7bhp power increase to 103bhp
Leaner, stronger and a banger in the bends, the range-topping 2020 Triumph Thruxton RS is more than just a Thruxton R with a few fancy bits thrown on. As impressive as it ever was, the Thruxton is now an even cooler customer in its new RS guise.
Its extra grunt and willingness to rev adds extra sparkle to an already fast and formidable machine and its new-found lightness, braking power and extra grip lets you ride the RS harder than any Thruxton before…and it loves it.
Ride quality & brakes
4 out of 5 (4/5)
There’s a reason why so many sportsbike riders have peeled themselves off their race replicas and on to Thruxtons. It looks great and you can waft along slowly and enjoy the dark rumblings of the motor.
It doesn’t squash wrists or knees and the seat is comfy enough for extended saddle time (around three or four hours) before you need to shuffle, but it’ll also scratch your speed itch. The Thruxton is still a performance bike, albeit one with turn-ups and a beard.
There’s nothing the Thruxton RS can’t do. It might be long and low, compared to a sportsbike or fiery naked and it’s still on the heavy side, despite a 6kg weight saving (thanks to lighter engine internals and battery), but it’s balanced and steers with accuracy, with just the right amount of rider input required to make you feel like you’ve worked for your speed. Fast flowing corners are its thing and not hairpins or flip-flops, but it gets through them all with poise.
We’ve long loved Metzeler’s Racetec RR K3 fast road/trackday tyre. Grippy, fast-warming, surprisingly durable and not bad in the wet, there’s little they can’t do.
Ride quality isn’t the last word in plushness, like a full Öhlins-clad Speed Triple RS, and you can get the suspension to wobble if you push very hard, but you can ride the Thruxton RS with all the fervour of a sportsbike.
4 out of 5 (4/5)
To keep the 1200cc parallel twin Euro5-fresh and to boost performance, the Thruxton RS also gets a raft of engine mods, including high compression pistons, cams and a gas flowed head, crank, balance shafts, clutch and generator are all lighter and a magnesium cam cover and thinner engine covers save further weight.
Power is up 7bhp to 103bhp and there’s more shove above 5250rpm. It makes the same 83ftlb of torque, but it’s delivered 700rpm lower in the revs, there’s 20% less inertia and an extra 500rpm to play with up top, so no more banging into the rev limiter so easily when you’re enjoying yourself.
Revised mapping has banished on/off throttle glitches and the new torque-assist clutch gives the lever a lighter action. Gears still snick home nicely, not that you need to trouble the ‘box that often with so much torque on tap, but a quickshifter and blipper would be nice for the money.
Rider modes (Rain, Road, Sport) now have their own dedicated traction control settings, so there’s less intrusion when you don’t want it and more when you do. In reality there’s now so much grip you’d be hard pushed to ring the TC’s bell anyway.
Reliability & build quality
5 out of 5 (5/5)
Triumph took a huge step forward in quality when the Thruxton first arrived in 2016 and it’s now up there with the best. Owner reviews are all positive, so living with the RS should be a joyful experience.
Value vs rivals
3 out of 5 (3/5)
It’s a lot of cash for a single-seated retro-shaped sportsbike, but the Triumph is a quality object, packed with tastefully hidden tech. For the last word in off the peg café racer-styling, sounds and performance the new Thruxton RS is it.
Performance retro motorcycles are growing in popularity and earlier this year MV Agusta released the 70s-aping Superveloce 800. Based on the F3 800 supersport bike, the three-cylinder middleweight is one of the Thruxton RS’s closest rivals. To find out how they compare, we took them for two days of back-to-back testing on the MCN250.
Starting in drizzly conditions on busy A-roads, the Thruxton’s sporty Metzeler Racetec RR tyres offered more slick than groove and combined with the engine’s bags of torque, saw the traction control light flashing with alarming regularity. Aside from its tyres though, the Triumph is happy and easy to ride in wet conditions.
With the sun out, the roads dry and a warming coffee inside us, would the B-road second stint allow us to view things with a different perspective?
The Triumph is so much fun to ride, so easy-going and relaxed thanks to its gutsy parallel twin engine that it flows through bends with speed and poise. It’s one of those bikes that you simply can’t help but enjoy riding. But is it as thrilling as the MV?
Although nowhere near as light or as agile (it is a claimed 24kg heavier) the RS’s extra mass makes it very stable and assured in corners, delivering a confidence-inspiring ride whatever the conditions. Where the MV skips over bumps, the Triumph just motors on with a far plusher ride quality. It may not be as much fun as the MV for that 10% of the day when you put the hammer down, but for the vast majority of the ride its set-up is better suited to the UK’s roads.
When everything clicks, the Superveloce is simply sublime. But how often do you get those days in the UK? As well as being nearly £5000 cheaper than the MV, the Triumph is a far more practical café racer. The all black paint doesn’t do its styling many favours (the two-tone silver and black paint option helps) but what it delivers is a ride quality that still has bags of soul.
If you accept that life with the MV won’t be plain sailing it rewards you with an experience, visually and in terms of the ride, that the Triumph can’t match. However, if you want a great-looking retro to ride when you fancy it and not just on sunny days, the Thruxton RS is for you.
5 out of 5 (5/5)
Based on the brilliant R – not a bad place to start an evolution – the RS keeps all its good stuff: the polished top yoke, ali tank strap, Brembos, fully adjustable twin piggyback Öhlins shocks and Showa Big Piston Forks.
Then there’s the old-school analogue clocks, lightweight 32 spoke wheels, sleek exhausts that cleverly hide the cats and carb-shaped throttle bodies…the list goes on.
Like the top spec Street and Speed Triple RS Triumph, the chassis components get a tickle, so the Thruxton RS has higher spec Brembo M50 monoblocs, Pirelli Diablo Rosso Corsas make way for stickier Metzeler Racetec RR K3 rubber and there’s a lighter battery. The Öhlins shock springs have been given the blacked-out treatment along with all the engine covers and wheel rims.
On top of all the RS’s standard goodies, there are a plethora of accessories available, from Arrow pipes to tank bags, or a ‘Track Racer’ inspiration kit including a top fairing, lower clip-ons, a tail tidy and LED indicators, which can all be bought separately.
SpecsEngine size1200ccEngine typeLiquid-cooled, SOHC, 12v inline three cylinderFrame typeTubular steel cradleFuel capacity14.5 litresSeat height810mmBike weight197kgFront suspension43mm Showa forks, fully adjustableRear suspensionTwin Öhlins shocks, fully adjustableFront brake2 x 310mm front discs with four piston Brembo calipers. ABSRear brake220mm disc with Nissin twin piston caliper ABSFront tyre size120/70 x 17Rear tyre size160/60 x 17