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


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

1 owner has 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 5 out of 5
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
5 out of 5
Build Quality & Reliability
5 out of 5
Value & Running Costs
5 out of 5
5 out of 5
No more fly chewing
Buying experience

Youles of machete brilliant

Read all 1 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 £81
Annual service cost -
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
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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