First things first, I don’t own a TB, neither am a Royal Enfield fan. My friend happens to own one and I took it for a spin a couple of days. So here’s my take on the RE Thunderbird 350.
I personally like the design of the TB. It’s certainly is not the best looking bike in the country but still, it does stand apart from other bikes.The big round projector headlamps, the mighty 19 litre tank, the offset fuel lid, the LED tail lamps and the matte finish engine, all do add character to the design. The instrument console and the new exhaust too sync in with the overall design of the bike. The only odd thing as far as design goes are the mirrors, which doesn’t really match the design in my opinion.
Hop on and you’ll notice that the bike is heavy, damn heavy(especially for a guy who is not well built). While the other manufacturers try harder to shed weight, people at RE think the other way. Sit on the bike and you will fall in love with the seat, it is well cushioned to give you maximum comfort. The seating position is like a typical cruiser. The front set foot pegs and the redesigned handlebars offers a very relaxed riding position.
On the go the TB is not an accelerating missile.The Thunderbird 350 accelerates calmly . The gearshifts are smooth and precise, although it’s not the case with every RE. RE is not famous for building well refined bikes. The TB too is not an exception. There are vibrations in the foot pegs and handlebars, but one can live with these vibrations. The TB cruises close to 80kmph with ease and vibrations are minimal at these speeds. Above 80kmph the vibrations starts to annoy you, so it’s best to stay just below that level. The hardest part in the ride was to overtake. It took quite sometime to overtake buses and big trucks. Drop a gear to overtake and all you end up getting is vibrations . The engine heats up quite a lot and that will be an issue if you are wearing sandals
On the highway is where the Thunderbird belongs. It is very stable at high speeds and offer good amount of comfort. The TB doesn’t want you to take it through broken roads. It can handle small potholes and speed breakers. But very bad roads make the TB very unhappy.
The heavyweight is happy to change directions quickly on the highway. In the city I found it hard to maneuver the bike for the first few kilometers. As I became used to the position I found it easier.
What surprised me the most was the fact the 350 can tackle corners with ease. As I mentioned earlier, RE’s are generally very lazy to turn. The TB leans with very less effort and the foldable foot pegs means the bike won’t lift up while you’re cornering, like it used to be on the older bikes
But while taking a long curve I found the front end unsettles a bit, may be that’s because I am not used to the position. But the fact remains that the bike leans, it leans properly and effortlessly.
I was happy with the braking on the TB. Comparing with the rest of the RE line up, these brakes do their job pretty well. They provide adequate stopping power. It doesn’t have a very good initial bite but the braking is progressive. The bike stays very stable under hard braking , that too is a surprise from RE.
The TB350 is undeniably one of the best bikes that RE has built. There is considerably good amount of improvement from the old bikes. No, the bike is not as refined as the bikes of other manufacturers, but still the bike is worth paying 1.5 lakhs for a guy who doesn’t want his eyes bulged out every time he twists the throttle.
On my run I got a mileage between 45-50kmpl while cruising just below 80. That isn’t a bad efficiency while you’re touring, is it? That fuel efficiency together with a 19 L fuel tank will give you a very impressive tank range as well. The Thunderbird 350 is built for a purpose, and that’s to cruise on the roads giving the rider a comfortable and effortless ride. It does that well and I would say pretty well.
The TB is for the people whose prime preference is comfort. If you are looking for excitement ,you will be disappointed.
The words and photos in this post have been shared by Amal Ramdas.