One of the most iconic motorcycle brands in the country, Royal Enfield showcased the 500cc version of its popular cruiser offering, the Thunderbird at the 2012 Auto Expo. Complete with an all-new design and loaded with features never seen before on any Royal Enfield motorcycles previously, the new Thunderbird merges classic charm with modern tech in a fine manner. While the previous generation Thunderbird was revered as one of the finest motorcycles in the Royal Enfield line-up and also a potent cruiser in the market, the new Thunderbird 500 takes it to a new level with its retro-modern styling coupled with improved comfort and better ergonomics.
While the overall exterior of the bike has seen major changes and it appears to be more proportionate in its dimensions, the low-rider stance with new handlebars and feet-forward pegs might disappoint the Thunderbird purists. From the saddle though things definitely look and feel much better on the bigger T-Bird (as fondly called by its patrons) with an all-new twin-pod digital LCD console upfront and a nicely finished 20-litre fuel tank that now sits much lower than found on its predecessor.
The chunky 41mm front forks hold a 19-inch spoke wheel in place, while there is an 18-inch spoke wheel on the rear helped by twin gas-charged suspension. Another significant change is the inclusion of a 240mm disc brake on the rear that further helps in bringing this 195kg brute to a standstill. Amongst the other firsts on this Royal Enfield, there is a projection type headlight with a 55 / 55W H7 bulb and LED taillights. Under the skin there is the fuel-injected Twinspark 500 engine serving the new Thunderbird pumping out 27PS of power at 5,250rpm and 41.3Nm of torque at 4,000rpm.
Available only in three shades of black – Midnight Black, Matte Metallic Black and Arctic Winter Black, the new Thunderbird 500 is expected to go on sale sometime mid-2012 while the pricing for the bike was not disclosed by the company officials. Also on display was a 500cc café racer model that the Chennai-based firm plans to launch sometime in 2013. Finished in sporty red, the café racer certainly looked the part with all the right components in place including the clip-on bars, adjustable footpegs, Ohlins rear suspension and a tastefully done twin-pod console.
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