TRIUMPH THUNDERBIRD 1700 LT (2014 - on) Review
At a glance
|Owners' reliability rating:|
|Annual servicing cost:||£280|
Overall ratingNext up: Ride & brakes
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 & brakesNext up: Engine
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 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
EngineNext up: Reliability
The LT uses the enlarged, 1699cc version of the Thunderbird’s familiar 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 belt final drive. It also has a machined finish on the cylinder fins that extends right down the block (as also used on the 2014 Bonnevilles), LT-specific chromed engine covers and exhausts with neat ‘tri-oval’ section silencers which are 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.
Reliability & build qualityNext up: Value
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.
Value vs rivalsNext up: Equipment
The LT is better equipped than the equivalent Harley or Victory and 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.
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.
|Engine type||Liquid-cooled, dohc, 8v parallel twin. Six gears, belt drive|
|Frame type||Tubular steel twin spine|
|Fuel capacity||22 litres|
|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|
Mpg, costs & insurance
|Average fuel consumption||43 mpg|
|Annual road tax||£93|
|Annual service cost||£280|
|Used price||£8,500 - £11,000|
14 of 17
How much to insure?
|Warranty term||Two year unlimited mileage|
Top speed & performance
|Max power||93 bhp|
|Max torque||151 ft-lb|
|Top speed||120 mph|
|1/4 mile acceleration||-|
|Tank range||210 miles|
Model history & versions
2014: Model launched
Triumph Thunderbird Commander - 1700cc, footboards, Showa suspension
Triumph Thunderbird LT - 1700cc Touring version with footboards, windscreen, white wall tyres, panniers and backrest.
Triumph Thunderbird Nightstorm - 1700cc all black version
Other Triumph Thunderbird reviews on MCN
Owners' reviews for the TRIUMPH THUNDERBIRD 1700 LT (2014 - on)
7 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.
Summary of owners' reviews
|Ride quality & brakes:|
|Reliability & build quality:|
|Value vs rivals:|
|Annual servicing cost:||£280|
Without doubt the most comfortable bike I've owned(I've owned and ridden more than most) superb engine, handles far better than large cruiser should. Heavy though, so perhaps not suitable for all riders.
Excellent, great pillion provision too.
Great character and noise.. massive torque available from very low revs.
Exhaust exup valve issue.. sorted with an eliminator box, but a pain of of a job to get disconnected.
Self service, straightforward maintenance
Buying experience: Dealer purchase
Version: Thunderbird LT 1700
Annual servicing cost: £500
The greatest feature of the Lt is it's ability to cover vast distances in comfort and with the standard screen, without fatigue. The longest in a day was 780 miles, with the next day covering 650 miles, the reason I had to stop was because I had arrived. I regularly get 50 plus mile per gallon, the furthest on a tank was 281 miles with another 30 before getting off and pushing, not that I could have pushed it more than a couple of hundred yards due to it's weight. It is a very heavy bike, fully fuelled up it comes in at 380 Kg. That to me is it's biggest drawback, you have to be aware of even a gentle slope when parking as it's almost impossible to push backwards sitting aside it on anything other level ground. It can also be a bit difficult to get it up off it's sidestand if the road is inclined to the left. It gets noticed, first day I had it I was parked up and a couple of guys walked past, their conversation going something like this, "Wow, look at that bike it's beautiful" To which his mate replied, "Yeah, it's a Harley" I didn't mind them thinking it was a Harley, 'cos all I heard was, "It's beautiful!" I purchased mine in Lava red and Phantom black and it does catch the sunlight. Apart from comfort, ability to cover vast distances, economy and looking good, what else is there to recommend it? The engine is very lowly stressed with a nice deep rumble, the sound courtesy of after market pipes by Vance & Hines - the original pipes were just a little too quiet for my taste. Mirrors remain clear at all speeds, although over 100mph I don't tend to use them that often, preferring instead to concentrate on looking where I'm going. At speeds in excess of 110 mph indicated the front goes a bit light, possibly due to the screen but it is a cruiser, not a sports tourer after all. Vibration is virtually non-existent, although you can definitely feel the firing impulses at low revs as the 850 cc pistons do their stuff. Fuelling was virtually perfect all through the rev range (max 6000 rpm) with the original pipes but now isn't as perfect at low rpm with the V&H fitted, not to say it is poor, just not perfect. The leather bags are very useful, although not able to accommodate a full face helmet, the waterproof inner bags are a nice touch. The auxiliary lights are helpful in the dark, I have recently upgraded all the lights to LEDs and it has improved what was a pretty good set up. The heel and toe shifter was a new thing for me to come to terms with but after hooking up to second once I thought I'd give them a go and I have now covered just over 12,000 miles using my heel and apart from being a little slower to change due to lifting the rear of your foot up, I haven't given it a second thought, experiencing a thirty year gap between my last bike and the LT may have helped in the transition. Cleaning the bike is a long laborious process, what with 56 spokes per wheel, white walled tyres and a lot of chrome but the end result is definitely worthwhile. In the words of my anonymous friend, "It's beautiful"
The LT is at it's best when the sun's shining, I have a long way to go, the road is interesting and I have plenty of time to enjoy the ride. As peviously mentioned it is relaxing enough to do 700 plus miles in a day. I hope to do the Iron Butt this year and am looking forward to doing in excess of 1,000 miles in a day, which I know the bike is more than capable of. It can handle the long motorway haul, twisty mountain roads over the Pyrenees but is probably not at it's best on dusty, rock strewn tracks i.e. "Garmen sceanic route" Being able to regularly go 250 miles between fuel stops is a bonus, as is it's ability to deliver you to your destination fresh and not frazzled. The ABS is there for when you need it and the brakes do a good job in hauling you down from silly speeds. Pillion? I honestly don't know, my wife prefers to fly while I prefer to ride.
Low revving, very low stressed with enough torque to rip your arms off and able to perform safe overtakes no matter which gear your in.
The belt can be a pain to adjust to prevent squeeling. The bike needs to be cleaned often to keep corrosion at bay and any metal treated to ACF 50 (other metal corrosion treatments are available) I have had some chrome problems, such as pitting and blistering but they were dealt with very efficiantly by Destination Triumph, Fareham from whom I purchased the bike. The self cancelling indicators started playing up after about 3,000 miles, the fault being traced to a faulty speedo unit which again was replaced quickly under warranty. Those two issues have been the only issues I have had in just over 12,000 miles.
Servicing from a main dealer is always painful and despite the free coffee, nibbles and courtesy bike from Destination Triumph it is the part of the cost of ownership which I particularly dislike.
Handling is very good even for a bike half it's weight. The Avon Cobras are good in the wet or dry, can take a lot of punishment (don't ask!) and they have a good life - 12,000 on the rear and judging by the wear rate around 15,000 for the front. There are lots of accessories available, I had front and rear engine bars, highway pegs, a rear rack, alarm / immobiliser, auxillary power take off, locking fuel cap and lock for the quickly detatchable screen fitted from new. Vance & Hines pipes, adjustable highway pegs and a larger screen fitted later - all above accessories either Triumph or Triumph warranted. I fitted a BrakeAway cruise control and would recommend fitting LED lights to further improve the standard lights. My favourite feature of the bike must be the comfort - the seat is filled with just the right amount of humming bird feathers (according to one road test) and the relaxing ride which always puts a smile on my face even two years on.
Buying experience: I purchased the Thunderbird LT from Destination Triumph in Fareham, Hampshire for £14,800 with around £800 of accessories / clothing thrown in for free. Since then I have also received free coffee, hot dogs, a discount on further purchaces and a warm welcome whenever I pop in.
Annual servicing cost: £300
It's not a perfect 5 star machine but 4.5 would be very appropriate.
Outstanding ride. The guys who say this bike scrapes on every corner are full of it. Only in a very aggressive turn do they touch down just like every other big cruiser. I do 250 - 300 mile rides and I still feel good when the day ends. I must say the front end has a very heavy feel at low speed and no speed maneuvering.
Lots of low end torque but to much engine clattering for my liking. A very fast bike for being a big heavy machine and I like that. I put Vance & Hines pipes on it with a Power Commander V. Then I had to bring it to the Dyno shop. Still has a very annoying deceleration popping but less of it.. It's now putting out 90.1 hp. & 115 pounds of torque @ 3,250 rpm.
A few minor issue. Left marker light blown @ 500 mile service and Triumph would not cover the repair. Sorry Triumph but that was not very fair of you. I expected better than that. Exhaust cable stretched out and triggered a check engine light at 5,000 miles. It has a funny annoying noise from the rear that can't be identified although I expect it may be coming from the belt. Overall the bike feels and looks well made.
It actually cost me $289 for the first 500 miles service. 30 minute job. That is why I do my own work with the aid of the Triumph service manual and some expensive tools.
This bike should have come with cruise control. My favorite accessories are the Vance and Hines pipes and the highway bars with foot pegs. The tires are to expensive to replace every two seasons.
Buying experience: I bought the bike in the off season and received a fantastic price from a dealer 8.5 hours from my house. I drove it so you know they made me an offer I couldn't refuse. It was definitely was not an advertised price.
Annual servicing cost: £250
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 so good it feels like you're sitting on a cloud - excellent riding position... and last but not least, the bike looks absolutely fabulous..!
Again, simply a fabulous ride. Try it, you'll love it. Much thought and experience at Triumph has gone into designing this bike.
Engine and powertrain is perfect and flawless, and it sounds great too!
The is a very solid and well-built bike. No corrosion or issues of any kind.
I get consistently in the 40s for mixed gas mileage and up in the 50s on straight roads around 65 mph.
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.
Version: 2015 triumph thunderbird LT
Annual servicing cost: £250
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 bike its very enjoyable to ride handling is great would highly recommend.
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.
power delivery is excellent the engine is faultless and easy to ride at any speed
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
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.
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
Annual servicing cost: £90
Cool Quality British Cruiser
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.
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.
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.
$90 for 6000K mile oil change and new oil filter. Bike is under 2 year unlimited mileage warranty.
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.
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
No more fly chewing
Buying experience: Youles of machete brilliant