Keen to produce a cruiser that turned and stopped decently, Triumph has equipped the T-bird with a meaty frame, suspension and brakes (plus optional ABS), carefully-developed tyres and easy handling.
At walking pace it’s still something of a handful despite the low 700mm seat (there’s no getting away from the fact that this is a big, 300kg bike). But on the move the Thunderbird is impressively neutral and brings a level of bend-swinging fun rarely, if ever, seen on American or Japanese rivals.
Triumph’s all-new, 1600cc lump dominates the Thunderbird and is the world’s biggest production parallel twin. Peak torque comes at just 2750rpm and it redlines at 6500rpm (or a claimed 115mph in top – 6th) so, all in all, your arthritic right wrist never gets much of a workout.
That said, overall performance is not radically new and the power and torque figures are ‘good-to-average’ rather than stunning.
What’s more, close your eyes and you’d assume it’s a Vee rather than a parallel, and although most of the vibes are cancelled out by twin balancer shafts in front and back of the block, they do still get through, numbing your right hand slightly after 45 minutes or so.
Maybe this is being picky: you need some of that for ‘character’ after all.
We’ll not know about the new Triumph Thunderbird’s reliability until there’s more miles under its belt, but there’s no denying it’s very refined and beautifully built. Paint and chrome appears good as is fit and finish and general quality of components.
In fact, one of the few criticisms of the bike is that, like some Japanese rivals, it’s almost TOO refined and glossy and lacks the gritty edge of the real H-D.
Difficult to judge, due to the fact (as with most things cruiser) that the telling virtues on this sort of bike are subjective and unmeasurable.
On face value the T-bird ticks all the right boxes, out-performs Harley in every measurable way, undercuts its American rival on price and yet STILL has a cool and credible name on the tank.
So it’s good… but it’s still not the real McCoy and it still hasn’t that rich history, credibility and the proven sky high residuals that go with it.
Find a Triumph Thunderbird 1600 for sale
From the saddle the new Thunderbird ticks all the right boxes in a slick, beautifully produced way: low, laid back saddle (check); cool and chromy pull back bars complete with chunky grips and switchgear (check); tank-mounted chrome instrument console with neatly integrated tacho and multi-functional LCD display (check), ABS plus a massive range of aftermarket accessories.
In a nutshell, any clichéd cruiser feature you can think of is present and correct, right down to the ignition key under the seat.