Com­tor­cy­cle­news. R See the new Thrux­ton go head to head with its retro ri­vals ‘Turn the elec­tron­ics off and the Thrux­ton be­comes a wheely­ing, skid-tas­tic su­per­moto’ Con­tin­ued over

Motorcycle News (UK) - - This Week - St nd rd

The new 1200cc par­al­lel-twin cylin­der mo­tor bur­bles be­neath you and tremors with feel-good vibes. Twist the elec­tronic throt­tle and you’re re­warded with big dol­lops of Bri­tish meat-and­pota­toes power and grunt.

It’ll scratch a sports rider’s itch, steers with pin-sharp ac­cu­racy and has such well-tuned sus­pen­sion it glides from cor­ner to cor­ner with min­i­mal ef­fort. Whether you hang off like Mar­quez or wedge your knees to­gether like Sur­tees, the Thrux­ton R re­wards like a lithe, per­fectly-bal­anced sports­bike.

Pow­er­ful Abs-as­sisted Brembo brakes are a tac­tile dream, the clutch is light, and the new six-speed gear­box snicks from cog to cog with soft, me­chan­i­cal, oily grace.

Lines are sleek and un­clut­tered, but be­neath the Tri­umph-badged retro skin it has a com­puter-con­trolled ride-by­wire sys­tem and is loaded with ‘get out of jail free’ rid­ing aids, which is handy when the roads are slip­pery. There’s switch­able ABS, trac­tion con­trol and three rid­ing modes to choose from: rain, road and sport.

But turn the elec­tron­ics off and the Thrux­ton R turns into a wheely­ing, skid-tas­tic su­per­moto – a bit like Du­cati’s bril­liant Sport Clas­sic used to.

For your £11,700, which is a lot less than the best of the sim­i­larly technopacked su­per-nakeds, su­per­bikes and ad­ven­ture ma­chines, you also get Brembo monobloc brakes, Öh­lins shocks, Showa Big Pis­ton Forks, a torque-as­sist clutch, LED lights, a USB charg­ing socket, an im­mo­biliser, 160-sec­tion Pirelli Di­ablo Rosso Corsa rear tyre, a Mo nza-style filler cap, alu­minium tank strap, pol­ished top yoke, clear an­odised alu­minium swingarm and a set of ana­logue clocks with a full dig­i­tal dis­play dis­creetly buried within.

And if all that wasn’t enough you can choose from a dizzy­ing ar­ray of of­fi­cial Tri­umph ac­ces­sories and ‘In­spi­ra­tion Kits’ (see next page).

If your bud­get doesn’t stretch quite as far you can still get your Thrux­ton kicks with the £1300 cheaper base model. It has the same chas­sis, en­gine and elec­tron­ics, but has slightly lower-spec twin-pis­ton Nissin brakes, Kayaba rear shock and forks, Pirelli sports-tour­ing An­gel GT rub­ber, a less racy steer­ing an­gle and it weighs 3kg more. It also for­goes the R’s seat cowl, pol­ished top yoke and clear an­odised alu­minium swingarm.

But back to the Thrux­ton R and we catch fel­low MCN tester Emma Franklin in the cor­ner, drool­ing over the de­tail. She swoons: “I love how the mod­ern Showa BPF tops mix with that lovely clas­sic top yoke, the throt­tle bod­ies that look like old-fash­ioned carbs, the old school filler cap and even things like the spark plug caps have Tri­umph lo­gos on them.

“I’m re­ally im­pressed with the way it goes, too. It’s got ‘lit­tle bike’ agility, feel, man­age­abil­ity and rac­ing genes, with big bike torque and at­ti­tude. The sus­pen­sion is smooth and doesn’t crash over bumps. I pre­ferred the smooth throt­tle re­sponse of the mid­dle ‘Road’ mode – I found ‘Sport’ is too snatchy for nor­mal rid­ing.”

Bruce Dunn is equally en­am­oured with the ma­chine that’s ac­tu­ally built

as stan­dard in Tri­umph’s Thai fac­tory. He says: “We could spend an hour talk­ing about the de­tail, but the sus­pen­sion and ride qual­ity is out­stand­ing. It holds the road well at any speed and comes with de­cent tyres.

“Like the old Thrux­ton it still feels heavy to push around, but it doesn’t when you get go­ing. The faster you go the bet­ter it feels. I’m im­pressed with its power and that en­gine matches the chas­sis re­ally well.”

Of course, you don’t need to spend nearly 12 grand for your retro kicks. Yamaha’s classy and achingly cool XJR1300 costs just £8599 mak­ing it by far the cheap­est bike here.

You get a lot of Yamaha for your money, but not in a cutting-edge Tri­umph sort of way. No, weigh­ing a beastly 240kg it’s the heav­i­est bike here, but don’t panic be­cause it suits the XJR’S char­ac­ter per­fectly. That ex­tra weight gives it a solid, un­flap­pable ride and it sim­ply steam­rollers any bumps that dare to get in your way.

The XJR1300 takes its retro in­spi­ra­tion from the su­per­bikes of the early 80s, so it’s less David Beck­ham and more Ed­die Law­son. The only irony is Yamaha never ac­tu­ally had a bi­gengined, flat-barred su­per­bike like this back then, but it’s still cool just the same.

You won’t find rid­ing modes, or rider aids here (but it comes with a cou­ple of tasty fully ad­justable Öh­lins rear shocks), or even ABS - it’s just two wheels, an en­gine and some­where com­fort­able to sit. It’s a sim­ple for- mula, but one that never fails to make you feel good.

As you’d ex­pect from a big Ja­panese in­line four, the creamy mo­tor is long–revving and de­liv­ers re­lent­less ac­cel­er­a­tion, com­pared to the punchier twins. The throt­tle is smooth and the five-speed gear­box slick, if a lit­tle short-geared, so you’re of­ten search­ing for that elu­sive sixth cog.

Pegs are set quite high and there’s a long stretch to the af­ter­mar­ket flat bars fit­ted to our test bike, but the rid­ing po­si­tion is still cos­set­ting, es­pe­cially for a six-footer like me. Out of all the bikes here it’s the one I don’t feel too big on. The Tri­umph and BMW are still roomy, but they’re low and small.

It’s a fast bike, de­spite its weight, but with a soft sus­pen­sion set-up and

OE Dun­lop D252 tyres that missed the queue when grip was given out, it lacks the poise and con­fi­dence of the R ninet Sport and Thrux­ton R when you push on. But the Yamaha is such a joy to ride at nor­mal speeds that you never feel like you’re miss­ing out. Fit de­cent tyres, like we did when we tested the XJR1300 on the track against an R ninet last year, and the Yamaha cov­ers ground ex­tremely quickly.

Emma agrees: “The Yamaha is the king of smooth and it even sounds like a big fat trom­bone just purring away. It’s just a lovely bike to float along on – big, brutish and com­fort­able. The clutch is heavy and it’s not as much as a rider’s bike as the Thrux­ton and doesn’t give you the feel from the front end - which is prob­a­bly down to the tyres - but that’s not the point of this bike. It’s a big power cruiser and I love the styling, too. I can re­late to it grow­ing up around my par­ents’ mus­cle bikes in the early 80s.

“The brakes go a bit soft un­der hard use and you could say the clocks don’t have the func­tions of the BMW and Tri­umph, but I think that all adds to the Yamaha’s sim­pler char­ac­ter.”

‘The Yamaha is the king of smooth and it even sounds like a

big fat trom­bone’

Bruce adds: “It’s the ar­che­typal mus­cle bike. The en­gine is flex­i­ble and it has more than enough power, but the forks are soft, the back brake lacks feel and the tyres let it down, es­pe­cially in the wet.”

Sit­ting be­tween the Yamaha and Tri­umph in terms of tech­nol­ogy, but not in price, the £12,990 BMW R ninet Sport is the most ex­pen­sive retro here. But re­mem­ber this is the Sport model with its hand­made ali tank, heated grips, flashy high-rise ex­haust, and seat hump. The £1090 cheaper base model is more in line with the Tri­umph.

We love how the BMW de­liv­ers an in­tox­i­cat­ing mix of old meets new. Blast­ing along your favourite road is like see­ing the world rush by in black and white. It has the most char­ac­ter here – it’s slightly raw, a lit­tle quirky, but ut­terly mes­meris­ing.

It’s light, has crisp steer­ing, a firm ride, pow­er­ful brakes and a thrappy, raw, brutish, hard-revving 110bhp en­gine that de­liv­ers se­ri­ous ac­cel­er­a­tion. Wide bars help you mus­cle the Beemer through the cor­ners and grippy Met­zeler Road­tec Z8 tyres and ABS keep it on the straight and nar­row in all weather con­di­tions. But it lacks the Thrux­ton R’s trac­tion con­trol and rid­ing modes, not that you ever miss them.

It has the style to ride the café racer cat­walk, but it feels more like a hard­edged race bike com­pared to the Tri­umph and Yamaha. You get the feel­ing it’s hap­pier gnash­ing its teeth than check­ing its re­flec­tion in café win­dows. The real char­ac­ter comes from its rock and roll, slightly oils­cented boxer en­gine and a pitch­ing shaft drive sys­tem. It’s un­con­ven­tional but it all works bril­liantly.

Lit­tle won­der de­mand out­stripped sup­ply when the R ninet came on to the scene two years ago.

Bruce is a fan of the racy BMW and ex­claims: “It feels re­ally light, well­bal­anced and sporty. I love the firm­ness of seat and the taut sus­pen­sion, but on the flip­side it’s harsh over the bumps at low speed. The whole bike re­volves around the char­ac­ter­ful en­gine – the noise, feel and vibes that scream boxer twin.

“The faster you go the bet­ter it feels… to the point you’re scrap­ing the cylin­der heads.”

Emma loves the re­as­sur­ance of the BMW and says: “It feels like it’s look­ing af­ter you. It feels more like a mod­ern in­ter­pre­ta­tion of an old bike, rather than just a copy of a clas­sic ma­chine.”

‘The Thrux­ton R is a spe­cial ma­chine and Bri­tain’s best

café racer’

Yamaha’s XJR packs fully ad­justable sus­pen­sion and plenty of silky-smooth shove

Chrome-framed clocks pack fuel gauge shocks are fully ad­justable Beema re­as­sures with Brem­bos and ABS Ba­sic clocks keep the 1980s theme alive Mod­ern Showa BPF nes­tle in a shiny yoke Throt­tle bod­ies look like old-school carbs Hand­made brushed ali tan

Our retro road­sters grav­i­tate to­wards cafžs Su­per-smooth XJR1300 fol­lows the tidy and tiny tails of the Thrux­ton and R ninet Af­ter 60 laps of the square our testers have made sure ev­ery­one in town has seen them Ôfancy an­other cof­fee?’ MCN testers scour

Beauty, charm, ride­abil­ity and safety – the Thrux­ton R is the ul­ti­mate retro

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