2014 Triumph Thruxton | Exclusive First Test

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2014 Triumph Thruxton | Exclusive First Review

With Triumph giving the Thruxton a few updates for 2014, it is certainly time to revisit the venerable retro café racer sporting a classic 865cc air-cooled vertical twin motor. The Triumph Classic line has winning styling, and for the right kind of rider, the handling and performance is just what is wanted.

First, though, let’s do a quick run-through of the updates to the 2014 Triumph Thruxton. The two biggest changes are the updated megaphone mufflers (designed to release a heartier sound), a flyscreen, a seat cowl (making it a solo machine), plus a racing stripe, chrome chain guard, machined cooling fins, and black oil cooler lines. Nothing is revolutionary there, but what was a great looking bike, now appears and sounds even more purposeful.

Unlike its eminently comfortable brothers—the Bonneville and Scrambler–the Thruxton has low-rise bars that put you in an aggressive position. A couple of years ago, the Thruxton was equipped with clip-ons—these chrome tube handlebars are above the triple clamps and considerably less taxing on the wrists and back than in earlier editions. We welcomed the ergonomic change when it happened, and still think it was a good one.

If you are used to riding upright sport bikes in this size and configuration, the Thruxton won’t offer you any surprises. Someone coming off a modern supersport bike, however, will need to manage expectations. Putting out a fairly modest 68 horsepower and pushing over 500 pounds (plus rider), the Thruxton is not a fast motorcycle by modern standards. However, not everyone is trying to set fast lap times; many people want a bike that’s fun to ride at a reasonably sporting pace, and the Thruxton accomplishes this goal handily.

Steady is the best way to describe the 2014 Triumph Thruxton’s oeuvre. The motor is not disarmingly strong at the top or bottom of the rev range, hitting maximum horsepower at 7400 rpm and the torque peaking at 51 ft/lbs at 5800 rpm. Keep it in the upper midrange—redline is at a modest 8500 rpm, considering how oversquare the motor is—and you’re likely to be going as fast as you want on most mountain roads.

Matching that fat midrange power is a bike that has very deliberate handling. The rake is out there at 27-degrees and the wheelbase is a fairly lengthy 58.6 inches. So, you’re looking at a bike that is raked out, long, not particularly light and doesn’t have a snappy motor.

For some, that’s not a very enticing description. However, the bike is rock solid in the corners. If you set a line, it will find its way through. Turn-in and exits are slowly accomplished, as the bike is all about being forgiving, rather than responsive. On the upside, you can be near the Thruxton’s top speed and heeled over quite comfortably in a fast sweeper. This is a bike that eats up long fast corners, while covering up your mistakes in the tightest corners.

In one shadowed corner, I hit what felt like a sizable rock near the apex. I felt a hard jolt, but the Thruxton was not knocked off line. I never felt like I was going down, or even in a different direction—all I felt was a spike through the 41mm KYB forks. That gives me a strong vote of confidence in the Thruxton; you can throw something nasty at it and you’ll be bailed out by its supportive nature.

Within the abilities of the Thruxton, the Metzeler Lasertec tires work well, especially considering they’re designed for high mileage, wet weather performance, and a comfortable ride. In dry conditions on a newly paved tricky mountain road, I was able to repeatedly lean the Thruxton until it was dragging its pegs, and the Metzelers never gave me cause for concern or alarm. The friendly motor is not going to smoke the rear tire, and the front plants itself firmly onto the tarmac. The Metzelers don’t turn in quickly, but they grasp the line firmly.

When riding uphill, as well as in the corners, the bars feel good and are not fatiguing. Fortunately, the footrest position is moderate and not tiring. However, if you’re running through the mountains on a long downhill grade, the weight on your wrists will start to get old. The single 320mm front disc and four-piston Nissin caliper get enough bite to move your weight substantially forward, so you’ll be wishing for some hillclimbing relief.

So, too, in-town, the Thruxton’s low bars will wear you out after a while. Make no mistake, you’re going to look cool tooling around urban areas on this stylish café racer with its unmistakable racing stripe, cool new flyscreen, solo seat with cowling, and faux carburetors (hiding throttle bodies) but you will pay a price in comfort. When you see someone on a Bonnie or Scrambler, you’ll feel a twinge of jealously along with a minor back spasm, depending on how long you’ve been riding and how bad the traffic is. In LA, the bar-end mirrors are great for lane splitting, so you won’t stand still much.

Perhaps the biggest drawback to the Thruxton on city streets is the balky gearbox. When you’re rowing away at it in the canyons, it’s fine. But, when you slow down, it can be very reluctant to downshift when coming to a stop. More than once I found myself in 3rd (or 2nd or 4th) coming away from a light, and there’s barely enough torque to pull that off. It could be a shift linkage issue, as the other Triumph twins haven’t exhibited this unwelcome behavior and they have a direct shifter/shiftshaft connection.

Certainly something of a niche machine, the 2014 Triumph Thruxton is a great bike for the right rider. If you’re looking for a sport bike that won’t get you thrown in jail for its speed, is extremely predictable and forgiving in corners, and as stable a the proverbial freight train, then you’re halfway there. At that point, it’s just a matter of the Thruxton’s café styling working for you, and your willingness to sacrifice a bit of comfort for cool. If you’ve checked all the boxes, the 2014 Triumph Thruxton is your motorcycle.

Photography by Kelly Callan

RIDING STYLE
Helmet: HJC FG-17
Jacket: River Road Roadster Vintage
Gloves: RSD Barfly
Jeans: Drayko Drifter
Boots: River Road Guardian Tall

SPECIFICATIONS – 2014 Triumph Thruxton
Engine and Transmission

Type…Air-cooled, DOHC, parallel-twin, 360-degree firing interval
Capacity…865cc
Bore/Stroke…90 x 68mm
Fuel System…Multipoint sequential electronic fuel injection with SAI
Exhaust…Stainless steel headers, twin chromed upswept mufflers
Final Drive…X ring chain
Clutch…Wet, multi-plate
Gearbox…5-speed
Oil Capacity…4.5 liters (1.2 US gals)
Chassis, Running Gear and Displays
Frame…Tubular steel cradle
Swingarm…Twin-sided, tubular steel
Wheels
Front…36-spoke 18 x 2.5in, aluminum rim
Rear…40-spoke 17 x 3.5in, aluminum rim
Tires
Front…100/90×18 Metzeler Lasertec
Rear…130/80×18 Metzeler Lasertec
Suspension
Front…KYB 41mm forks with adjustable preload, 120mm travel
Rear…KYB chromed spring twin shocks with adjustable preload, 106mm rear wheel travel
Brakes
Front…Single 320mm floating disc, Nissin 4-piston floating caliper
Rear…Single 255mm disc, Nissin 4-piston floating caliper
Instrument Display/Functions…Analog speedometer and tachometer with odometer and trip information
Dimensions and Capacities
Length…2150mm (84.6in)
Width (handlebars)…830mm (32.7in)
Height without mirrors…1095mm (43.1in)
Seat Height…820mm (32.3in)
Wheelbase…1490mm (58.6in)
Rake/Trail…27º/97mm
Fuel Tank Capacity / Efficiency…16 liters (4.2 US gals)
Wet Weight (ready to ride)…230 kg (506 lbs)
Performance (measured at crankshaft to 95/1/EC)
Maximum Power…69PS / 68 hp / 51 kW @ 7400rpm
Maximum Torque…69Nm / 51 ft.lbs @ 5800rpm
Estimated Fuel Efficiency…43 mpg City / 57 mpg Highway
2014 Triumph Thruxton MSRP…$9099

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