Royal Enfield first launched its Thunderbird cruiser in 2002. And the latest variant of the Thunderbird 500 was first seen at this year’s Indian Auto Expo. We’ve recently ridden the latest T’bird on the Bangalore-Ooty highway to bring you this first impression.
An immediately visible change is a new headlight featuring a projector lamp. Stylish new instruments display an analogue speedometer and tachometer, with a digital display including a clock also in place. The new grips feel decent and both control levers have a solid, meaty feel to them. A hazard warning switch is standard, making for a Royal Enfield first.
The fuel tank is larger, well-proportioned with its filler lid offset at the top. And you now have the option of removing the pillion seat to increase luggage room. The 500 also gets a revised exhaust, LED tail-lamp and RE logos for its foot pegs.
The latest Thunderbird borrows its 499cc, single-cylinder, air-cooled and four-stroke engine from the Classic 500. The large capacity engine belts out a trademark Royal Enfield thump. There’s ample low and mid-range power, but peak power output at 27.2bhp could be more, given such a large capacity engine. The T’bird 500 is good for a top speed of 130kph, but feels best when cruising at speeds of between 80-100kph. A five-speed gearbox shifts in the one-down, four-up pattern.
The riding saddle is comfortable, and the rider’s footpegs have been shifted forward, making for a more comfortable cruising experience.
The T’bird 500 employs a single downtube frame, with an oval-section swingarm used at rear. There’s also a 240mm disc brake at rear, working with a 280mm single front disc for improved stopping power.
Royal Enfield has priced the new Thunderbird 500 at Rs 1,82,571 (on-road, Mumbai). See the first ride report in our shortly releasing Nov 2012 issue for more details.
Watch video review here