I would like to share my ownership review of most awaited Royal Enfield Thunderbird Twinspark. Since my child hood I am passionate about motorcycles. When I was studying in high school only Bullet, Jawa, Rajdoot were ruling on the roads. My father taught me to ride on the 1972 model Bullet Standard. There after I rode almost all motorcycles and scooters. When I was 21 I had overhauled the gear box of our Lamby 150 scooter and upgraded its electrical system in to 8V D.C System. After selling Lamby, I started to use my brothers Hero Honda Splendour for 5 years, there after CBZ for 10 years. My biggest dream in life is to own a Royal Enfield Bullet, after prolonged period it comes true.
When I decided to buy a Royal Enfield, I shortlisted three models Electra Twinspark, Classic 350 and TBTS. I dropped Electra because its jean plain looks. Then I compared Classic 350 and Thunderbird Twinspark, in styling Classic 350 really looks great and 60/55W halogen head lamp, 100/90×18 rear tyre and classy look Engine RH cover are plus points.
But if you will take Thunderbird Twinspark you will find more user friendly things which will really help the rider practically.
Sofa like seat and raised handle bar is extremely comfortable for long ride. Apart from this, Fuel gauge, RPM meter and Trip meter are more practical. So, finally I went for Magic Black colour TBTS. After waiting for 141 days, one fine Saturday morning I got my Thunderbird Twinspark.
When I hit the starter button first time engine was fired and settled in to soft idling but if you are diet with Japanese bike or first time user of Royal Enfield then defiantly complain about vibration at handle bar end. But if you think virtually it’s nothing for long stroke, pushrod type slow speed motor. My first trip was towards the fuel station just hundred meters from the RE Dealership. When I tried to open the fuel lid it didn’t open, fuel pump attendant also tried and said sorry… so I went back to the dealership again.
There one mechanic tried and succeeded to open and smeared little oil inside the rubber gasket of fuel lid and said now it’s O.K. My first long ride was toward home it’s 60km from Mangalore. First thing I noticed was there was no need to shift her to first gear unless if you stop her completely, lots of torque available from long stroke engine. When I reached N.H. 17 and put her on 5th she was so silent no vibration at all. When I checked the speedo needle it was around 55Km/h and Engine churning around 2000 RPM.
Next day I went for Sri Mahaganapathi temple at Madhur for ‘Vehicle Pooja’ along with my colleague Raviraj who is working as a two wheeler Service Adviser at our dealership. I opted a ride for him, he was riding RE first time and after riding just 10Kms his comment was “It’s very comfortable bike to ride, I never ride such a bike before”, but one of my colleague Udaya, Mechanic by profession says “it is comfort to ride but compared to the Japanese bike felt little vibration”.
After four days she travelled more than 400Kms, so I took her to the Dealership for the first free service, and got my bike back at evening. Oil and oil filter was changed and water service was done. After the service I thought this was the time to test her fuel efficiency, I never believe in 100ml bottle test method, so fueled her full tank petrol and zeroed trip meter and start to use the vehicle in regular mode.
My daily trip is restricted for 64Kms. It includes 800mts gravel road, 4Kms City traffic, 3Kms narrow road, 41Kms S.H 32 and 16Kms N.H 17 with moderate traffic. During this trip I never exceeded 60Km/h. After one week top up the fuel tank and checked the consumption. It’ really amazing, because she returned 5Okmpl that was I never expected from her.
Engine & Gear Box
In Old C.I (Cast iron) 4 speed Bullet one can easily cruise 20Km/h on top gear (especially on G2 Models) but you can’t experience the same in modern UCE (Unit Construction Engine), because the old C.I Engines fly wheels are heavier then U.C.E and also gear ration is different. C.I Engine produces power of 18 B.H.P @5250 R.P.M and 27.Nm of Torque @ 2875R.P.M (earlier 4 Speed type) and later 5Speed Electra produces 18 B.H.P 5000 R.P.M and 32 Nm of Torque @ 3000 R.P.M. due to its cast iron construction engine beat also solid.
But U.C.E engine is free revolution type engine, it produces 19.8 B.H.P @ 5250 R.P.M and 28 Nm of Torque @ 4000 R.P.M. and gear box is slightly different from the Electra 5 Speed. Final drive also completely shifted towards right hand side, so if push the throttle hard by keeping her in the right gear she surge like a sports bike at the same time one can easily cruise on her on highways around 55-60 Km/h on lazy 2000 R.P.M. and in case need to overtake any cars just turn the throttle, it glide like a bird.
But if you try to go less than 1500 R.P.M on 5th gear it will start to jerk. On curvy hill road just put her on 4th gear and keep engine churning around 2000 R.P.M it’s breeze to ride her, no headache of shifting gears in every turn like Japanese modern bikes. If you compare the 5 Speed ‘box with Japanese vehicle you will bit disappoint because it’s not ultra slick as modern machines, excessive play between gears clearly visible and first time user definitely get lot of false neutral. My friend Sachin always comments that ‘In Bullet you will find neutral between every gear’.
But once mastered the technique it works great. The best way to change the gear is completely shut the throttle, pull the clutch completely, allow engine R.P.M to come down, gently tap the gear pedal. City riding is also comfortable, new six plate clutch helps a lot. Now kick starting is made easy with Automatic De-compressor system which sits inside the exhaust cam gear, and no more tappet sound due to advanced Roller Hydraulic Valve Lifter (RHLV)
Wheels and Chassis
Chassis designed is singular cradle tubular frame used engine as a stressed member. Front suspension is 180mm hydraulic damper type works well, socks all bumps but if you put her on large pot holes ‘clunk’ sound coming from the front end, it’s nothing but Inner tube hitting the head lamp holder. Rear suspension is supported by swing arm with gas filled twin shock absorber it’s works wonderful.
Wide sofa like seat is very comfortable for both rider and pillion. Foot peg, handlebar ergonomics are also extremely comfortable. All hand and foot controls, switches are easy and comfort to use. Front Tyre is 3.25×19 inch Ribbed type MRF Brand is quite good but feels less grip in mud road due to its pattern. Rear Tyre is 3.50×19 MRF Brand works well. Front brake is 280 mm Disc type works great, rear is 153mm drum type brake works fine, but demands more foot pressure from the rider. Being a bulky (182Kg) difficult to push her on village road but once on saddle it’s very easy to balance in any road & weather condition, hard blowing wind does not affect on riding.
Electrical system incorporates 18 pole 3 Phase magneto which produces 220 watts and supported by 12v 14Ah Exide maintenance free battery provides enough juice for easy self start and brighter 35/35 Watt halogen lamp but only sad thing is riding beyond 60 Km/h on this head lamp is not advisable. At least 60/55 watt required for the same. For this modification I contacted the Service Engineer at RE but they says it’s not advisable to use higher wattage head lamp on TBTS, wiring harness of Classic 350 and TBTS are completely different.
So, I dropped the idea to upgrade. 5/21W Tail/Stop lamp, 10W Signal indicators are bright enough but Neutral and tell tale indicators are difficult to see under bright sun light but definitely better then Bajaj brand. In night riding Speedo/Techo consol look superb with green back lit.
My ‘bird already crossed 2200kms on odo, apart from first free service no maintenance required for it only water wash and lubricating the chain every week, rear brake adjustment twice and clutch adjustment once done. And finally I am one of the hippest rider and proud owner of Royal Enfield Thunderbird Twinspark.