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Triumph THUNDERBIRD 1700 Custom Motorbike Review

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MCN overall verdict rating is 4

Triumph’s all-new Thunderbird is bravely aimed at taking on Harley in the US, but in terms of spec, quality, performance and price looks the best-equipped rival ever to do just that.

It performs well, handles better, is beautifully built and has all the cruiser goodies you could wish for. But if we have to be critical, it’s a bit derivative and indistinct and that Triumph badge on the tank is going to take some getting used to.

Video: Triumph Thunderbird details

Engine

MCN rating rating is 4
Owners' rating rating is 4.5

Triumph’s all-new, 1600cc lump dominates the Thunderbird and is the world’s biggest production parallel twin. Peak torque comes at just 2750rpm and it redlines at 6500rpm (or a claimed 115mph in top – 6th) so, all in all, your arthritic right wrist never gets much of a workout.

That said, overall performance is not radically new and the power and torque figures are ‘good-to-average’ rather than stunning.

What’s more, close your eyes and you’d assume it’s a Vee rather than a parallel, and although most of the vibes are cancelled out by twin balancer shafts in front and back of the block, they do still get through, numbing your right hand slightly after 45 minutes or so.

Maybe this is being picky: you need some of that for ‘character’ after all.

Ride and Handling

MCN rating rating is 5
Owners' rating rating is 4

Keen to produce a cruiser that turned and stopped decently, Triumph has equipped the T-bird with a meaty frame, suspension and brakes (plus optional ABS), carefully-developed tyres and easy handling.

At walking pace it’s still something of a handful despite the low 700mm seat (there’s no getting away from the fact that this is a big, 300kg bike). But on the move the Thunderbird is impressively neutral and brings a level of bend-swinging fun rarely, if ever, seen on American or Japanese rivals.

Equipment

MCN rating rating is 5
Owners' rating rating is 4.5

From the saddle the new Thunderbird ticks all the right boxes in a slick, beautifully produced way: low, laid back saddle (check); cool and chromy pull back bars complete with chunky grips and switchgear (check); tank-mounted chrome instrument console with neatly integrated tacho and multi-functional LCD display (check), ABS plus a massive range of aftermarket accessories.

In a nutshell, any clichéd cruiser feature you can think of is present and correct, right down to the ignition key under the seat.

Triumph Thunderbird (2009-current)

Detail Value
New price £11,149
Dealer used prices
£7,500 (2010) - £12,740 (2014)
Private used prices
£6,750 (2010) - £11,470 (2014)
  View full used price info
Engine size 1597 cc
Power 85 bhp
Top speed 115 mph
  MCN ratings Owners' ratings
Overall rating is 4 rating is 4.5
Engine rating is 4 rating is 4.5
Ride & Handling rating is 5 rating is 4
Equipment rating is 5 rating is 4.5
Quality & Reliability rating is 4 rating is 5
Value rating is 4 rating is 4.5

Quality and Reliability

MCN rating rating is 4
Owners' rating rating is 5

We’ll not know about the new Triumph Thunderbird’s reliability until there’s more miles under its belt, but there’s no denying it’s very refined and beautifully built. Paint and chrome appears good as is fit and finish and general quality of components.

In fact, one of the few criticisms of the bike is that, like some Japanese rivals, it’s almost TOO refined and glossy and lacks the gritty edge of the real H-D.

Value

MCN rating rating is 4
Owners' rating rating is 4.5

Difficult to judge, due to the fact (as with most things cruiser) that the telling virtues on this sort of bike are subjective and unmeasurable.

On face value the T-bird ticks all the right boxes, out-performs Harley in every measurable way, undercuts its American rival on price and yet STILL has a cool and credible name on the tank.

So it’s good… but it’s still not the real McCoy and it still hasn’t that rich history, credibility and the proven sky high residuals that go with it.

Find a Triumph Thunderbird 1600 for sale

Insurance

Insurance group: n/a

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Model History

2009: Model introduced

Other Versions

None

Specifications

Top speed 115 mph
1/4-mile acceleration secs
Max power 85 bhp
Max torque 108 ft-lb
Weight 308 kg
Seat height 700 mm
Fuel capacity 22 litres
Average fuel consumption mpg
Tank range miles
Annual road tax
Insurance group of 17
Engine size 1597 cc
Engine specification Liquid-cooled, 8v, dohc parallel twin, 6 gears, belt drive
Frame Steel twin spine
Front suspension adjustment None
Rear suspension adjustment Preload only
Front brakes 2 x 310mm discs, four piston calipers
Rear brake 310mm disc, twin piston caliper
Front tyre size 120/70 x 19
Rear tyre size 200/50 x 17

Owners' Overall Rating rating is 4.5(5 reviews)

  • Thunder in the Sun

    Anonymous

    Average rating rating is 4

    Show Details

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    Ride and Handling
    Equipment
    Quality and Reliabilty
    Value
    Engine

    Almeria, Spain. - I can remember the moment in May 2011 the T-bird arrived from the UK. I was all nerves. I had read all the reviews but never had a test ride (Dealers don't like to give test rides in Spain). Wow! I was impressed and remain so. It does everything it says on the tin. I grin from ear to ear when riding the coast roads and up into the mountains. It never fails to turn heads if thats what you are looking for and has that superb throaty acceleration that leaves everything fading behind in the mirror - Its a beauty! Just be careful accelerating in the lower gears otherwise it can sometimes remind you that you are riding a fully grown bull when it can spin and kick out hard on the rear wheel! I now have the front end dressed with the T-bars, engine bars, fogs and chrome bits. For xmas and next year, the aftermarket short pipes, rear foot plates for my girlfriend (I'll stick with pegs) and some bags - to bring the wine back on the vineyard tours!!

    07 October 2011

  • One Year On

    mike760

    Average rating rating is 4

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    Value
    Engine

    Have had my Thunderbird for a year now and it always a grin on my face when I ride it. I have the gel seat & mid screen so very comfy and very little turbulance. The only weak point on this bike is the adequate headlight - guess this is to encourage you to buy the fogs which I have to say, look great.

    10 May 2011

  • fantastic

    ltj516

    Average rating rating is 4.5

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    Value
    Engine

    this bike does everything a harley does except shake you to death at tickover but thats what harley owners call character well they can have character ill have a nice comfortable smooth ride thank you .triumph have created a cracking bike myself and my wife love it never done so many miles together

    16 August 2010

  • Outstanding!

    BlackTBird

    Average rating rating is 5

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    Engine

    Put simply - the most impressive bike I have ever owned or ridden in 20 years! Outstanding performance in every department. Aftermarket pipes a must (like all cruisers) and plenty of accessories to make it individual. Done 2,500 miles and it just gets better!

    20 November 2009

  • T- Bird Triumph !

    Mapeiman

    Average rating rating is 5

    Show Details

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    Ride and Handling
    Equipment
    Quality and Reliabilty
    Value
    Engine

    Cracking bike from start to finish ! And its British

    15 September 2009

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BlackTBird

BlackTBirdsays

Cruiser of the Year

Totally dissagree with the MCN.  The Thunderbird is the Cruiser of the year! Vicory's Hammer S is not a patch on this beauty (performance, looks etc etc etc) though it is better than than all the Harleys I have ridden. 

So MCN I will correct your mistake...

The 2010 cruiser of the year is:

1 Triumph Thunderbird 1600

2 Triumph Rocket Roadster

3 Victory Hammer S

There I feel much better now!

22 December 2010 23:32

01partsman

User's Badge

01partsmansays

Love it

The best bike i have ever owned and ive had a few.

This is Britian showing the world how it should be done....

22 September 2010 18:47

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