Triumph's Thunderbird 1600 gets rated by Harley riders

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The new Triumph Thunderbird cruiser is brilliant but lacks character, according to Harley-Davidson riders.

In a world first test, MCN pitched the British 1600cc parallel-twin cruiser directly against its nearest Harley rival, the 1584cc Dyna Super Glide Custom­ and then asked two Hog owners what they thought of the upstart Brit.

Both Harley owners said the Thunderbird was a brilliant motorcycle, and had much better build, ride quality and desirability than Japanese-made Harley clones.

But the two, both stalwart supporters of Milwaukee metal, also said that the Triumph lacked the character of their bikes­ even though they admitted the Thunderbird out-handled their machines.
Malcolm Pritchard
“The Thunderbird is a very good bike. Obvious Harley influences abound, such as the switchgear, rear chrome side rail and fuel tank readout, but it’s not the clone the Japanese produce.

“It’s a bit too smooth for me ­ the engine isn¹t vibey enough and feels like it doesn¹t have the torque of the Glide.

“But Harley could learn a thing or two from the Triumph’s brakes. It beats the clones and will challenge Harley, especially the Glide.”
Robert Lye
“Initially, I thought the Thunderbird was a bit bland. Sometimes it feels more like a smooth four-cylinder than a big twin.

“Everything fits and works and you don¹t have to think about riding it. But top gear doesn’t seem to have as much drive from low revs as the Harley.

“But after a while I did like the Thunderbird. It felt right. It was confidence inspiring (borne out by my peg-scraping antics) and looks OK­ apart from points like the radiator and unusual rear right-hand engine cover.

“If I was looking for a custom-themed bike from scratch, it would most certainly be a contender.

“OK, the Harley wobbles and shudders and is softly suspended compared to the Triumph, but it is these points and the almost archaic engine that go to make Harley ownership what it is.”

Ped Baker

By Ped Baker

Former MCN Managing Editor (Digital & Events)