Big and Classy, The Triumph Thunderbird ‘Light Tourer’

With the close of 2014 comes another offering from European motorcycle manufacturer Triumph in the Indian market. The name “LT” stands for “Light Tourer”, although the Thunderbird is nowhere near light, given its 2.5 metre length, 380 kg weight, and even in the world of over sized cruisers, such numbers reflect a massive motorcycle. Built on a modified Thunderbird Storm’s frame and running on the same 1700 cc parallel twin engine, the LT focuses more on the idea of relaxed cruising, instead of the Storm’s focused performance in design and intent.

Covered in classic cruiser cues that announce the long distance comfort that the LT is built for, the bike is layered with heaps of chrome, beautiful details all over the flowing design and the cherry on top is actually the fact that it even has whitewall tyres – an Avon built pair that have the distinction of being the world’s only whitewall radials that too on a motorcycle. Two detachable saddle bags that can surprise you with the amount of stuff they can hold along with the assurance of being waterproof and promising adequate rain protection. The LT has a three light layout – something similar to the likes of the Triumph Rocket and the Harley fat boy – a headlight flanked on both sides by two auxiliary lights, and a detachable windshield, also adding to the list of fantastic features that come as a part of this brilliant bike.

Low saddle height 

Mounting and dismounting are a piece of cake owing to the low saddle height of 700 mm. A deep dish rider’s seat makes sitting for long durations equally comfortable and a sizeable backrest assures that even the pillion receives some pampering on long journeys and backaches aren’t a part of their luggage. Full size footboards further add to the comfort feature list – both for the rider and the pillion, and the ergonomics on the whole thing are in all superb. The handlebar is swept backward in just the right degree in order to provide for an upright riding position that is ideal for long rides.

Instrumentation is standard issue and comes with a chrome ringed speedo with a digital readout for the twin trip meters. One doesn’t really miss a tachometers on a bike like this, and although a lockable fuel filler cap would’ve been much appreciated, sadly it isn’t offered as a stock part on the bike and comes for an extra cost in the form of an optional accessory.

Once in motion, the LT will surprise you. The big visual bulk gives way to something that despite its large turning radius proves to be comfortably manageable even in the most stubborn city traffic. The world’s largest parallel twin does heat up a bit, and that too with the numerous traffic light halts that are a part of the experience of driving in India, in addition to the unwary travelers who don’t bother much to think before they turn their vehicle in any particular direction without the fear of ramming into someone, in the very least. The clutch on the LT is light and with a finely tuned injection system that provides for a brilliantly smooth power delivery, also aid in managing heavy hours of traffic.

Engine is smooth

All being said, the true motive and experience that the LT has been built for is achieved nowhere but on open highways. With its 94 bhp and 14.9 kgm, the pulling power makes overtaking a piece of cake irrespective of what speeds one is doing, be it 20 kmph or even 120 kmph. The huge reserves of power ensure that one doesn’t need to down shift every time they need to pull on the throttle and surge ahead, and the belt driven clunky six speed gearbox effortlessly derives the power from the engine. Once the throttle is opened it takes a bit for the surge to develop. The engine is really smooth, and the vibrations are felt only in the handlebar, that too when the bike is being strained on full throttle. The only drawback one could think of is the level of noise which is surprisingly too timid with the stock exhausts.

Both in the city and the highway, the LT changes direction with ease owing to its suspension which is a combination of front telescopic forks and five-step adjustable shock absorbers at the rear. Ride quality is very good with the chunky tyres that separate almost all the sudden loads and shocks that come the bike’s way.

Priced at Rs 15.75 lakh (ex-showroom, Delhi) the LT is in the reach of a very small group of cruiser enthusiasts in India. It is one of the best cruiser motorcycles in the world. Powerful, flashy, easy to ride, and comfortably manageable, the Thunderbird LT is one of the reasons why cruisers are what they are, and this one is particularly a bike that links the phrase “ease of use” with the adjectives “large” and “extravagant”.