The all-new 1200cc, liquid-cooled, parallel-twin engine is nothing short of a gem. This is the same mill that sets the Thruxton R thumping but in a completely different state of tune. The T120 gets the High Torque (HT) version, while the Thruxton R gets the High Power (HP) version. The T120’s engine drills out a reasonable 80hp of peak power at 6,550rpm and a whole 105Nm of peak torque at 3,100rpm. What this does translate to, is plenty of pulling power in every gear and a rather linear power delivery. But this is something that can really throw you off guard. Linger in the lower rev-range and you really enjoy the relaxed nature of the engine, with oodles of torque to amble about. Whack the throttle open, and once the tacho-needle edges past the 3,100rpm mark, speed starts to really build quickly. Even when testing out acceleration on rain soaked roads, the T120 managed zero to 100kph in just 5.68 seconds. Not really something you’d expect from a motorcycle that looks like it should come equipped with a cup of English breakfast tea and maybe a crumpet.
The six-speed gearbox on the T120 feels very precise, although it’s slightly clunky in the lower gears. But to maximise the potential of all that torque, it comes with fairly tall gear ratios and you could easily see the speedo-needle nudging on 90kph in first gear alone. Despite the tallish gearing though, in fourth gear it can go from 40 to 60kph in a scant 2.74 seconds and even in sixth gear, the run from 70 to 100kph in just 5.79 seconds. As they say, there’s no replacement for displacement. What’s also responsible for such delectable linear power delivery is a new 270-degree crankshaft layout, which also makes for a lovely burble from the twin pea-shooter exhausts. It’s certainly a symphony that fills you with the nostalgia of what parallel-twin engines must have sounded like half a century ago.
The T120’s dose of modernity includes some neat touches such as a ride-by-wire throttle, which has made way for a competent, but rudimentary (and switchable) traction control system. The traction control ensures you don’t spin the rear wheel on loose surfaces, but when it does cut in, it’s a bit abrupt which can be a little unnerving mid-corner. But while this same traction control system is also available on its smaller sibling, the Street Twin, the T120 gets riding modes as well. Granted that there are only two modes, Road and Rain, and they aren’t as nuanced as what you get on modern sportbikes, you’ll be glad to have the lowered throttle response of Rain mode when riding in the wet.