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Royal Enfield Thunderbird 500 first ride, review

Royal Enfield’s Thunderbird 500 has received a raft of notable touches to bring it up to date. A ride reveals more.

Royal Enfield's Thunderbird 500 has received a raft of notable touches to bring it up to date. A ride reveals more.

Royal Enfield first launched its Thunderbird cruiser in 2002. And the latest variant of the Thunderbird 500 was first seen at this year's Indian Auto Expo.

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We've recently ridden the latest T'bird on the Bangalore-Ooty highway to bring you this first impression.

An immediately visible change is a new headlight featuring a projector lamp. Stylish new instruments display an analogue speedometer and tachometer, with a digital display including a clock also in place. The new grips feel decent and both control levers have a solid, meaty feel to them. A hazard warning switch is standard, making for a Royal Enfield first.

The fuel tank is larger, well-proportioned with its filler lid offset at the top. And you now have the option of removing the pillion seat to increase luggage room. The 500 also gets a revised exhaust, LED tail-lamp and RE logos for its foot pegs.

The latest Thunderbird borrows its 499cc, single-cylinder, air-cooled and four-stroke engine from the Classic 500. The large capacity engine belts out a trademark Royal Enfield thump. There's ample low and mid-range power, but peak power output at 27.2bhp could be more, given such a large capacity engine. The T'bird 500 is good for a top speed of 130kph, but feels best when cruising at speeds of between 80-100kph. A five-speed gearbox shifts in the one-down, four-up pattern.

The riding saddle is comfortable, and the rider's footpegs have been shifted forward, making for a more comfortable cruising experience.

The T'bird 500 employs a single downtube frame, with an oval-section swingarm used at rear. There's also a 240mm disc brake at rear, working with a 280mm single front disc for improved stopping power.

Royal Enfield has priced the new Thunderbird 500 at 1,82,571 (on-road, Mumbai). See the first ride report in our shortly releasing Nov 2012 issue for more details.

Fact File

Price Range (in lakhs)*
Ex-showroom price 1,65,708 (Ex-showroom, Mumbai)

Fuel Petrol
Type Single-cylinder, air-cooled, four-stroke, 499cc
Power 27.2bhp at 5250rpm
Torque 4.17kgm at 4000rpm
Power to weight 139.5bhp per tonne

Gearbox 5-speed, 1-down, 4-up

Length 2060mm
Width 790mm
Height 1205mm
Wheel base 1350mm
Ground clearance 140mm

Chassis & Body
Weight 195kg
Wheels Wire spoke
Tyres 90/90x19 inches(f), 120/80x18 inches (r)

Front Telescopic forks
Rear Dual gas-charged shocks, oval section swingarm

Front 280mm disc
Rear 240mm disc

Tank size 20 litres

  • First Published Date : 01 Dec 2012, 03:27 PM IST