In my experience, almost all the really great motorcycles I’ve ridden have also been among the best looking motorcycles I’ve ever seen. There have been exceptions, but a shit bike generally looks like the dog’s breakfast, and a spectacular bike will drop a supermodel at 20 paces. I’m happy to report that the Triumph Thruxton R emphatically occupies the latter category.
Motorcycles aren’t simply engines with some wheels and sundry body parts clamped on – or they shouldn’t be, at any rate. A bike needs to move you in some way, regardless of whether it’s a 100cc tiddler or a full-dress tourer; if it doesn’t, it’s not worth bothering with. The last bike that moved me (and broke me, in equal measure) was the Ducati 959 Panigale, and I’d put the Thruxton right alongside it, minus the breakage. Right off the bat, as soon as you lay eyes on it, you want to drop whatever you’re doing and ride it somewhere very far away (you’ll need to take breaks, but I’ll come to that in a minute).
This is a truly beautiful machine, make no mistake. It has a fantastic profile, and it’s this view that shows off its lines and features in the best way – that fairing, the raked windscreen, the sculpted fuel tank, the upswept Vance & Hines exhaust pipes, the sexy racing seat, the clip-on handlebars with bar-end mirrors; I’m partial to most things retro, so the Thruxton’s stunning café racer design really got me going.
The Thruxton doesn’t bother with all that highstrung, race-tuned, maniacal engine stuff. Its 1200cc, parallel twin engine is perfectly capable of it, mind you, but thankfully Triumph has tuned it for real-world useability, and 96 bhp is nothing to scoff at, anyway. The clutch has a light, easy action, and with a nice ‘thunk’ into first gear, you’re all set for the dash to your favourite café , or wherever it is that floats your dinghy.
This bike is all about being laid-back, and not rushing things. In Mumbai’s grisly traffic, other than the heat coming off the engine, it’s a very comfortable machine to use, and it doesn’t take a toll on your body in the way many other bikes in its class can do. It’s happy rumbling along at slow speeds, and you can be sure that you’ll look hip as all fuck on it while it’s doing so – but not half as hip as when you find an open stretch of road, lean over the tank, tuck your knees into its recesses and give it some gas.
The Thruxton isn’t racebike sharp in its engine response, but it’s plenty sharp for you and me. The revs build cleanly all the way to its 7500 rpm peak, and you’ll find yourself doing north of 150 kph before you quite realize it. The Pirelli tyres offer fantastic grip, and combined with the bike’s stability, you’re confident about going as fast as you possibly can. Once a set of corners arrives, you can sense the bike beginning to grin, and it eases into them with a languid grace, never losing its poise and going exactly where you point it, with the superb Brembo brakes keeping things right side up. The ride quality on offer is superlative, too, among the best I’ve experienced of late on a motorcycle.
You will have guessed by now that this is a delectable piece of machinery, but that’s not to say that it doesn’t have its demerits. The exhaust note is too muted for my taste and should have been more raucous, especially at higher speeds; the forwardleaning riding position is great for short, sporty blasts, but a longer ride will stress out your wrists and back (hence the breaks I mentioned earlier); and finally, at almost Rs 16 lakh, it’s an expensive proposition, given that far less money will buy you nimbler, faster and more powerful bikes from not just the competition but from Triumph itself. Here’s the thing, though – the Thruxton R has soul, and character, and old-world charm and sophistication, and it’s bloody gorgeous. Last I checked, you can’t put a price on that.