The Royal Enfield Thunderbird 500 is the 500cc variant of Royal Enfield’s best selling cruiser motorcycle Thunderbird. The premium cruiser Thunderbird 500 was first launched in 2013 as a more powerful 500cc variant of the Thunderbird.
The Thunderbird 500 carries forward the same design and looks of its younger sibling – classic cruiser with tall handlebar and tear drop shaped large fuel tank. Compared to earlier Thunderbirds, the new ones get a meatier exhaust pipe, modern switchgear, and new twin-pod instrument console, with a large analog tachometer and analog speedometer with a LCD display for fuel gauge, odometer and trip meter. Overall fit and finish has shown a lot of improvement over the first generation Thunderbird.
Like its younger sibling the Thunderbird 500 too has a classic, wide upraised handlebar, forward set footpegs and large wide seat giving it a comfortable riding posture. Great ride quality, courtesy the telescopic front fork and gas filled rear suspension and large spoked wheels give it decent ride both on tarmac and even over broken terrain. Brakes, both discs at rear and front, give the Thunderbird decent braking performance, much better than the earlier drum units.
What is different than the Thunderbird 350 are the specifications, particularly the engine. The Thunderbird 500 is powered by the same engine as that of the Bullet 500 and the Classic 500. The 499cc twin-spark, air-cooled engine makes 27.6PS of power and an impressive 41.3Nm of torque. That means, it’s got tremendous pull at low revs, making it an eager to pull with urgency, even on highway speeds in fifth gear. The Thunderbird 500 is a step above its 350cc sibling, with a larger displacement engine as well as considerable amount of torque, giving it an enormous amount of low end grunt. With its 195kg weight, it’s not an easy handling bike, although ride quality is terrific. Where it shines is on long rides on the highway, crossing states and covering distances from dawn to dusk. As far as mileage is concerned, the Thunderbird 500 returns actual fuel efficiency figures of around 30-35kmpl, depending on riding style, road and traffic conditions. Not bad figures for a bike around the Rs 2 lakh price bracket.
Vibrations, seat design
RE made some bold moves with the new Thunderbird; things it hadn't done in the past. It changed the styling dramatically; got new front forks and a new rear swingarm; and also put in a rear disc. Wish it had designed the seat better, especially for long distance touring.
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