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Triumph THUNDERBIRD 1700 LT Touring Motorbike Review

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MCN overall verdict rating is 4

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.


MCN rating rating is 4
Owners' rating rating is 0

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.

Ride and Handling

MCN rating rating is 4
Owners' rating rating is 0

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


MCN rating rating is 4
Owners' rating rating is 0

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.

Triumph Thunderbird LT (2014-current)

Detail Value
New price £13,999
Engine size 1699 cc
Power 93 bhp
Top speed mph
  MCN ratings Owners' ratings
Overall rating is 4 rating is 0
Engine rating is 4 rating is 0
Ride & Handling rating is 4 rating is 0
Equipment rating is 4 rating is 0
Quality & Reliability rating is 4 rating is 0
Value rating is 4 rating is 0

Quality and Reliability

MCN rating rating is 4
Owners' rating rating is 0

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.


MCN rating rating is 4
Owners' rating rating is 0

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: n/a

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Model History

2014: Model launched

Other Versions

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


Top speed mph
1/4-mile acceleration secs
Max power 93 bhp
Max torque 151 ft-lb
Weight 380 kg
Seat height 700 mm
Fuel capacity 22 litres
Average fuel consumption mpg
Tank range miles
Annual road tax
Insurance group of 17
Engine size 1699 cc
Engine specification Liquid-cooled, dohc, 8v parallel twin. Six gears, belt drive
Frame Tubular steel twin spine
Front suspension adjustment Shrouded 47mm Showa telescopic forks, no adjust
Rear suspension adjustment Twin Showa rear shocks with 5-way preload adjust
Front brakes 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

Owners' Overall Rating rating is 0(0 reviews)

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A British Harley?

 I recently hired a Harley Davidson Road King while on holiday, it was my first time riding a cruiser and it had to be a Harley. I was hooked once I got used to the different riding style and weight, the torque was incredible and comfort two up was a revelation. I have taken a close look at the Triumph and until I see one in the flesh cannot really confirm my opinion, but it appears Triumph have done a damn good job. The style and characteristsics of the Harley appear to be embodied in the Thunderbird and it is British too!

I look forward to a test ride, because this looks one cool, comfortable and stylish motorcycle.



03 March 2014 20:09

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