The Thruxton 900 is a tribute to the days when a motorcycle was about rebellion and freedom, instead of a fat wallet. Welcome to an England of a bygone era.
Thruxton Race Circuit
The first race was held at a former air base in Hampshire in 1952. In 1968, it took its present form as a 2 1/3 mile circuit, and is considered the fastest in Great Britain. The most important historical races were the "Thruxton 500" in the '60s, where a win meant big sales for the bike manufacturer. Triumph enjoyed great success with the T120 Bonneville and built the 650 Twin as a production racer under the Thruxton T120R name. Fifty-five handmade bikes were manufactured, and won their greatest victories in 1969.
Record racing was a very popular variation of café racing. A coin in the jukebox was the starting gun, and the idea was to get to a given point and back before the record ended. The fast ride was a test of ability and an expression of a way of life. And at the time, English motorcycles were considered the best and fastest in the world.
There were no speed limits on the highways around postwar London, and private races from café to café (or truck stop to truck stop) were a popular pastime.
The classic British Café Racer has no fairings. It is distinguished by rear-set footpegs and steep clip-on handlebars that keep the rider out of the airstream. For more ground clearance in curves, the mufflers angle up as steeply as possible.
A tuned engine and a goodly portion of courage were the tickets to an exclusive club. If you could reach "the ton" - 100 mph - in a ride around the block, you were one of the "ton-up boys," and awarded all the resulting status and admiration that entailed, in certain circles at least. A patch on your leather jacket further announced your drive for speed.
This legendary truck stop on the London North Circular Road opened in 1938, offering 24-hour service. In the '50s and early '60s the Ace Café was the hangout for rebellious London bikers, until speed traps and accidents got the upper hand. The Ace didn't fit in with the peace and love ethos of the hippie era, and it closed in 1969.
Enthusiast Mark Wilsmore, now 48, saved up for years to rebuild the Ace, opening it on September 8, 2001, with sensational success. The Ace Café is once again a hangout and melting pot for riders of all creeds, offering live music, events, and road trips. Details are online.
If the Bonneville 800 introduced in 2000 is reminiscent of the famous 650 Twin of the '60s, the lovingly crafted and authentically styled Thruxton 900 is a revival of the postwar Café Racer conversions. Additional displacement has done the parallel twin engine a world of good, and an endurance test by Motorrad in 2004 pronounced the Thruxton utterly reliable, with trouble-free handling characteristics - even if the classic seat position is naturally sportier than the bike's performance.
Each year, the annual Ace Café Reunion begins with Ace Day. This gigantic procession brings together motorcyclists from England and throughout Europe to relive glorious times in the resort town of Brighton, historical turf for the Rockers and Mods (viz. The Who's Quadrophenia). In 2004 over 50,000 people attended. This year's Ace Café Reunion will be held from September 9 - 11, 2005.
Engine 2 cyl. 4 stroke, 865cc; DOHC,8 valves
Fueling twin 36 mm carburetors
Claimed Power 69 bhp at 7250 rpm 53 ft-lbs torque at 5750 rpm
Transmission 5 speeds
Frame double tubular steel cradle
Wheelbase 1477 mm
Seat height 31 in.
Tank capacity 4.25 gal.
Dry weight 451 lbs
Top speed approx. 125 mph
MSRP $ 7,999