There is a difference between riding a motorcycle and a Royal Enfield. People buy an Enfield due to its brand value and the class associated with it. Owning an Enfield bike in India is like owning an elephant. It is more of a matter of pride The two-wheeler identified commonly for its rumbles and roars move another step ahead with the Thunderbird 500 series. Though the Chennai based bike maker had launched it a decade back, the 350 cc model underwent drastic changes and got another avatar in the form of 500 cc alongside Classic 500 and Standard 500 in 2013. Perhaps now it makes sense why Enfield gets even non-bikers take note of them!
Design and Concept
While other companies present an array of shades to get consumers spoilt for choice, Enfield certainly knows how to make a mark of its own. Available in three shades of black only, the Thunderbird 500 with its matte black, regular black and bluish-tinged black can wow anyone!
Royal Enfield Thunderbird 500 carries forward the bequest that it is actually known for. In terms of looks and design, it’s quite similar to the classic cruiser that has a tear drop with a large fuel tank and tall handlebars. In addition to these the wide upraised handlebars; foot pegs at the front and a wide seat facilitating comfy riding posture are few other features hard to miss by.
Engine and Power
Unlike the looks department, Thunderbird 500 differs from its 350 cc avatar in many ways, if not like cheese and chalk! Powered by the same engine like Bullet 500 and Classic 500, the 490 cc air-cooled, twin-spark motor generates a maximum power of 27.2 BHP at 5250 rpm and a splendid 41.3 Nm of torque at 4000 rpm. This lies in accordance to the 5 speed transmission capacity plus a multi-plate clutch system. Certainly riders would go head over heels in love with a vehicle that pulls greatly while revving at low levels and also helping them pull back when required, like ‘highway speeds in fifth gear’.
Basically the bike is way ahead than its 350 cc sibling. Its large displacement engine and the amount of torque produced lends an upper hand when it comes to the bike’s low end groan.
Thunderbird is actually a cruiser bike and with 500cc engine its ability to be one is increased by many folds. Enough torque output even at low revs helps it to move out in city traffic with ease. Less gear shifts are required in the new Thunderbird 500 while driving which makes it comfortable for the rider to drive on city roads as well as highways alike. Cruising on highways is what it is built for and it does its job with perfection. There is hardly any extra noise or vibration even at top speeds. Overtaking or changing lanes are also smooth and bike is very stable even at top speed of 130kmph. The tank capacity of the bike is 20 liters. This makes its range stretch out to no less than 400 km. But it’s not easy to handle something as huge as 195 kg weight. Even if the ride quality is terrific, bikers need to be wary of few aspects, especially when taking sharp angles on roads.
Talking about the mileage, Thunderbird 500 can get fuel efficiency figures of around 33kmpl on city roads and could go up to 37.5km on highways on a litre of petrol. However, a lot depends on the road, traffic, weather conditions and not to leave out, the riding style. Generally average is not a matter of concern for buyers going for this bike.
Brakes and Suspension
The credit for such stupendous mileage should go to the telescopic front and rear fork-gas filled suspension. Besides, the large spooked wheels ensure a decent ride, regardless of the terrain being smooth or rough. For Enfield loyalists, especially those who have tried the predecessor can surely make out the difference with the 500 on grounds of braking ability, courtesy front and rear discs.
Notable among the other characteristics of Thunderbird 500 include modern switchgear, new twin-pod instrument console, exhaust pipe, storage space beneath the pillion seat, analog tachometer, odometer, trip meter, analog speedometer and LCD display for fuel gauging and many more.
Pricing and Rivals
A cruiser bike from the house of Royal Enfield is priced a tad high. But that is completely justified. Buyers might need to shell out a little over 1.5 lakh INR to lay their hands on this wonder.
It would be difficult pointing out the bike’s rivals given its enormity but the Aquila 250; Bajaj Avenger 200 and Harley-Davidson Street 500 are worthy competitors.
Price of Thunderbird 500 is around Rs. 1.54 lakhs Ex-showroom Delhi which is Rs. 40,000 more than Thunderbird 350 which is something that needs to be taken into account when going for it. In this extra money you get some added features and powerful engine. The seat could have been better and for long drives you might feel it.