TRIUMPH THUNDERBIRD 1700 LT (2014-on) Review

Published: 24 February 2014

T-bird based bagger makes up in performance what it lacks in American authenticity

TRIUMPH THUNDERBIRD 1700 LT  (2014-on)

T-bird based bagger makes up in performance what it lacks in American authenticity

  • At a glance
  • 1699cc  -  93 bhp
  • 43 mpg  -  210 miles range
  • Insurance group: 14 of 17
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  • Low seat height (700mm)
  • New: £13,999

Overall Rating 4 out of 5

Triumph is keen to emphasise the Thunderbird-based ‘bagger’ LT is much more than AN Other Road King clone. In fact, so much has been changed it’s effecfively an all-new bike. The result is ‘As American as apple pie’. Big, chunky levers, bar grips and switchgear are textbook US cruiser, as is stomping through the heel-toe gearchange. In fact, in virtually every measureable and quantiative sense the LT shows Harley how it should be done. Instead, our only criticism is that it isn’t as ‘different’, as confident as I’d like – its style is borrowed wholesale and we look forward to the bikes in three or four years time which have more of a uniquely ‘Triumph’ identity to them. In the meantimes, an LT makes an awful lot of sense. I felt proud riding it and on a non-Harley cruiser in its own backyard, that’s rare.

Ride Quality & Brakes 4 out of 5

The tubular steel ‘twin spine’ frame is heavily revised from that of the stock T-bird both for dynamic and comfort reasons. New wheel sizes dictated reworked steering geometry while the rear had to be lowered and strenghtened both for cruiser comfort and carrying capacity. Showa 47mm forks are now shrouded and, as with twin shocks, use different, longer travel spring rates for added comfort.

On the move there’s no getting away from the fact this is a big old girl – all bikes in this class are. But the low seat conspicuously aids manageability and crisp-enough controls plus grunty, immediate response makes the LT easily up for dainty car park figure-of-eights once you’re used to it. The handling is neutral, stable and predictable and certainly never gets out of shape like pushed Road Kings of the past were liable to (although the latest versions are much better). The brakes are beyond criticism, its comfort truly impressive

Engine 4 out of 5

The LT uses the enlarged, 1699cc version of the Thunderbird’s familiar and now five-year-old liquid-cooled parallel twin (the world’s largest, Triumph is proud to boast). The eight-valve, DOHC lump produces 91bhp at 5750rpm plus a whopping 111ft-lb of torque at just 3400rpm and all transmitted through a  six-speed gearbox and Harley-style belt final drive. It also has a new machined finish on the cylinder fins which now extends right down the block (as also used on the 2014 Bonnevilles), LT-specific chromed engine covers and all-new exhausts with neat ‘tri-oval’ section silencers which have been aurally tuned to sound as good as possible. In terms of how it goes, Triumph’s take on the Big Twin will be rumbly familiar to Stateside buyers but with an extra pep and crispness that comes from its more modern design.

Build Quality & Reliability 4 out of 5

The LT’s finish impresses as well. The whole front end, with its wire wheels and whitewalls, lashings of chrome and riding lights, and with all the wiring neatly routed through bars for an uncluttered look, is as mouth-wateringly good as any.
The standard, metallic, two-tone paint (an extra on some rivals), either in bright ‘ice cream van’ white/blue or more traditional burgundy and black, glistens and gleams. The variety of metal and fabric finishes, the special LT badging on engine cases and tank, the white piped seat and the neat, ‘Tri-oval’ profiled silencers, all emphasise how much effort has gone in, and engender great pleasing pride in its rider as a result. Reliability is another matter. The bike’s too new to be judged yet and MCN has no knowledge of issues affecting the Thunderbird. But on the strength of its build quality, there should be no concerns.

Insurance, running costs & value 4 out of 5

The LT is better equipped than the equivalent Harley or Victory and over £3K cheaper too. OK, its residuals aren’t likely to be as good as H-D’s, but that’s still value, in anyone’s book.

Insurance group: 14 of 17 – compare motorcycle insurance quotes now.

Equipment 4 out of 5

More impressive still is the amount of effort and attention to detail Triumph has given the rest of the LT’s ‘bagger experience’. The 4.5mm plexiglass screen is present and correct, but rises above average by being both instantly detachable without recourse to tools and available in two heights. The all-important ‘bags’ are there, too, but exceed expectations by being both genuine 2.5mm leather, containing waterproof, removeable inner bags as standard and by housing a 12v accessory socket and useful inner pockets for coins, phone etc. These, too, along with the whole pillion seat and standard ‘sissy’ bar, are all quickly detachable (although tools are this time required) to leave the LT looking clean (no bracketry is left exposed), mean and handsomely pared down. Meanwhile, Road King style has dictated a tank-mounted console derived from that of the standard Thunderbird which includes analogue-style speedo incorporating LCD fuel gauge, twin trips, odo and multi-function clock scrollable via a button on the right bar.

Owners' Reviews

4 owners have reviewed their TRIUMPH THUNDERBIRD 1700 LT (2014-on) and rated it in a number of areas. Read what they have to say and what they like and dislike about the bike below.

Review your TRIUMPH THUNDERBIRD 1700 LT (2014-on)
Summary of Owners' Reviews
Overall Rating 5 out of 5
Ride Quality & Brakes 5 out of 5
Engine 5 out of 5
Build Quality & Reliability 5 out of 5
Value & Running Costs 5 out of 5
Equipment 4.8 out of 5
5 out of 5

Best cruiser on the market!

28 November 2015 by mag998

This bike is the perfect cruiser. I ride a dual sport on the trails in the mountains of Colorado but this is my road cruiser and I love everything about it. It is a locomotive on the road, the engine is solid, responsive and sounds great, the seat is... Read more so good it feels like you're sitting on a cloud - excellent riding position... and last but not least, the bike looks absolutely fabulous..!

Ride Quality & Brakes
5 out of 5
Again, simply a fabulous ride. Try it, you'll love it. Much thought and experience at Triumph has gone into designing this bike.
Engine
5 out of 5
Engine and powertrain is perfect and flawless, and it sounds great too!
Build Quality & Reliability
5 out of 5
The is a very solid and well-built bike. No corrosion or issues of any kind.
Value & Running Costs
5 out of 5
I get consistently in the 40s for mixed gas mileage and up in the 50s on straight roads around 65 mph.
Equipment
5 out of 5
The bike I got came with bags and windscreen. You can get a taller touring windscreen if you go longer (it's quick release), but I feel the stock one is just fine. I added the front and back dresser bars and the BMW style 12v outlets myself, very straightforward and easy.
Buying experience

Bought from Erico Motorsports in Denver, always fabulous to deal with.

5 out of 5

triumph thunderbird LT

07 November 2015 by dave dunbar

great bike but not light use it to commute in London daily. very comfortable.always ride with the wife on back and copes really well 2 up handles brilliantly for such a heavy bike. you only notice the weight when lifting off sidestand I love this... Read more bike its very enjoyable to ride handling is great would highly recommend.

Ride Quality & Brakes
5 out of 5
the wife and I always ride together ( her pillion ) and she loves the comfort I find the ride very comfortable and the seat is just excellent. the brakes are also excellent if abs kicks in you don't even notice it and stops brilliantly every time. there are no issues with comfort and we both find it very comfortable suspension ( rear only adjustment ) is easy to change we've done well over 100 miles a few times with no issues.
Engine
5 out of 5
power delivery is excellent the engine is faultless and easy to ride at any speed
Build Quality & Reliability
5 out of 5
build quality is very good finish excellent cannot fault handling feels heavy at front but once you get used to the weight the bike itself is excellent in every way bought in june and had no issues mechanically electrical or of any other kind done 3500 so far
Value & Running Costs
5 out of 5
is fairly economical for such a large bike around 180 miles [London traffic] to the tank. similar to my previous CBR 1000 would and has done better on longer trips.
Equipment
4 out of 5
the luggage is acceptable but expensive non locking and non secure quality though again it is very well made chrome is so far good theres very little in the way of equipment as standard though it doesn't really need that much has all necessary (petrol gauge, miles to empty) fog light indicator abs indicator easy to scroll through menu on left handlebar.avon tyres are good in all road conditions.
Buying experience

bought new from dealer at £1500 off price bought from jack lilley ashford and john the salesman was very helpful

5 out of 5

Cool British Steel for Cruising and Touring

01 October 2015 by DONPDX

Cool Quality British Cruiser Read more

Ride Quality & Brakes
5 out of 5
Amazing handling for a heavy 800lb. bike. If you take off the tall windshield and bags, it moves quickly to any input and keeps its line on turns and twisties. The brakes are among the best I've ever had on a bike. It's ABS standard. Bike is at its best on long trips, like the one I took to Glacier Nat. park this summer. You easily have a 225-240 mile range and can do that no problem because of the excellent ergonomics and seat. It's the first bike I ever had that I didn't need to buy an aftermarket seat. It's a cruiser and a long-tourer depending on if you keep the bags and windshield on. Quick release means I can take off bags in ten seconds each, and the windshield in 5 seconds with a good tug. It's a comfort bike, with no vibration at 85 mph. You can cruise over a 100 easily and it's still comfortable (at your own risk). I've ridden cruisers from other makers, and you wouldn't do that unless you want to be shaken like a paint mixer.
Engine
5 out of 5
This engine is a thing of refinement and power. It looks beautiful, the inline two with the splayed headers out the front on each side of the bike, like the early Bonnies and T-Birds of the 60s-- the engine is blacked out except for the fins, just like those early T-Birds, and even the triangular engine case matches those early legacy bikes. The engine makes a nice rumble and when you turn the throttle it's an instant response that pulls your arms back. You don't have to put it in 6th gear until it hits 80mph, but you can if you want, just to get better mileage.
Build Quality & Reliability
5 out of 5
In the first 10K miles, no issues. Never broke down, nothing has failed, never leaked a drop of oil, and it's been bullet-proof.
Value & Running Costs
5 out of 5
$90 for 6000K mile oil change and new oil filter. Bike is under 2 year unlimited mileage warranty.
Equipment
5 out of 5
My favorite change is putting on the slip on (off road) pipes and getting the stage 1 download. It gives you that good rumble sound (not obnoxiously loud) but more than that, you get an additional 6-7 hp, which means it puts you in the high 90s, with power equivalent or greater than the T-Bird Storm... which I've ridden.
Buying experience

I bought from a dealer, and had an excellent buying experience. At the time, they had a "launch pack" for 17.4K with front and rear engine guards, tall windscreen, deluxe passenger seat, front foot pegs... awesome price for a bike with the power and accessories of CVO bikes. The price has gone up since then.

5 out of 5

LT large and trusting

13 July 2015 by Holty

Had a few bikes but this top the lot no more leg stretching one ride out for about 500m and it still felt I was at home on the settee Read more

Ride Quality & Brakes
5 out of 5
-
Engine
5 out of 5
-
Build Quality & Reliability
5 out of 5
-
Value & Running Costs
5 out of 5
-
Equipment
5 out of 5
No more fly chewing
Buying experience

Youles of machete brilliant

Read all 4 owners' reviews in full

Facts & Figures

Model info
Year introduced 2014
Year discontinued -
New price £13,999
Used price -
Warranty term Two year unlimited mileage
Running costs
Insurance group 14 of 17
Annual road tax £82
Annual service cost £200
Performance
Max power 93 bhp
Max torque 151 ft-lb
Top speed 120 mph
1/4-mile acceleration -
Average fuel consumption 43 mpg
Tank range 210 miles
Specification
Engine size 1699cc
Engine type Liquid-cooled, dohc, 8v parallel twin. Six gears, belt drive
Frame type Tubular steel twin spine
Fuel capacity 22 litres
Seat height 700mm
Bike weight 380kg
Front suspension Shrouded 47mm Showa telescopic forks, no adjust
Rear suspension Twin Showa rear shocks with 5-way preload adjust
Front brake 2 x 310mm discs with four-piston Nissin calipers. ABS
Rear brake single 310mm disc with two-piston Brembo caliper. ABS
Front tyre size 150/80 x 16
Rear tyre size 180/70 x 16

History & Versions

Model history

2014: Model launched

Other versions

Thunderbird Commander: stripped down ‘roadster’ version, also launched in 2014.

Photo Gallery

  • TRIUMPH THUNDERBIRD 1700 LT  (2014-on)
  • TRIUMPH THUNDERBIRD 1700 LT  (2014-on)
  • TRIUMPH THUNDERBIRD 1700 LT  (2014-on)
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