Monday, October 7, 2013

Ridden: Triumph Thruxton SE

Classic biking can be likened to classic motoring, the world of carburetors and drum brakes. Usually this is a world that requires a full 48 hours of your weekend, with a box of spanners an old rag or two and a case of lager. It is also a world that is full of heartbreak, anger, frustration and after a couple years or so, a few minuets of bliss.
Yes the motorbike has come a long way, similarly has its 4 wheeled counterpart, and as a result, classic motorcycling is usually the reserve of those who were around 40 years ago, which is a while. In all honesty, we admire classic motorcycling as this is where all our modern day superbikes come from. It’s where legends and icons were born, and when we see a classic chrome detailed, air cooled twin thumping down the highway, we can’t help but stare and gasp.
The Triumph Thruxton 900, although may appear to have come from the sixties but in fact originates in the 21st century. The classic styled Triumph was built to honor the famous café racers of the 60’s, bringing back memories of the ‘ton up boys’. And if you know what that means, I hope you have good kids and enjoyed spending Christmas dressed up as a fat man with a beard.
With regard to the visual appeal, the Thruxton has to be one of the most beautiful bikes on the road. The classic front and rear fairings are styled on the typical 1960’s café racer. The air cooled parallel twin is on display for everyone to see and the crank case as well as the gearbox is finished in black with chrome detailing. The aftermarket Arrow full system goes 2 into 1 and exits along the right hand side of the bike. This full exhaust system is also designed to resemble the original. The sound of the air cooled twin is unmistakably Triumph. In fact the Thruxton emits a sound only comparable to a spitfire at full speed.
At full tilt on an open road with that Arrow pipe on the Thruxton may be one of the most moving experiences one may ever have. Only when I was thundering through the countryside, there was lightning in the distance which made the experience even more thrilling. This took me back to a day I am too young to have experienced. The Thruxton enabled me to experience what it was like to be a famous movie star on a café racer back in the 60’s risking life and limb in pursuit of the next thrill. In fact you may attain a thrill on a modern classic similar to climbing past 250km/h on a blade. Something I originally thought was impossible.
From the gorgeous exterior you may be forgiven to think that this old carburetor powered classic remake will provide endless hours of tragedy with mechanical malfunctions, however you would be mistaken. The Thruxton features disc brakes front and rear, fuel injection, despite the carburetor look-a-like and adjustable suspension. Mounted to a red powder coated frame with read headers and a red stripe on the gas tank and rear seat cowling, this bike certainly attracts a lot of attention. It takes an avid enthusiast to notice that in fact this is a 2008 design, AD. The riding position is also classic café racer, with swept back rear sets, and narrow handlebars placed far forward. Although this is a sporty road riding position, taller riders may cramp after long journeys.
However you sense that Triumph has invested a lot of time and effort into the Thruxton to make it a machine that feels well made and reliable. The switch gear and quality of finishes is of a high standard.
Acceleration on the Thruxton is very linear, with an abundance of torque. Power delivery is super smooth and so is the gearbox and clutch which adds to the relaxed aura of the Thruxton. Triumph has created a bike that provides for all of the classic aspects of the café racer from the 1960’s however they have not provided for the dodgy reliability and unbalanced handling. Speaking of which, the Thruxton performs better than expected in the corners. Even though this is a heavy bike on a relatively narrow tyre profile, this Triumph can corner. As mentioned above, the front suspension is adjustable for preload. I wouldn’t go so far to say it’s anywhere near a superbike, but expectations were exceeded.
Here are the specs you need to know:
Engine: Air-cooled, DOHC, parallel-twin, 360 degree firing interval, 865cc
Power: 51 Kw’s @ 7800 RPM
Acceleration 0-100km/h: -
Price: R92 000
Weight: 230 Kg’s (dry)
From the beginning I have never taken a liking to classic bikes. I was a firm believe that with modern engineering and design, the classic bike was only for those who were around when the café racer was new. However after spending some time on the Thruxton, a modern reincarnation of a legend, I am hugely impressed. Performance is not on par with any modern 900 but you don’t buy the Thruxton to race. Triumph have created a fashion accessory, or a modern piece of history that possesses all the positives without any of the drawbacks. For that low price you receive a lot of bike for your money.
Classic heritage
Air cooled
Niche market

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