BY GARY “KOZ” MRAZ. PHOTOS BY RON SINOY.
Cool is just cool, and cool will never die. The 650cc Thunderbird launched in 1949 quickly became a favorite of police forces worldwide. The Wild One, released in 1954, starring Marlon Brando riding a 1950 Triumph Thunderbird 6T is the first Hollywood film where a motorcycle’s tank badge is clearly displayed.
A new Triumph Thunderbird cool was rebirthed in 2010 and in 2011released the T-Bird Storm, a blacked out version with the 1700 cc engine upgrade as standard. For 2012 The 1597cc Parallel-Twin power plant is the world’s largest, and excep- tionally clean for a liquid-cooled engine. Their independent EFI claims 20% fuel ef- ficiency gains over competitors. A 270-degree firing interval, DOHC four valves per cylinder enhance air intake. Combined with an oversquare 103.8 x 94.3mm bore and stroke enables a fairly high 6500-rpm rev limit, for a big twin. If the standard 85 bhp and 108 ft lbs of torque isn’t enough, Triumph offers a 1700cc retrofit dealer-installed big bore kit boosting power to 100 bhp and 118 ft lbs torque. The massive pistons put out a ferocious rumble and the stock pipes sound great!
UK-based Triumph turned to an American designer to define how a Parallel-Twin cruiser should look. Tim Prentice, who styled the Honda Rune, Yamaha Road Star and Triumph Rocket 3 Touring, spent the bulk of three years working on the T-Bird project. Clean lines and the remarkably uncluttered liquid-cooled engine are its highlights, topped by a curvaceous and seamless fuel-tank. The single circular tank mounted instrument control center includes a speedo, tachometer, trip 1&2 meters, neutral light, low gas light and gas digital display with fuel countdown meter and clock.
There’s no need to manhandle or muscle any part of this motorcycle. The 6-speed transmission requires minimum effort, shifting gracefully with a gentle tap of the foot. The forward controls, wide plush seat and adjustable shocks assure a comfortable ride; this is a civilized, well-mannered motorcycle. The broad 5.8 gallon gas tank gives the Thunderbird very sexy curves and some serious range between petrol stops. Weighing in at 746 lbs wet, the low seat height (27.5 inches) creates a low center of gravity and makes this a very nimble ride.
The new Thunderbird is a tasteful blend of new, old-school cool. With enough power to charge on the freeways yet handles the mountain twisties with ease. A true California commuter/cruiser, liquid cooled, sits in traffic with nary a whimper and can withstand the harsh rigors of the Southwest heat. Yet with its impeccable English roots the T-Bird is definitely a crowd pleaser. Toss on a few of the many available accessories like floorboards, windscreen, saddle bags, passenger backrest, luggage rack, engine guards and highway pegs and she’s at home on the long haul. That said, this bird doesn’t require a ton of aftermarket expense to make it fly; it looks cool, sounds and rides great right off the showroom floor and is very ap- pealing to those who want to stand apart from the usual cruiser crowd. The Triumph Thunderbird is certainly a strong value for the money.
This is without a doubt Triumph’s most diverse motorcycle, incorporating features of the Rocket III and classic designs of the Bonneville parallel Twin. Esthetically, the beefy 200mm rear tire is perfectly balanced between the throaty dual exhausts. The dual 4 piston caliper front disc brakes really put the bite on the 120mm front tire. Modern technology, great styling, a commanding exhaust note and muscular power plant make it difficult to find fault with this ‘bird.
MSRP is $13,499.00, (single color ABS) $13,799 (Two-tone ABS). Available in Phantom Black, Pacific Blue with Fusion White Stripe or Cranberry red and Phantom Black.
Looking good riding your motorcycle, and being protected, is always essential and Triumph offers an exceptional line of clothing and leathers for men and women; my riding partner was wearing the Alexandria jacket made with fine grade leather, removable CE leather in the shoulder elbows and a back protector pouch. Multiple zippered pockets inside and out adjustable waistband. Well vented and it comes with a removable liner. $349.99