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Triumph THUNDERBIRD 900 Retro Motorbike Review

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Triumph Thunderbird 900 motorcycle review - Riding
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Triumph Thunderbird 900 (1993-2003)



Detail Value
Used price range View Triumph THUNDERBIRD 900 bikes for sale to see current asking prices
Engine size 885 cc
Power 70 bhp
Top speed 125 mph
Insurance group 13 of 17
  MCN ratings Owners' ratings
Overall rating is 4 rating is 4
Engine rating is 5 rating is 4
Ride & Handling rating is 2 rating is 3.5
Equipment rating is 3 rating is 3.5
Quality & Reliability rating is 4 rating is 4
Value rating is 4 rating is 4

MCN overall verdict rating is 4

Surprisingly cool, versatile and fun retro – indeed one of the first. Triumph Thunderbird 900 took the pleasing and fruity Triumph Trident and refashioned it into an althogether more stylish package. There’s handling, comfort and decent poke inside those cream and chrome walls, while cred is guaranteed by the name on the tank. Nice.

Engine

MCN rating rating is 5
Owners' rating rating is 4

For our money the Triumph Thunderbird 900 hosts one of the best incarnations of the original big Hinckley triple. 885cc three has been detuned from Trident and Trophy spec to give even more oomph. Wound open it sounds like a squadron of Lancasters and swith restyle chromy and curvy engine cases it looks the business, too. A classic.

Ride and Handling

MCN rating rating is 2
Owners' rating rating is 3.5

Easy to dismiss as a soft, laid back custom. In truth, the Triumph Thunderbird 900(complete with monoshock rear end), may be a tad tall (blame the scaffold pole steel spine frame) and heavy, but it cuts a decent dash nevertheless. Twin disc-ed, lower barred Triumph Thunderbird Sport is better yet. Comfy, too.

Equipment

MCN rating rating is 3
Owners' rating rating is 3.5

Not a lot to get excited about, but what it has it does well and there is a big fat Triumph accessories catalogue accompanying the Triumph Thunderbird 900 to tempt you into upping the spec. Analogue clocks, chrome mirrors, comfy seat etc are all decent, but factory king and queen seat, noisier pipes (and they do sound wonderful), chrome cosmetics etc are common fitments on the Triumph Thunderbird 900.

Quality and Reliability

MCN rating rating is 4
Owners' rating rating is 4

Like most early Hinckley Triumphs the Triumph Thunderbird 900 benefited from engineering paranoia to the extent that it is massively over-engineered, understressed and pretty durable, too. The downside of that is the Triumph Thunderbird 900 is a little heavier than it has to be, but, in this context at least, I think we can live with that.

Value

MCN rating rating is 4
Owners' rating rating is 4

Finally killed off by ever toughening Euro emissions regulations, the Triumph Thunderbird 900 was a fairly long-lived favourite so there’s plenty to chose from. They also tend to be well looked after, cosmetically enhanced, and fairly low mileage. Used versions for around £3000 represent, we reckon, much better value than an equivilent
Harley… Find a Triumph Thunderbird 900 for sale

Insurance

Insurance group: 13 of 17

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Model History

1995: Triumph Thunderbird 900 launched.
1996: Triumph Thunderbird 900 gets new oval section swing arm.
1997: Triumph Thunderbird 900 gets new chrome rad end covers and grill as standard.
1998: Triumph Thunderbird 900 now with king and queen seat as standard.
1999: Triumph Thunderbird Sport introduced.
2003: Both Triumph Thunderbirds discontinued.

Other Versions

Triumph Thunderbird Sport: Introduced late 1997 as more sporting version of Triumph Thunderbird 900 complete with uprated suspensions, wider rims, twion disc front brakes and revised styling to suit inspired by 1971 X75 Hurricane featuring special 3:2 exhaust and 'cheese grater' air filter covers. Black engine not universally admired, however...

Specifications

Top speed 125 mph
1/4-mile acceleration 12.9 secs
Max power 70 bhp
Max torque 53.1 ft-lb
Weight 220 kg
Seat height 790 mm
Fuel capacity 15 litres
Average fuel consumption 44 mpg
Tank range 165 miles
Annual road tax
Insurance group 13 of 17
Engine size 885 cc
Engine specification 12v transverse triple, 5 gears
Frame Steel tube spine
Front suspension adjustment None
Rear suspension adjustment Preload
Front brakes Single 320mm disc
Rear brake 285mm disc
Front tyre size 110/80 x 18
Rear tyre size 160/80 x 16

Owners' Overall Rating rating is 4(17 reviews)

  • SO DAME COOL

    raygmorris69

    Average rating rating is 4.5

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    1998 T BIRD SPORT, In flaming red, How cool are we? we ride a T BIRD , not a bandit! or a divvy, not even a fat hog! No a Triumph T Bird, i would still love it if it was as unreliable as a hardly rideable, but it ain't . custom pipes differently air filter and a dino, 85 bhp, more that enough for our roads with all the silly speed limits and cameras and car drivers on phones! This is a keeper for me, i have left strict instructions to the wife to send it to the grave with me, I going to ride that bad boy on the road to hell, Grinning like a fool all the way! Also own a trident 900 sprint, 100bhp from stock, you guys would love it, Great day to day bike, keep the T Bird for the sun, also look for Trident 900 Daytona 900 Trophy 900, all are close brothers off the T Bird, to be had fore a song, come on Triumph remake the T Bird sport, a reworked speed triple would do nicely,

    19 November 2013

  • Old but true

    highlandvl

    Average rating rating is 4.5

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    Got this 95 t bird for a song but it needs TLC I've had one before and its the only bike I've regetted selling. I'll keep this for a while as it ticks all the boxes I need in a bike and a few more. Tank range could be better and that seat will have to go but the ride is good and iI really like the look.

    23 December 2011

  • Back in the saddle again

    jimbo5

    Average rating rating is 3.5

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    Well now the old girl is sorted - took some time and money but running well. A modern classic of the future - oil and filter change plus addressing issues below have given the bike a new lease of life. Rock on!

    10 November 2011

  • Starting to show its age

    jimbo5

    Average rating rating is 3

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    Got this a 1995 N reg' on the cheap from a mate - now I know why! Somewhat of a project - dodgy electrics, brake discs fore and aft needing replacing, sticking clutch plates - but the engine still pulls well! Had a t-bird sport before - better bike all round, but you get what you pays for I guess. My wife calls it the project. One day I'll get the old girl on the road. Essentially it's a solid bike - retro' looks, nice thrum from the engine, neat acceleration. Seat height a bit low for lanky old me, but what else could you get for 2K?

    23 August 2011

  • Roadster

    Jon068

    Average rating rating is 3.5

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    I,ve owned a 1996 model for a year now.Bad points are alternater cupling bolts snap and need an upgrade shaft & 1 peice bolt.Triumph did,nt recall. The front brake is bad for 2 up riding. Good points are;sounds lovely with aftermarket pipes,looks good and engine is reliable.Paint finish is still great,but anything alloy/chrome needs constant cleaning in the winter,even when its under cover outside.Would be great if Triumph bought out a 1050 version.

    10 February 2010

  • Born again

    Rusty068

    Average rating rating is 4.5

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    After a 10 year break from my last gpz/ninjas i was looking for something to slow me down,harley or triumph.Test rides later and Triumph wins,a better machine and more suited to my old style of riding.The bike has a good riding position,good pillion room,reliable engine and nice handling.I picked my 96 model up with 5k on clock early 2009 for £1700,brilliant bargain.Mine has dynoed 15 bhp extra,which really makes a boost to low/mid torque and ofc lovley noisy pipes. Bad sides are mirrors and speedo case rusty(previous owner left it outside),so ofc you will need to clean frequently if you have no garage. Also being Triumph its nice for older people to approach you and chat about bikes of old,rather than complain :)

    04 September 2009

  • A great Machine

    Jeff Bogue-Collis

    Average rating rating is 4

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    This being my first Triumph, I was A little woried about its build quality and reliabilty but how wronge was I. It is simply the best motorcycle I have ever riden. Mine is a 1997, one previous owner and in mint condition. It is comfortable, nippy, handles very well and is just a great bike to own. The clocks are functional and not OTT, The suspension works fine, does a fair few miles to the gallon and the riding position is great, I can do mile after mile, get off of the bike and have no aches or pains. After having loads of ton up bikes, this bike has slowed me down and made me just enjoy riding again. My only complaint is that it could have done with a fuel gauge, why oh why isn`t this standard on all bikes. All that said, Well done Hinkley, please build them again.

    19 June 2008

  • Great Torque, Handling

    Tbird1

    Average rating rating is 4.5

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    A brilliant all-rounder & one that Triumph should not have stopped making. All the character of a real bike & modern engineering UJM & 'German Bike' riders don't know what you're missing! (Take note Hinckley, & ever bigger 'cruiser' bricks for Yanks that can't do corners & rocketing 'gas' prices ???? Get real.) Rock solid motor with barrel loads of low down torque, great, easy handling. Easy 10+hp gain by changing exhaust & air filter, but flat torque curve feels way more powerful than even 80+hp. Low seat height, so low speed manoevering a non-issue. Rediculously under geared as stock - what is it with this obsession for gearing for lowest standing 1/4 times ? (What *BS*!) In the real world it's overtaking accel with the right gear selected that counts - Thunderbird delivers in spades. And 44mpg ??? Nonsense! With the bigger front sprocket these engines were made for, +65+ mpg. - no problem (& I don't hang about). (Take note MCN testers & manufacturers that pander to this stupidity.) Value loses 1 star because, like all bikes, spares prices are a complete rip-off.

    04 April 2008

  • My two pence worth

    General Sir Ron Pig

    Average rating rating is 4

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    The Tbird is a really great bike. Yes it is top heavy at low speeds, but this goes awy once you're off. The front brake pads should be uprated, as standard pads don't give enough braking-two discs would have been better. Fitting louder exhausts is a must. This bike can tour, commute, pose and cruise. It's a very pretty bike. If you don't mind cleaning-avoid. The engine needs more poke-great from the lights but runs out of puff at 110 or so, depending on gearing. Wheel sizes are odd, which restricts tyre choice. I recommend Avon Azaros. Handling is great. Not sports bike sharp but steady and trustworthy-it can be hustled along very quickly if you want. Finish is excellent, bar the iffy chrome on the standard mirrors. These things are cheap now for what they are. Buy before the price starts going up! I would dearly like to know how Blubird upated his for more power! C'mon Blubird, tell us all!

    02 October 2007

  • My Review

    Anonymous

    Average rating rating is 0

    My first proper motorcycle. One warranty repair to an oil breather seal. No sooner had I picked it up than the speedo started making a loud screeching noise (it'll have to wait until the next service). Took it on a tour down to Switzerland and felt a little out of place next to the BMWs and Goldwings! The small tank was the biggest limitation (reserve after 83 miles if ridden hard) along with limited luggage capacity. Also, I'm 6'4" so the cut down seat is not much use! I find it quite a task to keep all that chrome clean, especially wheels. But the engine is nice and torquey but not very powerful (69 bhp). I'll probably sell it / trade it in for something a bit faster and more suited to touring next year.

    14 December 2006

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