At last!! When Triumph took over our arches in October 2015 to launch their new Bonneville range the Thruxton was the model that caused the biggest stir – for us at least. During what was somewhat of an overwhelming event for the Bike Shed team there was a nugget of information, a tease, that myself and Dutch couldn’t shake – a promise of performance Thruxton R.
Even with our creative juices combined into an exotic punch there was little we could come up with to improve on the looks. Many have tried, but there’s not a lot wrong with a bone-stock one. But we all want a bit more mumbo and flashier trinkets, it’s human nature. Even if Triumph had announced the R version had 200hp, forged pistons and titanium headers someone somewhere would have wanted 205hp, inconel pipes and beryllium valve seats.
The motorcycle industry hasn’t clocked onto this quite as well as car manufacturers, who offer a ‘hot’ version of their already sporty models. Mercedes-Benz have AMG, BMW have M Sport, Honda do their Type R and even Ferrari have dabbled with mods for their Challenge Stradale and Scuderia derivations. Sure MV Agusta rehash their F4 with ever more race orientated components but the ludicrous price tags mean you’ll be unlikely to see one on the road, let alone own one. And Ducati have released so many limited editions that it’s hard to keep up with what’s what.
But this is isn’t Triumph’s first rodeo. Behind the scenes their in-house skunkworks have masterminded and built some damn fine modded machines. Remember the Carbon tanked T100 Scrambler and reverse cylinder head bobber from 2014? We do, Triumph brought them to Bike Shed Paris 2015 and showed the majority of custom workshops how a bike could be built. See the feature here.
It’s widely acknowledged that the 1200cc parallel twin has loads left in reserve from an engineering and performance perspective so there’s little doubt that it can handle a bit of light tuning. The Thruxton feels plenty spirited enough and is a delight to ride (original launch feature) but we’re ready, bowl in hand like Oliver Twist – please sir, can we have some more.
And here it is, the TFC – Triumph Factory Custom. Flipping nice isn’t it!
So what do you get? Well, for starters the engine has been lightly fettled to release an additional 10 PS (9.8HP), which doesn’t sound a lot but that’s 10% over the stocker. This comes courtesy of lighter, lower inertia engine components, high comp pistons and slightly more aggressive cams matched to revised ports. There’s more torque too, another 3 of them, which kick-in 100 revs earlier. Smooth power and torque is something this motor is acclaimed for delivering, along with huge dollops of character.
But extra poke is nothing without a diet to match. The engine’s internals and a lightweight covers contribute to much of the TFC’s weight loss, and the tail, front mudguard, heel plates and fairing are carbon fibre. Proper pre-preg stuff, not that cheapo gear that you’ll find on the eBay. The parts from the Thruxton R aren’t exactly heavy to start with so the weight saving here isn’t huge, but it all adds up – or subtracts. And if looks were worth seconds a lap, carbon fibre sets a new pole position record.
The rear mudguard has been ditched altogether, the engine cradles are aluminium and the battery is lighter too. The cunning exhaust system, as found on the rest of the Bonneville range, is a tricky one to modify as the hidden catalytic convertor requires double skinned cleverness to turn the smelly stuff into whiffs of pot pouri. So the headers are still beautifully linished stainless steel but the Vance & Hines silencers are made from titanium, with carbon end caps.
The high-endness continues. Showa’s Big Piston fork found on the Thruxton R might ape its Swedish competitor with a gold coating but the TFC is fitted with the more premium Öhlins NIX30. The brace of fully adjustable Öhlins piggyback shocks are the same as on the R, but with the TFC there’s a specific, machined adjustor.
The brakes are top spec too, and upgraded over the R version. Brembo M4.34 radial monoblocs with a reach and ratio adjustable MCS lever and radial master cylinder offers nearly the same braking capability as the new Speed Triple RS, albeit that has an extra cm of brake rotor diameter. The clutch side also runs this Brembo lever and master cylinder setup, which combined with the torque assist internal assembly will make for a buttery, single digit operation. Even more spirited footpegs feature, robbed from a Daytona R.
There’s of course ABS as standard but the boffins from the electronics department have refrained from adding novelty engine modes, choosing to stick with Rain, Road and Sport. Marketing probably wanted to call the latter Race, but we’d all know it’d be the same thing. The choice of rubber though will favour the more enthusiastic rider. Metzeler’s excellent (so the fast boys working for magazines tell me) Racetec RR works OK in rain, but let’s face it, the lucky few who’ll buy a Thruxton TFC will be barbecuing their chicken strips at Brands, Lydden Hill or on the A537 – rather than the North Circular on a damp commute.
To prevent owners from squabbling the TFC Thruxton is only available in black, very black. Engine cases, badges and wheel rims are either powdercoated or anodised black. The screen is tinted. The leather saddle is black. The LED taillight and indicators are smoked. There are raw carbon sections on the fairing and tail, and brushed steel knee scallops on the tank, but the rest is painted black. Hand finished with a gold pinstripe, accentuated by Öhlins’ anodising and a gold chain. There are also fancy badges to make sure everyone knows you’re part of the TFC tribe.
But perhaps the bit that most owners will be the proudest of is the badge that’s set into the bespoke, machined-from-billet top yoke. It’ll let others know the rider’s position in the queue and how quick they were to pick up the phone and lay down a deposit. There’ll only be 750 Thruxton TFCs made, ever. And no, you can’t just order a few parts and bolt them to your 2015 Thruxton. Triumph only have a limited number of spare components available and they’re reserved in case a customer has an incident.
And to make the ownership experience even more premium each bike comes with a special handover pack, including a glossy custom build book, signed by Triumph’s CEO, Nick Bloor.
But the TFC project doesn’t end with the Thruxton. For those who enjoy spinning the planet in reverse beneath them, the go-faster treatment has been extended to the ludicrous, 2.3 litre Rocket 3. Now, OK, the Rocket was around when Marlon Brando was still alive and how that power station between the wheels is passing EU4 tests I don’t know, but a lighter (yes, not a hard task admittedly) and more absurdly torquey one…. I’d be up for a go on that!
Back to the Thruxton though, as that’s the one we really want. So much so that we’ve ordered one. Why? Well we’ve waited patiently for nearly four years to build the ultimate Thruxton, so it kind of made sense to wait for the ideal donor – the ultimate Thruxton.
There’s now the awkward task of finding the £17,500 (on the road price) to pay for it. But seeing as delivery won’t be until early June we’ve got time to persuade someone with deeper pockets than Dutch or I to get involved with our own skunkworks project. I’m off to Hinckley to sit on one and try to jump the waiting list. Watch this space…..
Sure, dressing-up old models to get ’em gone is nothing new. Nor is reinvigorating sales of recent ones with limited editions, but you’ve got to hand it to Triumph, they seem to have the Midas touch.
To find out if your local dealer has any allocation left – check here.