Are Triumph’s New 1200s an Answer to Ducati’s Monster?

Triumph is finally getting serious about performance. The British motorcycle maker revamped its 2016 lineup in a way that puts 1200cc of much-needed meat on the bones of its retro Bonneville and Thruxton models.

So will the big-bore Triumph twins compete with the Ducati Monster 1200, KTM Super Duke R and BMW S1000R? Or will it be more of a relaxed cruiser — like a Harley Davidson Sporster?

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Triumph’s new Street Twin, Thruxton and Bonneville will be in dealerships soon.

While the 1960s-style bikes have long been among the best fashion accessories on two wheels, they have never set hearts afire with acceleration, handling or braking. Nearly everything we do with motorcycles while their engines are running tends to be less than thrilling on a Triumph.

But the new bikes promise to shake that reputation with modern liquid-cooled, fuel-injected parallel-twin engines and six-speed transmissions. These are a far cry from a Bonneville-like Triumph Scrambler I road-tested a decade ago. That machine squeezed less than 60 horsepower from its 865cc two-cylinder engine, had a single disc brake up front and only five forward gears. I also had to manually choke its twin carburetors on cool mornings, so the 1960s experience was complete.

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Ducati Monster 1200

The new models, however, look on paper like Triumph’s answer to Ducati’s popular series of Monster urban naked bikes. But Ducati has been building speedy café racers for a long time and it could be difficult for Triumph to compete with the Italian company’s broad range of Monsters from the 112-horsepower 821 Dark at $10,999 to the 160-horse 1200 R, which costs $18,695.

We do not yet know how much the Triumph 1200s will cost or how much power they will have. Triumph says the bikes have lots of torque, but that is often a company’s way of saying that an engine’s horsepower numbers are disappointing. Still, they have to be an improvement over their predecessors.

More information is expected during next week’s EICMA motorcycle show in Milan, and we should have all the facts early next year.

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