for style, and the radiator is actually well hidden as it is blacked out in stealth mode at the front of the bike. 

The mechanical slide (carburetor-styled) throttle bodies give more credence to the theme of being an old school Brit Cafe Racer bike. 

Single overhead cam keeps the top end of the engine nice and simple.

The large displacement and firing order makes a great thunderous noise that both riders and onlookers will enjoy thoroughly. It gets your heart pumping even sitting at idle, a noise that creates an ominous vibe, the quiet before the storm as it were, but less quiet. 

Sure the bike isn’t on par with some of the sports and naked bikes currently available but it is still a thrilling Cafe Racer ride and will give any other modern retro motorcycle a run for their money.

103 horsepower and 112 Nm of torque spread across the powerband is plenty for all roads and even enough to have some fun on the track if you fancy it. 

Power delivery is smooth across the entire rev range as would be expected, Triumph have certainly nailed their fuelling systems. The six-speed gearbox is also smooth, neutral is easy to find and the very fact it is a reasonably aged engine design now gives the bike a charm that other bikes lack. 

It still looks and feels quite mechanical, not quite like a 1960’s Triumph obviously and if you are a modern rider you wouldn’t want that, but you still feel connected to the bike and I like you have to do the work, something lacking on many of the modern motorcycles today. 

While the Scrambler 1200 and Street Twin have received upgrades too, the Thruxton RS has received model-specific pistons, high-lift cams, new intake and exhaust porting, a magnesium cam cover and thinner engine covers which has lightened the Thruxton engine. 

It makes sense for the Thruxton RS to have received further upgrades as it is the only Thruxton left in the lineup and so it stands alone, it has to be good and good it is. 

There are three riding modes, traction control and slip-assist clutch as standard. 

The riding modes consist of Rain, Road and Sport mode with each offering a different approach to the way the Thruxton takes the terrain ahead of it. These modes can be activated as you ride and each adjusts the throttle map, traction control and ABS intervention slightly differently. 

Thruxton RS Features

Triumph Motorcycles have used a traditional double-downtube/double-cradle frame that supports the powerplant. 

They matched this with no expense spared on a big piston Showa fork upfront and fully adjustable Öhlins suspension on the back.

This suspension set up is more than enough to provide supreme Cafe racing handling on the roads. 

The steering angles are tight forcing you to be decisive with your lines, this is real world road racing kind of steering geometry if you want it to be.

Metzeler Racetec RR tires add to the race element, being sticky sports tires that are great for lean angles but suited to regular road surfaces above being on a perfect track. 

Brembo brakes provide plenty of bite, they cast aluminium for a reduction in weight while providing necessary stopping power.

In terms of riding position the Thruxton RS is somewhat more accessible than the previous R, the ergonomics are without a doubt sporty but less physically demanding than they first appear.

The chassis is narrow, seat height just 810mm and as a result shorter riders won’t feel left out with being able to mount the Thruxton RS. In fact it is more than manageable and comfortable for most riders especially thanks to its weight reduction, the lighter weight has certainly aided the overall balance.

The fuel tank is long and narrow, however the wide bars somehow make it less aggressive than most supersports available. You aren’t flat out on top of the tank, unless of course you want to be.

The seat has a textured finish for added comfort and it is roomy allowing you to move around as you ride.

Other than overall handling which I will get to, the last thing to comment on is the Thruxton RS styling. You can see the effort with every detail that Triumph has made to make the RS scream premium quality. 

Colorways are sleek, traditional and classy, currently available in Jet Black or Competition Green which has a complimenting Silver Ice tone and Gold stripe on the fuel tank.

There is also a special edition ‘Ton Up’ inspired by the ‘Ton-Up Boys’ and the bikes that did the first 100mph race at the Isle of Man TT. This comes at a significant extra cost for what is really a different paint scheme. 

The classic swept up twin brushed silencers keeps the authentic Cafe Racer styling alive along with the engine design while the gold forks offer that modern splash of bling to remind you we are in 2022. 

The classy analog speedometer and Tachometer each have a built in LCD display showing the riding mode display, traction control status, fuel gauge and gear position indicator.

while the rear seat cowl, long tank, bar end mirrors and clip ons remind you that this Triumph is a racer. 

In terms of overall handling the Thruxton RS is highly agile, flickable, perfect for around town through tight streets and equally like a pinball on the twisties at the weekend. 

It will be best suited to solo riders who could ride it for the commute in the week and have a blast at the weekend. The ergonomics don’t make it much of a tourer but hey there are some riders who pack up their Panigales so who am I to say it can’t be done?

You can’t compare it to very much because there isn’t very much out there that is comparable to the same standard. 

The Honda CB1000R is a lovely bike, part of Honda’s neo-sports line but the fact is it is a bike with all of Honda’s sports prestige dressed as a retro bike. The old Honda GB500 TT at least paid homage to the Brit bikes it was directly replicating, the CB1000R doesn’t do so in the same way.

The Thruxton RS has a charm because it retains some of the timeless beauty of  the design from the 60’s while subtly adding modern features that bring it up to date. 

It is not a modern bike trying to look like an old one, it is an evolved version of the old one and that is the difference between this and bikes like the Honda. 

Triumph Thruxton RS Specifications

Engine and Transmission

  • Engine – Liquid-cooled SOHC 270 degree crank angle, parallel twin
  • Capacity – 1,200cc
  • Bore x Stroke – 97.6 x 80 mm
  • Compression Ratio –  12.1:1
  • Cooling System – Liquid-Cooled
  • Starting – Electric
  • Fuel Delivery – Multipoint sequential electronic fuel injection
  • Transmission – 6 Speed
  • Final Drive – O-ring Chain
  • Max Power – 103 horsepower at 7,500rpm 
  • Max Torque – 112 Nm at 4,250rpm

Chassis and Dimensions

  • Frame – Tubular steel cradle
  • Swingarm – Twin-sided, aluminium clear-anodized
  • Front Suspension – Showa 43mm USD big piston forks, fully adjustable 120mm travel
  • Rear Suspension – Fully adjustable Ohlins rear shocks with Piggyback reservoir 120mm rear wheel travel
  • Front Brakes – Dual 310mm Brembo floating discs, Brembo M50 4-piston radial monoblock calipers, ABS
  • Rear Brakes – Single 220mm disc, Nissin 2-piston floating caliper, ABS
  • Dry Weight – 197kg
  • Wheelbase – 1,415mm
  • Fuel Capacity – 14.5L
  • Seat Height – 810mm
  • Handlebar Width- 745mm
  • Height – 1,030mm
  • Rake – 22.8 degrees
  • Trail – 92mm
  • Service Intervals – 10,000miles or every 12 months

Triumph Thruxton RS Top speed

The Thruxton RS has an estimated top speed of 140mph. 

Triumph Thruxton RS List Price

In the UK the Triumph Thruxton RS starts from £13,595. 

In the US the model starts from $16,645.

On the used market I found one for just under £11k with 2698 miles on the clock and another priced at £11,800 but with just 972 miles covered. Both are 2021 models and at the time of writing are listed on eBay.co.uk

Verdict

I have to be honest, I have always loved the standard Bonneville over and above anything else in the Classics range that Triumph has produced. 

However, the Triumph Thruxton RS Cafe Racer does have a certain appeal, a charm that I think was lacking in the earlier versions. 

You can physically see the attention to detail that has been paid in the design of the bike and also in the performance gains.

It is the King of modern cafe racers, surely that cannot be contested, especially when Triumphs were some of the very original cafe racers to exist in the first place. 

With the Triumph Thruxton RS style meets substance and in any motorcycle that is a winning combination for me. 

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