Triumph Thunderbird LT First Ride Review

27 August 2016, 07:02 PM Pratheek Kunder

What is it?

Big, bulky, heavy – three aspects that are usually related to cruisers and it’s no different with the Triumph Thunderbird LT. LT stands for ‘Light Touring’ and that’s the only ‘light’ attribute about this cruiser. Launched to take on the Harley Davidsons, especially in the American market, the Thunderbird LT focuses on the same aspects like other cruisers – comfort and long distance riding. It was launched at a time when the Indian market had a good number of cruisers to choose from

How does it ride?

This 380kg bike will intimidate the moment you see it. The intimidation will hit another level when you sit on the saddle and take it off the side-stand. And that’s where the intimidation ends. Because once you start riding this motorcycle, you’ll figure out how manageable this bike is at regular and high speeds. However, at low speed, especially in the city traffic, you might take some time to get used to the overall weight of the bike. But once you have, things become easy. Accessible saddle height, swept back handlebar and the large footboards is what makes this motorcycle a pleasure to ride on the highway. Riding it on the long straights and twisties is an incredible experience because the amount of torque and comfort I had.

Ex-showroom, Mumbai


I was quite disappointed with the way the massive windscreen performed. I’m 6’2” and I had to experience quite a bit of wind buffeting and it was the same case with my colleague, Omkar. Also, riding in wet conditions sprays dirt on the windscreen and that hampers your vision. The Showa suspension setup performs efficiently, taking the overall ride quality to the comfort side. The ride is plush, and thanks to the weight, the bike feels planted at high speeds. The tyres on the Thunderbird LT are special as they’re the world’s first white-walled radial tyres developed by Avon exclusively for the British manufacturer. It looks absolutely fantastic and gladly, the same thing can be said about the tyre performance. These tyres offer plenty of grip. And there’s the braking system which gets ABS as standard. It is effective, has good bite and doesn’t feel wooden.

The 1700cc engine, which is the biggest parallel twin engine in the world is all about torque – especially in the mid-range, where the power delivery gets flat. This liquid-cooled engine produces 93bhp at 5400rpm and develops peak torque of 151Nm at 3550rpm. The power is delivered to the rear wheel via a belt drive using a light clutch. This engine is refined, vibe free (almost) and had the ability to put a smile on my face each time I twisted that throttle. I didn’t really had to plan my overtaking maneuver on this cruiser. The mid-range took care of this experience pretty well. The gearbox is six speed and quite friendly. Unlike other big cruisers, the gearshifts on the Thunderbird LT is fairly less noisy and smoother than most of them.

Anything else should I know?

The Thunderbird LT is a long distance tourer right? So it’s obvious to get a lot of goodies and it does. Leather saddle bags will carry enough luggage for two people. For the pillion comfort, there’s a back rest too. The seats on this motorcycle deserves an extra mention as it’s one of the best I’ve ever sat on. For not even a single time in my entire 500kms ride, I found it to be minutely uncomfortable. The footboards are large enough for the entire feet to rest, in fact, the rubber used on it is really good. The round headlamp is flanked by two auxiliary lights and below that, there are the turn blinkers.

You should know that the Thunderbird LT is one of the safest cruiser in its segment as it’s equipped with anti-lock braking system (ABS) as standard. The switch gear on the other hand, feels basic and doesn’t have that premium factor. The touch and feel isn’t the talk of the town. It doesn’t event get hazard lamp or cruise control. But the way wires are hidden inside the handlebar is appreciable. The instrument cluster sits on the 22-litre tank, which sports speedometer, fuel level and shows ride data like trip meter, distance to empty and a clock. Expect a tank range of close to 400kms in one tank full and that’s pretty good for a motorcycle this size.

Why should I buy one?

Buy the Triumph Thunderbird LT if you genuinely plan to do long distance rides. The bike is supremely comfortable even with a pillion, has the ability to carry quite a bit of luggage, gets ABS and all this at an attractive price of Rs 16.40 lakh (ex-showroom Delhi). But there’s a small problem. Even with such massive body proportions, chrome dipped engine and exhaust, the Thunderbird LT fails to feel special. At such price point and especially in the world of cruisers, most of the buyers in India want to feel special when they own one, and this British motorcycle fails to do it. The lack of that specialness fails to overcome the brand value of Harley-Davidson bikes.

Where does it fit in?

While there are a lot of cruisers in the Indian market there aren’t many at Triumph Thunderbird LT’s price point. The only one that comes close is the Harley-Davidson Heritage Softail Classic and that American bike demands a premium of Rs 60,000 over the Triumph at Rs 17 lakh (ex-showroom Mumbai). 

Photography by Kapil Angane


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