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Digital Subscriptions > Fast Bikes > Issue 322 January 2017 > CLASS DIVIDE

CLASS DIVIDE

Every manufacturer has a trademark model; a machine the brand is most identifiable with. Triumph, it would seem, has a few. Both the Speed Triple and Thruxton are instantly synonymous with the British bike builder…
IMAGES: JONNY ' TOO TALL' GAWLER

The Thruxton story goes back when Triumph was a way bigger Tmanufacturer than it is today. Back in the 1960s, the 650 Bonneville was making a splash, both here and in the colonies of the US and Australia. Then, in 1965, the Meriden-based firm began production of the Thruxton variant of the bike. Named after the Hampshire circuit, the limited-edition special allowed the bike to compete at the famous Thruxton 500-mile production race. In 1969, it filled the first three places, so that by Monday the race continued – this time to Triumph dealers across the globe.

Many moons later, by buying the rights to the original global player’s name, John Bloor gave birth to the second coming of Triumph. His first 1991 bikes bore names of past offerings, with the Trophy and Daytonas selling well enough to help Bloor’s Hinckleybased company expand production. In 1994 the promotional value of racing proved influential once more. Following a one-off race at Donington, with the field all using the newly introduced Speed Triple, the reputation of the muscle bike was impressively boosted. The subsequent bun fight that was the Triumph Speed Triple Challenge race series further increased the model’s popularity – even with me racing in it…

In 1997 the brutish street fighter was given an unmistakable identity with its twin bug-eyed headlights and alloy tubed perimeter frame. Since then it’s been upgraded several times, this year seeing the introduction of the latest Speed Triple, along with a race bred brother in the form of the higher spec R model.

The Thruxton model lives on, too, thanks to the efforts of Bloor’s designers and their obsession with the past. Re-introduced into the range in 2004 in 865cc form, it continued with cosmetic changes until this season when it was heavily revised, now coming in 1200cc form. Again, an R version of the bike was also launched at the same time that got both hipsters and real bikers in a tizz.

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