2007 Ducati Sport 1000 Vs. Triumph Thruxton - Modern Rockers - Cafe Racer Comparo

By Brian Catterson, Photography by John Zamora, Chip Morton

Unlike the Ducati, which merely looks like a period Cafe racer, the Triumph pretty much is one. It's equipped with a conventional fork and twin shocks (all adjustable for preload only), which provide the kind of ride you'd expect. The suspension is soft at both ends, prone to pitching under braking, and there's precious little damping in either direction. It's more what you'd find on a cruiser, and seeing as how the Thruxton is based on the Bonneville, that shouldn't be too surprising. Things are hunky-dory around town and acceptable on a smooth country road. But drop a coin in the Ace Cafe jukebox, speed out and back on the North Circular Road and you'd be hard-pressed to return before the song was over. The bias-ply Metzeler Lasertec front and radial MEZ2 rear are an odd combination but seem to work well together, the bike feeling good while leaned over in a smooth corner. It's only when you encounter bumpy pavement that the suspension gets wonky. And trying to make quick transitions reveals how littleweight is on the front end as the bike begins to wallow; if we owned it, our first mod would be longer shocks. Last, the single front disc brake is prone to fade during fast riding. Which isn't much of a problem because the Thruxton is slow.

Can it "Do the Ton?" Yes, but it'll take a while to get there; during our performance testing, the Thruxton just cracked 100 mph in the quarter-mile. It's hard to believe this is the 865cc "cooking" version of the carbureted 790cc Bonneville T100 twin. The original 1964-'65 Thruxton made a claimed 54 horsepower, yet this one makes just 5 more-and 17 less than the Sport 1000. Worse, full of gas the Thruxton is 61 pounds heavier than the Sport. As a result, any performance contest is no contest: The Ducati waxes the Triumph by 1.85 seconds in the quarter-mile and leaves it for dead on a twisty road.

You expect certain concessions from classic-style motorcycles like these two retro Cafe racers, but they both ought to work better than they do. Has fashion finally surpassed function? Or do owners want a bike that needs fixing, like back in the day? Whatever the answer, what it boils down to is this: The Sport 1000 sells for $11,495 and needs a set of $100 fork springs to fix it. The Thruxton costs just $7999, which is a screamin' deal, but even with $3495 worth of mods is still unlikely to equal the Ducati. In the end, the Triumph is the more authentic Cafe racer, but the Ducati is the better motorcycle.

Explained Back in the Bad Olde Days, Cafe racers never studied ergonomics. Some things never change. Though comfortable is a strong word for either bike, the longer, roomier Triumph wins this round, especially if you have long legs or an aversion to being propped up on your wrists in excruciating pain for extended periods on the Ducati. Bottom line: They're both painful for more than an hour at a time, but the Thruxton is less so.

2007 Ducati Sport 1000

MSRP $11,495
Type a/o-c V-twin
Valve arrangement sohc, 4v
Bore x stroke 94.0mm x 71.5mm
Displacement 992cc
Compression ratio 10:1
Transmission 6-speed
Final drive Chain
Weight (wet) 436 lb. (198kg)
Weight (dry) 413 lb. (187kg)
Rake 24.0 deg.
Trail 3.62 in. (92mm)
Wheelbase 56.1 in. (1425mm)
Seat height 32.6 in. (828mm)
Fuel capacity 3.9 gal. (15L)
Front 43mm fork
Rear twin shocks, adjustable for spring preload, compression and rebound damping
Corrected 1/4-mile* 11.63 sec. @ 113.36 mph
Fuel mileage
(low/high/average) 40/50/45
*Performance with test-session weather conditions corrected to sea-level stand-ard conditions (59 degrees F, 29.92 in. of mercury).

2007 Triumph Thruxton

MSRP $7,999
Type a-c vertical twin
Valve arrangement DOHC, 8v
Bore x stroke 90.0mm x 68.0mm
Displacement 865cc
Compression ratio 9.2:1
Transmission 5-speed
Final drive Chain
Weight (wet) 497 lb. (225kg)
Weight (dry) 471 lb. (213kg)
Rake 27.0 deg.
Trail 3.82 in. (97mm)
Wheelbase 56.7 in. (1440mm)
Seat height 31.4 in. (797mm)
Fuel capacity 4.4 gal. (17L)
Front 41mm fork, adjustable for
spring preload
Rear twin shocks, adjustable for spring preload
Corrected 1/4-mile* 13.48 sec. @ 100.18 mph
Fuel mileage
(low/high/average) 29/40/34
*Performance with test-session weather conditions corrected to sea-level stand-ard conditions (59 degrees F, 29.92 in. of mercury).

Off The Record
Age: 48
Height 6' 2"
Weight: 215 Lb.
Inseam: 35 In.
Tim Carrithers Executive Editor, Motorcyclist Ignore the sporty posturing. Triumph's Thruxton is a cruiser. It's just the ticket for those who harbor warm, fuzzy feelings for the days when Britannia ruled the waves and Ascot Park, but can't find the kick-starter on a proper 410-pound Bonneville. A little gentrified pottering, perhaps? Fine. But it's bang out of order on a twisty road.

And though the Sport 1000 suffers from price-point suspension and Euro 3 emissions asthma, Jeff Nash has proven there's a beast in there just waiting to get out. In stock trim, at least the Ducati is a start. The Triumph is an embarrassment.

Brent Avis
Too-Tall, Too-Young
Age: 30
Height: 6' 2"
Weight 195 lb.
Inseam: 34 in.

I hate to agree with Timmy the C on anything, seeing as he has more age-induced crust and bitters on him than the Triumph has ugly on the Ducati, but so it goes here. Whether on it or around it, the Triumph is slower, uglier and faker than the gorgeous Ducati-and it sounds like a flatulent parakeet to boot. It goes so far as to make Kawasaki's W650 that was the Bonneville knockoff seem authentic. While the Sport 1000 generated more positive comments and up-turned thumbs and mouths than anything I've ridden recently, the Thruxton (whose nickname became an expletive replacing the first syllable) was all but invisible.

While neither is a true sportbike in the modern-classic sense, the Ducati is at least not a mockery of its lineage, and can be a truly pleasant roundy-road runabout with potential for real performance. The Triumph is only that in name.

By Brian Catterson
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