First built in 1942, RAF Thruxton as it was known, was a World War II era airfield used by troop-carrying aircraft that took part in operations on the continent such as the D-Day landings. When the war was over, many of these abandoned military facilities were left to die, but the ring road at Thruxton has lived on to become one of the fastest race tracks in the UK. Triumph first used the name on their homologation special endurance racers of the ’60s and although the name lives on as the cream of the company’s retro crop, the fairings have long since been left behind. But Portugal’s iT ROCKS!BIKES had a client dreaming of the glory days and the talented trio were all too happy to turn a 2006 Triumph Thruxton into a true vintage racer for the road.
The last time we caught up with the Porto-based trio of Osvaldo, Ana, and Luis, they’d just finished a Yamaha XV project designed to compete in the torture test that is the Scram Africa. So, building street bikes for racing is not something new to them, although the Thruxton is designed to be much more street focussed than the wild XV. Having seen their brilliant metal work and the team’s signature monocoque bodies, the client came to them with a request for a ’70s-based Triumph endurance racer. His list of demands was relatively small, allowing the crew to let their creative juices run wild, with only the colour being decided beforehand.
Starting with a 2006 Thruxton was a sensible choice for many reasons, most notably the simplicity of the carburettor-based engine to match the old-school vibe and the fact that the factory had already given the engine a nice tickle in the horsepower department. It’s also considerably cheaper as a second-hand machine than using the newer liquid-cooled variant and yet, you still get the history of the badge. As always, Ana, being the designer plays a key role in drawing up the bike to the satisfaction of all involved and the preplanning ensures the majority of parts are on hand when the build commences.
To kick things off they had the bike in pieces and the rear of the frame is heavily cut back, with both the big factory fender and prominent cafe racer inspired hump surplus to requirements. The next step was to figure out exactly how the yet to be built fairing would bolt up and then the fabrication could begin. Two key areas were chosen as the focus, with side mounts positioned to affix the outer edges of the side of the fairing without getting in the rider’s way. Up front, however, an ultra neat subframe was required and the brilliantly built part attaches just behind the headstock, on the backbone, to ensure maximum rigidity.
With the frame and new metal work all sanded down and smoothed out, it was finished in a factory black and the team could move on to the next piece of the puzzle. Anybody who has tracked a road bike will tell you that suspension, brakes and tyres make a far greater improvement than just upping the power, and the suspension package is very well sorted. At the front end, a set of Yamaha R1 forks have been adapted to fit the Thruxton frame, rebuilt to suit the setup and then are teamed up with Bitubo shocks in the rear. The brakes are a mix of Yamaha and Thruxton parts and drastically improve the stopping power.
A big dollar set of Kineo wheels wrapped in Metzeler tyres not only provide increased grip and reduce unsprung weight, but they look sensational too. But the big ticket item in the looks department is undoubtedly the stunning steel front fairing.
Showing off their ability to mould metal, the team have crafted a piece that is both classic in its lines and yet has a beautiful hint of modern drama, with the under/over twin LED projector headlights. The rounded smoked out screen is a nice match for the hand-stitched black leather seat, and the rear cowl and side covers add more brilliant artisan touches.
The factory tank has had a Monza style filler cap added in a central location and sculpted knee dents allow the rider to really tuck in out of the wind. The great foundation means the exquisite paint is allowed to shine through and the customer’s request for a classic Porsche blue, is teamed up with white and grey gloss, before the graphics package, including the bike’s name ‘lithium’, was all expertly applied with an airbrush. LSL came to the party with the clip-ons and rearsets for the true racer riding position and the rolling machine was looking a treat.
To get it running at its best two jobs remained, the first of which was to extract more power, which is achieved thanks to a stunning full stainless exhaust system that finishes with twin thundering reverse cone mufflers.
While the final piece to the puzzle was to rebuild the entire wiring loom from scratch, only keeping the essentials and utilising Motogadget’s brilliant range to ensure things like indicators had a minimal impact on the overall visual statement.
An ultra neat bracket holds the numberplate and vintage rear light and IRB’s objective of creating a classic racer-styled bike with modern essentials has simply been smashed out of the park. It’s a Thruxton that truly earns its name in both form and function.