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Established in 1902, Triumph Motorcycles celebrated 110 years of motorcycle manufacture in 2012. For more than two decades, Triumph Motorcycles has been based in Hinckley, Leicestershire, and has produced iconic bikes that perfectly blend authentic design, character, charisma and performance.

Out of all the members of Triumph’s modern classic family, the Thruxton R has the most to live up to. Its name is about as legendary as it gets. Back in the 1960s and ’70s it was synonymous with Triumph’s racing success across the world and most notably at the Isle of Man TT, and it inspired a generation of teenage café racers and custom specials.

What we are here to find out is that if the Thruxton R is more than just looks, we want to know if it delivers on the road too. The new Thruxton R is one of the best attempts by Triumph to return the café racer to its heritage performance roots, with all that claimed power, delivered by its 1200cc ‘Thruxton spec’ engine, and the promise of excellent handling, agility and capability to match its beautifully imposing and authentic styling. Building on the capability of the Thruxton, the Thruxton R is equipped to a higher specification with Brembo monobloc callipers, Showa big piston forks, Öhlins rear suspension and Pirelli Diablo Rosso Corsa Tyres. On paper, it sure looks like the legend is back.

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Photos don’t do this motorcycle justice. Yet, the motorcycling part of the Internet crashed when Triumph first showcased the Thruxton R last year. It’s combination of head-turning style, upgraded engine and unparalleled heritage and character is what makes the new Thurxton R the real deal and the ultimate modern classic café racers.

The 1200cc engine, which is tuned specifically for the Thruxton R, has a low inertia due to its lighter crank, higher compression and unique airbox. It is equipped with what Triumph calls its next generation ride-by-wire fuel injection, fed by authentically styled twin throttle bodies. The Thruxton spec engine delivers a massive peak torque figure of 112Nm at 4950rpm – an amazing 62 per cent more than the previous generation. With a higher power output of 95 hp at 6,750rpm, 41 per cent up on the previous model’s engine, the new 1200cc Thruxton delivers much more power lower down and across the whole rev range, with an incredible 68% more power at 4,500rpm. Beautifully styled, with a very high level of finish and detailing, the new engine, exhaust and throttle bodies incorporate cues from the original racing Thruxtons, whilst carefully integrating contemporary components to maintain that authentic look. Triumph has really put in a lot of effort behind the looks and it is evident from its carefully integrated liquid cooling system designed to minimise its visual impact whilst achieving cleaner emissions and enhancing fuel efficiency which Triumph claims is 11% better than the previous generation.

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The stand-out feature that appealed to me the most is the pair of new twin upswept exhausts with reverse-megaphone end cans that deliver a thunderous, rich bass exhaust note to match their powerful presence and performance. Finished in brushed stainless steel on the Thruxton R, these not only add to the visual appeal but also make it sound so meaty and sporty.

Given its performance, how does it do when it comes to handling and delivering all that power? It certainly doesn’t leave much to be desired. Triumph has certainly ensured it goes how it looks with its chassis and suspension setup focused on sharp handling that really delivers on its café racer looks.  With sporting ergonomics, clip-on bars, fully adjustable suspension and 17inch front wheel, for stunning handling and agility, the new Thruxton delivers a truly engaged and thrilling ride. Good luck with those speed cameras and try not to smile too much while cornering.

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With all of the brooding presence and poise of the original Triumph racers, the Thruxton R takes the modern classic sports bike to a new level with tighter lines and an imposing stance. It is one of those motorcycles that I’d truly love to own. It is unique and there is no doubt about it. It almost feels bespoke and hand built. Both feature a unique fuel tank incorporating a ‘flip top’ Monza style cap (a first on any modern production bike), authentic bullet seat and stunning lightweight aluminium bar-end mirrors, wheel rims and swinging arm.

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The original Thruxton racers inspired a generation of stripped-back and hand built ‘one-off’ café racers. It might not influence people to such an extent in today’s era and the competition from other European and Japanese manufacturers has certainly posed a big challenge but for those looking at an iconic and a thoroughbred café racer, the Thruxton R is certainly on top of that list.

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