A large, modern motorcycle dealership, that sells a huge variety of brands is one of my favourite places to go on a weekend, just to window shop and dream. But when you’re faced with the choice of slapping down your cash for just one machine, the incredible choice offered these days makes it a daunting task. Some bikes are quick but are brutal on the back, others look cool but don’t have the power you crave, while others just seem way too heavy to ever be fun. The modern water-cooled Triumph Thruxton R might be the most uncompromisingly focussed of the Bonneville range and yet it is perhaps one of the best all-around bikes of the modern era. One American certainly thought so and then sought out Hinckley specialists A&J Cycles of New York to turn the best into something truly brilliant.
Since Triumph relaunched its retro range, first with the oil-cooled engines and then more recently with the water-cooled versions of the classic parallel twin, the Thruxton has been the big daddy of the lineup. But let’s be honest, while the air-cooled version was a great bike, it couldn’t hold a candle to most modern machines. The arrival of the water-cooled Thruxton R, with its 1200cc ‘High Torque’ engine, Brembo brakes, big piston Showa forks and Ohlins rear shocks changed all that. Renowned motorcycle journalist, Jeff Ware, who has ridden all sorts of turbocharged superbikes, loved it on its launch, calling it “the best twin shock bike I’ve ever ridden” and equally capable of cruising the streets as it was taking on a local track day.
So you can understand why demand was so strong then and dealers simply couldn’t keep up with the incoming orders in the early years of the new model. Having been a fan of the bike, a client of A&J Cycles was perusing these very pages of Pipeburn a few years ago, when he fell in love with a Thruxton build from the New York outfit and got in touch to have his very own created. Brian Ballard and his team have 20 years of experience riding, servicing and building bikes, and have always maintained a special focus on modern classics, and it is with the Triumph brand they have an affinity that few can match.
Having built a fleet of Triumph retro-rockets, A&J Cycles has a deep understanding of the product, which means a customer gets the best first time, every time, and doesn’t have to worry about their builder learning on the job. The R handles and brakes very well from the factory, but there is always room for improvement and the front forks have been stripped down and rebuilt internally with an Ohlins Nix30 kit. To get them looking right they’ve been DLC and KyoKoted by N2Dirt, and an Ohlins steering damper has been fitted for good measure.
The adjustable suspension theme continues at the rear end, with remote res Ohlins shocks, also in black, providing feedback via the aluminium swingarm. The braking is on song too, with Brembo “.484 cafe racer” billet machined calipers front and rear, and with a Brembo master featuring an adjustable Rizoma lever, the rider can set the bike up just the way they like it. The final piece to the rolling package plays a big role in the looks too, and it’s hard to top a set of Kineo wheels if the spoked vibe is your thing. A wide tyre conversion has been performed at the rear, with a 180-section Pirelli tyre providing huge amounts of grip.
Turning to the rest of the visual package and it’s exactly what you’d expect from A&J Cycles, timeless and high-end. The rear is as neat as can be thanks to the handy work of Evan at Speakeasy Motors, who fabricated the rear hoop and tail section and added a license plate bracket for good measure. While he was at it, he also turned out the seat pan to suit the new style and custom made a skid plate and battery holder. The black theme is a strong element of the bike and the powder coating was performed by Tom at TRG Coating, with Fish Brothers Upholstery handling the leather seat.
To really let the classic lines of the Thruxton R fuel tank stand out, the paint had to be the perfect pick. But first, a change in front fender was needed to match the look to come and a Meyerbuilt front fender and hoop kit get the job done. The task of laying down the high-end Porsche Cream White went to Dave at Slag Kustom, and the finish is brilliant and the hue spot on.
No time to be fitting eBay specials for the lighting, so it’s all quality stuff, with a Motodemic Evo S LED Headlight up front, Radiantz LED strip at the rear and a set of Motogadget tens1 LED turn signals. Some more Motogadget magic in the form of a Motoscope classic tachometer and mo.view spy mirrors finish out the functional tasks.
The engine was never going to be ignored, and with 112nm on tap in standard form, that’s superbike levels of pulling power at low rpm. But to unleash some extra power a Baak exhaust system is fitted and allows the full soundtrack to be enjoyed. The airbox has been deleted, opening up some nice negative space, and a pair of Sprint filters do the breathing. Motone finned engine covers give it a mean look, while Sato rearsets and a 520 chain conversion get things performing flawlessly to finish out the build.
It’s a near-new bike, but it has the sort of exclusive resto-mod feel of a Singer Porsche, and having dropped 45lbs and added all the good fruit, this Thruxton R has that level of desirability.