Origins of the Triumph Thruxton 900

The Triumph Thruxton Bonneville propelled Triumph to the winner's circle, and inspired the modern Thriumph café racer

| November/December 2005

  • Thruxton then: a 1969 registered Triumph Bonneville
    Thruxton then: a 1969 registered Triumph Bonneville.
    Photo by Robert Smith
  • Thruxton now: a 2005 Triumph Thruxton
    Thruxton now: a 2005 Triumph Thruxton.
  • David Hayden’s 1969-registered Triumph Bonneville Thruxton
    David Hayden’s 1969-registered Triumph Bonneville Thruxton.
    Photo by Robert Smith
  • David Hayden’s 1969-registered Triumph Bonneville Thruxton (foreground) with a 2005 Triumph Thruxton 900
    David Hayden’s 1969-registered Triumph Bonneville Thruxton (foreground) with a 2005 Triumph Thruxton 900.
    Photo by Robert Smith
  • Thruxton then and now: Both have their appeal
    Thruxton then and now: Both have their appeal.
    Photo by Robert Smith
  • Clip-on handlebars were among the original Thruxton’s factory-produced performance parts
    Clip-on handlebars were among the original Thruxton’s factory-produced performance parts.
    Photo by Robert Smith
  • The Bonnie special hit a high note in 1969
    The Bonnie special hit a high note in 1969, as Triumph took the top three places at Thruxton and Malcolm Hill won the Isle of Man production TT at an average of 99.99 mph.
    Photo by Robert Smith
  • 2005 Triumph Thruxton 900
    2005 Triumph Thruxton 900
    Photo by Robert Smith
  • For the Thruxton, Triumph hot-rodded the stock Bonneville engine with high-compression (11:1) pistons, lighter pushrods, swept-back headers and fluted carbs
    For the Thruxton, Triumph hot-rodded the stock Bonneville engine with high-compression (11:1) pistons, lighter pushrods, swept-back headers and fluted carbs.
    Photo by Robert Smith
  • For the Thruxton, Triumph hot-rodded the stock Bonneville engine with high-compression (11:1) pistons, lighter pushrods, swept-back headers and fluted carbs
    For the Thruxton, Triumph hot-rodded the stock Bonneville engine with high-compression (11:1) pistons, lighter pushrods, swept-back headers and fluted carbs.
    Photo by Robert Smith

  • Thruxton then: a 1969 registered Triumph Bonneville
  • Thruxton now: a 2005 Triumph Thruxton
  • David Hayden’s 1969-registered Triumph Bonneville Thruxton
  • David Hayden’s 1969-registered Triumph Bonneville Thruxton (foreground) with a 2005 Triumph Thruxton 900
  • Thruxton then and now: Both have their appeal
  • Clip-on handlebars were among the original Thruxton’s factory-produced performance parts
  • The Bonnie special hit a high note in 1969
  • 2005 Triumph Thruxton 900
  • For the Thruxton, Triumph hot-rodded the stock Bonneville engine with high-compression (11:1) pistons, lighter pushrods, swept-back headers and fluted carbs
  • For the Thruxton, Triumph hot-rodded the stock Bonneville engine with high-compression (11:1) pistons, lighter pushrods, swept-back headers and fluted carbs

Triumph Thruxton Bonneville

Years produced: 1965 - ?
Total production: 52
Claimed power: 54bhp @ 6,500rpm
Top speed: 140+mph
Engine type: Overhead valve, air-cooled, vertical twin 
Weight (dry): 157kg (350b)  
Price then: $925 (est.)
Price now: If you have to ask ...

2005 Triumph Thruxton 900

Years produced: 2004-present
Total production: N/A
Claimed power: 69bhp @ 7,250rpm
Top speed: 110mph
Engine type: Dual overhead cam, air-cooled, vertical twin 
Weight (dry): 205kg (451lb)
Price now: $7,999

BSA produced just 1,584 Rocket Gold Stars, the iconic pairing of Gold Star cycle parts and 650cc Super Rocket engines. It’s said that only about 2,000 still exist.

Those numbers don’t jibe, of course, and that’s because any time a factory assembles a special motorcycle using over-the-counter parts, unscrupulous shade-tree mechanics will try to make a fast buck by putting together their own. Such is the case with the Triumph Thruxton Bonneville — a bike that propelled Triumph to the winner's circle during the 1960s and inspired the modern Triumph café racer, the Triumph Thruxton 900. Early Thruxtons were created not only by private individuals but by Triumph dealers — at the company’s encouragement. But what is a real Thruxton?



In May 1965, the Triumph factory in Meriden, England, produced 52 tuned Thruxton Bonnies to homologate the type for production racing. It’s known that the 52 came from a batch numbered from DU23129 to DU23181, but other production machines were later diverted for Thruxtonization. And many dealers built Thruxtons from factory tuning parts.

Hints of greatness

Okay, let’s get this out of the way up front: Owner David Haydon can’t be certain whether his 1969-registered Thruxton Bonneville is a genuine factory racer or merely a collection of factory tuning parts fitted by a dealer to a stock Bonnie. But there are several clues that this is a special bike.



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