How do you customise the best-looking factory café racer? The Triumph Thruxton R has garnered the praise and adoration of not only bikers and modern classic motorcycle aficionados – but also the general masses, since its launch in 2016.

Arguably, not since the launch of the Ducati Sport Classic 1000 S, has there been a more beautifully designed factory cafe racer.

Triumph Thruxton 1200 R Rider

Yet, with any motorbike purchase what immediately follows, if not before, are the uncertain questions of customisation/modification. These questions ultimately amount to the core questions of, how do you enhance the bike in your opinion and hopefully your mates’, plus casual strangers’ eyes? The latter, of course, is never admitted openly.  More importantly, how do you essentially make the bike yours and make it stand out from all other bikes?

Talk to any rider, even one who isn’t particularly interested in the custom bike scene and they’ll happily chew your ear off for days, about the numerous modifications they’ve made to their bikes since purchase. So there’s one certainty about bikes old or new, they WILL be customised.

Triumph Thruxton 1200 R Fuel Tank

Triumph Thruxton R: The Conundrum

Now with the Triumph Thruxton R in mind, coupled with all of the above questions and the inherent desire in bikers to modify, chop, grind and weld, there comes an even more pertinent question. A conundrum if you like. What does one do to improve a bike that’s shipped in such an aesthetically pleasing form?

Plenty, I hear you sardonically mutter under your collective breath. And you’re right.

Triumph Thruxton 1200 R Desktop Sketching | Will Nicholson

Clearly, the more apt question is, ‘how does one customise the Thruxton R, beyond changing the legally mandated, protruding rear fender and bulbous indicators [turn signals] etc. without irrevocably destroying the Triumph’s lines?’

Or more appropriately: How does one enhance the TTR?  It’s tricky a conundrum, though one that’s not impossible to solve and to solve to a highly satisfactory level. Barbour and Triumph’s collaboration with  Down & Out Café Racers immediately springs to mind.

On the other hand, get it wrong and it’s surely going to be an almightily expensive, waste of time. Given that any Thruxton R you get your hands on is likely to be nearly new or truly brand new. This bike does not come cheap. With that in mind, a good place to start would be to arm yourself with a pen and paper or Photoshop, plus a stylus pen and graphics tablet.

So What’s The Answer, To The Triumph Thruxton R Conundrum?

Triumph Thruxton 1200R Concept Sketch

There are many answers, however, one exceptional answer comes from London-based, Automotive & Industrial Designer, Will Nicholson, in the form of this custom concept render.

Will has recently moved from Eastern Bay of Plenty, New Zealand to London, for the opportunity to travel, alongside new experiences and challenges. This means his passion for building bikes, tinkering and making in general, has been somewhat curtailed of late due to a lack of workshop space.

So this render serves a purpose, not only as a basis for a potential future build but also as a creative outlet for Nicholson. While there wasn’t a brief as such, Nicholson set out to  “… achieve a visually simple design” with “… stand-out, custom cafe racer features”

Lowered bars and a shorter wheelbase, combined with the simplified instrument cluster, minimalist seat cowl and headlight, give this custom concept a stripped-back, more aggressive cafe racer stance. And in unison with the fat Firestone tyres, the concept gains the look and (more likely) a feel that’s closer to a vintage racer.

Will imagines that it would be “… great for blasting around town or carving up the empty twisties, while still having the reliability of a modern machine.”

The brown leather tank straps, hybrid pod filter/airbox, slash-cut exhaust and custom quilted leather seat, give the stand-out finish that Will set out to achieve.  Were this bike ever to be built, which is a possibility given that Nicholson has good form, then I rather suspect that with its refined, yet bullish appearance, the classification of ‘Gentlemen’s Hooligan’ [bike], will be deserving. He agrees.

Triumph Thruxton R Custom Concept Specifications:

  • Firestone Deluxe Champion tyres
  • Custom rear sub-frame with brown leather seat and rear cowl
  • Leather petrol tank straps
  • Custom headlight and instrument cluster
  • Slash-cut custom exhaust and painted engine covers
  • Custom air intake
Triumph Thruxton R Stock vs Custom |
Triumph Thruxton 1200 R |Stock vs Custom Render [Not to Scale] – Image: Will Nicholson

Any Plans to Build This Custom Concept?

Will Nicholson Wheeling Custom CX500 |
Custom Honda CX500 | Will Nicholson

Although it’s simply a concept at the moment, over the last couple of weeks this rendering has stirred colossal enthusiasm on social media.  The feedback appears to be overwhelmingly positive.  And it’s easy to see why.

Nicholson openly acknowledges “… that there are some components of the design which are quite polarising”.  He says, “While I agree with some of these opinions, it’s purely a concept at this stage, so I believe there is an element of creative freedom which can be” utilised.  And rightly so. Surely that’s precisely the approach to take with a custom render that serves as a creative release and one that inspires?

Will doesn’t have any immediate plans to build this custom concept. As mentioned, he’s currently without a workshop.

For certain, there are many that will hope he finds a new workshop quickly and promptly starts work on this bike! Nevertheless, in the interim, he’s promised future custom renders which I’m sure many will be pleased to hear.

So in the meantime be sure to check out Will’s Instagram page or website to see more of his design portfolio.