First Ride Review: 2016 Triumph Bonneville Thruxton R

The Granddaddy of Bonnevilles Packs a Real Punch

2016 Triumph Thruxton R review
The new Thruxton R has lower 22mm clip on handlebars, Daytona R foot pegs, and a 31.9 inch high seat, giving the rider a more aggressive stance.©Motorcyclist

Triumph says: “The Ultimate Café Racer.” Motorcyclist Magazine says: “When’s the Thruxton Cup?”

Triumph has been teasing us since October with images of the new lineup of Bonnevilles, and we've been champing at the bit to throw a leg over each new steed in the Hinckley stable ever since. The Street Twin whet our appetite back in November (click here to see the Street Twin review), and now we've had time in the saddle with the T120 (see First Ride). Saving the best for last, we finally got to ride the new Thruxton R, and can't stop smiling.

2016 Triumph Thruxton R review, Silver Ice color
The Thruxton R’s tank is a longer, leaner re-imagining of the previous gen Thruxton, while brushed stainless single skin exhaust makes an unbroken sweep around to reverse-megaphone cans.©Motorcyclist

Sharing the base engine platform with the T120, the 1,200cc Thruxton R’s engine proves it is most definitely not the same bike. With a low inertia crank, high compression head, sports mapping engine tune, and high flow exhaust, the Thruxton pumps out 96 hp with a compression ratio of 11:1 (vs. the T120’s 79 hp and 10:1 compression ratio). The Thruxton and Thruxton R’s engine has been tuned for more torque than the T120, and far more torque (up 62 percent) than the previous generation Thruxton. While the T120’s 77.4 pound-feet of torque peaks at only 3,100 rpm, the Thruxton tops at 82.6 pound-feet at 4,950 rpm. However, the Thruxton’s torque stays above 73 pound-feet between about 2,500 and 6,500 rpm. What does that mean in layman’s terms? You get more usable thrust sooner and more power that lasts longer.

2016 Triumph Thruxton R review
With a 55.7 inch wheelbase, 17-inch front wheel, 22.8 degrees of rake and 3.6 inches of trail, the Thruxton R’s more compact geometry eats up the twisty ribbons of tarmac.©Motorcyclist

Swinging a leg over the Thruxton R is reminiscent of the last generation model, the tank shape giving a nudge like a friendly dog eager to say hello. It took a couple instances of hard braking to finally set in the idea of squeezing the knees into the tank divots to keep from having more uncomfortable encounters with the tank. Lower 22mm clip on bars and Daytona R footpegs set up slightly back give the Thruxton R a more sportbike crouch. Not full blown racing fetal position, but certainly sportier than the rest of the Bonneville family. The seat is a bit taller (31.9 inches to be exact) and certainly firmer than the Thruxton R’s more mild-mannered sibling, the T120, though it might be a tad more comfortable than the Street Twin’s. That’s not to say the cockpit of the new 2016 Thruxton R is uncomfortable; it’s simply a contrast to the soft perch of the T120.

2016 Triumph Thruxton R review, tank
A sleek brushed tank strap is unique to the Thruxton R, while tank divets are a good shape for hooking your knees.©Motorcyclist
2016 Triumph Thruxton R review, dash and gauges
Twin dials show tach and speed, while subtle inset digital displays give trip, odo, fuel level, gear selection, and miles to empty info, as well as indicators for TC, ABS, and Ride Modes.©Motorcyclist

Firing up the Thruxton’s engine at first gives off a similar purr to the T120, but blip the throttle, and the single-skin reverse megaphone exhaust brings forth a secondary bass note; a throaty grumble that reverberates through the bones to state this bike means business. Taking off from our starting point near Cascais, Portugal, the Thruxton R’s throttle response is immediate, but feels more refined. Starting off in Road riding mode, the throttle feels a little less abrupt than the T120, but it doesn’t take much twist of the wrist to get even more power and nearly consistent torque out of the Thruxton. While the tamer T120 only has Road and Rain modes, the Thruxton adds a third: Race mode, which makes the throttle response even that much more immediate. It didn’t take long to switch to this once we got out of town and into the hills.

2016 Triumph Thruxton R review, engine
. Don’t let the 1200cc engine fool you: this is no dressed up T120. The Thruxton and Thruxton R’s engine pumps out 96 hp and a compression ratio of 11:1, thanks to a low inertia crank, high compression head, sports mapping engine tune, and high flow exhaust.©Motorcyclist

Refinement elsewhere is present in the suspension, which the Thruxton R has in high-spec spades. A fully adjustable 43mm Showa Big Piston Fork and fully adjustable Öhlins twin piggyback shocks, both with 4.7 inches of travel, make for a firm, yet well tuned ride. Cobblestone streets, slow speed humps, high speed bumps, and sharp edged potholes, are all damped and dulled by the suspension but not completely erased. That tightened suspension comes in handy later in the day as we head into the hills for twistier roads. Flicking back and forth through the S-bends near Sintra, Portugal, the Thruxton R remains poised, agile, and eager for more.

2016 Triumph Thruxton R review, Showa forks
Front suspension is taken care of by a Showa Big Piston Fork, fully adjustable for preload, compression, and rebound damping.©Motorcyclist

Steering feels light, with reasonably quick turn in, letting the Thruxton R make fast business of any tight bends in the pavement. With a 55.7-inch wheelbase, 17-inch front wheel, 22.8 degrees of rake and 3.6 inches of trail, the Thruxton R’s more aggressive geometry eats up the twisty ribbons of tarmac. The completely new tubular steel frame keeps the Thruxton narrow, and with twin-sided clear anodized aluminum swingarm and aluminum wheels, this 448-pound R is lighter than all its Bonneville brethren (vs. the regular Thruxton at 454 pounds). The Pirelli Diablo Rosso Corsa tires inspire confidence when taking corners at an enthusiastic pace.

2016 Triumph Thruxton R review, seat
The rider’s saddle is set at 31.9 inches, but still offers enough comfort to pilot the Thruxton R.©Motorcyclist
2016 Triumph Thruxton R review, rear cowl
A color matched seat cowl covers the pillion’s perch.©Motorcyclist

Also confidence inspiring are the Thruxton R’s brakes, which come stock with ABS. The radial mounted four-piston Brembo Monoblock calipers up front give a strong initial grip on the twin floating Brembo discs, without feeling wooden or accidentally pitching the bike into a stoppie. The higher-spec front brakes are assisted by a two-piston Nissin caliper in back. Just as with the T120, the ABS engages without making a huge fuss about it. Instead, it instills a sense of safety and assurance during hard braking maneuvers, be they intentional or not. ABS is standard, as is traction control, both of which can be shut off if you think you can outride the system, or simply want to hoon about.

2016 Triumph Thruxton R review, Brembo brakes
The Thruxton R is the only member of the Bonneville family to come stock with Brembo brakes, though only up front.©Motorcyclist

With all this sporting capability and modern technology, the Thruxton still maintains its classic rocker look. Twin “analogue” dials, brushed Monza-style flip-up gas cap, bullet indicators, brushed stainless exhaust, and that oh-so-unique stainless tank strap keep the Thruxton R very much in tune with its cafe racer roots. The main complaint is that the R isn’t available in good ol’ BRG (aka “Competition Green,” only available on the base Thruxton, along with Pure White and Jet Black.) It does, however, come in Diablo Red, Silver Ice, and Matte Black. The only other gripe is the price: Thruxton R starts at $14,500, and that’s before even touching the catalog of over 160 optional accessories, not to mention the 3 available Inspiration Kits: Track Racer, Café Racer, and Performance Race Kit.

2016 Triumph Thruxton R review, Öhlins shocks
Öhlins fully adjustable piggyback shocks allow for refined settings of spring preload, compression, and rebound damping, giving 4.7 inches of travel.©Motorcyclist

We didn’t get a chance to ride the base model Thruxton, but it’s worth noting that the main differences between it and the up-spec’d R are chromed exhaust (vs. brushed), twin-sided aluminum swingarm (not clear anodized), Pirelli Angel GT tires (vs. Diablo Rosso Corsas), the same Kayaba fork and twin shocks as the T120 (vs. Showa and Öhlins, respectively), and Nissin front brakes. The base Thruxton is priced at $12,500.

2016 Triumph Thruxton R review, stainless megaphone exhaust
Brushed stainless exhaust gives a deep raw growl at higher rpms.©Motorcyclist

So there it is. The final piece in Triumph’s long awaited Bonneville lineup. With the Thruxton and Thruxton R, the Hinckley team has proven that they thought this new Bonneville family through, opening their arms to an even wider scope of riders, merging modern conveniences with beautifully updated classic style. The next question is, which one will you take home?

2016 Triumph Thruxton R review, Diablo red color, side view
The Thruxton R comes in Diablo Red (seen here), Silver Ice, and Matte Black, and starts at $14,500.©Motorcyclist


Derived from the current mid-line T120, the Thruxton and Thruxton R add more sporting appeal and, in the R model, much higher-spec suspension, wheel, and brake components.
[BMW R nineT][], [Harley-Davidson Sportster][], [Honda CB1100][], [Indian Scout][], [Moto Guzzi V9][], [Yamaha XSR-900][]
PRICE $14,500
ENGINE 1200cc SOHC 8 valve parallel twin
CLAIMED HORSEPOWER 96.0 hp @ 6750 rpm
CLAIMED TORQUE 82.6 lb.-ft. @ 4950 rpm
FRAME Tubular steel cradle with twin-sided aluminum swingarm
FRONT SUSPENSION Showa 43mm fork adjustable for spring preload, compression and rebound damping; 4.7-in. travel
REAR SUSPENSION Öhlins shocks adjustable for spring preload, compression and rebound damping; 4.7-in. travel
FRONT BRAKE Brembo four-piston calipers, 310mm discs with ABS
REAR BRAKE Nissin two-piston caliper, 220mm disc with ABS
RAKE/TRAIL 22.8°/3.6 in.
WHEELBASE 55.7 in.
SEAT HEIGHT 31.9 in.
CLAIMED WEIGHT 448 lb. dry
AVAILABLE Spring 2016
The most highly anticipated of the Bonnevilles, the Thruxton is a fun, sporty high spec’d café racer that tops out the line with more torque and horsepower than its predecessor.