Triumph has taken a leap into the future, or maybe that’s the present, announcing a series of new engines to power the marque's modern classic lineup.
Thanks to increasingly tough emissions standards in the European Union (EU), Triumph has found it difficult to keep the air-cooled engines that power the Bonneville, Scrambler, and Thruxton modern classics in line with the EU’s standards.
As a result, for for next year’s models, air-cooling is on the way out, and water cooling is in. Larger bores and more powerful engines hit the scene, along with a couple of new feature-laden models to add to the excitement.
The 865cc air-cooled engine hasn’t done its dash yet — it stays on in the Scrambler (more on that later) — but the Bonneville and Thruxton are gaining more capacity with a 1200cc water-cooled engine and the new Street Twin has a water-cooled 900cc unit.
Although the technology behind the new engines is new, the layout remains the same. Triumph sticks to the iconic parallel twin, but now with a radiator up front between the down tubes of the frame. Power has been increased exponentially. Torque increases 18 per cent in the Street Twin’s 900cc unit over the old 865cc air-cooled engine, and the 1200cc engines bring at least a 54 per cent torque increase, thanks in part to the much larger displacement.
Triumph has focused on bringing “modern” into the classic lineup. EFI carefully concealed as carburettors is no longer enough and, with that in mind, Triumph has added plenty of tech to keep modern riders happy.
The new models will come with ride-by-wire throttles for more precise control, ABS, traction control and, quite usefully, a USB charging point.
The 1200cc bikes also gain rider modes, a first for Triumph’s classic range, via a ‘‘road or rain’’ mode available at the push of a conveniently located button.
The modern classic lineup is being bolstered with not one, but five new bikes offering variation in styling and riding style.
Entering at the smaller end of the range is the Street Twin, a Bonneville-derived classic with funky modern looks. The main talking point is the new high-torque eight-valve engine and a 270-degree crank. Triumph claims a solid 80Nm of torque at a low 3200 RPM, 18 per cent more than the previous 900cc motor.
It also looks the business. A large headlight has aluminium-finished accents, and a large single gauge combines an analog speedo and digital readout with all the typical features riders now expect on a European bike.
Bonneville T120 and T120 Black
The Bonneville T120 and T120 Black look similar to this year’s models, but a closer inspection reveals a bump in cubic capacity to 1200cc thanks to an all-new engine that produces 54 per cent more torque than the 2015 bike.
For the first time on a Bonneville, Triumph is introducing rider modes, giving riders the option to switch between “road and rain” modes.
Thruxton and Thruxton R
The new Triumph Thruxton (above) and the Thruxton R (below)
Visually some of the biggest changes have come to the Thruxton cafe racer. Not only the new 1200cc engine and assorted tech from on the Bonneville found a home on the Thruxton, but an R model has been included for the first time.
That means that on top of the great 1960s cafe-racer inspired looks of the Thruxton, you can now have the performance to match thanks to high-quality Ohlins shocks front and rear and Brembo brakes on the Thruxton R. These additions should mean the Thruxton R will not only look the part but will be able to keep up with modern-style sports bikes with ease.
The Thruxton will be the most powerful bike in the new modern classic range, producing a wondrous 120Nm of torque: that’s 62 per cent more torque than the outgoing model, which will all but ensure the new Thruxton will live up to its racy looks.
Triumph Scrambler 900. Picture / Ted Baghurst
What about the Scrambler, you ask? Well, Triumph isn’t ready to drop the rugged and reliable air-cooled engine just yet.
The Scrambler remains essentially the same as the 2016 unit we tested this year, and that’s a good thing. The new water-cooled engine’s radiator looks a bit too vulnerable for the adventures the Scrambler is capable of — it genuinely seems wrong to add watercooling to the Scrambler. For now air-cooled aficionados can revel in the beauty of the 865cc parallel twin and it’s incredible-sounding 360-degree crank. Triumph New Zealand has yet to confirm pricing for the new models but we should see them in showrooms mid-next year.