They say history repeats itself. We think it does. Back in the 60’s, in the world of Rock n Roll, among peace rallies and rise of the rebellion, a new form of motorcycling took form. It was called café racing. If you aren’t familiar with the term, Good Morning; hope you slept well for the last 60 years. We aren’t sure if the culture of café racing is coming back with increased policing and track days replacing street racing but café racers sure are making a comeback. Thank God for that.
Images: Bobby Roy
Words: Dhairya Gupta
India saw the launch of Royal Enfield’s café racer Continental GT last year and boy, did it get some attention. Everybody wanted a piece of it, some disliked it, some loved it but everybody was talking about it. Then came the launch of Triumph motorcycles in India along with their Café Racer inspired Thruxton, a pure-bred British motorcycle. In the world of automobiles, Germans are the brains, the engineers; Japanese are the legs – their cars and bikes move more people around the world than any other; British are the soul. However, a part of that soul died when people moved to more reliable and modern machines. With so many British car and motorcycling companies shutting shop, it is Triumph which has managed to stand the test of times and has, well, triumphed.
I remember riding a Ninja along with a slew of modern Japanese bikes in the US, back in 2008. One bike stood out. No it wasn’t a Ducati – there were three of them. It was none other than the Triumph Thruxton (by monique). There it was, looking Oh! So pretty with its gleaming chrome, racing stripes on the tank, large naked cylinders, clip-on’s et al. It was the only bike (other than mine) I clicked during the ride.
I had a similar reaction when I went to pick the test bike – the latest Triumph Thruxton.
Looks: 4.5 / 5
Motorcycle design has evolved. Aerodynamics and need for speed has led to sharper lines and creases everywhere. Not with the Thruxton. She is the proverbial old lady with the charm and charisma oozing from its simple looks. This bike would be lost in the crowd until you lay your eyes on her for a few seconds. Listen to some music which sounds like;
“You gotta spend some time, Love.
You gotta spend some time with me.
And I know that you’ll find, love
I will possess your heart.”
Unlike super sports bikes or heavy cruisers, no one gives it a second look when stuck in traffic at a red light, but park it for few minutes and everybody pigeons around to get their pictures along side. The bike is well proportioned with its parallel twin engine, twin megaphone chrome exhausts, minimalist rear end, neatly fitted headlight cowl and aluminum spoke wheels. Triumph has created a modern machine with retro looks. Things like placing the Fuel injection system in a carburetor shaped housing confuses you, but also makes you smile at the same time. They even have a dummy choke switch on it. Fake tubes try to look like push-rod covers and they have gone to a great extent to give it true retro looks, at the same time infused it with modern, more reliable technology. It is difficult to convince someone completely retro at heart with an old-fashioned meter console that incorporates a digital odometer and a Fuel Injection system light. So they took the middle path, you get an analogue speedometer which does the ‘self-test’ routine in a housing which looks more of this time than of an era gone-by.
A single seat with a cowl completes the retro café racer look. So this classic old lady takes you back in the 60’s, makes you fell nostalgic with her looks, but wouldn’t be caught unawares in recent times if you gave her an iPhone.
Engine and Performace: 3.5 / 5
Ah, the Café racers. The ton-up guys. This is all that matters. “How fast can your bike hit 100 kph?” was the question on everybody’s mind and it still is. It is 5 seconds for the Thruxton. The 875 cc, 69 bhp engine has a muffled growling sound. It will not wake up your neighbors when you take it out for a ride on an early Sunday morning. Heck, it won’t even wake up the person in the next car, but the engine is smooth and vibe free. The bike seems to warm-up till about 4,000 RPM and then it starts to gather pace. The bike gains speed steadily with a meaty mid-range. It hits the ton in second gear and has a very usable third gear. In the twisties, one can easily play within these two gears, keep the revs above 4000 rpm and you will not be short of power. It isn’t ‘Hold on to dear life’ kind of acceleration though. The vibrations are low and gears shift seamlessly. We can attribute this to the 360 degree firing parallel twin engine which provides even firing intervals. If we have to nitpick though, we wish the sound was a little more dramatic and some more power wouldn’t go amiss.
Ride and Handling: 3.5 / 5
The latest Thruxton does away with the clip-on’s and has a low slung handle bar instead. It lends a sporty stance while still being comfortable on the back. However, with a little heavy throttle and extended arms, your wrists and forearms would get a good workout on a long ride.
The bike wears Metzeler shoes with a 130/80 17 inch rear and 100/90 18 inch front tyre, which lend it a decent ride, stability at high speeds and good grip around corners. With a 1.5 meter wheelbase and 230 kg wet weight, it isn’t a traffic carving machine. However, once we got used to the weight, it held its line well, boosting our confidence around corners. Undoubtedly, this is no street fighter. For kids who wish to scrape pegs at every corner and win drag races, look elsewhere. This machine is to be enjoyed for the love of riding at a comfortable pace, wearing a classic half-helmet coupled with old fashioned fighter jet goggles.
Ride quality is decent, as we did encounter some broken roads which did not break our backs. The telescopic suspension up front and the tubular cradle frame took the Indian bad roads in its stride with ease.
We wish the brakes had some more bite though. For a motorcycle that gathers momentum rather quick, the brakes could’ve been a tad better. Having said that, the bike does remain stable and planted under heavy braking, but don’t expect it to stop on a dime. Maybe Triumph wanted it that way, as it adds more character and enhances the nostalgic appeal of the motorcycle.
Fuel Economy: 4 / 5
Though such questions are blasphemy for performance bikes, range is something we look for given the scarcity of reliable fuel pumps on our highways. The bike managed about 110 kms in 6.8 litres of petrol, which works out to about 16 kmpl, which included bumper to bumper traffic and an enthusiastic run. While cruising at comfortable speeds on highways, 18-20 kmpl is achievable and with a 16 litre tank, this time machine should be able to transport you 300 kms back in time, before it needs more fuel.
Value: 3.5 / 5
The Thruxton comes to India via a CKD route and therefore is priced attractively. It costs Rs 6.9 Lakhs (Ex-Showroom Delhi), which puts it right in the territory of the Harley-Davidson Iron 883. We think the Thruxton is good value at this price for what it offers with its retro looks, mature performance & handling and if you ever buy one, it will narrate your personality visually, through its looks. Don’t expect kids to jump in glee when they see you on the Thruxton. However, admiration from that classy gentleman wearing a Scottish hat, and a smile that affirms approval from that woman of substance in the car next to you at a red light is guaranteed.
Verdict: 3.5 / 5 Stars overall
This bike is a jack of all trades and the king of looks. It is neither an outright performance machine nor the perfect track toy. However, this bike manages to strum the strings of your heart. It does everything just right and is the perfect toy for Sunday morning rides and highway runs. Even when the weather doesn’t permit, this is that bike which you spend time cleaning, polishing, get some grease on your hands and some dirt on your vest. The Thruxton takes you back in time when beauty potions for men were non-existent and hairy-chested fighter pilots flew jets without canopies. The bike isn’t meant for boys, nothing about it screams, its mere presence announces it is meant for men.
The charm of the bike is such that we found an instant customer next to the Sacred Heart Cathedral in Central Delhi. A middle aged gentleman with his grey hair and Rayban Aviators stood there admiring the bike, walked towards us, took a feel of the motorcycle and the way his face lit up, we’re sure he felt a Thruxton years younger.
Mini Cowl surrounds the headlamp and features ‘fast’ stripes.
‘Fast’ stripes extend to the Fuel tank, sips fuel fast but not unusually.
Carburetor shaped housing hides the Fuel-injection system, we like.
Gleaming chrome exhuast is tapered towards the end, we wish it was a little more louder.
A motorcycle that can also grace your drawing room.
The President of India must get himself one if he wants to be popular overnight among the young and restless.
The Thruxton doesn’t break any barriers of speed, single seat will break a lot of hearts though.
Side panel carries the name with pride.
Switchgear is basic, but in-line with the retro image.
The Motorcycle is a joy around corners.
Retro themed tail-light and blinkers.
Rear-view mirrors are placed on the bar ends, you cannot not love them.
The Triumph Thruxton sports premium Metzeler rubber
Retro feel has been extended to the blinkers too, they don’t sport clear glass
No place for a pillion. The Cowl looks just as pretty though.
Grips are good and have a soft feel.
Speedometer is marked till 220 kph, chrome surrounds around dials enhances appeal.
We have compiled all the picture in one place, feel free to click and enlarge.