Long-term tests: Can Tri­umph’s Thrux­ton R go the dis­tance?

Si­mon Relph’s nine-day odyssey through Europe sees he and the Thrux­ton bond like fa­ther and son

Motorcycle News (UK) - - This Week in Mcn - si­mon.relph@mo­tor­cy­cle­news.com

Most peo­ple look at the Tri­umph Thrux­ton R and ask Òis it com­fort­able?ó. My an­swer is quick and short: Òvery!ó It was one of the first things on my mind, too, when I was as­signed the Thrux­ton for the year, as I wanted to spend my summer do­ing a lot of long- dis­tance rid­ing.

The best ex­am­ple of this was back in June when I went on a mam­moth trip down to Tri­umphõs Tri­days Fes­ti­val in the Aus­trian town of Neukirchen. The event is a four- day Tri­umph ex­trav­a­ganza of bikes, bands and beer (in mod­er­a­tion, of course) in the stun­ning Aus­trian Ty­rol.

Rather than rid­ing down on my own, I went on an or­gan­ised tour with Globe­busters (www.globe­busters.com). I met the group at the Euro­tun­nel ter­mi­nal and rid­ers on the likes of Tri­umph Ex­plor­ers, Tro­phies and Tigers were scep­ti­cal about the suit­abil­ity of the Thrux­ton for longdis­tance work.

Globe­busters founders Kevin and Ju­lia San­ders were our lead­ers and we were soon rid­ing through France. The first leg was on toll roads in wet con­di­tions as a quick (but slightly bor­ing) way to get to more in­ter­est­ing roads through the Ar­dennes.

The Thrux­tonõs lack of crea­ture com­forts and pro­tec­tion was start­ing to show, with both the bike and me cov­ered from head-to-foot in road grime. As the group got to know one an­other the leg-pulling be­gan. My five-inch fly­screen bore the brunt of it, but I found it eas­ier to make the jokes my­self and pointed out it was to keep the flies off of my belly but­ton.

The ride through the ru­ral back roads of the Ar­dennes made up for the dreary weather and we were soon at our first overnight stay in Bouil­lon, where it was time for some fine Bel­gium beers.

The first day had been a good start to set­tling into the ride. Each of us had been is­sued with a set of tra­di­tional maps with each dayõs route marked on it. We also had a sheet of pa­per with all the map ref­er­ences on and points of in­ter­est, and all this was backed up with routes up­loaded on to my Tomtom 410, or al­ter­na­tively you could fol­low Kevin or Ju­lia.

By day two I felt com­fort­able with how the tour worked, the weather had im­proved and the roads were get­ting bet­ter and bet­ter. By lunchtime I was ready to cut the um­bil­i­cal cord and ride in a smaller group to the next des­ti­na­tion, which al­lowed me to travel at my own pace.

On an open road of hot wind­ing as­phalt through the north­ern Vos­ges Moun­tains I could con­cen­trate on rid­ing the Thrux­ton. Every bend in­stilled con­fi­dence, and with the Pirelli An­gel GT tyres warmed up the fun re­ally be­gan. I en­joyed the bike more and more with each pass­ing hour. The sheer torque of the 1200 twin pro­pelled both me and my lug­gage ef­fort­lessly up into the hills. Ever-tight­en­ing switch­back bends were a de­light, lean­ing ever lower and my grin widen­ing as I con­tem­plated an­other two days of this.

Day three brought bright sun­shine, tem­per­a­tures over 30¡C and the in­fa­mous B500 through the Black For­est. A few miles in and I found my­self ques­tion­ing why IÕD never rid­den here be­fore. The smooth, swoop­ing curves of the B500 were ex­actly what the Thrux­ton was de­signed for, and well worth the trip.

Each night on the way to Aus­tria, there was great ac­com­mo­da­tion and some great towns to wan­der round, but this trip was re­ally about the rid­ing. Each dayõs route had been care­fully cho­sen to give the best rid­ing ex­pe­ri­ence, with stun­ning views to match.

Fi­nally down at Tri­days we were all able to let off a bit of steam, sink a few steins and lis­ten to some great live mu­sic, or just walk around the town and mar­vel at the de­lec­ta­ble Tri­umph spe­cials on trade stands. Or if you wanted a bit of adrenalin, there was the main arena with Kevin Carmichaelõs ex­treme stunt show, or the hi­lar­i­ous 24 Min­utes of le Brže Ð a 125cc race with com­men­tary by Steve Par­rish.

A cou­ple of days at Tri­days is enough to re­lax and re­fuel your bat­ter­ies ready for the ride home. Our route was via Lake Con­stance and the south­ern edge of the Black For­est to the lovely lake­side town of Ti­tisee for an overnight stay.

The next day we were head­ing for Reims in the heart of the Cham­pagne re­gion. I spent the day rid­ing with Si­mon Weir from our sis­ter mag­a­zine RIDE. His knowl­edge of Europeõs roads is im­mense and he elon­gated our day to in­clude the Bal­lon dõal­sace and the Petit Bal­lon, which meant more mon­u­men­tal rid­ing.

After a fi­nal night in Reims it was off to Euro­tun­nel, but not with­out Si­mon adding in de­tours to take in the re­mains of the cir­cuit Reims- Gueux, which held its last mo­tor­cy­cle race back in 1972. The fi­nal part of our jour­ney took in the bat­tle­grounds of the Somme, which was a very mov­ing ex­pe­ri­ence as it was just three days be­fore its cen­te­nary events were due to take place.

The Euro­tun­nel cross­ing gave me time to re­flect on the last nine days. I have done longer trips in the past, but this for me was one of the best as I got to know the Thrux­ton R to the point where I felt I had rid­den the wheels off the thing and we had be­come as one!

If you have never rid­den in Europe be­fore, a Globe­busters tours is a great way to cut your tour­ing teeth. With ev­ery­thing or­gan­ised, you can just en­joy the ride with no wor­ries about where to stay or what to do if your bike breaks down (Globe­busters run a sup­port ve­hi­cle that fol­lows).

The Globe­busters crew cel­e­brate their fi­nal night to­gether in Reims Amaz­ing views, like this from the top of the Ger­los Pass, greeted Rel­phy at every turn

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