Café racers are supposed to be road bikes, aren’t they? And on the road, this latest neo-retro Triumph Thruxton R had us mighty impressed when we rode it in Portugal a few months back. But staring down an empty pit lane, leading into the MMRT track in Chennai – which is all ours for the day – with the slim, gorgeous tank of the Thruxton R nestled between my legs, I can’t help but wonder if this experience is going to be as satisfying as I imagine it to be. Time to find out just how much “racer” is in this café racer then…
A heart for speed
From the word go, it’s clear that speed is one thing this bike certainly isn’t lacking. The 1,200cc parallel twin motor might be almost identical to that from the more laid-back Bonneville T120, but the difference in specs is quite stark. While the T120’s engine carries the High Torque badge, the Thruxton’s says High Power, or rather screams it. Open the taps and the twin upswept reverse cone megaphone exhausts sound like a heavy metal drum solo. But you don’t get too much time to appreciate that when on the track, as the next corner approaches much quicker than can be anticipated. And the rate at which the Thruxton R shortens any straightaways will leave you wondering, “Wait! What? How is this just 97hp?” Granted that it’s not supersport-fast by any means, but because the motor makes more than 100Nm of torque right from 2,000rpm, the acceleration in any gear is surprisingly quick. In fact, you’ll be glad that there’s a fairly competent electronics package providing the bike with traction control, wheelie control and even riding modes. Yes, electronics… on a bike that represents the minimalist design philosophy from the 1960s.
This electronics package has been a key aspect of modernising the new Bonneville range and while even the T120 gets Road and Rain modes, the Thruxton does one better thanks to a more aggressive Sport mode. But with an entire race track to play around on, it’s best to leave it in Sport. However, get a little bold and turn the traction control off, and on occasions, you’ll find the front wheel reaching for the sky if you get too happy with your right wrist. Better keep the traction control on then. That being said, there are some situations on the track which bring out the shortcomings of this motor. The low inertia crankshaft allows the Thruxton to rev very quick, but its 7,000-and-a-bit rpm redline can feel woefully inadequate on longer straights, and there is a fairly sharp drop off in torque past 6,000rpm. But honestly speaking, the motor that’s mostly impressive isn’t even the bike’s strongest suit, because it’s got the agility to match a trained ballerina.
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Issue: 209 | Autocar India: January 2017
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