Long Term Review of Royal Enfield Thunderbird

Hey!! I seem to be enjoying writing reviews. January 2006 will mark the 2nd anniversary of my bike. So I thought a review would do nicely. This bike(Zapeedo) has been my constant companion for almost 2 years now and enjoys a special place in my life. It never fails to start at the first(or maybe second or maybe third) kick in the morning. I simply love the thumping and smooth ride. Anyways I would now list the pros and cons of the bike which have come to light during these 2 years and 21000 kms..
Pros:-

  1. Great Pickup:- It’s faster than most indian “sports” bikes available inspite of the heavy weight(180kgs). Incredible pulling power even at speeds above 80.
  2. Great Top-Speed:- I have personally touched a little over 120 kmph on the Nagpur-Kamptee road but could feel that the bike had a little more power left to go even faster.
  3. Extremely smooth:- At speeds of 50, this bike feels very smooth and stable. Even at speeds above 100, the bike feels well balanced. No gust of wind can shake this bike.
  4. Great looks.
  5. Extremely cheap spare parts:-The clutch plate of the Thunderbird costs around 400 and that of the CBZ costs around 1300.
  6. Extremely simple engine design.
  7. Good handling:- Though not like the standard 350, the thunderbird corners great on even the most slippery roads.
  8. Great feel:- No other bike can replace the thumping feeling of the enfield.

Cons:-

  1. Below Average service:- The service centers refused to repeatedly acknowledge noise in my cam and tappets which led to my cam problem. Instead they keep pestering me to buy accessories like a windshield etc.
  2. Handling:- After a certain degree of cornering, the low footpegs touch the road though I think this can be corrected. Please remember that I am talking very low cornering.
  3. Pushrods based Engine:- Though, the thunderbird is never expected to reach rpms above 4500 rpm(At a speed of 100 kmph, the rpm in 5th gear is 4000 rpm), the pushroad system provides certain difficulties in the form of tappet noise and subsequent adjustments.
  4. Design drawbacks:- I think these are design problems that the decompressor cable breaks at a certain point every time where the cable bends sharply. Today was the 5th time in 2 years and starting without the decompressor is a pain in the arse.

8 thoughts on “Long Term Review of Royal Enfield Thunderbird”

  1. Hi …my name’s Eby..M planning to buy a new bike..Earlier I had plans of buying the thunderbird..but i changed my opinions after i heard similar issues about servicing and its maintenance.I feel its hard to maintain and its got this perennial oil leaking problems.I own a STD 350 now currrently and though its a pleasure to ride its a pain to maintain it.Please advise….I weigh 130 kilos and m 6 feet tall…towards the larger size of life:-)

  2. Hi Eby. The thunderbird is a great bike and the only issues I have with it are the tappet and cam noise which no matter what you do, won’t go away. Oil leak problems are certainly there in all enfields, but it is certainly much less than the standard. I had oil leaking from the clutch box on the left but a gasket change corrected the problem. The performance is really much much better than the standard at higher speeds. However, the newer model of thunderbird had a completely different engine architecture, incorporating a unified design for the engine and the clutch box. Also, the tappets are self adjustable. The tappet and cam noises are certainly not there in the newer model when I heard the engine a few times in the showroom but I have not ridden one. I don;t think there will be oil leaks in this one as the engine is basically more of a suzuki/yamaha/hinda type construction. I suggest you take a test ride at the showroom and see what you like. For your height and age, I don’t think there’s any bike in India that would suit you better.

  3. hey, even I have a close pal who accompanies me in every long ride! It feels great when ever you ride an Enfield especially when the terrain is tough 🙂

  4. hello friendsi just bought a brand new Royal Enfield Thunderbird ,which has been driven for almost 650 km in last 3 weeks.the bike is a babe with a very sleek yet robust designing of the new model.i would like to share my experiences so far-pros1 .the bike has looks to kill for. Better than any damn bike in the market available( the pulsarss and the karizmasss suckk big time . only bajaj's avenger comes closer yet not upto the mark). almost every other rider looks enviously at the motorcycle on the road.2. unit construction engine has eliminated oil leakage problems completely.3.works best between speeds of 60-100 at 3rd ,4rth and 5th gear.4.the longer the ride the better it works. Shorter rides in city traffic can cause vibration and temporary problems in the gear box.5. great for carrying a pillion rider behind. u dont even realize some one is sitting behind.6. last but not the least the thumping sound is the best feeling while riding on the highwaynow coming to the CONS..(YESS THERE R A FEW ISSUES)1 .difficult to handle at lower speeds.2 .the rear brake isn't very effective in heavy traffic conditions.( i have already hit 2 cars from behind)3 .the tappet or the cam noise still comes persistently, though very low…..u need to follow some precautionary measures to keep it under control .i think thats it for now.alll in all thunderbird is a classic motorcycle. i would prefer it any day over any damn bike available in the indian market

  5. Hi Raj, thanks for sharing your views. About the CONS that you listed1. You'll get used to handling it at lower speeds. My bike is more than 7 years old now and I have no issues handling it at any speed2. Again, you need to get used to using both the brakes. Always remember to use the 60-40 rule. 60% power on front brake, 40% power on the rear brake.About the tappets, I have nothing to say 🙂

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