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Triumph Thruxton 1200/R (2016-current) - Review and Buying Guide

Freelance motorcycle journalist, former editor of Bike & What Bike?, ex-Road Test Editor MCN, author of six books and now in need of a holiday.



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The Triumph Thruxton is the sportier, café racer-styled version of its popular retro roadster Bonneville, which were all completely reinvented in 2016 with an all-new, liquid-cooled powertrain (which is styled to look air-cooled), new chassis, everything…

The Thruxton name itself, meanwhile, comes from the Hampshire racing circuit which in the 1960s hosted the important Thruxton 500 endurance race which specially adapted Triumph Bonnevilles dominated in 1969 by taking the first three places. Soon after, Triumph built a commemorative, performance version of the T120 Bonneville known as the T120 Thruxton and a legend was born. Following the successful launch of an all-new, retro-styled Bonneville by the revived Hinckley Triumph marque in 2001, an uprated, café racer-style Thruxton variant was also launch in 2004 which remained in production for 12 years.

However, the all-new 1200cc version launched in 2016 is not only bigger and more powerful, it also comes in two versions – the basic Thruxton 1200 with conventional forks and twin shocks and an uprated R with multi-adjustable inverted forks, adjustable Öhlins piggy-back shocks plus also equipment upgrades by way of stainless silencers, a ‘Monza’ fuel cap, brushed aluminium tank strap, clear anodized swinging arm, painted seat cowl and a polished top yoke.

With 96bhp and fabulous handling both are a huge step up from the old 865cc, 69bhp version and are also more substantial and better equipped. Reliability and quality have proven good as well. If you like the retro look but want modern sporting ability and features such as switchable riding modes, the Thruxton 1200 is definitely worth a look.


Triumph Thruxton 1200/R (2016-current) Price

Although a significant step up in performance and specification, the new Thruxton 1200 was also a sizeable step up in price over the old Thruxton 900, too. Where the old 900 costs around £7600 when new, the new 1200 and 1200 R were £10,400 and £11,700 respectively, although, if compared to contemporary sports bikes with a similar Öhlins/Brembo and riding modes spec, that price wasn’t at all bad.

As a used buy, it’s even more tempting value. The R version has proved much more popular so there are more used examples available. Even so, an early 2016 base Thruxton 1200 with well under 10,000 miles under its tyres can now be snapped up for a little over £7000 while a higher spec R of similar will cost a snip at just £500 more.


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Power and Torque

Both the Thruxton 1200 and 1200 R use the new, larger 1200cc ‘HP’ (for High Power’) version of the latest Bonneville engine which produces 96 bhp at 6,750rpm and 82.6 ft-lbs torque at 4,950rpm – a massive increase of 41% and 62% respectively over the outgoing Thruxton 900.

It’s a lively performer for a retro, too. Give it a handful and the speed of the acceleration will quickly eat up and then run out of revs. Click up and the bike continues to pull hard rewarding you for keeping it between 5000-6500rpm with a cracking ride, as if it wants to be ridden like the sportsbikes at the start of its ancestral line. Yet it’s also decently flexible and the three power modes, although not affecting peak power, soften the delivery markedly.


Engine, Gearbox and Exhaust

The Thruxton 1200, as its name suggests, uses the larger 1200c (as opposed to 900cc) ‘HP’ (‘High Power’) version of Triumph’s new liquid-cooled (but styled to look air-cooled) parallel twin cylinder motor.

It’s vibrant, and its low inertia crank gives you just the right amount of feeling through the chassis, pegs, bars and seat to reassure you that the engine is responding to your every input. Some bikes can be too teeth-chatteringly throbby but the Thruxton’s degree of mechanical feedback is just right to remind you of its history each time it pulses enthusiastically beneath.

The gearbox is sweet with easy up and downshifts, often clutchless just with the slightest of rolling off of the throttle. The gears on the Thruxton are smaller and have a shorter space between them than the T120 Bonneville, the front and rear sprockets are also different sizes given the Thruxton’s sportier DNA. It means the Thruxton is revvier and responds well to being kept higher up the range, closer to the 7000 red line.

It sounds stunning too. The exhaust note from the stainless steel (on the R, they’re chrome on the standard bike) upswept reverse megaphone-style twin end cans offers a burbly roar, deep and rich. Dip the clutch and give the throttle a handful in town and watch the look on pedestrians’ faces – most will love it. You certainly will.



Triumph Thruxton 1200/R (2016-current) Economy

Although a performance version of the Bonneville with a larger engine, the Thruxton 1200 is still ‘only’ 96bhp and a twin cylinder bike compared to our sports machines which are four-cylinders and can approach 200bhp – so, if ridden sympathetically, it has the fairly reasonable fuel economy figures to match. We’d certainly expect mpg figures in the high-40s with over 50mpg easily achievable if ridden with care. That, along with the middling 14.5-litre fuel tank should return a range of over 150miles between fill-ups.


Handling, suspension, chassis and weight

The Thruxton 1200 and 1200 R differ most with the quality of their suspension components: the 1200 has conventional, non-adjustable 41mm Kayaba front forks and preload-only adjustable Kayaba twin rear shocks. The R has fancy, fully-adjustable 43mm inverted Showa ‘Big Piston’ front forks and similarly-adjustable, ‘piggy-back’ Ohlins rear shocks. Either way, as with most Triumphs, both are fine handlers with intuitive, involving steering and fabulous road-holding making both a joy on a twisty road on a sunny Sunday afternoon, something helped further by also being relatively slim and light. The main advantage of the R is its more cultured, classy ride which truly puts it at the top of the retro pile and its adjustment options.

That said, for all the good the suspension is doing, the relatively unpadded and therefore the authentic seat doesn’t offer the most comfortable ride. The suspension, set in completely out-of-the-dealership standard form, settles the bike well even if committed in a corner and you catch an abnormality in the Tarmac.



Triumph Thruxton 1200/R (2016-current) Brakes

Both Thruxton 1200s feature twin big 310mm front disc brakes although again they differ in the quality of brake calipers used. The stock bike uses conventional, twin piston Nissin calipers and although these are up to the job, the R’s radially-mounted Brembo four-piston items take the braking power up to another, near-superbike level along with extra feel and finesse. You pays your money…


Comfort over distance and touring

The Thruxton R is an extremely well balanced bike. Narrow with a slender seat waist, it encourages the rider to sit back and lay as flat as possible over the tank gripping with the knees in a true classic racer pose. This is where you get the most out of the bike. Its side profile doesn’t shout sportsbike yet the most comfortable riding position does. It’s certainly easier on the wrists that way!

Of course, that doesn’t make it the most comfortable bike over distance. The seat is fairly thin and the low-ish bars take their toll, which is why many owners choose to fit higher handlebars and/or a small nose cowling. Even then, however, the Thruxton is no real touring bike, with limited luggage space and less weather protection.


Rider aids and extra equipment / accessories

Adding to the ride ability of the Thruxton and Thruxton R are the three rider modes: Rain, Road and Sport all of which link to the ride-by-wire system. Each offer no adjustment in maximum power but instead affect the sharpness of the throttle’s response through the speed at which the butterfly valve opens.

These modes can be adjusted while riding with a flick of the appropriately named ‘Mode’ button until your desired one flashed on the instrument panel, roll off the throttle for as long as it takes to whip the clutch in and out. Done.

‘Sport’ certainly lives up to its name and threatens to overrule the traction control under hard acceleration from a standing start, the front wheel lifting a little in the first two gears with zero wheelie encouragement. Meanwhile, in ‘Rain’ setting, there’s a slight, and I mean very slight, snatch in the microscopic amount of throttle travel between off and on throttle should you be crawling through slow moving traffic.

Switchable traction control, a slip assist clutch, twin clocks, daytime running lights at the front and an LED rear light plus an under-seat USB charging port add further to the Thruxton’s appeal.

Over 160 dedicated accessories are available for owners to customise their Thruxtons, including a pillion seat and pegs, and like the other Bonnevilles, the Midlands-based manufacturer has produced some inspiration models using a handful of the official accessories; ‘Track Racer’ (£1620) - possibly one of the most beautiful bikes I’ve ever seen, a ‘Cafe Racer’ (£1295) and the ‘Race Kit’ – designed for circuit use only with a price and more info due later in the summer. These prices don’t include fitting by the way.



Triumph Thruxton 1200/R (2016-current) verdict

Triumph has created something very special with the latest model to proudly carry the Thruxton name. While the marketing chaps will drill words like ‘icon’, ‘legend’ and ‘authentic’ into presentations and web pages, I’d urge you to get on the bike, feel the engine, hear the exhaust, drop your visor and give it a whirl and you’ll understand why words like that are used.

The Thruxton R stands out even more due to the quality of components and extra detailing. The care and quality of the finish is exceptional and as you swing a leg over, the feeling that some people in a factory near Leicester spent time to complete this four-year project with the care it deserved adds to the overall riding experience.

And because service intervals are now extended to 10,000 miles and the bike is cleaner emission-wise plus a claimed 11% more economic, the new Thruxton 1200 is a winner for your wallet too.


Three things we love about the Thruxton…

  • Fabulous style and detail

  • Great performance and handling

  • Name and British style


Three things that we don’t…

  • R version’s high-ish new price

  • Riding position limits practicality

  • Some are disappointed by fact they’re actually built in Thailand

Triumph Thruxton 1200/R (2016-current) spec

Original price


Used price

From £7,200-£9,000/£7,750-£10,000



Bore x Stroke

97.6 x 80mm

Engine layout

Parallel twin

Engine details

Liquid-cooled, 8v, DOHC


96bhp (72kW) @ 6,750rpm


82.6lb-ft (112Nm) @ 4,950rpm

Top speed



6-speed, chain

Average fuel consumption


Tank size

14.5 litres

Max range to empty (theoretical)

156 miles

Reserve capacity

20 miles

Rider aids

Switchable ABS, traction control, 3 riding modes


Tubular steel double cradle

Front suspension

Kayaba 41mm telescopic forks/Showa 43mm inverted telescopic forks

Front suspension adjustment

None/Fully adjustable

Rear suspension

Kayaba twin shocks/Ohlins piggyback twin shocks

Rear suspension adjustment

Preload only/Fully adjustable

Front brake

2 x 310mm discs, Nissin twin-piston calipers, ABS/ 2 x 310mm discs, Brembo four-piston radial calipers, ABS

Rear brake

220mm disc, Nissin twin-piston caliper, ABS

Front tyre

120/70 – 17

Rear tyre

160/60 – 17




2105mm x 745mm x 1030mm (LxWxH)



Ground clearance


Seat height


Kerb weight



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