The new top-spec 2020 Triumph Thruxton RS is the latest addition to the British marque’s storied line, which also includes the standard Thruxton and Thruxton R. A first for the modern-classic lineup of machines, the RS treatment has traditionally been reserved for Triumph’s state-of-the-art sport and Supersport machines.
The illustrious Thruxton R is used as a jumping-off point, sprucing things up with a more powerful engine, refined electronics, Brembo M50 calipers, and a weight savings of 13 pounds. Several visual changes join the party as well, expertly adding a dash of modern RS flair to a decidedly retro-modern café racer.
We packed our bags and headed off to the Portuguese coastal retreat of Albufeira to sample the 2020 Triumph Thruxton RS. So, without further ado, here are the Fast Facts.
1. The uprated liquid-cooled 1200cc HP parallel-twin engine is the star of the show and demands the spotlight’s attention. Boasting an additional eight ponies above the R model, the RS raises the bar to 104 horsepower at 7500 rpm, while the delectable 83 ft-lbs returns at an easily attainable 4250 rpm—700 revs earlier than on the standard motor. The engine is astoundingly tractable, spinning up with a poised sense of urgency and delivering the kind of performance that’s a perfect match for the street. The RS stands at attention barely off idle, with that initial hit of torque coming in south of 3000 rpm and doesn’t quit until just shy of the 8000 rpm redline. This gives riders a massive rev-range to explore while taking in the backcountry roads. It isn’t afraid to bask in the urban limelight, as it’s well-adjusted for city work, too.
2. A host of engine updates saved weight while accommodating new-found performance gains. To reduce internal inertia and allow the grin-inducing p-twin to spool up more freely, Triumph engineers made use of a low-inertia crank and revised balancer shafts, as well as a lighter clutch and alternator. If that seems familiar, that is because it’s the same strategy that we have seen in the Scrambler 1200 and Speed Twin—but there are differences. Model-specific high-compression pistons, high-lift cams, intake and exhaust porting, plus a new tune, have paved the way for an additional 500 rpm over the R, letting you stretch the cables without bouncing off the limiter as much. Magnesium cam covers and thin-walled engine covers also help lighten the package.3. The slick six-speed gearbox impresses once again. The aforementioned lighter assist-and-slipper clutch uses physically lighter springs with the same amount of tension. Also, the clutch basket received additional machining. Lastly, two clutch plates were ditched, as they were deemed unnecessary in testing. The clutch pull is light, so whacking through the gearbox is done confidently and securely. Happily, you won’t need to do much of while riding that broad torque curve. Settle on a gear needed for some fine twisties and enjoy the ride.
4. Yes, it’s an RS, but no, there isn’t a quickshifter. All RS sport models come equipped with up/down quickshifters. However, Triumph representatives felt that it’d be a bridge too far and would not accurately represent the Thruxton spirit. I hear the argument and understand it, but I’d still like a quickshifter.
5. Euro 5 compliance doesn’t mean that the 2020 Triumph Thruxton RS’s 270-degree crank p-twin has been stifled, and we’re glad to hear it. Many of the 2020 updates were to adhere to stricter Euro 5 emissions standards. Triumph engineers now use supplemental catalysts in the stylish mufflers, aiding the primary catalyst cleverly tucked away inside the tubular steel frame. Despite superior emission scrubbing abilities of this year’s exhaust system, its note is still as heavenly as before and can be heightened with homologated cans by Arrow.6. Three selectable ride modes have been updated for 2020. Once in the saddle, riders will discover three selectable ride modes—Rain, Road, and Sport—that can be adjusted on the fly. Each mode adjusts the throttle map, traction control, and ABS intervention. Rain tames the RS’s throttle response considerably, making it the defensive weapon of choice in inclement weather, while also maximizing all intervention. Road has a moderated throttle response, making it well suited for city work, with intervention levels to match. Sport wicks it all up a bit and, better yet, is done without a hint of abruptness—something Triumph worked hard on this year. Sport also adds some slack on the rider-aid leash. TC can be disabled if you feel the need to do hooligan things, but ABS is always on for Euro 5 compliance.
7. The 2020 Triumph Thruxton RS’s sporty ergonomics aren’t as demanding as they might appear. As they say, looks can be deceiving and, although the Thruxton RS has the styling of a low, long, sleek café racer, it manages to be more than that in practice. The sub-32-inch seat height, combined with the impressively narrow chassis, makes the Thruxton RS’s saddle quite accessible, letting my 32-inch inseam reach the tarmac easily. Fortunately, this doesn’t induce excessive knee-bend. The lengthy 3.8-gallon tank doesn’t make reaching clip-on handlebars seem like you’re being drawn and quartered; it’s sporty, but not nearly as committed as your average supersport. The textured seat offers plenty of room to move, along with comfort. Additionally, a pillion option is available in the US.8. The Thruxton RS lost 13 pounds—how’s that for a New Year’s resolution. Between the engine updates and a new battery, the Thruxton RS shed a decent amount of weight. Triumph claims a dry weight of 434 pounds—not a usable curb weight like most manufacturers. Triumph’s definition is the motorcycle sans coolant, oil, and fuel, which is not a motorcycle in rideable order. At the curb, that would put the Thruxton RS somewhere around 480 pounds filled with petrol. Fortunately, the RS carries its weight quite well with a low center of gravity. The only time you’ll notice the heft is when trawling at parking lot speeds, but who has time for that?
9. This motorcycle is more than a styling exercise—it’s ready for the canyons. Often, factory café racer styled machines can disappoint and become a case of function over form; that isn’t the case here. The Thruxton RS is amazingly stout and stable, inspiring massive amounts of confidence when cornering, especially from the undeniably planted front end. It does require enough effort to make you feel like you’ve accomplished something after each run in the twisty bits.
10. The 2020 Triumph Thruxton RS takes on all comers in the twisties, although its best enjoyed with flowing sections of asphalt. Don’t fret. The RS isn’t weary of the tight stuff—it is simply best enjoyed with fluid mountain curves. Interestingly, it does tend to stand up a bit if you decide to trail-brake mid-corner with the front. The solution is easy—control your geometry by trail braking to the apex and savor its unflappable stability, or rely on all that chassis faith by setting your speed early and staying off the brakes through the corner.11. A Showa Big Piston Fork (BPF) and Öhlins duo takes care of suspension duties. The fully adjustable 43mm Showa BPF with 4.7 inches of travel returns, along with the fully-adjustable dual Öhlins shocks. The shocks now feature blacked-out springs as part of the RS visual update. The Japanese and Swedish units pair nicely, soaking up nearly all of the rough stuff and keep the chassis incredibly balanced.
12. Brembo M50 cast aluminum monoblock calipers come to the Thruxton RS. It wasn’t all that long ago that top-tier Superbikes were boasting Brembo M50 calipers. As is tradition for all current RS models, the Thruxton RS brandishes dual four-piston Brembo M50 calipers clamping on 310mm floating rotors. Feel at the Brembo radial master cylinder is on the firmer side, yet progressive and modulated nicely, while stopping power is surely more than a Thruxton could ever need.
13. New Metzeler Racetech RR K3 tires are a worthy upgrade. Sticky Racetech RR radial tires are mounted onto the gorgeous 17-inch 32-spoke wheels. Tubes are still used. Tire sizes have remained the same as the outgoing Pirelli Diablo Rosso Corsa rubber, with a 120/70 and 160/60 in play. Although the Racetech RR tires are of a softer compound, Triumph engineers opted for the Metzelers as they have a much wider operating window and offered superior grip without sacrificing mileage.
14. Triumph gives the Thruxton RS a tasteful modern edge with numerous blacked-out components. If you want a more authentically retro motorcycle, the R is still your Triumph Thruxton of choice. However, for those that appreciate a bit of modern aesthetics sprinkled on their contemporary-classic bikes, the RS is certainly up your alley. Triumph stylists added a host of blacked-out bits, such as the engine covers, sprocket covers, side panels, and heel guards, to add a bit of current-day flair to the affair. My personal favorite touch is the black-anodized rims.15. Two paint choices are available: Jet Black and Matt Storm Grey & Matt Silver Ice. If your life’s biggest conundrum is what color Thruxton RS to ride away with, I’d say you’re doing alright. The classic Jet Black is tough to beat, while the two-tone matte finishes give a healthy nod to current generation Street and Speed Triples. Either way, if you wire me $16,200, I’ll gladly decide for you.
16. When it comes to fit and finish, no one holds a candle to Triumph in 2020. The year is just getting started, and things might change. However, Triumph is leading the pack in terms of attention to detail and making customers feel like they’ve gotten their money’s worth. The beautiful twin analog/LCD clocks look stellar, along with the pleasing brushed aluminum tank strap, polished top yoke, and the flip-up Monza gas cap. The Thruxton RS is almost too pretty to ride, but then you wouldn’t be enjoying it properly, now would you?
17. The 2020 Triumph Thruxton RS is exceptional from the first turn of the key to the last. Triumph consider themselves custodians of the legendary Thruxton moniker, and it behooves them to get it right. They did in 2016, when the previous major Thruxton install occurred, and Triumph has only sweetened the deal in 2020. The 1200cc engine is everything a street rider could ask for, perfectly coupled with a superb chassis and rubber that’s ready for action. While long-distance and strict urban work is still the Bonneville T120’s domain, the Thruxton RS sporty riding position isn’t too demanding in terms of comfort. Looks and streetable performance are what many motorcycles in the retro niche class strive for, and it’s difficult to argue that anyone else has succeeded in delivering those attributes in such equal measure as well as the 2020 Triumph Thruxton RS.
Photography by Kingdom Creative
- Helmet: Arai Regent-X
- Jacket: Spidi Garage
- Gloves: Spidi Bora
- Jeans: Spidi J-Tracker
- Boots: TCX X-Blend WP
2020 Triumph Thruxton RS Specs
- Type: Vertical twin w/ 270-degree crankshaft
- Displacement: 1200cc
- Bore x stroke: 97.6 x 80mm
- Maximum power: 103 horsepower @ 7500 rpm
- Maximum torque: 85 ft/lbs @ 4250 rpm
- Compression ratio: 12.1:1
- Valvetrain: SOHC, 8 valves
- Cooling: Liquid
- Transmission: 6-speed
- Clutch: Wet multiplate assist
- Final drive: O-ring chain
- Frame: Tubular steel cradle
- Front suspension; travel: Fully adjustable 43mm Showa Big Piston Front Fork; 4.7 inches
- Rear suspension; travel: Fully adjustable Öhlins piggyback reservoir shocks; 4.7 inches
- Wheels: 32-spoke aluminum rims
- Front wheel: 17 x 3.50
- Rear wheel: 17 x 5.00
- Tires: Metzeler Racetec RR
- Front tire: 120/70 x 17
- Rear tire: 160/60 x 17
- Front brakes: 310mm discs w/ Brembo M50 4-piston calipers and radial-pump master cylinder
- Rear brake: 220mm disc w/ Nissin 2-piston floating caliper
- ABS: Standard
DIMENSIONS and CAPACITIES
- Wheelbase: 55.7 inches
- Rake: 22.8 degrees
- Trail 3.6 inches
- Seat height: 31.9 inches
- Fuel capacity: 3.8 gallons
- Estimated fuel consumption: 58 mpg
2020 Triumph Thruxton RS Colors:
- Jet Black
- Matt Storm Grey & Matt Silver Ice
2020 Triumph Thruxton RS Price:
2020 Triumph Thruxton RS Review Photo Gallery