WORLD LAUNCH: Triumph’s Bonneville Thruxton RS for 2020. FIRST impressions.


Escaping the grey, dreary skies of Great Britain in January is always nice. And it’s even nicer if you get to experience some sunshine in Portugal aboard the new Triumph Thruxton RS.

While the Thruxton has been a model name in the Hinckley factory’s line-up since 2004, it is only since the 2016 version was released that it became the real Bonneville model that actually deserved the name, and the new-for-2020 version – with the RS suffix – is the best yet.

Given that the original short-production version that held the name –the T120 Thruxton – was so-titled due to positive results in the field of motorcycle sport, namely thanks to Triumph’s success at the Thruxton 500 endurance races, and justified the title by becoming the first production motorcycle to lap the Isle of Man TT circuit at over 100mph, then it makes perfect sense for the modern Triumph to ensure that their Bonneville range has a bike truly deserving of a performance-oriented title.

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WORLD LAUNCH: Triumph Bonneville Thruxton RS

Following the Hinckley factory’s range designation, the RS tops the standard and R versions of each model by being more focussed towards on-road performance, with the 1200cc parallel twin Bonneville motor having a whole host of modifications to not only make it more powerful, but also lighter and more free-revving, as well as conforming to the incoming Euro 5 emissions regulations.

Nasty exhaust gases have been reduced by adding air injection into the exhaust ports, along with some clever engine management, while the crank, clutch and balance shaft have been lightened thus allowing a higher rev limit and bringing a new eagerness to the engine’s power delivery. And, while each of the changes by themselves are only small, when added together they do make for a noticeably more lovely powerplant.

While the ergonomics of the RS are near identical to the R, there are further improvements in the rolling chassis and suspension, with ‘big piston forks’ and chunky Brembo M50 calipers at the pointy end, and a set of unique Öhlins shock absorbers at the rear. And yes, they do all make a difference, with a chassis that is less harsh than that of the R, and brakes that offer far more feedback and give a genuine two finger emergency stop capability. In fact, even enthusiastic riding can be tempered with just an incex finger on the brake lever of the radial Brembo master cylinder.

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The RS is also fitted with Metzeler Racetec RR tyres, of a format that suits the spoked wheels, that re eminently suitable to the bike’s character – the rear tyre can be used right to the edge, without any ground clearance issues, and giving a surprising amount of feedback for what is, to many folks eyes, ‘just a retro bike’. Triumph are very keen to make the point clear that this is a bike that may have the style of bikes from the Sixties and Seventies, but is just as capable as any other modern motorcycle, and that has just as many tricks up its sleeve.

For the full ride report on the new Triumph Thruxton RS, be sure to get your hands on the upcoming issue of Motorcycle Sport and Leisure magazine. For more information on how to get hold of a copy, click HERE. And for more information on the Triumph, click www.triumphmotorcycles.co.uk. Just for context, the new RS will cost £13,000, and that’s just £600 more than the R model.

WORDS: Dave Manning / IMAGES: Triumph Motorcycles

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