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Old 4th May 2012, 12:20   #1
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So this was a lazy day at work. I was pretty bored and kind of frustrated the way things were progressing on the professional side (what with working for an IT major n all that). There was a similar period a few years ago and one of the things that a few colleagues and I used to do was visit nearby car showrooms and take test drives. That was a huge mood lifter and we all felt better after a session like that.

Reminiscent of days that were, I decided to saunter into few of the bike showrooms near my work place. First stop was a Honda showroom.
I have read and heard a lot about the CBR250 and was left with mixed reactions upon seeing it in the flesh. The bike somehow seemed a lot of brain and less brawn. I am 33 and my college days were filled with RX100s, Shoguns, KB100s and ofcourse my first bike - Splendor. Going by that benchmark, the CBR250 seems like too much machine and very little man. I felt both nostalgic and let down at the same time. Being in a bike showroom after almost 16 years (last time I visited a bike showroom was in 1996 to buy my Splendor, which would serve me loyaly for 5 years before being sold for superstitious reasons!) it was sort of a time travel, and then to look at so called modern bikes, just didnt cut it for me, and therefore I felt a bit let down. Sigh!

Right next to that showroom was a Bajaj showroom, I wanted to go and see what the Pulsar 220 was all about. I made it as far as the entrance of the showroom. In fact a little before that, I realised that the showroom was really buzzing with people falling from the cracks in the walls. This was no place for lazy window shopper who just wanted to have a looksee and perhaps a test ride. Shrugged my shoulders and walked back to my car, not even bothering to see the bikes on display.

So my mood lifter wasnt exactly doing what it is supposed to thus far, till I realised that there was a Royal Enfiled showroom too, tucked in between a clothes store and a pizza joint. I have been commuting on this route for 3 years and I never realised that this showroom existed. Nonetheless, I was hoping that I would be able to lay my hands on some random RE bike for a test ride, afterall I was only after spending time and perhaps feel nice about riding bike after a long-ish gap.

The moment I walked into the showroom, I felt right at home. And that for two reasons. One was that RE bikes hadnt changed much since my bike riding days, so I was able to relate to them instantly, and secondly, the showroom attitude was also from an era bygone. The guys there could not care less if they tried. Stark contrast between RE and the rest two - Bajaj and Honda. Essentially, I was back in the mid-90s! Yay!

I was half heardtedly trying to look interested till about 10 minutes after a cheerful looking lad walks up to me and says, "This one has a waiting period of 5 months". He said it as if he realised I wasnt going to buy and wanted me to get out immedately. I smiled back at him and asked him for details. He seemed like a trained guy rattling off specs in a certain order. Just like he was trained to. Poor marks for RE in this department. Am sure they can do better. Same guys if they were to work at neighbouring showrooms, will have a massive attitude cosmetic surgery before being let loose on customers. Back to my story - The desert storm and the chorme bikes were suspended from the roof and looked nice to looks at. Lot of eye candy, if I ignored all the techno-babble (excuse me for the lingo, but I am a very aam aadmi when it comes to motors).

Somehow in the middle of all the humdrum, I rested my sights on a particular one that was sort of hidden away. This was my first tryst with the T'Bird T'Spark. I somehow was bowled over by the understated yet brashful, aggresive yet calm, classic yet modern looks. This was many moods one bike kind of a thing. I asked for a test ride and was immediately offered one. I was still looking to kill time and had no intensions of making a purchase of any kind.

The sales chap explained some of the controls to me before he allowed me to set off. I very nervously put on the showrooms helmet with some serious concern on the hygeine n all. And I was off. First thing I noticed was this was nothing like anything I had my bottom on. Due respect to all Japanese/Other Indian bikes, but I just could not fathom why anyone would want to buy anything other than this one! Grinning ear to ear, mostly because I was back on two wheels after more than a decade. Once that initial euphoria died down, I realsied that I was onto something speical here. I made a U turn and was headed back to showroom 1.5 kms away. 1500 meters is all that it took for me to decide. If it takes an arm and a leg to get a copy of this bike for myself, then thats what I will do. Talk about being smitten. The test ride bike was a red one with an exhaust that made a too open and harsh note. This is certainly not something that I was pleased with. Upon coming back to the showroom I asked them if this was what it was and was immensely happy to hear in the negative. The one on display had the stock exhaust. First reaction was that the exhast is almost endless. Too long, and stretches dispropotionately. All that chrome was good though.

Inside the showroom now, it was a tough battle between the head and the heart. With most things men & motors, no two guesses here, heart rules. So here I was, not looking for a bike, walked into the showroom, one short ride and I was now convinced that there is nothing more to life at this point. My mind was playing games. The voice was telling me "Not that things are looking up at work. If there is one thing that can redeem you from all those trivialities, it is THIS. Do it, and NOW! Without batting an eyelid, acting like a posessed soul, I whipped out my credit card and made the booking. 5000 rupees later I was somehow happy and mood was certainly lifted and was ebbing. All the way back to office now, I could not help thinking how I am going to justify this undoubtedly impulsive decision to the missus.

Yes, I had to justify, specially after veto-ing a few requests that came from her side. I was sure that this was going to be met with disdain and I was willing to go on a hunger strike if need be, to get this bill passed.
30 minutes after I reached home, I had to collect my jaw from the floor. Only because I was super surprised with what happened. My wife says "I have not seen you being so boyish and passionately wanting something in the last 5 years. So I think you surely deserve it. GO ahead and pick it up. Hang on, in fact, let me buy it for you!"

My joy knew no bounds. Joy turned to anguish quickly when I now realised that I had a 4 month waiting period. Damn it! I had to now forget that I have even booked a T'Bird so that the edginess goes away. But try as I may, every now and then, I would see one and my heart would skip a beat and I would do a mental calculation of how much time had gone by and how much time remained. I almost wanted to ram my car into a stone wall. It was that frustrating! Some weeks passed. One fine day as I was having lunch at work, I got THE CALL.

"Sir, this is Rajesh from Legend Motors. You had booked a Thunderbird at our showroom some months back. It is now on its way here, so could you please visit us and have the balance amount paid?" I was trembling now. All I remember is saying OK at the end of the call. Words deserted me. I abandoned my lunch dabba and asked a colleague to pack and take it with him, as I darted off to the showroom once again. Here is the thing. I was coming back to the showroom after nearly 4 months. The guys there promptly recognised me. This time around, the showroom experience was vastly different. The same sales guys who were once cold, were willing to listen and super professionals. I dont know if this is the case everywhere, but surely at RE, a visitor and a customer are not the same. I scarmbled for all the money and came about a few thousands short. I explained t the showroom folks that I will pay up the following day as my debit card was maxed out and even though I had the money, I could not pay up just yet. I was asked to choose the accessories that I wanted and I like my motors (cars, bikes et al) to remain as close as possible to stock look. So I only chose the diamond bumper and nothing else.

I was increasingly impatient by now and I asked them to show me what was to be my source of inspiration/redemption whatever you call that feeling. I was taken to a different part of the showroom and there she was. My pulse was racing as I saw her for the first time. As I made my way through the maze of other models, I was behaving like a kid in a toy store. I stretched out my hand to touch her for the first time. This is the part where I felt like the Navi folks making their connection the dragon. As I came close to touching her, I felt as if she was reaching out to me too. That instant I know. This was the ONE for me. I got a glimpse of Niravana. The showroom folks were yet to complete their PDI so I could not crank her up. Nonetheless, we had made the bond and I know she is mine forever now.

I left for home, growing impatient by the second for the D-day or Delivery Day. This is the story until yesterday, 3rd May, 2012.

This morning (4th May, 2012), I went and paid up the balance. And was promised delivery by this evening. Signed a few of the RTO papers, produced original documents/photos and am now back home.
I will make it a point to take a camera along, to make some pictures, of the whole delivery procedure. I have also left my old helmet (yes, i have it saved) in a bucket of shampoo water to ensure that she is ready for round 2 of her life.

As I write this, I am waiting, cutting the longest 4 hours of my life for the call asking me to come and collect my bike. Bike sounds a little too boyish. Little wonder then, this is my BULL. More to come...

Here goes the events of last evening.

I reached the showroom at about 4 pm. The promised delivery time was 4.30 pm. There were no many surprises all along from the dealership experience but this one took the cake. The dealer would not make the number plates! This meant that the 30 mins early that I reached was to be put to good use. I went out and looked for a number plate sticker guy and fortunately there was one about half a kilometer away. I could not take the blank plates with me then as I waited for the number to be confirmed at the showroom

In the meanwhile, the bumper was being fitted to the T'Bird. I must say that every little accessory added gives a new sort of a look. There was another customer for a silver one and he had a silver colored fibre box fitted to his copy. This gave a totally different look to it.

Since my T'Bird had been to the RTO and back it had 28 KMS on the ODO. THe previous day it had 5 KMS on the ODO (as it is usual procedure for all vehicles to be tested at the factory before being shipped to the dealer). A quick mental calculation and I was sure that it was not taken to any other place apart from the RTO. This is sort of an important metric in light of how the showroom representative treat YOUR Bull. There were finger prints and grease mark like prints all over the vehicle and I made repeated remiders for one of the folks to clean up. I was assured that there would be some sort of a polish before being handed over, but that never saw the light of day. I was not disappointed, as I guessed that they would probably use some soap oil or worse still diesel to provide temporary shine. It is a painful affair to remove the oil stains at a later time.

There was one more final delay for about 30 minutes when the RE Area Manager made a visit and some of the staff were called in for a quick meeting. I was later told that this was some meeting regarding the new plant operations at Oragadam near Chennai. In a way, I was secretly happy that all the old world RE charm was unadulterated with my bike with it being manufactured at the only functioning plant in the world, currently. Soon there were other customers with scheduled delivery who started showing up. The anxiety was palpable with every one of them. This is the closest that men can get to pregnancy and giving birth!

The sales rep patiently completed all the paper work and explained most of the usual points, including service intervals, running in, tool kit, first aid kit, morning starts & general maintenance tips. He handed over the keys, and all the documents and we proceeded to perform a pooja (a small religious ceremony for those who are not aware). The showroom owner makes it a point to attend each and every one of them while he is around, a very personal touch for sure. All of them present shook hands with me, congratulated me on the buy and wished me many many happy and safe miles. I was off! Unleashed is a better word here.

First stop, number plate guy. This was by far a very quick process. Took about 10 mins by the clock, but seemed like about 3 years given that I had hardly ridden any distance at all. 50 rupees is all it took for both the front and rear plate stickers. Coming from maintaining cars, 50 rupees worth anything was a shocker. Now I was all ready for the first ride. GRIN GRIN.

I dont remember when I walked first, or what my first words were, for that matter I dont even remember clearly my first day at college. But this! This is going to be etched in the long term memory of my brain for ever. Yes the gear shift is clunky, yes the headlamp focus is messed up big time, yes the steed was unclean, and yes Chennai recorded is hottest day this year yesterday. But none of that mattered. The evening breeze, the chaotic traffic on GST Road, passers by giving a stare all added to the experience. It was surreal. I am sure every one of us would have been there and done that. Yet this is something that none of can explain. A bit like marriage one can say

Now - my initial impressions.

To be honest the ride back was a bit underwhelming. I had my expectation sky high and this was a bit like reaching outer space. So it didnt check all my boxes, but on its own it was spellbinding. There were no rattles or squeaks as I insisted on almost doing the PDI over again before the bike was handed over. Thanks to all the collective experience on this forum, I managed to look like a well informed bike user and the showroom took extra care in making sure all was OK. Sore points were two. One - the vehicle was not clean. Not one bit. They must do a much better job of presenting a shiny spanking ride. Mine was a far cry from that. Even if they had run a moist cloth on the surface, it could have looked better. Somehow, to me, this is a collosal failure. A low hanging fruit if you ask me. I just had to apply some Sonax polish to the painted surface and it was shining gloriously.

Secondly, the head lamp focus. Sigh! The low beam was a couple of feet ahead of the front wheel and high beam was slightly ahead of that. Isnt this a basic thing to check.

Some of the other small things that matter. It looked like there was some grease smearing right under the little window to check the engine oil level. I had to clean it up myself this morning. Did not take too much effort so that surely is a miss from the showroom side. To my disbelief the oil level in the master cylinder for the disc brake was touching MIN on the way back. Later when I reached home, I parked the vehicle on level ground and it seemed OK. The Chrome on the front and rear rims looked like they had something pasted on them and it was removed before delivery. In the sense that it had some very adamant dirt/grit like substance. With some kindness and copious water, it seems to be coming off now. The exhaust also has a similar patch right near the main bolt that holds it near the rear foot rest. Overall chrome quality is average at best. My '96 Splendor had better smoother looking Chrome finish. Again, this is never why someone would buy a Thunderbird, is it?

The engine clatter was familiar, but seems like cold starts have slightly lesser noise levels than a warm engine. I am no expert, but isnt it supposed to be the other way around? I know that 4 stoke engine dont like a quick twist of the throttle. But it seems like the bike wanted to be accelerated gradually only. Anything more than gradual, seemed like a waste of fuel. For that matter the vehicle like NO SURPRISES. PERIOD. No quick turns, acceleration, deceleration or anything.

I know this is very early to comment on oil leaks, but so far so good. I am sure these are initial observations and not complaints. The next one is actally a complaint though. I took my wife on a bike for the first time ever, this being our first since we met each other. To my horror it looked like the rear shocks sort of "bottomed out". I heard a mild noise upon crossing a speed breaker. I hope its a setting thing and not the case of soft rear shocks.

Now, for my first questions(may be rhetoric). What are the RPMs that one should watch out for or never cross during running in? The speeds per gear mentioned in the manual is a bit confusing in that the speeds mentioned have differing corresponding RPMs in the said gear. For example, 15 kms in first gear is under 2k whereas 60 kms in 5th is close to 2.5k RPMs. So I am wondering a bit on the max RPMs and not so much the actual speed. In any case I dont ride all that fast, running in or not. I guess I may reach an ocassional 80kmph after 2000 kms and not much more.

I want to for sure upgrade the head lamp to something like a 55W one. The OE one is a big size torch light at best. It looks like a simple DIY if 55W is the right upgrade. Looking for guidance here. Is it OK to upgrade without harming the rest of the electricals?

The horn too is completely a mismatch. I am not after loudness, but the right tone. This one sounds loud yet puny, if you know what I mean.

Closing comments from me.

RE has tried hard to steer themselves into the 21st century with a number of changes. A number of them have worked. Some others, not so much. Change no matter how small or big is a difficult thing. At a time when organisations like HM are turning themselves to dust, what RE folks are doing here is astounding. Mr. Venki Padmanabhan & RL Ravichandran are no doubt the stewards behind this glorious turnaround. Awesome!

To many RE = Exhaust note. If you are one such person, this model is not for you. If you are like me, trying to rub some charm off of the old world RE but are looking for some modern touches, then Thunderbird is for you. The right use of shiny bits with painted panels is just masterful. It is just right. Only thing that sticks out like a sore thumb for me, is the perennial exhaust pipe. It stretches for like a few days in length.

Despite all of the shortcomings, and all the modern bits, this one is a keeper! 55 kms on the ODO and am already talking like an expert Such is the influence of POWER, LOVE & RESPECT. Heard that anywhere?
PS: Picture to follow this post.

Last edited by GTO : 7th May 2012 at 14:19. Reason: Adding your review to the opening post itself
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Old 4th May 2012, 12:35   #2
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Excellent buying experience buddy, Tbird is a great bike. Do the PDI properly while taking delivery. I can understand how bad the waiting period can be . All the best and ride safe.
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Old 4th May 2012, 12:58   #3
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Thank you Rahul for your wishes.

Its 1 PM now and I have slowly moved to the edge of my seat. Its like my intestines are digesting my stomach. Thats what this last few hours is like

I have done one round of PDI, as in the external bits (nuts, bolts, rust, scratches, n stuff)

Will do the other bits for sure before delivery. Gald my agony is ending today!
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Old 4th May 2012, 12:59   #4
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Hearty congratulations to you sir.

You have bought a piece of machinery that will probably be your companion for life. Whatever the sales guys say, do not forget to do a proper run in for about 2000 kms, this may sound a lot higher but believe me the engines health will be at its best for a long long time.

Cheers !
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Old 4th May 2012, 13:03   #5
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Enjoyed reading every line of your experience. The way you have described her, has made my wait for your pictures anxious. Will be refreshing this thread without blinking

Congrats for your new buy.
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Old 4th May 2012, 14:34   #6
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Congratulations on this wonderful hearty purchase, as i stated in another thread a Bullet buyer will buy one from heart and will (in most probability) not look elsewhere. Will wait for pictures and other experiences from you, hopefully it will be soon. Excellent writing there.

OT : I believe the rule only allows full buying experience and not just booking, hence this thread might go back to Assembly line section to make the review complete in all aspects. Nevertheless, wish you many happy miles with the bike.

Last edited by mayankjha1806 : 4th May 2012 at 14:56.
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Old 4th May 2012, 14:40   #7
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Taurus & The Great

Many thanks for the wishes.

My history in the running in department has been good so far. Almighty has bestowed me with enormous patience here and here only. So I will be breaking the engine in, with all the right ways.

But one cannot deny being so close yet so far in terms of enjoying the ride to the fullest. I am not a fast rider and enjoy sedate riding, but love to wield the power of God by twisting the throttle once in a while.

Quick update is that the RTO formalities are done and have got the number too! So I will be on my way shortly. Come to papa!
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Old 4th May 2012, 14:55   #8
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Excellent write-up. All the best. Please Please Please do a proper PDI to avoid any sourness in such a wonderful story.
Do check the documents if you are getting them today and ride within the speed limits till the first 500-1000-3000 kms.
All the best!!
Cheers!
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Old 4th May 2012, 15:34   #9
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Congrats Balaji, Excellent write up. I was in a similar situation last June unfortunately my Head ruled over my Heart.
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Old 4th May 2012, 21:51   #10
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Gentlemen! Hear ye, hear ye!

The Royal Enfield Thunderbird is here at last. More than 3 months after it began, she is here. No more ogling at a strangers bike, no more imagining how it would be. The ride from the showroom to my home attracted 3 enquiries at traffic lights. People asking me how it was, the fuel economy, wait times etc. Surprisingly no one asked me how much it had costed me.

I will post details of delivery and initial impressions and surely some pictures tomorrow. Over n out!
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Old 5th May 2012, 04:44   #11
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Default Re: Of lazy days, time travel, & buying a T'Bird

Thank you for your post.
Your writing is great, your story is fantastic and I can visualize your excitement even as I write this.

Life comes only once to each of us and we must enjoy it to the fullest.
I have no doubts that you have found one way to accomplish this so enjoy!
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Old 7th May 2012, 14:20   #12
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Mod Note : Review post merged with the opening post. Thanks for sharing!
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Old 8th May 2012, 07:11   #13
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Congrats Balaji!! Nice write-up and now its time for some Photos!!
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Old 8th May 2012, 10:52   #14
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Guys

Apologies for the delay. Still have not managed to extract pictures from the camera. In the meanwhile, I made a couple of snaps with my phone. Here they are for your viewing pleasure!
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Old 8th May 2012, 14:14   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by balajiisworking View Post

I know this is very early to comment on oil leaks, but so far so good. I am sure these are initial observations and not complaints. The next one is actally a complaint though. I took my wife on a bike for the first time ever, this being our first since we met each other. To my horror it looked like the rear shocks sort of "bottomed out". I heard a mild noise upon crossing a speed breaker. I hope its a setting thing and not the case of soft rear shocks.

Now, for my first questions(may be rhetoric). What are the RPMs that one should watch out for or never cross during running in? The speeds per gear mentioned in the manual is a bit confusing in that the speeds mentioned have differing corresponding RPMs in the said gear. For example, 15 kms in first gear is under 2k whereas 60 kms in 5th is close to 2.5k RPMs. So I am wondering a bit on the max RPMs and not so much the actual speed. In any case I dont ride all that fast, running in or not. I guess I may reach an ocassional 80kmph after 2000 kms and not much more.
Congrats and excellent writeup!

Regarding RPMs, I change gears at 2000 RPM, because it feels like the engine is comfortable at that point.

Check your chain slackness, if it is too tight and you go over bumps and bad roads, you'll get an unevenly stretched chain, like I do! Your chain should have a slight slack with the bike off the stand and with you on the bike.

I used to hear a scraping sound (only with a pillion and on speed breakers) when my bike was new and it was probably because of tight chain.
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