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Old 17th March 2012, 16:34   #1
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Default Alternatives to the Royal Enfield Thunderbird!

Well my story goes like this.... I have grown up driving cars all my life. I have never had the opportunity to ride a geared bike at all for several reasons, most of which lack any logic.

However of late I have developed a sudden liking for bikes. Zeroed in on the RE Thunderbird and booked it in early Jan this year. After reading some horror stories about the new batch of RE's I am seriously in the verge of giving up my idea of owning an RE in the immediate future.

Here are few links handpicked for readers who don't track RE on the forum.

http://www.team-bhp.com/forum/motorb...eassembly.html

http://www.team-bhp.com/forum/motorb...gine-case.html (RE Classic 500 - A screw that ripped my engine case)

http://www.team-bhp.com/forum/motorb...xperience.html (Take 3 - 2009 Royal Enfield Thunderbird (Ownership Experience))

Being a big fan of JAP cars and owning them for over a decade in the family, I can boldly say that RE is not for me. So let me make it very clear that the intention of this thread is not to convince me to buy a RE.

Let me list out the priorities that should help suggest me a bike
  • Ride comfort
  • Trouble free ownership
  • Reasonable FE
  • It should suit a 6.2", heavily built person in the early twenties.
  • Good Road Presence
  • No sacrifice on pillion comfort
  • Budget: 90K to 110K
  • Am not a 0-60 or 0-100 guy. Am looking for tourer kinda bike

Am seriously smitten by the karizma ZMR... The road presence and ride quality seems to be the best in the segment. It is told that the FE is quite descent too!

The apprehensions I have about the bike are
  • No Kick starter even as an option
  • No provision for crash guard

That's all the pros and cons I can think of for now. Sadly there is not even one ownership report on the Karizma ZMR tho' a handful of members own it.

I would be glad if you could tell me if buying the Karizma ZMR really makes sense. Or should I look for any other alternatives that would meet my requirements.

Last edited by Warwithwheels : 17th March 2012 at 16:40.
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Old 17th March 2012, 17:14   #2
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Default Re: RE Thunderbird ALTERNATIVES!!!

Within that budget there are a few bikes that make sense. The Karizma is one. However, it is not the ideal tourer. There is only one tourer in that budget and that is the Bajaj Avenger. Note that is not a great bike for commuting though. Too big a turning circle and not flickable.

Otherwise, most bikes in the 150 to 200 cc fit into the category of reasonably comfortable for rider and pillion.
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Old 17th March 2012, 17:47   #3
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Default Re: RE Thunderbird ALTERNATIVES!!!

Quote:
Originally Posted by pganapathy View Post
Within that budget there are a few bikes that make sense. The Karizma is one. However, it is not the ideal tourer. There is only one tourer in that budget and that is the Bajaj Avenger. Note that is not a great bike for commuting though. Too big a turning circle and not flickable.

Otherwise, most bikes in the 150 to 200 cc fit into the category of reasonably comfortable for rider and pillion.
Karizma not a ideal tourer

Its a great tourer with lazy engine and great ergonomics, You can do 100-120 all day long without any problem.

@Warwithwheels - good that you mentioned that, when i got my ZMA 5 years back, first things off from the bike were kick starter, saree guard and crash guard. I don't understand why you will need a kick starter if the bike is maintained properly. Ya i can understand about crash guard but IMO it doesnt help much in case of a crash.
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Old 17th March 2012, 17:52   #4
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Default Re: RE Thunderbird ALTERNATIVES!!!

Do consider the Avenger. It has a 200 and 220 option. The performance is mostly good. The down side is the A.S.S of Bajaj and the resale value.

If you enhance your budget you can reach out to the CBR250, ruling out the Duke on pillion comfort.
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Old 17th March 2012, 18:08   #5
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Default Re: RE Thunderbird ALTERNATIVES!!!

Quote:
Originally Posted by Rahulkool View Post
Karizma not a ideal tourer

Its a great tourer with lazy engine and great ergonomics, You can do 100-120 all day long without any problem.

@Warwithwheels - good that you mentioned that, when i got my ZMA 5 years back, first things off from the bike were kick starter, saree guard and crash guard. I don't understand why you will need a kick starter if the bike is maintained properly. Ya i can understand about crash guard but IMO it doesnt help much in case of a crash.
I have an Achiever and have ridden the Karizma quite a bit cos a friend has it. It is comfy no doubt, but its riding position is not ideally suited to touring. The Avenger is much better for that. The seating position is what matters. That is not to say I do not do long rides on the Achiever but still, if flickability is not a concern, get a tourer type bike.

The crash guard makes a huge difference in a crash. I have had a few and not only has the guard saved me damage on my bike, but it has also saved my leg from getting crushed under the bike. Get a crash guard if at all possible. It is really good, though it probably does not look good.
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Old 17th March 2012, 18:46   #6
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Default Re: RE Thunderbird ALTERNATIVES!!!

Quote:
Originally Posted by pganapathy View Post
I have an Achiever and have ridden the Karizma quite a bit cos a friend has it. It is comfy no doubt, but its riding position is not ideally suited to touring. The Avenger is much better for that. The seating position is what matters. That is not to say I do not do long rides on the Achiever but still, if flickability is not a concern, get a tourer type bike.

The crash guard makes a huge difference in a crash. I have had a few and not only has the guard saved me damage on my bike, but it has also saved my leg from getting crushed under the bike. Get a crash guard if at all possible. It is really good, though it probably does not look good.
I don't know what are you talking about, ZMA has a very natural riding position as most of the tourers, you can compare the riding position with all the touring bikes. I don't think you have ridden the Avenger. It might look like a tourer like posture but its not that comfortable.

Well in case of crash guard opinion vary, that why said IMO. If you ask me theres no utility for it.

EDIT: another thing i would like to add is most irritating thing for me while touring is vibration and noise and there is no doubt about this when you ride a Avenger and ZMA, which is better out of two. There is a huge difference.

Last edited by Rahulkool : 17th March 2012 at 18:49.
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Old 17th March 2012, 19:02   #7
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Default Re: RE Thunderbird ALTERNATIVES!!!

Quote:
Originally Posted by Rahulkool View Post
I don't know what are you talking about, ZMA has a very natural riding position as most of the tourers, you can compare the riding position with all the touring bikes. I don't think you have ridden the Avenger. It might look like a tourer like posture but its not that comfortable.

Well in case of crash guard opinion vary, that why said IMO. If you ask me theres no utility for it.

EDIT: another thing i would like to add is most irritating thing for me while touring is vibration and noise and there is no doubt about this when you ride a Avenger and ZMA, which is better out of two. There is a huge difference.
What I mean about the riding position is that the Karizma like most bikes, has you leaning forward. I personally like this for riding as I used to ride a superbike. However, one thing is that it hurts your lower back on long rides if your posture is bad and you hunch over a bit.

The Avenger, is like say the Harley or Bullet in terms of its riding postion. You sit with your back straight.

I guess between these two postions it is a matter of preference, so let us not discuss which position is more comfortable for long distance riding. I know people who swear by both of these.

The crash guard has definitely saved my leg more than once so I will stick by my opinion that it is good
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Old 17th March 2012, 19:58   #8
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Default Re: RE Thunderbird ALTERNATIVES!!!

Quote:
Originally Posted by pganapathy View Post
.......that is the Bajaj Avenger
Quote:
Originally Posted by up-beat View Post
.....Do consider the Avenger. It has a 200 and 220 option. The performance is mostly good. The down side is the A.S.S of Bajaj and the resale value.

If you enhance your budget you can reach out to the CBR250, ruling out the Duke on pillion comfort.
Quote:
Originally Posted by pganapathy View Post
.....The Avenger is much better for that
Thanks for input guys! Some how the avenger doesn't suit my build. IMO it looks too tiny on me. My brother owns an Avenger, but am not very comfortable on it. Moreover the pillion seat is a real disaster. At best it can comfortably seat a 10 year old kid.

@Up-beat: I think avenger is available only with 220cc engine option. CBR and KTM are completely outta my budget.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Rahulkool View Post
...Its a great tourer with lazy engine and great ergonomics, You can do 100-120 all day long without any problem.

@Warwithwheels - good that you mentioned that, when i got my ZMA 5 years back, first things off from the bike were kick starter, saree guard and crash guard. I don't understand why you will need a kick starter if the bike is maintained properly. Ya i can understand about crash guard but IMO it doesnt help much in case of a crash.
Rahul, thanks for your feedback on the karizma. Glad to know that a well maintained Hero Honda can do well even without a kicker. That was one of my greatest apprehension.

Well... crash guard could be of help. But my typical usage doesn't warrant me doing high speeds or a zippy drive.

Another major concern is whether the bike is mechanically robust? How is the build quality? Does it rattle or squeak over time? Also the digital cockpit like console is a real turn on for me. How robust is the electronics in the bike?

How do you guys rate its appearance ? I would picking a black one if i were to go for the ZMR. Most prolly that crazzy ZMR stickering on the flaring would be undone. Does the bike boast of a premium image in the market?

Does the bike possess descent high way manners? How do you rate its stability and handling? A tip off on the braking department would be highly useful.

Really appreciate your valuable input guys!

Last edited by Warwithwheels : 17th March 2012 at 20:01.
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Old 17th March 2012, 21:46   #9
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Default Re: RE Thunderbird ALTERNATIVES!!!

Quote:
Originally Posted by Warwithwheels View Post
I would be glad if you could tell me if buying the Karizma ZMR really makes sense. Or should I look for any other alternatives that would meet my requirements.
Hi,
I think the ZMA/ ZMR would be a good choice for you.
Unfortunately, never felt like running out to get one. Does all that is asked of it, but fails to excite.
Ckeck out the other site for ownership experiences.

Regards
Sutripta
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Old 17th March 2012, 22:16   #10
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Default Re: RE Thunderbird ALTERNATIVES!!!

You can try the YAMAHA Fazer. Narrow seats is the only downside. Also, it might look a size small for your built. But as a bike it Looks good, is within your budget and has a good engine with decent fuel economy.

Somehow the Karizma never excited me. Although i will prefer the old one if given a chance to chose.

I can't think of a bike without crash guards. It has saved me and my bike multiple times. In one the most fatal accidents of my life in gurgaon, it took the entire impact and saved my leg and the bike to some extent. It helps to protect the tank and handle bars in case of a fall as it is the first thing to get in touch with the ground. These days the crash guards are stubby and smart and mostly black in color, which gels with the black chassis and engine.

Last edited by Blow Horn Ok : 17th March 2012 at 22:25.
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Old 17th March 2012, 22:58   #11
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Default Re: RE Thunderbird ALTERNATIVES!!!

Take a spin on the Avenger 220 and the Karizma/ZMR. Yamaha Fazer has the best road manners though. You can take a spin on that as well and choose accordingly.
Do up-date us though
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Old 18th March 2012, 00:29   #12
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Default Re: RE Thunderbird ALTERNATIVES!!!

looks like there is no real alternative!
The frazer is surly worth looking at, but i have heard mixed reviews about the A.S.S.

IMO the only problem with the ZMA is that it is based on a platform that was designed 9 years ago. Sure it has FI and decent faring, but it does not feel new enough for the money. But that is me. My friends are perfectly happy with it.
Test riding all the options back to back may be the only way forward.
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Old 18th March 2012, 03:31   #13
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Default Re: RE Thunderbird ALTERNATIVES!!!

Warwithwheels

If you want to buy a Japanese motorcycle that's fine with me and your concern for the RE's quality is understandable if you only read the negative posts about it.

That said, you should remember that many of the people who own Royal Enfields and are totally happy with them never bother to post on a web site.
Their motorcycle is behaving normally so why bother to tell the world about it?

The ones who are unhappy are very likely to post on a web site.
Web sites often have other people who can help with their problem so they post it.

Of the links you gave concerning problems with the Royal Enfields, may I mention that the first one is about an oil leak that appears to be due to a casting problem.
The Royal Enfield engineers seem to think the casting is not a problem and suggested that the motorcycle should be acceptable as it is. The owner does not agree and is taking it to court but the jury is still out about who is right.

The second link you gave concerns a screw that came loose and wedged between the clutch cage and the crankcase casting.
It is important to note that this engine had been repaired by a mechanic before the incident and it is rather obvious to me that the mechanic failed to properly tighten the screw. In my opinion, shoddy work by an outside mechanic should not be thought of as a strike against Royal Enfield.

The third link you gave dealt with a motorcycle which had been owned by two other people. When buying any used motorcycle there is always a good chance that one or both of the previous owners not only mis-treated it but may have installed non-factory parts and failed to install and tighten them properly.

I am not saying that Royal Enfields are without faults. IMO, their wiring harness should be redesigned to better protect it from sharp edges, their headlights need improvement and their drive chain should be revised to improve its durability.

Whichever motorcycle you buy, I hope you enjoy riding it.
I've found that often the ride is often better than arriving at the destination.
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Old 18th March 2012, 08:29   #14
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Default Re: RE Thunderbird ALTERNATIVES!!!

Apart from regular services i don't think there are much issues with most of the other bikes in the segment. What a RE demands is attention from its owner. I don't feel that all of them have serious issues as mentioned in the links but I agree that small niggles like speedo not working, self starter conking off often, minor oil leaks, minor rusting etc do happen with most of the bikes. IMO, The feel of riding it gives to the owner & it and attention a RE grabs fades down its niggles. But we should evaluate what exactly we want out of the ride.
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Old 18th March 2012, 09:17   #15
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Default Re: RE Thunderbird ALTERNATIVES!!!

Boss,

ping jalva here. He has a RE500 and he's upgraded to the CBR250 and couldn't be happier. That thing is uncatchable in the hills.
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