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
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.
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.
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.
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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.