Just as much as it is a motorcycle in its own right, Triumph’s Thruxton is a time machine. Just admiring a Thruxton from afar will get images of black Brando jackets, oil-spattered leather boots and striving to break ‘The Ton’ flitting through your mind, while actually taking one for a spin gets the nostalgia flowing in a torrent.
The low-set clip-on ‘bars, the gleaming chrome of the bullet headlight and the rasp of the tapered silencers all play their part in sending you back through the decades, when the term ‘Café Racer’ was born on London’s busy city streets, in biker haunts like the Ace Café and the Busy Bee.
Fortunately, although its styling harks back to the days when the British bike industry was king, the Thruxton has its wheels planted firmly in the present.
With an electric start, disc brakes front and rear and modern suspension, this retro street racer gives you all the thrills with none of the heartache – if you’re a true purist, you’ll even have to place your own pool of oil under this one…
Launched in 2004 and named after the historic British circuit, the Thruxton is basically a café racer version of the marque’s leading retro classic, the Bonneville, but with tweaked suspension, brakes and steering geometry, clip-on ‘bars, megaphone exhausts, a ‘shorty’ front guard and a seat hump, the latter simply a cover that comes off to reveal space for a pillion.
The faithful will scorn the lack of a kick-starter, but a press of the button sees the Thruxton readily fire and quickly settle into a steady, throaty burble, care of the optional factory silencers our test bike came fitted with.
On the road its manner are pure modern-day – its preload adjustable suspension does a good job of smoothing the bumps, its disc brakes haul it down from speed well and it tracks a line through a corner beautifully.
It won’t keep pace with the big multi-cylinders, but its 69 horses are respectable enough, especially when compared with the outputs of the bikes upon which it’s been styled.
Its carburetion is clean, and although redline is an indicated 7500rpm, there’s no need to reach these heady heights – riding its meaty mid-range is the order of the day.
For the nit-pickers, there are still a few Thruxton foibles. Firstly, in an absent-minded moment it’s possible to cook your left knee on the cylinder head, although this isn’t such an issue if you’re wearing leathers.
Secondly, the separate steering lock means it’s possible to ride off with the steering lock on. Just like the old days, granted, but we’ve moved on in this respect for good reason.
Finally, the tank filler cap isn’t lockable. Maybe not such an issue back in the day, but perhaps a little too tempting these days for some light-finger with too much time on their hands, even if their aim is purely to cause annoyance and aggravation…
For those with an affinity with café racer-style bikes of the 60’s and 70’s, the Triumph Thruxton 900 offers a truly modern package with the style and edge of yesteryear. It’s a potent combination, and one that I’m sure will keep the café racer ethos alive and well for many years to come.
SPECS: Triumph Thruxton 900
Engine: 865cc, air-cooled, four-stroke, DOHC, eight-valve, parallel-twin
Bore and stroke: 90 x 68mm
Fuel system: twin Keihin carburettors
Power: 69bhp @ 7200rpm
Torque: 72Nm @ 6400rpm
Frame: tubular steel cradle
Front brake: single 320mm disc with twin-piston Nissin caliper
Rear brake: single 255mm disc with twin-piston Nissin caliper
Front suspension: 41mm forks, adjustable for preload
Rear suspension: twin shocks, adjustable for preload
Wheels: spoked alloy
Tyres: Metzeler ME33 Laser; 100/90-18 front, 130/80R17 rear
Seat height: 790mm
Claimed dry weight: 205kg
Fuel tank: 16.6L
Price: $13,990 plus ORC
Colours: Tornado Red or Jet Black
Warranty: 24 months/unlimited kilometres
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