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Triumph THUNDERBIRD 900 Retro Motorbike Review

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Triumph Thunderbird 900 motorcycle review - Riding
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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.

Triumph Thunderbird 900 (1993-2003)

Detail Value
Dealer used prices
£3,460 (1996) - £5,070 (2002)
Private used prices
£3,120 (1996) - £4,560 (2002)
  View full used price info
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

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)

  • Tough looking old style bike with plenty of torque and a couple of quirks!

    sboatright

    Average rating rating is 3.5

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    Overall
    Ride and Handling
    Equipment
    Quality and Reliabilty
    Value
    Engine

    I really like this bike, it has plenty of grunt, looks cool (according to young and old alike), handles securely, although it is not supersports agile. It is pretty reliable but has a few electrical quirks which are apparently easy to fix but don't really affect it that much. It is great in town and on A and B roads at the legal limit but on the motorway it is a struggle to hold high speeds as the bars are too high and wide. Comfort is OK for short trips but I would recommend a better seat for longer trips, an hour is about my personal limit and 45 minutes for the pillion! All the chrome looks impressive and is great for cleaning fetishists. If I wanted to add anything to it it would be another 15bhp to match the performance with the looks, mind you it is great away from the lights as it has plenty of torque. Brakes are OK solo but a bit weak 2 up. Would I change it? Yes, but for something with equally good looks but a bit more power - nothing springs to mind at the moment! Strengths: Looks, low down torque, low seat height. Weaknesses: Lack of outright power, a little heavy.

    30 August 2006

  • Superb bike forgot how much fun it was to ride a decent bike

    stv002

    Average rating rating is 4.5

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    Ride and Handling
    Equipment
    Quality and Reliabilty
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    Engine

    I recently came back to motorcycling after a five year break. My previous bike was a honda goldwing which was too heavy to enjoy when riding two up but in my youth (what a memory!) I rode a triumph bonny. The T/Bird is better, it puts a smile on my face everytime I ride it. Strengths: Nice looks, easy to ride, reliable & not too heavy. Weaknesses: Slightly underpowered.

    27 May 2006

  • My Review

    BluBird

    Average rating rating is 4.5

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    Overall
    Ride and Handling
    Equipment
    Quality and Reliabilty
    Value
    Engine

    I like the T-bird because it's not a clone bike. It's got classic styling, mechanical and build quality that won't quit, plus tons of charisma. I lowered mine, which brought the comfortable Corbin down to 28 inch seat height. It's affordable to get T-Bird Sport power-you just advance the timing and put in the Tiger intake manifolds and rejet. Get a T-Bird with 6 gears (I added mine). I've cruised at 80-90 for hours in 6th, very comfortable with the right seat and front foot pegs to stretch out. The brakes have been fine, but I think they have a bit more stopping power. Overall, an excellent value, highly reliable and awesome bike.

    09 May 2002

  • My Review

    basel1120

    Average rating rating is 4

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    Ride and Handling
    Equipment
    Quality and Reliabilty
    Value
    Engine

    Love the bike, riding position, looks, and style. Engine midrange is great, top end not as satisfying. All the power one can use in this style of bike. Pipes limit luggage choices but allow fitting a center stand. All in all a great naked retro choice.

    20 February 2002

  • My Review

    Mstylianou

    Average rating rating is 3.5

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    Engine

    The bike is great for use in the city and short trips. The problems we have abroad is the parts availability so we need to import from UK.

    16 February 2002

  • My Review

    TBird and Ninja

    Average rating rating is 3.5

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    Engine

    I love the Thunderbird Sport, a great British bike. I did have a 1995 Thunderbird before this one. A few things to think on though: 1- oh what fun cleaning all those spokes. 2- the front off side brake cable is rubbing the front mudguard under braking. 3- this is a strange one, when ridden in the rain I get a smell of burning rubber from the engine and just once it has dripped a small amount of water from the pump area. If anyone has any experience of this I would love to hear from them. Please email me on "kawasakizx6rj2@aol.com". Yes, that's my other bike just for a contrast.

    17 December 2001

  • My Review

    PleasanceC

    Average rating rating is 4

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    Ride and Handling
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    Quality and Reliabilty
    Value
    Engine

    Fabulous fun machine but a bit on the heavy side. The price you pay for real metal. Good brakes (twin discs), suspension (adjustable but doesn't need it) and performance although another 20 b.h.p. might be nice. Looks soooo cooool!

    30 August 2001

  • My Review

    dozz

    Average rating rating is 3

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    Engine

    Great bike for relaxing and just enjoying the wonders of motorcycling!

    03 May 2001

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