A tale of two Triumphs
The British bike manufacturer's latest models boast bigger engines while still retaining their classic looks
In the motorcycle business, you're unlikely to change the recipe of a modern classic.
You'll want to keep the look and feel as original as possible.
Yet, when Triumph motorcycles introduced their 2016 retro line-up late last year, it got European motorcycle journalists all excited.
In a quest to find out how different the new Triumphs are, Biker Boy takes two of the company's latest offerings - the Bonneville T120 and the Thruxton R - for a double spin.
LOOKS & DESIGN
The bikes' naked looks appear the same as older generation Triumphs. But differences exist once you look beyond their spoked wheels.
On the cafe racer-styled Thruxton R, you'll zero in on the elongated fuel tank, a throwback to the past when brave men went racing wearing only half-shell helmets and knee-high leather boots.
The inverted gold forks and dual Ohlins rear shocks add a touch of modernity and bling.
The T120 sports a huge semi-circular grab rail and front dual disc brakes attached to a big wheel hub, which are a welcome addition.
Its fuel tank badge is now sleeker and smaller.
My 1.78m-tall frame agrees with the T120's upright riding posture because my hands fall naturally onto the handlebars and my feet rest on pegs as if I'm sitting on an office chair.
I was expecting the one-seater Thruxton R to be a torture instrument given its racer-boy styling.
Surprisingly, there was no weight bearing on my wrists simply because the Thruxton R isn't designed like a modern, nose-down sports bike.
It has an unbelievably slim waistline as you grip your knees against the fuel tank.
POWER & HANDLING
Both six-speed Triumphs sport bigger 1,200cc engines.
I recall the older 900cc Triumphs lacked the top speed and that extra gear to run with the bigger boys on highways.
The 2016 Thruxton R churns a maximum power close to 100hp and spits out 112Nm of torque.
Its "High Power" engine towers over its predecessor as it produces 62 per cent more torque and 41 per cent more horsepower.
The T120 "High Torque" engine boasts similar improvements.
What this means is that you won't be the last one pulling away from traffic stops.
Still, the Triumphs' power output is mild compared with other naked motorcycles with similar engine capacities which hover in the 150hp region.
But what the gentleman's bike lacks in power and torque, it makes up in the handling department.
Both low-revving Triumphs are predictable to ride and comfortable.
While the T120 may be a little slower-steering and has softer suspension than the Thruxton R, it now stops quicker thanks to dual disc brakes at the front.
The sportier Thruxton does every thing better given its powerful, radially-mounted front Brembo brakes, fully adjustable suspension and sticky Pirelli tyres.
What can be irritating about the Thruxton R is the glare from the tilted dual clocks and chromed top yoke when the sun is directly overhead.
Also, the rear-view mirrors need to be bigger to see traffic behind you.
In essence, the Triumphs are modern bikes made to look simple and retro.
Both have rain and road riding modes - the Thruxton R has an extra "sport" mode which allows instant power delivery and more punch.
Traction control and anti-lock brakes are standard. While the speedometer and rev-counter are analogue, there are digital gauges for fuel consumption, distance travelled and selected ride modes.
If you're a confident gentleman who's not bothered about breakneck speeds or gut-punching torque, either of the Triumphs would suit you. Both feature timeless designs that are making a comeback.
MAKE & MODEL
Triumph Bonneville T120 and Thruxton R
Both water-cooled, parallel-twin cylinder
Thruxton R: $27,000.
For more information, call Mah Pte Ltd at 6295-6393.