New Thunderbird first ride

By MCN News -

New bikes

 23 March 2009 17:34

Mark Hoyer from Cycle World gives MCN a sneak preview of his first ride on the Thunderbird.

"It’s an American-style bike with a British heart, in this case a rather enlarged one. I got an early first ride on a pre-production Thunderbird to gather initial impressions before it goes on sale this summer."

How it handles
"As I settle into the 27.5in-high (and generously wide) saddle, I’m pleased to see that despite the feet-forward/sweptback bar stance, the general character is fairly upright and therefore quite comfortable. The suspension is compliant, but with a surprising degree of well-controlled damping for a cruiser."

"The fork is a very large 47mm conventional Showa unit with no adjustments. The twin shocks are also from Showa and have provision for spring-preload adjustment. A 32-degree rake and long, 64.6in wheelbase keep steering on the relaxed side, but hustling down winding roads doesn’t unsettle the bike."

The engine
"Cylinder dimensions for this all-new counterbalanced dohc twin are an impressive 103.8 x 94.3mm bore and stroke. Output goals were 80bhp and 100lbft of torque, which the company says it exceeded although official numbers await final emissions homologation."

"On the road, this is a good motor, with loads of bottom-end torque and pleasing sound from the exhaust – the 270-degree crankshaft spaces the firing in a way that mimics a V-twin sound. Fuel mapping is excellent and there is lots of luggability we’ve come to expect from a large twin. Rev it anywhere near its 6500rpm redline and there is plenty of boogie too."

Overall
"In terms of refinement and pleasant mechanical sounds, the Thunderbird's 1600cc mill is more than competitive with American and Japanese offerings in its class.  The Triumph's non-traditional engine layout surely will appeal to riders looking for just a bit more individualism in what is otherwise a very traditional looking cruiser."

Specifications
Engine 1596cc water-cooled parallel twin
Power 80bhp (est)
Torque 100lbft (est)
Weight 276kg
Seat height 27.5in
Price £9000 (est)