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Triumph's Thruxton Bonneville is back

2004-07-02 11:06

Triumph's first twin-carb roadster burst onto the motorcycling scene in 1959. For just ?285 anybody with a need for speed could own a Triumph Bonneville - a genuine ton-up motorcycle that was widely considered to be the fastest production machine in the world.

Essentially a hopped-up Triumph Tiger 110 with a light alloy high-compression cylinder head and twin Amal carburettors, the Bonneville earned its name and reputation in 1956 when Johnny Allen took a streamlined 650cc Triumph twin to 344 km/h on the Bonneville Salt Flats in Utah. In September 1962 Bill Johnson reached 361.4 km/h on a similar machine to officially claim the world motorcycle land speed record for Triumph.

In the 1960s café racers were just the business.

Motorcyclists bought fast machines, tossed away the standard seat and handlebars in favour of a racing seat, rear-set footrests and clip-ons, stuck on a megaphone exhaust, and cruised off to the nearest café to pose for an admiring audience.

Among these heroes of the back road the man who had a "Bonnie" invariably received the most adulation.

And, after Triumph produced a limited edition Thruxton Bonneville - only 64 were built - to commemorate taking the first three places in the Thruxton 500 endurance race of 1962, would-be street racers on every continent just had to have a lookalike.

Even while busy designing the reincarnated Triumph Bonneville at their Hinckley headquarters in 1996, John Bloor's engineers knew they that they'd have to follow up the standard machine with a café racer version. Now that the new Thruxton is finally here we can see that their time was well spent.

Special styling

The signs that this is a very special Bonneville are obvious, even at a glance. A short front mudguard, evocatively shaped seat hump, clip-on handlebars, rear-set footrests and sporty dual megaphone exhausts look just the business for an English back-road.

Dig a little deeper, though, and you'll find that the Thruxton is somewhat more than just a pretty face. The Bonneville's 790cc air-cooled twin-cylinder engine has been bored by 4mm to give a new displacement of 865cc, and high-performance camshafts, re-jetted carburettors and exhausts have been bolted on to give the new Triumph the go to match the show.

These changes lead to an output of 51 kW at 7 250 r/min as against the standard Bonneville's 46 at 7 400. Torque is also improved, to 72 Nm at 5 750 r/min compared with the 60 Nm that the standard Bonneville has to offer at 3 500 r/min.

The extra steam is remarkably noticeable on the road, giving the Thruxton the sort of punch its styling demands.

With the added performance comes even better roadholding and stopping.

The Thruxton's front forks gain adjustable preload, while an 18 inch front wheel replaces the Bonneville's 19 inch rim. This, combined with longer rear shocks steepens the bike's rake by two degrees and reduces trail by 10mm to sharpen steering. The front disc brake has been upgraded to a 320 mm unit.


The Triumph Thruxton 900 retails at R72 500 including a two year unlimited distance warranty. It is available in Jet Black or Sunset Red, with both colour schemes including a chequered-flag tank graphic and silver mudguards.

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Air-cooled, DOHC, parallel-twin, 360 degree firing interval






90 x 68mm

Compression Ratio



Fuel System


Twin carburettors with throttle position sensor and electric carburettor heaters



Digital - inductive type


Primary Drive



Final Drive


X ring chain



Wet, multi-plate



5 Speed




Tubular steel cradle



Twin-sided, tubular steel



36-spoke, 18 x 2.5in



40-spoke, 17 x 3.5in



100/90 R 18



130/80 R17



41mm forks with adjustable preload



Chromed spring twin shocks with adjustable preload



Single 320mm floating disc, 2 piston caliper



Single 255mm disc, 2 piston caliper




2 212mm (87.1in)

Width (Handlebars)


714mm (28.1in)



1 170mm (46.1in)

Seat Height


790mm (31.1in)



1 477mm (58.1in)




Weight (Dry)


205kg (451lb)

Fuel Tank Capacity


16 litres (4.2 gal US)


Maximum Power


51 kW (69bhp) at 7 250 r/min

Maximum Torque


72 Nm (53ft.lbf) at 5 750 r/min



Jet Black / Silver, Sunset Red / Silver

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