Triumph Thunderbird LT review, test ride
25th Oct 2014 8:00 am
We take a ride to see what the Triumph's Harley challenger, the Thunderbird LT, is like.
What is it?
The LT in the name may stand for ‘Light Tourer’, but this bike is a full size, 2.5-metre long, 380kg heavyweight even in the world of oversized cruisers. It’s built on a modified version of the Thunderbird Storm’s frame, and also uses the same near-1700cc parallel twin engine. But where the Storm is focused on performance in design and intent, the LT is built for relaxed mile munching. It’s got classic cruiser cues to announce so as well. There’s heaps of chrome, beautiful-detailing all over the flowing design and even white sidewall tyres – the Avon-built pair have the distinction of being the world’s only white wall radials. Also part of the package are two detachable saddle bags that can pack in quite a bit, and also promise adequate rain protection. Fantastically turned out as it is, the LT’s three light layout (headlight flanked by two auxiliary lights) and detachable windshield are very similar to what you’d find on a Harley-Davidson Softail Classic.
Swinging a leg over the LT isn’t hard mainly because of the low saddle height of just 700mm. The deep dish rider’s seat is also supremely comfortable, while the sizeable backrest means pillions are also well looked after. Full size footboards (for both rider and pillion) further add to the comfort factor and in fact, the ergonomics on the whole are superb. The handlebar sweeps back by just the right amount to deliver an upright riding position that’s ideal for long rides.
Instrumentation is basic and includes a chrome-ringed speedometer with a digital readout for the twin trip meters. To be fair, you don’t miss a tacho on a bike as this. What is irritatingly absent, though, is a lockable fuel filler cap, that’s only sold as an optional extra.
What is it like to ride?
Get moving and this Thunderbird seems to shrink in size. Large turning radius apart, it’s uncanny how manageable the LT is in city traffic. Sure, the big parallel twin (the world’s largest in fact) does tend to heat up at traffic halts but the clutch is light enough and thanks to a finely tuned fuel injection system power delivery is smooth too.
But to really enjoy the LT, you need to head out to wide, open highways. That’s when you’ll really experience the LT’s 94bhp and 14.9kgm. There’s so much pulling power that overtakings are a cinch, be it at 20kph or 120kph. The huge reserves of power also mean you don’t necessarily need to bang down the clunky six-speed gearbox (linked to a belt drive) to get the most out of the engine. Just open the throttle and wait for the surge to build up. The engine is smooth too with vibes at the handlebar only when you really strain the bike. A negative, however, is the level of noise. It sounds too timid with the stock exhausts.
As in the city, the LT manages to change direction at more serious highway speeds without the need to really wrestle the handlebar. What also works well is the suspension that is a combination of front telescopic forks and five-step adjustable shock absorbers at the rear. Ride quality is good with the chunky tyres further cushioning the blows.
Should I buy one?
The Triumph Thunderbird LT’s Rs 15.75 lakh (ex-showroom, Delhi) price tag puts it in the reach of a very small minority of cruiser enthusiasts in India. And that’s a shame because the LT is one of the best of its kind. Powerful and flashy, yet easy to ride and manageable, the LT offers everything good about cruisers with the sort of usability you’d seldom associate with something so large and extravagant. Undoubtedly expensive, the LT is still an indulgence you won’t regret.