Royal Enfield Thunderbird 500 first ride, review

Autocar India
First Published: 15:27 IST(1/12/2012)
Last Updated: 11:45 IST(17/1/2013)
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Royal Enfield’s Thunderbird 500 has received a raft of notable touches to bring it up to date. A ride reveals more.
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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. 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 Rs. 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  Rs 1,65,708 (Ex-showroom, Mumbai)

Engine
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

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

Dimensions
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)

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

Brakes
Front  280mm disc
Rear  240mm disc

Economy
Tank size  20 litres


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