Triumph Thunderbird Storm: Review

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  • Mar 27, 2014
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It's big; it has the characteristic of a typical cruiser; and it has brilliant road presence. But, what about the motorcycle as a whole? We swing a leg over the Triumph Thunderbird Storm to find the answer

Triumph Thunderbird Storm

Triumph brought their entire range of motorcycles to India last year, right from its most affordable Café Racer Bonneville, its off-roader Tiger, its super sport Daytona 675 and its flagship Rocket III. Each of these mark its entry in a unique sub-segment of performance bikes. The Thunderbird Storm is no different as it enters the Indian market to make a place for the marquee in the performance cruiser segment. The question here is, does it have what it takes to take on the well-entrenched Harley-Davidson line up of big cruisers? And, even if it does, should you buy one?

Now, whether or not the Triumph Thunderbird Storm does come as a much more sensible offering is a discussion we shall leave to the end of this article but at no point in time can one deny the fact that it has all the characteristics of a power cruiser. It’s massive, it has enough chrome and more, and it is available in any colour as long as it is black! It is also heavy at 339kg. 

Triumph Thunderbird Storm static

What the Thunderbird Storm isn't - at least in our book - good looking. It has the right silhouette, the right visual bulk, and enough street presence to attract all sorts of eyeballs, but with its twin head lamps, it looks a tad oddball; mainly from the front, mind. Swing a leg and you will immediately feel that the seating position is good and the seats offer the right amount of comfort. Pillion seat is a tad bit too narrow and might cause discomfort over long distances. The handlebars, footpegs and the switchgear are all well within reach. The info button on the handle bar displays the odometer, tripmeter and the distance to empty. 

What we know for sure is that it does have a humungous 1,699cc parallel twin engine that produces 96 horses at 5,200rpm and a peak torque of 156Nm at 2,950rpm. The parallel-twin powerplant is the major highlight that sets this Bulldog apart from its other cruiser rivals, which are powered by V-twin motors. The engine is extremely refined, it has no vibrations whatsoever and this configuration also enables the motor to generate a flat but meaty torque spread lower down the revs. 

Triumph Thunderbird Storm engine

This aspect is beneficial while cruising on the highway or while riding in city as drive (and a truly potent drive at that) is constantly available on tap no matter what gear, what rpm or what throttle opening the rider might be at. So, there's hardly any need to fiddle with the gearbox or clutch to keep motoring, and seamlessly at that. The engine is responsive and can pull from as low as 1,500rpm without throwing any tantrums whatsoever.

Twist the wrist and the 107.1mm big bore mill pulls the bike ahead with a growl. Having said that, the exhaust note isn’t exactly loud and doesn't convey the sheer thrust the motorcycle is capable of. Mated to a six-speed transmission, the large amount of torque kicks in from lower revs and it comes really handy when making an overtaking maneuver on the highway. It is pretty quick too; open the throttle and before you know it 100kmph has come and gone. And, if it weren't for the wind blast and traffic, another ton would have come and gone as easily.

Triumph Thunderbird Storm in action'

For a cruiser, the Triumph Thunderbird Storm handles pretty well too. It has good weight distribution, wide handle bars for better leverage and though it isn't exactly a motorcycle that will drop into corners on telepathy alone - not with its 1,615mm long wheelbase - the Thunderbird isn't averse to the thought of going around corners either. All it needs is a firm push of the handlebars and it does your bidding. In a straight line though, the Triumph is brilliant. The raked out front (32 degree rake), the long wheelbase and the stiffly setup suspension, not to mention the weight, give it a properly planted feel.

The Triumph Thunderbird uses 47mm Showa front telescopic forks and chromed spring twin shocks with 5 position adjustable preload from Showa again. As we mentioned earlier, the suspension is setup on the stiffer side and that does have its drawbacks. Riding the Triumph on the less than perfect roads with surface changes, potholes, patchy re-layered tarmac and expansion joints on flyovers, leaves you grappling with a troubled back and tailbone after a while. 

Triumph Thunderbird Storm tank

To make matters worse, the heavy weight of the bike and the hard clutch only makes things more challenging in the city, in stop and go traffic. There's also the snatchy throttle response to deal with, particularly at lower rpms. And did we mention, the Thunderbird does tend to heat up quite quickly at slower speeds? Well, it does, and this can get uncomfortable as well.

For a bike of this heavy and torquey, the brakes better be good. And they are! The Triumph Thunderbird Storm is capable of shedding speed quickly thanks to the 4-piston, dual disc setup at the front and the single disc of the same size out back. And the braking is well supported by the 120/70 R19 up front and fat 200/50 R17 Metzeler rubber at the back. 

Triumph Thunderbird Storm front

The Triumph Thunderbird right from the time of its inception has been bred to take on the demand for cruisers in the American Market, mainly Harley-Davidson to be precise. More than six decades into the future, as the British Motorcycle marquee officially makes its way into India, the Thunderbird Storm continues to serve the same purpose as its predecessors, and fairly well actually. At Rs 13 lakh (ex-showroom Delhi) the Triumph Thunderbird Storm is also just Rs 18,000 more than its main rival, the Harley-Davidson Fat Bob. And for this extra money, the Triumph T-Bird comes with more power, higher torque and a bit more exclusivity, if you like. In terms of street presence though, both bikes score a big ten. 

Now, the bigger question is - should you buy one? If you are looking for a power cruiser for longer rides and on straight, four landed highways, yes, go for it! It even works well as a poser.

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