I’ve had my 2010 Triumph Thruxton for almost two years, and one thing I’ve been contemplating was modifying the suspension. There’s a lot of threads on the various Triumph boards about the execrable quality of the stock shocks and tires, but to be honest I didn’t really mind the set up, other than it felt squidgy in hard turns and had a tendency to sharply nose dive under hard braking. I’ve had crappy suspension on just about every bike I’ve owned, so this wasn’t really much worse that the 2007 Speed Triple, or the 2010 Street Triple, the 2001 Sprint RS, or even the 2001 Buell Blast I had.

I started off with cosmetic modifications to get the bike where i wanted it visually, but eventually a few sphincter-puckering moments on the Sandia Crest road lead me to start tinkering with the suspension. I dialed the pre-load up and while that tightened the bike up decently, it still had a tendency to get overly-spirited in fast turns. I tried new tires.

The Metzler Lasertecs are nowhere as terrible as the boards have to say — they’re very predictable, hold well, and aren’t expensive, but the Avon AM26 Roadriders truly change the character of the bike. Instead of a polite, staid machine, the Thruxton tips much more aggressively into turns on the British rubber. They hold tight in turns, do well in wet weather, but I found they were awful on that grooves concrete some states use for the highways. The Avons had a tendency to set up a pretty frightening speed wobble on these sorts of roads it didn’t have on the tarmac. At the suggestion of a cafe builder acquaintance, I tried the Shinko 712s — half the price of the Avons ($115 at my local garage wrech’s store…Score for the Scottish guy!), they grip just as well and at 2000 miles on them in just two months, seem to be wearing much slower. They also seem more stable on the concrete roads and don’t feel the wind as much. As a bonus, they have an aggressive-looking tread pattern and are 10mms higher in aspect ratio, giving the bike a more lean and tough appearance.

What the Shinkos and Avons showed, however, was how substandard the suspension was in hard deceleration or turning. A few weeks ago in a fast group ride down the Crest the front end of Trixie tried to tuck in a 35mph, downhill, right hand switchback. So…time to address the suspension. I’ve had a ton of suggestions — from the overly-ambitious and expensive Ohlins shocks and springs/valving, to the more reasonable Gold Valve treatment up front and Icon, cheaper Ohlin rears, to progressive springs up front with Hagon rear shocks. I read through the various boards, looked at my style of riding, and the cost to benefit of blowing over a grand on suspension and decided…

Spending a grand on the suspension is idiotic.

The final decision was based on thrift, but also on the notion that I could improve the set-up if I didn’t like it. Progressive springs in the front for $89, Hagon 900 three point adjustable shocks in the rear for $199. So how did the el cheapo option pan out?

Great. The springs went in first, as British Customs didn’t have the shocks in stock and we had to reorder directly from Hagon. (Thanks, Christine!) They take your weight, the type of riding (street or sport — unless you’re riding track, ask for springs, if you like your testicles…), and the color of the spring and bodies (chrome or black for either.) The springs immediately tightened up the front end and the same section of road that had been so interesting the week before was a doddle at 40mph. The front end lost a bunch of the chatter it had at speed or in turns, and was a serious confidence booster. It also exposed how absolutely worthless the rear end was.

The Hagons went on in 20 minutes at the local shop and several rides through the Crest road and the less challenging South 14 at perfectly legal speeds (honest!) showed the bike to be a completely different animal — tight, responsive, if a bit stiff. I’m going to wait a few weeks and see if the rear softens a bit as the spring breaks in, otherwise I made have to dial it down a bit. I took my iPhone and fired up the clinometer and ran it over the tire to get an idea of the lean angles I’ve achieved. The next day i was watching GP Moto with a local bike club and got to see what the 48 degrees I’ve been regularly pulling looks like.

I need to slow the f#$% down.

If you want to spend more money and get a wee bit more performance out of your Thruxton, by all means, do so, but if you are looking to tighten the bike up for spirited street riding without breaking the bank, I think this is the set-up to go with.

And she even looks good…

2014-04-24 14.03.05 HDR

2014-04-24 14.03.15 HDRTrixie: 2010 Triumph Thruxton SE with EPCO exhaust, British Customs fender eliminator and turn indicators, Dime City Cycles fork gaiters, mirrors and levers, front fender painted locally, Hagon 900 shocks, Progressive springs, and Shinko 712 tires.

After 6000 miles or so on the Avon AM26 Roadriders, i decided I needed a new set of feet for the Thruxton. There was probably another 3000 miles left in the tread, but I suspect a combination of underinflation and the tires having been just a bit off balance in their early days was giving rise to an annoying speed wobble in the 50-55mph range — nothing too terrible, but very noticeable — so I figured nip it in the bud.

So what to do? go back to the reliable and predictable Mezlers? Get another set of the Avons with their great turning and grip, but twitchy handling in wind and on grooved concrete? Maybe pop for the fantastic but expensive Dunlop Trailmax dual sport tires? I decided to take the advice of a cafe builder friend out here and try Shinko tires.

The obvious good stuff: they are cheap — the 712s for the Thruxton were about half the cost of a set of Avons. Even with install they’re cheaper than the Avons. They seem to sit just a bit higher on the back tire than the Roadrides did. They have a deep tread, and are nicely sticky, but the lettering style is not attractive. The bad: it’s got the usual center rain groove that doesn’t play well with grooved concrete. Once mounted, I took Trixie for a quick spin on I-40 and South 14’s nice set of twisties just south of Tijeras.

The tires are fairly quiet; I noticed no road noise of note. They have a slight vibration the Avons didn’t, but it’s not finger numbing. They take input very easily and quickly.

On the highway, they do seek on the grooved concrete (and to be fair, it’s an awful stretch of road, as well), but I didn’t get the wobble the Avons liked to give me. On normal pavement, they were sure and solid. I was also catching a hard set of crosswinds coming through the canyon. On the Avons, I would really feel the wind buffeting the bike, but on the Shinkos — as with the OEM Metzlers — there was minimal buffeting.

A quick run down the twisties on S14 (and absolutely not speeding…honest), and I found out the quick response to steering input was not linear (the best way I can put it.) The Avons have a steady fall into turns that is aggressive, but predictable. The Shinkos tip in fast and get progressively move aggressive in turning as you lean. A U-turn at the end of the twisties nearly put me down as the bike hauled over harder than expected, and when I gave it gas she sat up almost as sharply, and I nearly kissed the guard rail. And this is on a bike I know well.

(Hint for you bikers: changing the type tires really can change how your bike feels — be cautious those first few rides until you relearn the new handling.)

Overall, I’m pretty pleased with the Shinko 712s, so far. I figure if I get even half the wear as I got out of the Avons, they were worth it.

New PSR bar end mirrors, and levers by Dime City Cycles. Next, pinstriping the fender to match flyscreen:

 

 

Dad tested, Sofia approved…

That  almost sounded dirty, didn’t it? I took Trixie, the new Triumph Thruxton (named for Speed Racer’s girlfriend) in to get her fender taken off and replaced with an under the seat cat’s eye LED tail light. The turn signals were moved, as well, and mounted on the shocks — they, and the turn signals up front, are British Custom’s brused chrome bullet lights. Next, the mirrors are going in favor of smaller bar end mirrors. The napoleons she’s got now are just to clunky. After that, the fender is going to get the triple stripe on the rest of the bike to complete the look.

Here’s she is:

UPDATE: Ooo… I found the style of mirror I was looking for, and adjustable levers from Dime City Cycles for cheaper than I could buy either a set of levers or mirrors from the local joints. I jut might have Trixie finished sooner than I thought…

 

i was out for my weekend ride in the country and stopped at Fastbecks, back in Cedar Crest (run by a friend of mine) just to chat and check on some parts for the wife’s bike. On a lark, I decided to take out a used Thruxton, and run it up Sandia Crest. The Crest road is a “the” ride for the Albuquerque area — it’s 120 turns in about 12 miles to the top (10,000′ or so, compared to the 6,500 at the bottom.)

Just a hint of the kind of road I’m talking about… Fastbecks is at the bottom of 536 (the right.)

On my Street Triple, the ride is pretty exciting and I’ve found my comfort level with the bikes makes for a pretty quick trip up and down. The Thruxton is, on paper, pretty gutless compared to Hecate (my Street Triple) — 62hp compared to the 110 or so with the Two Brothers pipes on the Triple; 52 ft-lbs of torque…about the same. It weighs about 50 pounds more than my bike, so I figured it would be so-so, speed and maneuverability wise.

I was in for a surprise…

Despite the more traditional retro cafe racer bulk, the bike was fast! The gearing is tall, more like a Ducati than a Triumph triple, and I was a mile down the road in second gear in about a minute. The sharp turns of the Crest were nothing for this beast. I was easily handling turns with the same aplomb as Hecate — this thing can turn! It requires a bit more muscle than the lighter Triple, but not much. The torque brings it off the line just as fast, and you don’t have to work the throttle as much. To top it off, the engine doesn’t gush heat like the smaller mill, and the Epco cafe pipes were beautifully tuned to purr and growl, but without the ear-splitting roar of the Two Brothers for Hecate. I loved it!

I took the bike for a run to Madrid, about 25 miles to the north, and back. Mostly straight road with a bunch of nice sweepers, I was looking to see how she’d feel for longer hauls. By now i was already thinking i wanted one. I got back and got a straight trade banged out for Hecate and took the Thruxton home a few hours later.

I’m breaking my mythological naming convention with this one and am calling her Trixie, after the girlfriend in Speed Racer — pretty, classy, but surprisingly tough.

The important bits: The Thruxton is a fuel-injected 900cc parallel twin, with the injection hidden in fake carbs. There is a “choke” which will fast idle the machine; I find she’s a bit sluggish when you first wake it after a while, and a quick pop of the choke gets her running right. Even flogging her to test her ability to pass at speed and to get an idea of her top speed, as well as some around town driving, I got 60mpg. Assuming this will be a high end of the fuel consumption, I’m guessing a range of 240 miles (max!), but more likely 180-200 on the 4.2 gallon tank. She is fast as hell accelerating up to about 90mph, then her power starts to drop off quickly. I absolutely was not speeding, but 110mph is definitely achievable. The wind buffeting is minimal due to the flyscreen, but above 80 you really start to feel it.

Gauges are analog — speedometer with gas and engine warning lights ont the left, tach on the right, and a cluster of indicator lights underneath. The key is on the head of the bike on the left — not the usual place for the sportbike crowd, and I’m still getting used to it.

Did I mention that i got the bike with only 1800 miles on it, compared to my Triple’s 10,000 or so?