Triumph Thruxton RS (2020) - Review

 

Derived from the Thruxton R, born in 2016, this modern interpretation of the classic café racer has been updated and upgraded for this year. Meet the 2020 Triumph Thruxton RS – the most powerful bike from the Hinckley firm’s modern classic range.

With a classy overhaul for this year including the new Euro5-friendly engine, the Triumph dips into its history as far back as the 1950s with its heritage, silhouette and styling but with plenty of modern day and premium brand goodies. It’s faster by 8bhp, lighter by 6kg, makes its peak torque earlier in the rev range yet there are more revs to play with. The brakes and tyres have been upgraded too, all of which is a hearty and healthy overhaul to improve the ride quality.

Triumph are filling their shelves with modern classics with 9 iterations using either the 900 or 1200cc liquid-cooled parallel twin engine sharing shop floor space alongside the Rocket 3, Tigers and the sportier triples. While each has its own character, style and riding reward, they are all blank canvasses to personalise – no other manufacturer can claim such an offering as the good old British firm.

Off to Portugal’s Algarve we went to test the new Triumph Thruxton RS.

 

2020 Triumph Thruxton RS Price

The 2020 version of Triumph’s Thruxton RS is available from £13,000 and you don’t have long to wait to book a test ride or part with your cash because the bike is in dealerships from early March, possibly even late February.

Available in two colours, Jet Black or Matt Storm Grey and Silver Ice, the latter of which is immediately recognisable courtesy of the red stripe across the fuel tank and pillion seat cover.

While subject to change, the PCP deal should equate to 36 monthly payments of c.£155 after a £3k deposit, leaving an optional final payment of £6362.

 

What's the Thruxton RS like to ride?
Join Michael Mann at the Triumph Thruxton RS press launch in Portugal to have a closer look at the bike, hear about the new bits, good bits and not so good bits plus see and hear what it's like to ride...

 

Engine, gearbox and exhaust

The significantly updated 1200cc parallel twin engine is now more responsive, has more peak power – 103.5bhp/77kW @ 7,500 rpm – a decent increase from the 96bhp of the 2016 R model. It delivers its 112Nm of peak torque 700rpm lower in the rev range while the Hinckley factory has given the bike an extra 500rpm which means more juicy acceleration before it runs out of steam. Peak power is just a shade before that red line to so you get a continuous drive all the way around the range from that rather elegant and refined, rather than brutish, twin.

To get techy about it, the upgrades include high compression pistons, revised ports and cam profile, a secondary air system as well lighter weight components including crankshaft, balance shafts, clutch, a magnesium cam cover and thin walled engine covers.

There’s a deep rumble from the big twin reminiscent of a purring cat with the tempo dialled down which can be felt without irritation through the seat and pegs. This is the kind of feeling electric bikes of the future won’t offer so while this particular Triumph has been built with its heritage as a key style driver, perhaps the firm also had the more mechanical connection with the rider that was surely evident in the 50s and 60s in mind too.

I noticed a lack of popping on the overrun which would be a sweet touch that would tingle any petrol head in just the right place. That said, while I couldn’t hear it through my helmet, it was apparent when later watching some passing footage distributed by the film crew. The twin upswept silencers allow the Thruxton RS to stand out from the crowd and offer an alluring rear view..

The gearbox is not assisted with a quick shifter but the clutch and gear lever actions are light and precise enough to not miss one that much while the super neat design of the sweeping exhaust run, evident through much of the modern-day Bonneville range, is beyond stylish.

 

 

Power and torque

On paper, 103.5bhp shouldn’t worry too many sportsbike go-getters but is more than ample for most, and the way in which it’s delivered is testament to the evolutionary work of the 1200cc motor by Triumph's engineers. Away from the traffic lights and the instant power is manageable without getting wayward but then a surge from around 3000rpm, just like with the R model, still gives the right kind of buzz in the trouser area. This time the power delivery that you ache for to keep coming and coming doesn’t get cut short too soon courtesy of that extended redline.

This low revving and high torque twin serves power wheelies on a platter with a firm twist of the right-hand grip and an encouraging yank on the bars – picture a drag car setting off from the line when it lights its rears and those skinny little fronts pop up. Flick the clutch too and the lively front end needs little encouragement to leave the ground which is all quite out of character and rambunctious for the classic Triumph.

 

2020 Triumph Thruxton RS Economy

The engine refinements have made the bike faster, lighter but also Euro 5 compliant, which doesn’t seem to have affected the economy too much. On the press ride of the ‘R’ model four years ago, I managed 45.3mpg. On this longer and more energetic ride, it was a shade over 44mpg as indicated by the on-board digital display and seems about right.

However, another on the ride who rode at a similar pace all day was presented with a figure of 38mpg on their screen, all while Triumph is claiming 58mpg. That’s a big difference and if it’s a deal breaker then I’d encourage you to take note of your average on any test ride.

 

Handling, suspension, chassis and weight

The handling of a modern classic roadster is not usually its forte but as with the R, the RS and its wealth of updates makes you wonder why sports bikes even exist. It falls into corners smoothly with predictable elegance courtesy of the well set suspension and scorching Metzeler Racetec RR tyres. There’s a consistency with its stable feeling ride, enough to not worry about a spot of late braking or extra turning if the first tip-in wasn’t enough.

A sophisticated suspension set-up sees the Showa Big Piston Forks (BPF) at the front coupled with a twin set of Ohlins shocks all of which is adjustable to suit the pilot’s dynamics and their style of ride. All of which do a sterling job at managing the weight. Triumph only deal in dry figures, so add all the necessary liquids to the 197kg dry weight and the dexterity of the Thruxton RS on a particularly lively ride defies its mass.

The riding position is aggressive but not cruel. After 200 miles in the saddle my wrists know about it but then so did my quads – perhaps something to do with the weight-shifting from side-to-side on the miles of beautifully twisty and very well maintained Portuguese roads north of Albufeira. A 14.5-litre capacity tank is just about enough in one go before you need a stretch but then that depends on the rider and where and how the bike has been ridden. Anyone north of 6ft really ought to be seeking a decent spell on a test ride to seek comfort reassurance.

 

 

2020 Triumph Thruxton RS Brakes

The 2020 model comes with upgraded brakes and boy are they good; Brembo’s 4-piston M50 radial Monobloc calipers provide plenty of stopping power in conjunction with the twin 320mm floating discs. While Triumph are happy to quote a dry weight of 197kg, once the necessary liquids and rider are in place there’s plenty of feel from initial bite to the highly effective slowing power.

Any nasty instant or ferocious bite is replaced by a system that instils confidence in the set-up, allows for plenty of trail braking in the sweeping corners and doesn’t upset the balance of the bike either. They’re an ideal associate for the Thruxton.

 

Styling

Straight outta Shoreditch and a sure-fire hit with those looking for a machine with plenty of top end components which can be altered, personalised and fettled with, the RS comes with a high level of attention to detail. The care and quality of the finish particularly with the polished top yoke and instrument panel is classy enough although I’d be careful with metal keyrings or other keys other than your Triumph ignition key otherwise you’ll be forever polishing the scratches out.

One of the few gripes I have is the presentation of the wires/cables/leads around the handlebars. From a company that offers such a clinically clean set-up as the Rocket 3, the lack of attention to detail around the top yoke on this Thruxton RS seems like a teenager’s bedroom whose definition of ‘tidy’ is to have one pile of stuff, not seven.

 

 

Rider aids and extra equipment / accessories

Triumph has deliberately kept things minimal in terms of electronical controls and options. The stylish and rather old-fashioned twin clocks may look the part in this modern classic and they match the ease of use from yesteryear too. A quick stab of the 'Mode' button is all you need to toggle between the three modes; Rain, Road and Sport – each with its own unique traction control, ABS and throttle map setting. The modes can be adjusted while riding and while the traction control can be disengaged, it has to be done while stationary… and with a little patience.

The twin clocks with their polished surrounds are home to the traditional rev counter and speedo, they aren’t too easy to glance at and nor does the bike come with cruise control so go steady in those 30mph zones. Two LCD displays offer the mode setting and fuel gauge (on the right clock) while on the left side all the standard info is toggleable (is that even a word?) from trips and odometer to current and average mpg, courtesy of that 'i' button.

An LED DRL headlight and LED rear light are neat and contemporary touches and for even more personalisation, 80 accessories ranging through comfort, style, protection and security are there to choose from including a café racer fairing, heated grips (£200 + fitting, they were on our test bike and very powerful in the high mode they were too). I’d recommend one of the two fly screens available as an important buy for added comfort if motorway miles are on the cards.

Something to note, perhaps not to be expected on a modern classic, but neither cruise control nor a quick shifter are options on the Thruxton RS.

 

Rivals

The high spec Triumph complete with its Showa, Ohlins and Brembo goodies tends to whip most of the modern-day competition when researching like-for-like in terms of price, power or style. I started with the below three from BMW, Kawasaki and Ducati but also considered Monster 1200 (big power differential), Honda CB1100RS or Suzuki Katana but none are direct competition in terms of riding position, component quality and price. Really, Triumph’s Thruxton RS is a modern classic that fits neatly into a category that kind of already exists; custom. Think about the naked, unique café racer-esque beauties you see at The Bike Shed Show or at BikeExif.com - try and commission a one-off like that and you’ll be writing a £20k cheque. Buy a Thruxton RS and add a handful of your own custom bits from the catalogue and the nice Triumph dealer will want not a lot more than £15k. In theory.

There’s always the Norton Dominator, at £20,000, if you can get hold of one. But if it’s a modern classic that you’re after for some weekend action rather than a commuter then, other than the current Triumph alternatives, including the delightful Speed Twin, why not look for a real classic like a Laverda Jota. £13,000 will get you a cared for example from the late 70s. 

 

Triumph Thruxton RS

BMW R nineT Pure

Kawasaki Z900 RS

Ducati Scrambler 1100 Sport

Engine

1200cc, parallel twin

1170cc, boxer twin

948cc, in-line four

1079cc L-twin

Power

104bhp (77kW) @ 7500rpm

110bhp (81kW) @ 7750rpm

110bhp (82kW) @ 8500rpm

86bhp (63kW) @ 7500rpm

Torque

82.6lb-ft (112Nm) @ 4250rpm

85.6lb-ft (116Nm) @ 6000rpm

72.6lb-ft (98.5Nm) @ 6500rpm

65lb-ft (88Nm) @ 4750rpm

Weight

197kg (dry)

219kg (wet)

215kg (wet)

206kg (wet)

Seat height

810mm

805mm

835mm

810mm

Fuel tank

14.5 litres

17 litres

17 litres

15 litres

PRICE

£13,000

£10,215

£10,745

£10,795

 

Above: onboard view and the accessorised ‘Inspiration Kit’

 

2020 Triumph Thruxton RS verdict

It may take time to rationalise the price tag and perhaps even more so when the rather tempting accessory sack is surely raided to create a unique and classically styled yet very modern machine. The engine purrs along at low rpm then growls into life with a lusciously long power band which continues to give all the way to the 8k red line. The big parallel twin thumps its way gracefully through the oh-so-precise gearbox and well north of legal UK road speeds before finding fourth. It’s a joy to listen to and equally as pleasurable to look at, if this modern-day café racer style, jacked-up-at-the-rear roadster and its minimalist coverings float your boat. The exhaust run from headers to silencer without appearing to deviate into the cat is synonymous with the current Bonneville range and still looks the business.

The lighter weight and more powerful engine is a big win over the ‘R’ but perhaps the most significant parts for those keen on utilising as many horses and lb-fts as possible are the tyres and brakes which produce a highly appropriate level of confidence for the rider given the agility and pace of the Thruxton RS.

Is it worth upgrading from an R? That’s easy; yes. And they’ll be no going back if you take it for a test ride on any road that incorporates many 2nd and 3rd gear corners. If it were any cooler, it’d come with a wallet on a chain and neatly coiffured face fluff.

 

Three things I loved about the 2020 Triumph Thruxton RS …

  • Higher rev limit beckons for longer acceleration in each gear
  • Classy ride quality thanks to harmonious suspension, tyre, brakes and chassis combo defying its weight
  • Two-faced, in a good way; can be sedate and ploddy but has a turn of pace to excite

     

Three things that I didn’t…

  • For all the quality finishing, the leads and cables around the cockpit are a little messy
  • Riding position won’t suit everyone
  • Once personalised with an accessory or three, the price tag becomes difficult to justify

 

2020 Street Triple RS spec

New price

From £13,000 OTR

Capacity

1200cc

Bore x Stroke

97.6 x 80mm

Engine layout

270° crank angle parallel twin

Engine details

Liquid cooled, 8 valve, SOHC

Power

104 bhp (77kW) @ 7500rpm

Torque

82.6 lb-ft (112 Nm) @ 4250rpm

Transmission

6-speed

Average fuel consumption (claimed/on test)

58/44mpg

 

Tank size

14.5 litres

Max range to empty (theoretical)

140 - 185 miles

Rider aids

Three riding modes (Sport, Road and Rain) with adjustable throttle map, ABS and traction control

Frame

Tubular steel cradles with a twin-sided aluminium (clear anodized) swingarm

Front suspension

Showa 43mm upside down bigpiston forks (BPF), 120mm travel, fully adjustable

Rear suspension

Fully adjustable Öhlins twin shocks with Piggyback reservoir, 120 mm rear wheel travel

Front brake

Twin 310 mm floating discs, Brembo M50-4 piston radial Monobloc callipers, ABS

Rear brake

Single 220 mm disc, Nissin 2- piston calliper, ABS

Front tyre

120/70 ZR17

Rear tyre

160/60 ZR17

Rake/Trail

22.8°/92mm

Dimensions

745mm x 1030mm (WxH)

Wheelbase

1415mm

Seat height

810mm

Dry weight

197kg

Warranty

Two years

Service intervals

10,000 for first major service

Website

http://www.triumphmotorcycles.co.uk/

 

Looking for motorcycle insurance? Get a quote for this motorbike with Bennetts bike insurance

 

Updated for 2020 making it faster, lighter, revvier with better tyres and brakes, we ride the new Triumph Thruxton RS.
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