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2010 Triumph Thunderbird Review

Tuesday, May 19, 2009
The scenic Montserrat  west of Barcelona  served as backdrop during the most memorable portions of our Triumph Thunderbird press launch test ride.
The scenic Montserrat, west of Barcelona, served as backdrop during the most memorable portions of our Triumph Thunderbird press launch test ride.
Spanish sunshine reflects off the monolithic stone face of Montserrat, 40 miles west of Barcelona. The tarmac shadowing the mountain route is pristine, with long sweeping bends and narrow turns delivering panoramic views of the Catalan countryside below and glimpses of the famed Montserrat monastery, nestled high in the rock cliffs above. It’s one of those moments riding a motorcycle, when all the white noise of life is gone. The only sounds registering are the playful rumble of a Parallel Twin, and the occasional footpeg scrape as I toss the 2010 Triumph Thunderbird around the bends.

The new 1597cc Thunderbird represents Triumph’s entry into the mid-displacement cruiser market, revitalizing a historic model name first affixed to the firm’s 1951 6T performance model. Splitting the ample difference between the three existing Triumph cruiser model lines, the 865cc America and Speedmaster and the 2294cc Rocket III Triple, how critical was filling that 1429cc chasm in the Triumph lineup?

“The Thunderbird is our mainstream cruiser offering, our spearhead into the cruiser market,” answered Triumph Motorcycles project manager Simon Warburton at the Barcelona press launch. Warburton reckons that of the 500cc-

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and-over cruiser market, 50% of total sales are models between 1401-1700cc – only 7% is credited to the massive 1701cc and higher segment, with the 500-900cc and 901-1400cc models claiming a respective 22 and 21%. If you want to carve out a piece of the pie, it only makes sense to aim at the biggest, most lucrative piece. The Thunderbird project, began in 2004, looks to stake a claim by targeting three distinct riders:

1) Triumph riders who want a mainstream cruiser
2) Cruiser riders who want to stand out from the crowd
3) Non-cruiser riders who are not satisfied with the riding experience on other cruisers

The first group are an easy mark and undoubtedly comprises those who have already plunked down deposits on the Thunderbird – set to make its trans-Atlantic crossing this summer. That leaves Group 2 and 3…

So what makes the Thunderbird stand out from the crowd?
2010 Triumph Thunderbird
The Thunderbird sports traditional styling but with an non-traditional Parallel Twin powerplant at the center.
“It’s a Parallel Twin because that’s what we do,” said Warburton on the definitive feature of the T-Bird. The chosen engine configuration continues a conscious corporate decision made earlier this decade, the boys at Hinckley rightly realizing brand identity rests with the Parallel Twin and Inline Triple platforms. So with the configuration a foregone conclusion, the only real question at Triumph was the Twin’s size.

The Thunderbird T-16 Twin opts for a 1597cc (98 ci) displacement – a near perfect match to the Harley Twin Cam 96. The Thunderbird’s side-by-side 800cc cylinders house 103.8mm-wide pistons blowing through 94.3mm strokes. The pistons thump up and down to turn a 270-degree crankshaft and twin balancer shafts. Meanwhile the center chain-driven dual-overhead cams actuate four-valve heads.

The PR talking points for the T-16 engine are “emphasis on torque, character and refinement.” And on the road, the Twin does lump out satisfying torque and power delivery. Does the T-Bird’s Twin brim with the same cantankerous potato-potato character of an American V-Twin? We can say the Thunderbird mill had us smiling.

The Thunderbird T-16 Parallel Twin displaces 1597cc via a 103.8 bore x 94.3mm stroke.
The decision to use a Parallel Twin was easy for Triumph, the British firm decisive in casting its lot behind the distinctive Twin configuration along with the Inline Triple that powers its street and sportbike lines.
It didn’t hurt that our first stint was aboard a T-Bird equipped with optional accessory pipes, which enhance the auditory appeal of the Twin and give it a wonderful rumbling backbeat on deceleration (something we absolutely love on the Triple-powered Trumpets – like the Speed Triple.) The sound emanating from the stock twin-skinned stainless steel exhaust ain’t half bad either, and Triumph’s homologated two settings, one for Europe and one to take advantage of the slightly higher decibel limits in the US.

The headlining option on the new Trumpet, however, is the 1700cc big bore kit, which bumps displacement up 100cc with a corresponding jump in claimed horsepower (85-100 hp) and torque (108-115 lb-ft). The kit, which is EPA and CARB compliant, costs $899, with riders also paying for the approximate day’s worth of installation labor at a Triumph dealer. Ride the 1700 and the difference is palpable, the Bird churning out more grunt, in particular while rolling out the throttle in the higher gears.

The Thunderbird’s EFI system controls fueling and ignition independently in each cylinder. Aside from improved engine response, the system claims 20% fuel efficiency gains over competitors (not that American riders are picking up mid-sized cruisers based off of MPG stats). In its stock 1600cc setting, the Bird’s fueling is immediate, very responsive at the throttle. The mapping for the big bore kit is still being refined, with some herky-jerky response on both the 1700 and the 1600 with accessory pipes – though Triumph promises a mapping fix before delivery.

The ample torque from the T-16 lump is shelled out by a precise 6-speed gearbox and final belt drive - the first belt in the Triumph lineup since the 1920s. The helical gears are smooth and easy to find, and while freeway commuters and tourers will appreciate the sixth-gear overdrive, I rarely found need to get into fifth, much less sixth. For the leisurely cruise around Montserrat, I preferred to leave it in second and third gear letting the Twin rev in its responsive mid-range up to the 6500 redline.

Footpegs hinder the Thunderbirds cornering prowess far sooner than any other chassis deficiency.
Footpegs hinder the Thunderbird's cornering prowess far sooner than any other chassis deficiency.
Twin 310mm discs with four-piston Nissin calipers and steel-braided lines handle braking up front. The beefy binders hammer the claimed 746-lb curb weight to a stop, while the Brembo 2-piston single disc rear is less forceful. Overall Thunderbird braking package is impressive – even more so when supplemented by the $800 optional ABS system.

The Thunderbird rolling chassis is a twin-spine steel frame and swingarm mated with Showa suspension and five-spoke cast wheels (19-inch front/17-inch rear). The wide 200mm rear tire was developed for the Thunderbird in tandem with Metzeler. And while the 200mm width may be unnecessary on the Trumpet, the handling is little affected – lacking the drama sometimes accompanied when leaning over a cruiser with a fat rear.

The Showa components are a non-adjustable 47mm fork and chromed twin spring shocks, five-position adjustable for preload. The T-Bird’s wheelbase stretches to 63.6 inches, with a cruiser-ish 32-degree rake and 19-inch front wheel that turns in without trouble. Unless the rider is excessively heavy, the suspension is more than adequate for the cruiser application, with the limits of the footpeg ground clearance reached well before any other chassis inadequacy. Warburton stated the Thunderbird intends to be the “best handling bike in its class” – a claim we’d love to test, as Triumph seems to have good reason for its confidence.
2009 Triumph Thunderbird
It's no sportbike but the Thunderbird can hustle around the bends with the best of the cruiser crowd.

The feet-forward ergonomics place the Thunderbird squarely in the cruiser domain. At 6’1” I felt well-tailored to the T-bird’s riding position, albeit the pegs were fractionally higher than I would have preferred. The handlebar rests exactly at my natural reach, with wide leverage for turning - the only downside being low-speed steering and U-turns make for a long reach on the opposing bar (i.e. wide reach to right bar while sharply turning to left).

Seat height, at 27.6 inches, is quite low. The seat itself is comfortable, with no complaints after well over 100 miles in the saddle – and this coming from a notorious whiner when it comes to motorcycle perches! Looking down from behind the saddle is a circular instrument cluster, with analog speedo on the top half and matching tach underneath – a small LCD display is housed to the middle right. The instrumentation looks good, but rests on top of the 5.8-gallon fuel tank and requires looking down from the road ahead to glance, at least for me while wearing a full face helmet.

Los Angeles designer Tim Prentice penned the T-Bird’s lines, seeming to aim at the American cruiser clan’s conservative styling sensibilities. The radiator does its best to be unobtrusive, the design focusing instead on the distinctive side-by-side cylinders, with header pipes leading out to slightly upswept, flared mufflers.

The Triumph Thunderbird radiator is relatively unobtrusive  the side by side cylinders and header pipes garnering the most attention.
The Triumph Thunderbird's side by side cylinders and header pipes garner the most attention in the looks department.
One big tip of the importance Triumph places on the Thunderbird is that more than 100 accessory T-Bird products are already developed, the most ever for a Triumph model. The aforementioned 1700cc Big Bore performance kit gets top accessory billing, but a multitude of cosmetic bolt ons bearing Prentice’s stamp of approval are also available. Options include chrome bits, along with bodywork, windshields and bags to create either an edgy muscle cruiser or a light-duty tourer. A standard touring version is almost certain to follow in the years to come.

The real test of the Thunderbird will be on the sales floor, where its attractive $12,499 base MSRP compares well with the H-D Dyna line and has the potential to make the British firm some serious dollars. True, some, strike that, most of the H-D market is sewed up for life – with riders having inflexibly strong opinions about where their motorcycles are made, or at least the nationality of the brand... Yet, even cutting into a small portion of H-D Big Twin sales would be a remarkable coup.

“We’re not going to dislodge Harley anytime soon, probably never,” admits Warburton, before adding of the Thunderbird's expectations. “In 10 years time, I hope we’re going to be in a very good position within the cruiser market.”

The Thunderbird certainly makes an intriguing case: It looks good, challenges V-Twin cruiser conformity and, most important, delivers a satisfying riding experience. Triumph staff and executives sure seem confident of their finished product and its expected contribution to the British marque’s future, and after a memorable day in the Thunderbird saddle, under that sweet Spanish sun, we can understand why.
2010 Triumph Thunderbird Photo Gallery
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2010 Triumph Thunderbird Specs
2010 Triumph Thunderbird
Engine: Liquid-cooled, DOHC, Parallel Twin
Displacement: 1597cc
Bore x Stroke: 103.8 x 94.3mm
Fueling: EFI
Final Drive: Belt
Clutch: Wet, multi-plate
Gearbox: 6-speed, constant mesh, helical type.
Frame: Tubular steel, twin spine
Swingarm: Twin sided, steel
Front Wheel: 5-spoke cast aluminum, 19 x 3.5 inch
Rear Wheel: 5-spoke cast aluminum, 17 x 6 inch
Front Tire: 120/70 R19
Rear Tire: 200/50 R17
Front Suspension: Showa 47mm forks, non-adjustable, 120mm travel
Rear Suspension: Showa chromed spring twin shocks, 5 position adjustable
preload
Front Brakes: Dual 310mm discs, Nissin 4-piston calipers
Rear Brakes: Single 310mm disc, Brembo 2-piston caliper
Length: 92.5 in
Seat Height: 27.6 in
Wheelbase: 63.6 in
Rake/Trail: 32°/151.3mm
Fuel Tank: 5.8 gallon

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Comments
cbello12   October 1, 2011 07:17 AM
Forgot to also mention, the foot controls need to also to be moved back, the sofa look is belongs to HD,no offense to anyone, all I 'm saying is to not copy anybody and stick to your own brand, it gets boring to see all biles look the same....
cbello12   October 1, 2011 07:04 AM
I have been a Triumph fan since High School, I'm 60 yrs old, I own 3 Triumphs a 750 Bonneville , a T150 and a T160 Trident, old bikes I know but I love them.
Now I look at the the new Triumphs an they look good, but not as good as the old ones, yes they are mechanicly and more reliable than the old ones, the new
Thunderbird is my favorite and I'm planning in getting one next year, I wish Triumph would consider keeping most of the beautiful and traditional looks of Triumph
motorcycles, forget copying Harley Davison looks, lets face it, Triumphs always have other brands beat in that department. In my opinion Triumph needs to make improvements in the weight of the bike, the gas tank is way too big, (wide) for short legged riders is really bad, instrument should go back to where they belong, on the handle bars, pipes should be shortand racy looking, in short forget HARLEY DAVISON and stick to original Triumph old school looks,yes make them better, more modern,but just use the original design, can't wait to get mine so I can make it right and unique....
Neil -Test rode Harley's, T-bird  November 30, 2010 10:30 AM
Just yesterday, I test rode a T-bird. I loved it. I thought I had picked my new bike (HD Fat Bob). The Triumph had it all over the Fat Bob, and it costs 3 to 4 grand less. It's heavier, but it handles lighter, it has more power through the hole range, the seat feels better (for me). It's definetly not a wanna be sound, it sounds more like a bassy big-block v8. Triumph didn't overdo it with the styling like the Asian cruisers. It looks good without the effort.

If I wanted to wait til spring, there will be a new T-bird called the Storm. It will look like the Fat Bob and have the 100 CI stock. I don't know if I want to wait for what might be more of a copycat.
Heavy D -Nice Job Triumph  September 24, 2010 01:29 AM
Was looking at getting another Rocket (Tourer, after selling my Rocket III Classic in April due to working overseas), but if the color scheme is not too great for the 2011's, I may just jump on down to the Thunderbird 1700.
As for the guys who say Triumph was trying to "copy" HD...get some glasses and better yet go for a test ride (I did in April and was pretty impressed with the 1600)...not even close...it is targeted at the HD market not trying to imitate it.
As for the "should have been a 360 crank" posers...again, instead of pontificating without riding one get off you sofa and go take one for a test ride...and then tell us what you think.
Harley...I wish you well...but until you put some "value" into a bike instead of hedging all you bets on a bunch of wannabe's (and move up to a water cooled engine where you might start getting performance and less burn injuries to the right leg and not bumping your head against mandated EPA requirements) who follow the crowd and like the badge...you won't see me even remotely interested in what Milwaukee does.

D
Blinkin Scout -I wanted ABS on my next ride ...  August 8, 2010 08:04 AM
I bought the Thunderbird SE yesterday and traded in my 2004 Honda VTX 1300 - take delivery next Saturday. I wanted ABS on my next ride and test rode the Honda Interstate and Thunderbird. There was no contest. The Bird is simply the best cruiser I have experienced since riding my first bike in 1971.

norwoodrider -a triumph for Triumph  July 24, 2010 05:05 PM
Had my T bird for two months now, and just love it. Ridden Harleys before, never liked the Softails... noisy and heavy. Dynas are a joke, except for the Fat Bob, which is perhaps the only good bike in the HD line up. The T bird is the ultimate cruiser ride.. easy, comfortable, very forgiving and a pleasure to ride. Only downside... wherever you stop, be it to fill up or just park, there will always be someone who will come up and engage you in conversation on what a fantastic looking bike it is.. well.. it does give you a bit of a buzz if I'm being honest. Well done Triumph, you've raised the bar in the cruiser market, now it's up to the rest to catch up.
Joe (Basher ) Walsh -Mr  May 24, 2010 02:16 PM
what can Isay that hasent been said about the T/Bird,went to dealer for 2 tyres for my yamaha1900 and the dealer gave me t/bird for 3 days to try as I have ridden most makes of bike he was confident I would buy this great m/c,which I did 2 weeks ago the ride is like nothing else so forgiving on corners ,sold my 1900 yam, and in its place the 1700cc big bore resides was never a cruiser person but what the hell you only live once so try everything at least once, is my moto,hope its as reliable as the Jap,.
Nathan -Bike  April 25, 2010 08:42 AM
Cant wait to test drive. I ride a vmax and I have been looking for something to replace it with. I cant stained HD. My dealer as got me turned off by them. Was looking at the rocket III but I dont need the speed any more just want a great looking bike to ride on.
Andy from Gilbert -New T-Bird  December 23, 2009 07:27 PM
Currently riding an America. Rode all the Harleys. Okay if comfort and performance aren't what you are looking for. If this new one is as reliable as my America i'm sold.
Michael Baird -T-bird  December 23, 2009 01:24 AM
I love this bike. Just the nicest ride ever and I have ridden them all. Way to go Triumph
xtrumpr -New Thunderbird  November 26, 2009 09:34 PM
Nice job Triumph. But let's look at the outer primary cover: that's that big chrome hunk down low on the left side of the bike that connects the engine to the transmission and allows access to the clutch and primary drive. It's so similar to HD's design why did they not just go and buy one from the MoCo? The Softail rear fender struts, and Softail Deuce rear fender, same story.
They all help make it a nice looking piece. Having said all that, I still like what Triumph is doing and wish them much success.

Bought a brand new TR6C in 1968...best handling sikle and easily one of the best looking bikes I've ever owned. It vibrated so bad it would actually crack license plates at the bolt holes. But hey, couldn't afford a Sportster back then so that was a pretty good alternative. Engine needed a new top-end re-build, new rings, pistons at 10k miles. Not all nostalgia is sweetness and light. I'm sure they're now a long way from then.

HD owner for the past 27 years.
kiwirider -it comes down to the ride  November 26, 2009 12:18 PM
I have never ridden a Triumph before, Harleys yes , and I love my old Intruder 1400, but yesterday I took a T/bird up the local twisty hills to see what all the fuss is about. I don't hate Harleys, don't mind Kwakkas, not averse to Hondas, never ridden a Yamaha, and I've only ever seen two Victorys, but dear lord how am I going to find NZ$24,000 in the next 24 hours to buy a Thunderbird. Its a worry! What a fantastic thing to ride.
Bad BIrd -2010 triumph  November 16, 2009 09:29 AM
I have owned my t-bird for less than two months.I've already put 3000 miles on it. Love the bike and everything about it. Totally new engineering and it shows. My ABS brakes on the big twin discs are a must. This bike handles like a dream and I get nothing but positive comments from other riders and the general looky- loos. I chromed out the front forks,ordered saddlebags, windshield,touring seat,and short pipes. Triumph has so many options I could have run it up to 20 grand. My final cost was 16,200. I looked at a new Dyna wide and it started at 16,000. My suggestion---Take a test ride and you won't be disappointed.Safe riding to all. Peace on earth. Late. C.W. Vest.
Bob from Mi. -T-Bird , Life Cycles  October 29, 2009 06:30 PM
I picked mine up the other day. Never rode one before, just did alot of reading on them. I drove 125 miles nonstop back home. I love this bike. My wife encouraged me to buy this bike. I cannot say anything neg. about the T-Bird. I do have a 96 Heritage HD for sale now. Going my own way!
Ronnie B. -Speedmaster  October 23, 2009 06:51 PM
I just purchased my first bike this past spring. I looked at all of the HD's and did not fit the frames or the price. I just wanted to check out the Triumph to see what they had to offer. I sat down on the Speedmaster and it fit like a glove. I then checked out the price and the deal Triumph had going and baught one. I love the ride and everyone I pass has to look at it's old school look. If you want to be like everyone else, buy a HD. Look great and save money, treat yourself to a Triumph.
satyrules -Barcelona  October 14, 2009 02:21 PM
So now you know. i worked and rode there from 1995-1999. Since I have 25+ bikes (in Europe) you can be sure I loved the terrain,people, food, wine, women, and song. The roads are magnificante,superb. Next time try to get further out , visit Andorra and Parc Natural Montsany( north towards the coast.There is a reason several GP moto and F1 driver/riders live there now.I still keep an Alto apartmento there. Tempo moderato even in mid winter.I am a native N.Y. City guy living in Fl.Friday I am going to bug my Trumpy -Ducati dealer about early release T-bird with kit.
Tom Nichols -270 vs. 360  October 6, 2009 07:59 AM
Check out this article on 270 vs 360...

http://mcresourcesusa.com/info2-TN270.html
Tom Nichols -360 vs 270 vs 180  October 5, 2009 08:43 PM
Yes, I agree! The 270 is simply not needed and is quite obviously a marketing gimmick to get a certain sound and feel.

Most parallel twins have a 360 degree crank. Both pistons move up and down at the same time. The big advantage here is you only needed one set of points. You can fire both cylinders at the same time, but only one of them is on the power stroke. The other one is in the intake stroke. You can spot this design because the points will be run off the crankshaft.

The other common design is the 180 degree crank. This is pretty well balanced. One piston is at tdc and the other is at bdc. So when one piston is going up, the other is going down. The problem was that you needed two sets of points. Of course now days with electronic ignition, it is not a major concern. You could have a crank at any degree. You could spot the 180 because the points were run off the cam shaft.

I personally do not like the 270 degree crank. The engineering department was given their marching orders by the marking group. Not the best way to design a motorcycle engine. Give me a 360 any day of the week. Oh, by the way, the 180 have a very unique sound. Ever hear a Honda 305 scrambler? But that was 45 years ago. Triumph would have been much better off with a 360 or 180 degree crank.

JR -Speedmaster  October 1, 2009 06:04 AM
I like this bike it has character. Soul only if you add that as an owner I plan to buy soon-- Sportster or Speedmaster, I am leaning to the Speedmaster
SpeedyAnne -Awesome Thunderbird  September 28, 2009 10:49 PM
I recently test rode lots of cruisers in the 800cc range thinking that was all I could handle (I'm a 5'5 female). After a dealer convinced me to try something bigger, I tried the Honda VTX 1300 which I liked and a HD Dyna Glide which I didn't like. I eventually rode the Thunderbird - it was love at first ride! Everything felt perfect - the handling, the cornering, the peg positions, the riding position. My husband tried it after me and gave me a thumbs up after riding it a few seconds. We placed our order as soon as we returned the Thunderbird to the dealer.
HDBreeze -Great bike  September 20, 2009 05:46 PM
I love my Harleys, but it's nice to see a cruiser that isn't a conventional v-twin. The Rocket-3 is not a very attractive bike.
Leonardo the intruder -Harley's or the thunderbird  September 18, 2009 03:24 PM
I have demo rode every Harley motorcycle since 2005. I recently rode the Triumph Thunderbird and feel it is probable the best handling motorcycle I have ever ridden. There are only two Harley's I have ridden that I like as well as the Thunderbird, the rocker C and the Screaming Eagle dyna. The only thing holding me back from buying a Thunderbird today is not knowing how reliable the bike is. Time will tell. If I find out the Thunderbird is as reliable as my Jap bike I will sell it and get a Thunderbird.
Oxy -T-bird  August 25, 2009 06:07 PM
Sold my trusty 04 America.. best bike I've ever had. Was sorry to see it go, but wait with excited anticipation for the new T-bird I've ordered. Should be here any day now (fingers crossed) cos I don't know if I can handle not having a bike! I often used to wonder why Triumph hadn't put out a 1600 cruiser, and now they have. Musta read my mind! lol. Nice one Triumph!!
jsh1120 -Great Effort  August 24, 2009 02:48 PM
Background. Like Triumphs very much. Have owned three of the resurrected brand since the late 90'.s Own an '02 Valkyrie and haven't yet found a "cruiser" that I prefer. Rode the new Thunderbird for about 50 miles leading demo rides during Triumph days at a local dealer recently. Impressions. Handles extremely well for its market segment. Good usable power throughout the rev range and it's a BROAD range, up to 6500 rpm, the same as my Valk. Sound. Not quite up to snuff, imo. But that's subjective and not very important to me. Overall styling. Excellent. Lean and well executed. Deemphasizes the radiator well. Looks better in person than in photos, imo. Fit and finish, first rate. Accessories. Tall Windscreen is probably a "B." Not a winner but few are in terms of both looks and effectiveness. Perhaps a shorter windscreen would be better. Bags get a "C" at best. Leather is the only option and don't fit the bike (imo.) Highway pegs look very effective if the object is mimic a patient's visit to the gynecologist. Otherwise, hope for an aftermarket alternative. Many other accessories (including the 'big bore' kit) available. Easy to reach four figures with hardly a thought. Mid-4 figures not hard to achieve. But that's what cruisers are about. Would I give up my Valk for one? Nope. But it took more than a few minutes to make that decision and that's more than I can say for almost any other bike on the market. Will it make a serious dent in HD sales? Again, I doubt it. But it's an obvious upgrade path for Bonnie America and Speedmaster owners. And it should make a serious dent in the market for other metric cruisers.
billy -just missed triumph  August 8, 2009 05:13 AM
does everything these days still revolve around the cruiser world and the crotch rocket crowd???? motor seems to have hit the mark but everything else seems to be a sell out to the new world order of the biker world(i want no part of it)nice try triumph...1970 bonnie still is the target to shoot for just improve on it....but not like this....plastic and paint make it what it aint!!!!!!!old school or no school.....but go ahead masses buy what you want....yeah i may be old fashioned and yes different styling and design for bikes has its place but let us somehow return 10% of the marketing back to stock bikes less plastic,fairings no hope
Raúl Vicente -Deal with it.  August 5, 2009 02:53 PM
It curves nicely for a cruiser, so for me it's a victory altogether. But a good motorcycle is always controversial: the best and worst of it is appreciated as a whole by the educated eye. But the worst is always pointed out in excess by haters, who erroneously fear that the progress within such models makes obsolete contraptions of their own machines.
Wayne -Beautiful in person, pass the fish and chips please!  July 13, 2009 02:36 PM
I rode my 2006 scrambler up to the local dealership last Saturday with a work buddy who owns a 09 low rider and we were both impressed by the Thuderbird's looks and riding position. What was a little surprising was how well this bike seems to fit a wide range of people as Im 6'3" and 225 while my friend is 5'7" and 190 and we both got off saying it felt pretty good. I have never really been a fan of forward controls ( too much dirt in my veins) so I liked the mid set up. Im sure the accessories will allow for the personalization that the crusier crowd loves to indulge in. This is the best time to be a motorcyclist ever.
Gezzer -Current America Owner  June 29, 2009 06:39 PM
I currently ride a 06 America, and love it's handling. Yes the 790cc motor's a bit on the weak side, plus I often think it needs a 6th gear by the way it revs up at highway speed. But it doesn't detract from the fact it's a fun ride, that turns heads. As for the new T-bird being a HD wannabe, sorry no sale. Yes it's targeting the same market segment as a lot of others including HD. But I looked real close at the pictures, and I swear that's not a V-twin, looks more like a straight twin to me. :P I mean come on, a big bore Trumpet with the one thing that has been Triumph's biggest selling point for me and many others, fantastic handling. What's not to like? I'll be getting one for sure. Not right away I'm afraid, but as soon as I can. :) This babies my dream ride in the flesh, Great job Triumph!
Charlie -Just Rode One  June 26, 2009 08:10 AM
My pops just bought one yesterday and i put some miles on it on the way home from the dealer. It's a fantastic bike. I am 6'2" and normally ride an FJR but this thing was a blast, the torque is great, the engine spot on, and the gearbox is much nicer than i expected. It does look far nicer in person than in the photos (where it looks pretty good). My only niggle was mentioned in the article, the rear brake is pretty weak. Other than that, good job triumph!
Speedybob -T-Bird  June 23, 2009 05:44 PM
Looks like the T-Bird won the Cycle World"Cruiser of the Year"award.Not bad for a little British company.They lay it on pretty thick about its performance and handling.Its going to be harder to wait a year like i was planning,damn you Cycle World!... lol
gunny b- -Thunderbird  June 21, 2009 06:56 PM
I'm 58and just got back to riding after trying my brothers 1300 Venture. The next month (July 08) I bought a new Triumph America and have over 10,000 miles in the first year.I've done my research onthe T-bird and the stats. are very good. The bike is not that heavy and very well balanced. I have only sat on one recently but, not rode yet. I am planning to buy one for touring. Buy the bike if you like it butwhy bash another. I've never owned a Harley but I have ridden them, I just prefer Triumphs. Oh, Triumph is not trying to make it sound like a Harley,(how naive) their just trying to bring out their own sound.
Zane Sharum -2010 Triumph Thunderbird  June 21, 2009 02:29 PM
The dealer called and told me my Bird was waiting. After a day to recover from the heart attack, I went to get her. The press, pics and vids do her no justice! A first hand look or a leg thrown over her will sell you! By the time I made the 140 mile ride home I had gained an extra 50 lbs! Bugs in my teeth from the big grin! Yes I am a Trumpet fan from days gone by.... Thanks for building a bike I had only dreamed of owning! I am truly gonna enjoy my new relationship! Big bore Trumpet, hot damn I gotta go ride!!!!!!!!!!
Dave -T-bird Test Ride  June 21, 2009 07:38 AM
Finally got my dealer to give me a test ride. Absolutely loved it. Very comfortable ergos (I'm 5'11) and it handles great, with ample torque. Had it briefly on the interstate for about 2 miles, and the 6th gear is a welcomed feature. I'm sold!
Benny -Triumph Thunderbird  June 20, 2009 12:42 AM
Great review guys. I'm really looking forward to receiving my T-Bird, even more so now I've read your review. Can't help commenting on all the HD flaming/loving going on. I've only ever taken a Harley for a test drive once, fully expecting to hate it. Turns out, I loved it. My problem was that they wanted $33,000 Aust. for it, while the T-Bird is only $21,500 Aust. No contest really. Nothing to do with the bike, just plain economics.
joey -Thunderbird  June 19, 2009 08:43 AM
At last! A cruiser that is not copying the huge clone market. Good on you Triumph! Manufactures are always trying to convert followers of the world’s largest cult by making similar looking bikes with V twins. It ain't goin to happen! I've travelled many countries and every place, the cult followers look the same. If Triumph keep breaking the mould, maybe they can attract a younger generation of riders who are bored with the image of chap's, bandanas, tattoos, pony tails, chain jewellery, pee pot helmet’s and pot bellies.
BigMike -Thunderbird  June 18, 2009 09:59 AM
As an engineer and a Harley owner, I like the Thunderbird. I've always been a fan of Triumph and their rich history. Can't wait to take a T-Bird for a test ride. As for the Harley bashing comments, if you took your uninformed comments and did some research, you might find that Harley has been able to keep their vintage design current that still works VERY well today - just like Triumph. As far as a sinking company, you're kidding right? H-D will be the last brand standing.
Speedybob -270 crank  June 11, 2009 10:50 PM
As far as using counterbalancers,yes it could be done to reduce the vibration on the 360 but the best option is the 270 crank.With those huge pistons reaching tdc and bdc at the same time,the counterbalancers would have to be huge.The 1600 was so easily balanced using the 270 crank that there wasnt enough reciprocating weight to tame the power pulses at low rpm so Triumph had to add extra weight to the crank and alternator.Besides,it will make every Harley rider do a double take when it blows by them with that awesome sound...lol.
British Racing Green -270 crank  June 11, 2009 05:32 PM
Thanks for the history lesson on the Vincent. But in today's world of spinning counterbalancers, you could go 360 and knock out every bit of vibration. In other words, the 270 is simply not needed and is quite obviously a marketing gimmick to get a certain sound and feel.
super simon -speedmaster  June 10, 2009 08:43 PM
Ijust picked up a speedmaster, great bike fits like a glove, my friends ride hondas,harleys and ktm . All different to ride but all fun in their own way, don,t knock any of these until you have ridden them for 2-3 days, some shake some are smooth, some pull the wheel of the ground at 100+. all great but different I enjoyed them for what they are not what they are compared to.
Speedybob -270 crank  June 10, 2009 12:42 AM
The 270 degree crank used on the T-Bird was originally designed by famed engine designer Phil Irving(co-creator of the Vincent Black Shadow,one of the best bikes of its time and the most sought after clasic bike in the world)to reduce vibration that plagued the 360 degree vertical twin.He tried to get Triumph to switch to this design back in the late 40's but Triumph wouldnt listen and paid for it by going out of buisness years later when people demanded smoother and more reliable motorcycles.
GB -triump  June 4, 2009 06:53 PM
nice bike but a Victory is way better bike. American made, better quaility and handling and you'll be able to find it in the sea of hardleys and clones.
British Racing Green -T-Bird  June 4, 2009 02:41 PM
For all you Harley bashers thinking about the T-Bird, ask yourself: why did Triumph go to the 270-degree crank? Hmm... to make the bike sound like a Harley? A proper verticle twin would have an even stroke otherwise. Not that I'm against Triumph--I even own a newer one, and miss my old '77 Tiger. Just sayin...
Jerry Horn -Thunderbird  June 1, 2009 09:19 AM
I want a new bike!Had three Harleys,all went over 100,000,77 Super Glide,83 FLT,89 FLHS (my favorite).Was talked into a 96 Trophy 900 by a friend. My wife fell in love with a 00 Legend. The trophy is now gone (130,000 and only problem was a bad pick up in the ignition). Can not decide on a bagger- Rocket 3 Tour or Victory Kingpin Tour. Then I saw the Thunderbird!Never again a Harley unless they put a motor in it. Mine all took work (a lot) to get to the 100,000, the Trophy was a wake up call. Just need to see a few road tests and comparisons to decide. Biggest problem NO DEALERS NEAR ME. Makes it hard! I live near Albany NY area, lots of people. Where are you Triumph? Closest Dealer almost 100 miles one way!
irk.some -The OTHER 100 yr. old motorcycle company.  May 31, 2009 07:18 PM
As I get nearer to 51, I've started to rethink my distaste for cruisers. This Thunderbird MIGHT be the bike to eventually replace my '98 Speed Triple, Lily. Just don't tell her. I've thought about a Thruxton (it's the cafe racer I was trying to build back in the '80s) but it, the America and Speedmaster are just too underpowered. Never liked Harleys or their Japanese clones, never saw the point. Ridden plenty of them, never had a desire to own one. Harley has become a marketing firm that happens to make motorcycles. My bike has been stone reliable, zero problems and a lot of fun. Plus, it has a soul and I can find it in a lot full of crotch rockets and Road Pigs.
JL Mealer -Thunderbird.. YES  May 28, 2009 09:43 AM
I've had my eye on this bike ever since I cought a glimpse of it. I plan to buy asap.... It will go nicely with my Rocket III.... I just hate to downsize! Then again, it's still larger than the girly bikes of 1600cc... That was a joke.. Don't cry. Please, don't cry.
JD -T-Bird  May 27, 2009 05:48 PM
I will wait to see it in person before I plunk my money down. It could be a winner but timing of introduction is a year too late. For all of the HD folk, put a VROD engine in a lighter weight cruiser frame. Power, torque, less heat which is the future no matter how you cut it.
sololobo -t bird  May 27, 2009 01:18 PM
I love a v twin engine and its torque more than my 140hp 4 bangers overall speed. The T Bird and its very attractive price and low seat hight along with its engines specs is going to attract a lot of buyers that arn't hung up on having to have a v-twin or H.D. I'll tell you what guys, you don't ride the label, you ride the bike. A lot of us are picking bikes because of their great specs and not because it says HD on it. I had a Harley for years, and now ride a japanese cruiser because of it's way better specs and handling. I love harleys, but I don't ride the label, I ride the bike that has the best specs. I would definitely consider the T Bird next.
Cincinnati -T-Bird  May 24, 2009 08:17 PM
I have an America and love it. However, I will own a Thunderbird. Have been looking forward to it since I've heard about it. Thanks Triumph!
omegarun -triumph T bird  May 24, 2009 06:15 PM
i like the Harley, the engine and bike could be very sound, Harley's technical problem's are linked to a greed problem shared with their dealers, they could make their bikes rock solid but they rather make their money bullshit'n . putting their customers on the money drain fast track .Harley could be a very sound bike, not a rocket. i like the t bird, good effort Triumph, i have a 05 softail, not bad but no value for price. i will be looking at the t bird , the stated price is right, there is value,and at 6'1 i am looking for more room and horses.the looks i would have liked if it leaned more to your america or Bonneville style .i think people have already been looking for an alternative to HD, w/o defaulting to asian or euro bikes. A cruiser off the beaten path with value. i love riding and use my bikes for transportation as well. mileage is important, it goes with value. for me 2000cc to big and 800 and change to small, but a 1600 could be just right. thanks Triumph will take a keen interest in your new bike with an 80% probability you earned what would have been harleys next sale.
Robson -I Love Harley-Davidson Forever!  May 24, 2009 03:51 AM
I'm writing from Brazil. We have many old hd models rallies. Nothing is like a Shovelhead. But v-rod sucks.
Tom -HD looks  May 23, 2009 03:00 PM
@person under me - I get your point, but then again, there's only so many ways to integrate a low seat, forward pegs and a high engine. You're bound to have a sculpted 'arched' tank because of the size of the engine, en all cruisers have a teardrop tank. And that defines most of them right there already. How is the rest 'like a harley' then? Rear fender is something you can easily change yourself. - I really like this cruiser, to the point where it would be my only real option if I were to buy one: invididual, different engine, belt drive (!), tradition, well finished, good price, fits tall (!!) and small... - The edges on the radiator might have been a little smaller (or just ditch them). Apart from that: first class bike, have to have one!
Nice start, but... -T-Bird  May 22, 2009 08:19 PM
I love the look of the engine (and can live with the radiator - just - knowing the power and efficiency advantages of water cooling). However, the rest of the bike is just too HD. Triumph should have referred to their own history and made a more English looking cruiser - not radically different - but with correctly placed instruments and ditch the HD back end. As to the HD references - not a fan here, ridden them a LOT and no, you don't have to tell me, I DO get it and because of that I would never own one even if they were 1/2 price.
jimmy joe -harvey davidson  May 22, 2009 04:09 PM
as soon as I get a degree in stupidity and a diploma in ignorance, I am going to waste $20,000.00 on an antiquated, push rod engine with no horsepower but certainly loud, just like most of the owner's
Ben -Unbilevable. Triumph comes out with a cool bike & all people can do is bag on Harley-Davidson  May 22, 2009 01:50 PM
Hopefully this is the beginning of the end of the horrible v-twin..... You must mean the end of ALL the Aprilias,Ducs,Hounda V-twins,Suzuki V-twins,the list is long.Funny I see all this BS on Harley-Davidson's & I bet 99% of it is from people have never rode one more than a mile or never even rode one at all for that matter . The fact that H-D out sales Triumph 25 to 1 in the USA says it ALL. HA HA. HO one more thing.I love new Bonneville I would buy one.
Henry Grubstick -T-Bird  May 22, 2009 02:59 AM
Hopefully this is the beginning of the end of the horrible v-twin. An engine that puts out no hp, takes up too much space, overweight, and is ridiculously outdated. A solid left hand punch at hd.
Sachin -Thunderbird  May 21, 2009 12:42 PM
Looks very good and comfortable and seems to be a very good cruiser. Good job Triumph!
tom -Thunderbird  May 21, 2009 12:13 PM
Great bike. Congratulations Triumph! - I will certainly check one out as soon as they hit the showroomfloor. I like cruisers, and I know it's difficult to get round the obvious Harley, but I don't want myself buying into those hugely overpriced dated shakers... At least here's an alternative that also has style and individuality. Better perfomance, less vibration, good handling... Black one please, with the headlight body work and stroker kit, thx! :) Go triumph
Wayne -Oh Yeah  May 21, 2009 08:27 AM
And yeah, thank Porche to provide that engine, shows that Harley didn't have balls to make one like it!!!
Wayne -milwaukee mike  May 21, 2009 08:25 AM
Comments full of hatred and frustration are expected from RATTLING HD owners like u! Are you really one of those who drink beer, grow extraordinarily fat, have stupid tattoos, have an ugly beard and an equally ugly sleeveless lather jacket and ride a stone age Harley??!!! Even HD had to think out of the box and come out with a V-rod to save their sinking company! Hahaha Great going Triumph!
Borax Karloff -T-Boid  May 21, 2009 08:24 AM
I rode a friend's Harley the other day, and I really can't see what the big deal is. As an American I'm glad they're made in America and are successful, but as a motorcyclist, I was underwhelmed. This T-bird looks kind of interesting. Especially if it's faster and shakes less than a comparably-priced Milwaukee product.
Mitch -Get over yourself, mike  May 20, 2009 08:39 PM
And right on schedule it's milwaukee mike with some "Harley uber alles" comments. Harley fan-boys like m.m. are precisely why I will NEVER own a Harley-Davidson. The folks who ride any of the bikes that he mentioned will get a lot more respect from me as being non-conformists compared to the posers I see on Harleys every day. The Thunderbird rocks and I will definitely consider it when I buy my next bike.
milwaukee mike -Trash-bird  May 20, 2009 03:16 PM
Oh! I almost forgot another euro-loser-cruiser: BMW R1200C. Yep, check at what the resale is, then compare it to a similar vintage HD. Remember these were priced between 14 to 16.5K. Gee...where are they now?
milwaukee mike -T-bird  May 20, 2009 02:58 PM
More like T-chicken. Euro cruisers are born to fail. Rember the Ducati Indiana, Moto Guzzi Jackal, Triumph T-bird triple, Norton High Rider, and the Gas Gas Chopper? Don't waste your money. Or better yet,...buy it and prove me right!
Jay Mack -Thunderbird  May 20, 2009 02:09 PM
I like it but it's very heavy. What I and everyone else wanted was a Bonneville styled, light weight standard. Maybe it's coming.
Frak! -Hmmm...  May 20, 2009 09:48 AM
I'm not sure I'd ever buy a cruiser, but when I'm willing to admit I'm as old as I really am, maybe I'll consider one. That said, this one actually has me wanting to go look at one. Why? Because its not a Harley clone, but moreso, because its not a sterile Japanese carbon copy. Its unique, & thats what Triumph does wonderfully.
Superlight -Triumph T-Bird  May 20, 2009 08:10 AM
Nice going, Triumph, for making a cruiser that's not another Harley clone. Rather, you looked back upon your brand history and gave us some of the best lines from the past.