Triumph Thunderbird, seventy years ruling the roads of the world
The Triumph Thunderbird started as a production bike back in 1949. However, all the years that went by from the moment that it saw the streets for the very first time changed it a lot, yet the spirit remains the same. Because it is a big bike with a lot of power and a very comfortable riding position, it was the motorcycle of choice for film and riders for decades. Moreover, as time went by, the model gained some useful technological updates and is now one of the most sought-after models by the English brand.
Read on to find out everything about each of the incarnations of this classic motorcycle, and to find out about two ground-breaking accessories that will surely change your riding life.
Triumph Thunderbird, a little history
Seeing a Royal Enfield classic and a Triumph Thunderbird is like seeing double or having a déjà vu. Yes, the first incarnation of the Triumph Thunderbird dates back to 1949 and is very similar to the Royal. The engine was a 500/650cc four-stroke, parallel-twin. Hence, this British beauty was ready to take on the US market like a storm. Many people also know this model as the 6T.
However, it wasn´t until 1981 that Triumph used the name Thunderbird on a bike again. This time, it was the cheapest model on the catalogue with an engine close to the T140 Bonneville. Moreover, the Triumph Thunderbird was 650cc instead of 750cc, and it had a shorter stroke. By 1994, the Triumph had another annexation slash major makeover with the Triumph Thunderbird 900. Hence, the 900 was a complete hit in the US and allowed Triumph to make a successful attempt to enter the US market.
Fast forward to the new century, the new millennium, a brand-new version of the Thunderbird breaks into the market. This time, the engine got much, more significant and the 1587cc of the 2008 version is capable of some serious power. However, this is the most popular model today and the easiest one to spot on the streets. Moreover, this UK legend has come a very long way from a moment; men didn´t even set foot on the moon. Despite its age, it is as current as ever.
Triumph Thunderbird Storm
The most menacing version of the Thunderbird is the Storm. For this motorcycle, the company upgraded the engine from 1597cc to 1699cc, giving it even more muscle. In addition to that, the chromed parts in other versions of the Triumph Thunderbird are entirely black. However, along with the deep bite and roar of the bigger engine, these aesthetic details make the Storm a bike you respect.
Triumph Thunderbird Storm review
Despite this menacing look, it was voted by specialized press as the best cruiser in 2009 and 2010. It was the prestigious magazine Cycle World. Moreover, these were predecessors from the Storm that made it out in 2011. The standard was set very high, and yet, the public responded very positively to the Storm. Because, the moment you set foot on it, you immediately understand why. It feels like you are cruising in a starship. Moreover, the black accessories, the size of the gas tank and the growl of the engine are a massive combo.
To point out, because of its size, it is not the most comfortable option for a city, especially during rush hour. Don´t get me wrong; the Storm is a smooth rider. So, when you hit the open road, it transforms into a sleek vehicle with enough manoeuvrability to outdo most cars. The suspension and the throttle work great together as well as the brakes. However, the Triumph Storm sounds and feels like a sturdy, dependable vehicle that can take you far.
Triumph Thunderbird Storm specs
- Engine: Liquid-cooled, DOHC, 1699cc parallel-twin, 270º firing
- Bore/Stroke: 107.1 x 94.3mm
- Power: 73kW @ 5200rpm
- Torque: 156Nm (115ft.lb) @ 2950rpm
- Transmission: 6-speed, belt drive, wet clutch
- Wheels: 19 x 3.5in; 17 x 6.0in 5-spoke alloys
- Tyres: 120/70 R19; 200/50 R17
- Suspension: Showa 47mm forks, 120mm travel; Showa twin shocks with 5 positions adjustable preload, 95mm rear wheel travel
- Brakes: 310mm floating discs, Nissin 4-piston, fixed callipers; 310mm fixed disc, Brembo 2-piston floating calliper, ABS
- Length: 2340mm (92.1in)
- Width (handlebars): 880mm (34.6in)
- Height without mirrors: 1120mm (44.1in)
- Seat: 700mm (27.5in)
- Wheelbase: 1615mm (63.5in)
- Rake/Trail: 32º/151mm
- Fuel: 22-litre tank (5.8 US gals)
- Wet Weight: 339kg (746lbs)
Triumph Thunderbird 1600
Just by looking at the Triumph Thunderbird 1600, you realize that it was designed and made for cruising. It takes a lot of inspiration from the US market in the design but keeps some English lines as well. Moreover, the power that moves it forward is not a V-Twin, but an inline two cylinders are pushing 86HP and 1597cc. Because it is such a powerful bike, it is equipped with the ABS braking system. It has a six-speed gearbox that is very smooth and balanced.
Triumph Thunderbird 1600 review
I grew up watching movies and seeing the Indians or Harleys in my dreams. They were on all the pages of those magazines I used to own growing up. Now that I have been on those, I can say that this Thunderbird 1600 has nothing to envy any of the big American cruisers. To point out, from the design to the ease of riding, everything is flawless. So, taking the open road is quite an experience because this motorcycle is something to look at. Moreover, the bike is balanced, smooth, safe and very powerful; the perfect weekend companion to go anywhere.
Triumph Thunderbird 1600 specs
- The number of cycles 4
- Number of cylinders 2
- Configuration Row
- Displacement 1597 cm³
- Bore and stroke 103,8×94,3 mm
- maximum capacity 86 hp at 4850 rev / min
- Maximum torque 146 N ∙ m at 2750 rev/min
- admission type Injector
- Cooling system liquid
- starting system electric starter
- Gearbox Mechanical
- gear 6
- Clutch Multi-disc, oil bath
- main gear Belt
- Dimensions and weight
- Length 2340 mm
- Width 880 mm
- Height 1120 mm
- Seat height 700 mm
- Wheelbase 1615 mm
- Curb weight of 339 kg
- Fuel tank capacity 22 l
Chassis and brake
- Suspension Front Telescopic forks
- Suspension Front travel 120 mm
- Rear Suspension Pendulum with two shock absorbers
- Suspension rear suspension stroke 95 mm
- Brakes front Dual-hydraulic with 4-piston callipers
- Diameter 310 mm
- Brakes Rear 2 disc hydraulic piston calliper
- Diameter 310 mm
- ABS Brakes Yes
- Tires front 120/70 R19
- Rear Tires 200/50 R17
- Drives Ahead 3,5×19
- Wheels Rear 6×17
- Frame duplex Steel
Triumph Thunderbird Commander
First of all, the Triumph Thunderbird Commander is yet another cruiser incarnation of the Triumph Thunderbird that is extremely powerful. In fact, this motorcycle receives its power from the largest capacity parallel-twin engine in the market. However, don´t get me wrong with this; the ease of manoeuvrability you get with this bike is superb. Also, the commander was designed to take command of the ship into new territories and ride far away. Moreover, it is entirely prepared to leave the shop and take you to the other side of the country effortlessly.
Triumph Thunderbird Commander review
This bike has a massive engine at 1699cc but feels way more manoeuvrable. Though, it almost doesn´t feel like such a big, heavy bike. But, the commander is, hands down, one of the most comfortable cruisers I´ve ever driven. It feels like Triumph designed the bike thinking specifically what a long-distance rider needs and wants. However, the seat, the riding position and the quality of the building materials are astonishing. Moreover, this bike is ready to command you through the world and back.
Triumph Thunderbird Commander specs
- Type Liquid-cooled, DOHC, Parallel-twin, 270º firing interval
- Capacity 1699cc
- Bore Stroke 1 mm / 94.3 mm
- Compression 7:1
- Max Power EC 94 PS/93 BHP (69 kW) @ 5,400 rpm
- Max Torque EC 151 Nm @ 3,550 rpm
- System Multipoint sequential electronic fuel injection, progressive linkage on throttle
- Exhaust Chromed twin-skin stainless steel 2 into 2 headers, tandem forward-mounted large-volume catalysts, chrome-plated silencers
- Final drive Toothed Belt
- Clutch Wet, multi-plate
- Gearbox 6-speed
- Frame Tubular steel, twin spine
- Swingarm Twin-sided, steel
- Front Wheels Cast aluminium alloy 5-spoke 17 x 3.5 in
- Rear Wheels Cast aluminium alloy 5-spoke 17 x 6.0 in
- Front Tyres 140/75 ZR17
- Rear Tyres 200/50 ZR17 75W
- Front Suspension Showa 47 mm forks. 120 mm travel
- Rear Suspension Showa twin shocks with 5 positions adjustable preload. 108.5 mm rear wheel travel
- Brakes Front Twin 310 mm floating discs. Nissin 4-piston fixed callipers, ABS
- Brakes Rear Single 310 mm fixed disc. Brembo 2-piston floating calliper, ABS
- Instrument Display and Functions Analogue speedometer and fuel gauge. LCD trip computer, range to empty and clock. LCD function scroll button on handlebars.
- Width Handlebars 990 mm
- Height Without Mirror 1225 mm
- Seat Height 700 mm
- Wheelbase 1665 mm
- Rake 1º
- Trail 135 mm
- Dry Weight 317 Kg
- Tank Capacity 22 L
- Constant Speed 56mph 90kph 7 MPG
- Constant Speed 75mph 120kph 50.6 MPG
Triumph Thunderbird 900
Firstly, we can say that most big cruisers like the above are timeless, but when bikes get smaller, the shapes vary wildly. However, the Triumph Thunderbird 900 is the smaller incarnation with a retro look. This bike takes you back at least four decades to the seventies and begs for some elephant pants. Also, the Thunderbird is light, sturdy and beautiful for all retro-lovers in the world.
Triumph Thunderbird 900 review
I love mid-sized bikes like this that perform above average in the city and enjoy the pavement of the open road. Also, the 885cc is the closest you can get to an original triple engine as the first Thunderbirds had. However, the tuning that Triumph gave to it makes the 900 a detuned, low-powered machine perfect for city situations. But, opening up the throttle halfway to the corner made me feel an adrenaline rush that was hard to stop. Moreover, adding to it the beautiful low-pitch growl and you have a superb and fun bike.
Triumph Thunderbird 900 specs
- Max power 70 bhp
- Max torque 1 ft-lb
- Top speed 125 mph
- 1/4-mile acceleration 9 secs
- Average fuel consumption 44 mpg
- Tank range 165 miles
- Engine size 885cc
- Engine type 12v transverse triple, 5 gears
- Frame-type Steel tube spine
- Fuel capacity 15 litres
- Seat height 790mm
- Bike weight 220kg
- Front suspension None
- Rear suspension Preload
- Front brake Single 320mm disc
- Rear brake 285mm disc
- Front tyre size 110/80 x 18
- Rear tyre size 160/80 x 16
Triumph Thunderbird Sport
Though this is the sports version of the 900 with some improvements to make it more current and fun. Also, the brakes, suspension, wheels, and horsepower saw an increment in this bike. Moreover, it has a great frame that makes it very comfortable to ride, just like the 900.
Triumph Thunderbird sport review
Having tested both, I can say that this is the spiced-up version of an already great bike. Opening the throttle in the 900 was quite an experience in the city, but this is even a little more. Moreover, this Sports version of the 900 has also different manoeuvrability that makes it ideal for racing and for cruising around.
Triumph Thunderbird sport specs
- Engine Type: Liquid-cooled, DOHC, in-line 3 cylinder
- Capacity: 885cc
- Bore/stroke: 76 x 65mm
- Compression ratio 10:1
- Fuel system 3 x 36mm flat slide CV carburettors
- Transmission: Primary drive Gear Clutch Wet, multi-plate Gearbox 6-speed
- Electrics: Ignition Digital-inductive type
- Headlight Single 12V 60/55W halogen H4
- Cycle parts: Frame Micro alloyed high tensile tubular steel
- Swingarm: Aluminum alloy
- Wheels Front: alloy 36-spoke, 17″ x 3.5″ Rear: alloy 40-spoke, 17″ x 4.25″
- Tires Front: 120/70 x 17 Rear: 160/60 x 17
- Suspension: Front: 43mm cartridge forks with triple rate springs, adjustable for preload, compression and rebound damping; Rear: rising-rate mono-shock with adjustable preload, compression and rebound damping.
- Brakes Front: 2 x 310mm discs, 2-piston calipers
- Rear: 285mm disc, 2-piston calliper
- Length 2250mm (88.5in)
- Width 700mm (27.6in)
- Height 1105mm (43.5in)
- Seat height 790mm (31.1in)
- Wheelbase 1580mm (62.2in)
- Weight (dry) 224kg (494lb)
- Performance (To DIN 70020)
- Maximum power 83PS (82bhp) at 8,500rpm
- Torque 76Nm (56lb.ft) at 6,500rpm (max.)
- Maximum revs 8,750rpm
Triumph Thunderbird accessories
We are going to tell you about two ground-breaking accessories that will change your riding world forever.
It is a gadget you can attach to your motorcycle. It takes care of the turning lights. Moreover, it does pretty much what a car does in terms of turning off the lights once you have completed the turn. So, this can help us riders avoid accidents and are very useful for both the open road and the city.
SBM is another gadget from the same company. It engages the stoplight behind your bike once it senses that you lower your speed. For big bikes like the Triumph Thunderbird 1600 that is a joy to do smooth transitions with using only the gears is even crucial.
If you’re interested in these two gadgets, you can check if they are compatible with your bike. Just fill in this form below and find out:
To conclude, the Thunderbird line is one of the most iconic-looking motorcycle series in the world. They look and perform amazingly well, and since it is such a broad line, you can use it for the city or the open road. Also, they carry the heritage of 70 years of shocking the world and keep it up. Moreover, for those looking for a fantastic and reliable cruiser, this bike could be it.
What did you think about the Thunderbirds? Leave us a comment below and tell your riding buddies about us!