I am no fan of Royal Enfields, pretty sure everyone knows that! But it remains a fact that there is barely any option for a 6 foot plus guy in India, with a budget under 2 lacs. They look out of place on every bike, with the Bajaj Avenger making things a little better. However, the problem with Avenger is that lanky guys feel very uncomfortable using its rear brake and gear levers, which are placed at a rather awkward angle.
My roomie recently got the delivery of his Thunderbird 350. He assures me the color is blue, but I am pretty sure it is just black. He had to wait more than 4 months to get his baby, which I find rather absurd. Anyway, here’s my Thunderbird 350 review, including 1st service and 1000 kms experience.
Any problems with the bike?
The last 2 days there was a bit of oil leakage from below the engine block, the service guys said the washer on the bolt that is used to drain the engine oil was missing. He also said that it is a manufacturing defect with all Thunderbirds, something that I don’t belive in. The leak cropped up just a week after the first service, so most likely some lazy mechanic forgot the washer somewhere. Rest everything seems to be in order.
How are the vibrations and overall NVH levels?
The bike was rather harsh sounding when new, and the level of vibrations was also a bit on the higher side, even for an RE. After the first service, things have gone quieter and smoother. The bike accelerates better for sure. There used to be a sudden onset of high amount of vibrations and a weird sound from the engine at around 40 kmph before the service, but now that is also taken care of. Overall, the bike has now the standard amount of vibrations associated with any Thunderbird 350 out there.
What are the positives about the bike?
- Huge fuel tank, 19 liters, will make any Duke owner jealous.
- Projector headlamp provides very good illumination at night.
- Tall gears make riding in any kind of traffic and road condition an easy affair, with minimal clutch use.
- Rider and pillion both have very comfortable seats, very rare to find in a bike nowadays. The pillion backrest is just pure awesome.
- Very nicely sprung suspension, makes even the worst roads feel like an airport tarmac.
- Instrument console is ages ahead of old RE bikes. You get trip meters, time, RPM, speed and odo. Apart from Speed and RPM, all is digital.
- Rear tire is much fatter than old Thunderbirds, makes the bike look better and should help a lot with the grip too.
- Acceleration and top speed are just dismal. Takes centuries to reach 100 kmph.
- Level of vibrations in the handlebar and foot pegs becomes unbearable over 80 kmph.
- Instrument console vibrates a lot at high speed, which makes it hard to read the tiny odo and trip meter fonts.
- Because of the unnecessarily heavy weight, bike is a nightmare to handle in tight parking spots.
- Spoked wheels make it impossible to put on tubeless tires, which is very very bad for touring.
How much mileage is the bike returning?
Although mileage can fluctuate a lot till at least the second service is complete, the bike right now is returning about 35 kmpl, which isn’t that bad, from a Royal Enfield standpoint. I don’t think this mileage will significantly improve with time, if at all it does.
How was the first service experience?
It took the guys at Royal Enfield, Nerul, around 4 hours to service the bike, which included oil change, oil filter change, air filter cleaning and general checkup. Cost of service was around 700 bucks.
The good thing was that after the service is done, you get a message on your phone with the details of the bill. The whole thing is quite organized, and everyone needs to wait for their turn. The mechanics are also quite cooperative, and don’t try to shoo you away from the bike, which helped tremendously in making the first service experience a good one, albeit a bit lengthy.
Thunderbird 350 review: Verdict
Well, the initial impression isn’t half as bad as I thought it would be. The bike hasn’t fallen apart into a thousand pieces, and is running well. That small glitch with the engine oil was readily fixed. Top speed attained is about 105 kmph, let’s hope it can do better than that!
If you are a tall and hefty guy, the Thunderbird is the only option for you. But if you aren’t physically forced to buy this bike, and still go for it, I would really like to know your reasons in the comments below. Cheers!