When it comes to café racer style bikes, generally, you either love them or you hate them; but there is plenty for everyone to like in this Thruxton RS. 

Much like we have a fascination with custom cruisers and choppers here in the U.S., for the Brits, it’s all about the café racers. Riders there have a long history of adding performance hardware, stripping off unnecessaries, and hauling tail around the countryside to a destination café to show off their ride. 

In that spirit comes the 2020 Triumph Thruxton RS. The Thruxton itself is based on Triumph’s Bonneville modern classic, with all the usual café-type upgrades...sculpted tank, bar-end mirrors, seat cowl etc. 

This RS goes further with an even more race-inspired theme. Not many shiny bits remain, replaced by matte, powder coated, and aluminum finishes.

And it really is a clean and cool-looking design; from the long 3.8-gallon cutout tank with flip-top Monza cap and stainless trim, to the wiring and various tokens of modern motorcycles hidden away as much as possible.  And even the fuel injection is designed to look like a set of carburetors. 

It may be classic in looks, but this in one modern performance machine. Starting with the Thruxton-spec 1200cc Bonneville twin engine, the RS gets new pistons, upgraded cam, as well as a port and polish and lighter components to boost horsepower to 104, 7-more than the base Thruxton.  

The exhaust has the traditional British putt-putt at idle, but sounds more contemporary when spent gases begin to flow through in earnest.  

The 6-speed transmission works with an assist clutch that makes clutch-pull about as easy as can be, yet provides plenty of feel.

To the tubular steel cradle frame, the RS gets a full suspension upgrade; adjustable Showa big piston fork, and a pair of Ohlins shocks with external reservoirs.  Also, stickier Metzeler tires for the 17-inch wheels. 

Upgraded Brembo brakes as well, and there’s even ABS; plus Road, Rain, and Sport ride modes, and traction control enabled by ride-by-wire throttle, if you’re into such things.

Seating for just one on this ride, and it’s more comfortable than it looks.

Spending time in that seat, the engine has a ton of character and feels way more powerful than you’re expecting.  It may only be a few more horsepower, but the engine is much freer with the power delivery. 

The engine upgrades and a lighter battery result in a 20-lbs. weight reduction compared to the base Thruxton. It doesn’t necessarily feel like a lightweight, but falls into corners with ease; and feels well-settled as you progress through them. 

Practical aspects of the bike include a comprehensive and easy to read gauge package, full LED lighting, and a USB charge port and storage area under the seat.  

Thruxton RS pricing starts at $16,200. Not bad considering a base Thruxton goes for $13,000; there’s also a middle ground Thruxton R available for $15,400.

Starting with what is arguably the best café racer available today, adding more power, refining handling, and improving the visuals is an easy recipe for success.  Even if you never actually go to a café, or pledge allegiance to the Union Jack; the 2020 Triumph Thruxton RS is one high-performance British classic that is sure to appeal to the modern racer in all of us.