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Old 1st December 2012, 19:45   #1
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Default Royal Enfield Thunderbird 500 Twinspark Ownership Report

The buying decision:

I have been riding two wheelers for close to quarter of a century now. I started with a TVS 50 XT asmy first two- wheeler and have owned a Jawa, a Yezdi and a Yamaha YBX 125 that I purchased in October 1998.
However, over the last 12-13 years my bike usage has fallen as I have been using cars as my primary means of transport. The odo on my YBX reads just 55.7 K Km after 14 years.

While I have been driving cars, it does not mean that I have outgrown bikes. I still ride my Yamaha, though only on weekends. However, I do not get the same pleasure in riding bikes as I did when I was younger and one reason was that the small commuter bikes lack character and did not hold any attraction to me ( to me they appeared more suitable for the ahem "Boy Racers". Though some new bigger bikes have been launched in the Indian market, in the last few years, none has held any attraction for me. Well, almost none, with the sole exception of the legendry Harley Davison.

The launch of the HD's in India a couple of years back rekindled my interest in bikes. It got me thinking and then planning. I resolved that I will gift myself a HD when I turned 40 in 2104 ( the cheapest one, the Superlow, costs 6 peti + and I would really need to be ready with the money. It would also need convincing my wife, as in her opinion there are a lot of ways that money can be spent more productively. It would appear to be an extravagance I can ill afford as a salaried employee. Moreover, my SX 4 would need to be replaced in about a year and I did not want to spend a significant part of my salary on Vehicle EMI's.

All this while I kept hearing opinions about HD's not being suitable for use in Indian conditions, and that they are best ridden on billiard table smooth tarmac sans the omnipresent speed-breakers as their low ground clearance makes them susceptible to scraping the bottom and the aah! so shiny exhausts!!.

In the meanwhile Royal Enfield was not sitting idle. They had been regaining the popularity of the yesteryears by continuously improving the charismatic RE Bullet and launching new variants.

I have always liked RE's, but there have been some sore points that have held me back from buying one of these. These are:

1) High maintenance due to poor build quality 2) Low reliability 3) Poor Brakes and electricals 4) Not very suitable for everyday commuting and 5) High prices.

Last year I changed my job. My new job required me to travel extensively. During my frequent trips I caught up with some college time friends some of whom are active RE riders. I saw their bikes, and liked what I saw.
I finally decided that rather than waiting for 2 more years for a HD, I will go in for a RE now ( I am not getting any younger). In end September, beginning October I read some previews about the impending launch of TBTS 500 and it was all the encouragement I needed to visit a RE dealership. The TBTS 500 was launched on October 11, 2012 and I landed at a RE dealership in Delhi's Patparganj Industrial Estate on October 13.
There were a number of RE models on display. I initially decided to go in for the RE Classic 500. However, there were the TBTS 350 and 500 on display as well. The owner of the dealership Mr. Babbar encouraged me to take a few test rides. I tried the TBTS 350, the TBTS 500, the Classic 500 and decided to book the Classic 500. The classic looks of the Classic 500 enticed me. However, Mr. Babbar recommended the TBTS. I kept vacillating, the retro original vs the new kid on the block. It was a tough decision. However, three things settled it in favour of the TBTS.

1) Lower saddle height. I am short and the TBTS felt more comfortable than the Classic.

2) Better brakes. The TBTS has a disc brakes ( front and rear)

3) Better instrumentation and electricals. The only thing I did not like was the new exhaust which looked out of character with the bike. But I was assured by Mr. Babbar that it is something that can be easily replaced later.

The second confusion was whether to go in for a 350 or a 500. There is a significant price difference between the two variants and the 350 can do most of what a 500 can. To help make the decision, I called up my friend Ajay. Ajay is a friend from college and he owns a RE 350 and a newer RE 500. He told me that in case I harbored any plans of touring, the 500 will be a better bet . RE owners oftnr go on road trips together and on occasions like these the 350 would be hard pressed to keep up with the 500's which due to higher power and torque make better touring machines. Moreover, owning a RE is all about passion and feeling good. Having the 500, (unlike the 350) would never make you think that you have compromised and could have gone for something better.

So the decision was made to go for the RE flagship (the Classic owners and lovers would dispute it) and I booked my bike by swiping my card for a booking amount of Rs. 5000. The long waiting period for the Classic 500 was also a factor that aided my decision. I wanted my bike early so that I could ride it for some time before the winters really set in. Moreover, my birthday falls in mid- November (Diwali was also in Nov). I was told by Mr. Babbar that he would try to deliver by first week of November.

Now began the wait. I was in touch with the dealership on a regular basis. Around October 28, I got a call from the dealership that I could expect the bike in the first week of November and could expect the delivery by November 3. On October, I was Informed that the truck that was carrying the bikes had met with an accident and it would take some more time. On 3rd November I was informed that the truck was expected in the next 2-3 days and in case I wanted to take the delivery of the bike, I should make the payment. I made the payment on Sunday November 4, and was told that I could expect to get the bike on Nov 9. Since my office is near the airport, and I did not want to take the day off, the delivery date was fixed for November 11, which coincided with Dhanteras. ( a very auspicious day to buy vehicles/jewelry/property)

The delivery process:

As fixed with the dealership earlier, I reached the dealership around 1:15 P.M. I had been informed that it would take around 45 minutes for the delivery process. However, due to the large number of deliveries and the lackadaisical attitude of the staff, I finally got the bike at 4:40 P.M. I also bought a suitable helmet and a side bag in addition to the antirust treatment and the Teflon polish. When I saw the way the anti- rust treatment and Teflon treatment was done, I was most disappointed. I would advise any other buyers to give it a miss. They can have it done outside in a much more professional manner and would cost a lot less as well. I was hardly given any instructions on the bike except for the fact that I should not attempt to start the bike if the malfunction icon is on. It has been a while since I took a two wheeler delivery but even TATA Motors does a better Job with Nano delivery. This was for a bike which cost close to Rs 2 lakh. REML can do well to look at training the dealership staff better with a key emphasis on attitude. During my internship during my MBA program I have worked at a TVS Motors dealership for a few months in Pune. Even a TVS 50 or a Scooty Customer got better treatment. I would rate the dealership and the delivery process 4/10.

The initial usage report:

I sat on the saddle and thumbed the starter and the engine roared into life and settled into a lazy idle. I rode to a nearby petrol bunk and got the bike fuelled. Since this bike is based on relatively old design the bike needs to be run in for 2000 Km. In the first 500 Km the speed is restricted to under 50 KPH. The next day was the day before Diwali and we had a Pooja at the office. Since I was keen to complete the running in of the bike at the earliest, I rode it to my office at the Airport ( a distance of 32 Km).

The clutch is not very heavy and the gears mesh reasonably well. The instrument gauges have two trip meters, a clock, 2 average speed indicators, side stand indicator, a graphical fuel gauge and hazard warning lamps . The Speedo is calibrated in both KPH and MPH and is marked till 200 KPH. The Tacho is marked till 8000 RPM and redlined at 5500 RPM. There is an engine kill switch near the RHS handle-grip, the choke lever (which has to be kept pressed when used) is on the LHS handle-grip , as is the flash to pass switch.

In the morning I warm up the bike for around 2 minutes before riding off. The first thing that you feel is the width of the petrol tank. The Thunderbird has a 20 L tank that is pretty wide and you sit with your legs wide apart and it took me a couple of days to come to terms with it. A slight blip of the throttle, the bike pulls like a locomotive. The low end torque is really great. The bike rides well at 40-50 KPH in the fourth gear.

However, the new engine is not really comfortable in the fifth gears at speeds lower than 50. I frequently found myself shifting to 4th at speeds less than 45 KPH and on the slightest inclines. (There are a number of over-bridges on the Outer and Inner Ring Roads in Delhi).

The bike is relatively easy to handle in traffic although it never lets you forget that you are astride a 200 Kg heavy machine. Keep this in mind and you will have no trouble. To completer the running in fast, I have taken the bike my office on 4-5 occasions. The only problem I have faced is the almost non existant rear braking. This I put down to poor PDI .

The Big Thumper went in for its first service on Dec 1 with the odo reading 457 KM. The rear brake issue has been sorted out and the bike is a lot smoother after the oil and filter change. The first service cost me Rs 770 ( 2.5 litres of Motul oil and an oil filter). The mileage I have got so far is approx. 30 KPL which is reasonably good.

With the first service behind me, I can now take it till 90 KPH. I will update the thread in a few days time and also add some photographs.
Attached Thumbnails
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Royal Enfield Thunderbird 500 Twinspark Ownership Report-img_2086.jpg  


Last edited by rajneeesh : 8th December 2012 at 14:46. Reason: Additing photographs
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Old 1st December 2012, 21:37   #2
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Default Re: Royal Enfield Thunderbird 500 Twinspark Ownership Report

Congratulations! This seems to be the first TBTS 500 ownership report here! Pics Are you going to ride the bull on your official trips too? ( since you said your job requires travelling a lot)
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Old 2nd December 2012, 00:00   #3
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Default Re: Royal Enfield Thunderbird 500 Twinspark Ownership Report

Congratulations Sir! I was quite enticed by the looks myself when I first saw it in the newspaper when it was just launched. I quickly went on the net and saw a few more pics. I really loved the way the projector headlight is incorporated in the headlight cluster. I liked it quite a lot, so much so that a friend of mine was planning to buy an RE classic and i told him "arey nayi Thunderbird 500 dekhi kya? Uski headlights hi itni mast hain na. Wahi lena RE le toh." . Also i loved the instrument cluster. Very pleasing to the eyes. Waiting for a detailed review and a lot of pics. Happy mile munching!

-Bhargav
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Old 2nd December 2012, 00:07   #4
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Default Re: Royal Enfield Thunderbird 500 Twinspark Ownership Report

Have been eagerly waiting for this one. If I am not mistaken, you are probably one of the first to own the NEW TBTS 500 in T-BHP. Heartiest Congratulations.

Please be as comprehensive as you can with the review and please do add some pics as well.

Congratulations on the buy again
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Old 8th December 2012, 17:29   #5
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Default Re: Royal Enfield Thunderbird 500 Twinspark Ownership Report

Thread moved from Assembly Line.

Thanks for sharing and wishing you a great ownership experience.
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Old 8th December 2012, 19:11   #6
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Default Re: Royal Enfield Thunderbird 500 Twinspark Ownership Report

Hearty congratulations on your 500 Rajneeeesh!!! And I have to say I love the saddle bag on your bike! Is it an original RE one? I really liked it.

Have fun on your 500 with that amazing wave of torque. But after 2000 km of running in do get a better exhaust. Because an RE should be a thumper and only a Short bottle / free flow goldie / Chandigarh exhaust will give you the real feel of the bike. You will be mesmerized and madly in love with the bike once it starts sounding like that

Wish you many many happy mile on your bike! Cheers!!
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Old 8th December 2012, 20:49   #7
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Default Re: Royal Enfield Thunderbird 500 Twinspark Ownership Report

Quote:
Originally Posted by thumpingheart View Post
Hearty congratulations on your 500 Rajneeeesh!!! And I have to say I love the saddle bag on your bike! Is it an original RE one? I really liked it.

Have fun on your 500 with that amazing wave of torque. But after 2000 km of running in do get a better exhaust. Because an RE should be a thumper and only a Short bottle / free flow goldie / Chandigarh exhaust will give you the real feel of the bike. You will be mesmerized and madly in love with the bike once it starts sounding like that

Wish you many many happy mile on your bike! Cheers!!
Thanks Thumpingheart. The saddlebag is an RE original. Well I don't like the looks of the stock exhaust. Will consider areplacement once the bike is run in.
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Old 8th December 2012, 21:20   #8
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Default Re: Royal Enfield Thunderbird 500 Twinspark Ownership Report

Congrats on the first TB500 review on the forum! Can you share handling differences with the TB350 ?
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Old 9th December 2012, 07:30   #9
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Default Re: Royal Enfield Thunderbird 500 Twinspark Ownership Report

Congratulations Rajneeesh!
One of the most eagerly awaited reports. I am now getting desperate to get my hands on TBTS 500, of which I have no idea when it's going to be delivered. Few queries though -

1) Have you driven the old TBTS 350 or TB 350 before? If so, how is the handling comparatively and drive within city?
2) Any complaints about the new seats, both rider and pinion? There were few concerns in the initial reviews?
3) How good are the projector lamps?
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Old 9th December 2012, 16:37   #10
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Default Re: Royal Enfield Thunderbird 500 Twinspark Ownership Report

Quote:
Originally Posted by theMAG View Post
Congrats on the first TB500 review on the forum! Can you share handling differences with the TB350 ?
Well I have just had a test ride on the new TBTS 350. Therefore I cannot really tell you how different it is from the old TBTS.

I am new to RE motorcycles and therefore not an aouthority on these Thumpers.
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Old 9th December 2012, 16:44   #11
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Default Re: Royal Enfield Thunderbird 500 Twinspark Ownership Report

Quote:
Originally Posted by ventoman View Post
Congratulations Rajneeesh!
One of the most eagerly awaited reports. I am now getting desperate to get my hands on TBTS 500, of which I have no idea when it's going to be delivered. Few queries though -

1) Have you driven the old TBTS 350 or TB 350 before? If so, how is the handling comparatively and drive within city?
2) Any complaints about the new seats, both rider and pinion? There were few concerns in the initial reviews?
3) How good are the projector lamps?

Thanks Ventoman,

1) I have not ridden the old TBTS 350/ TB 350. For an newbie RE rider, I have found the handling to be pretty decent. You just cannot ride it like a lighter 125/150 cc machine as they are more flickable and the engines rev faster.

2) I find the seats to be pretty comfortable. I am short ( 5'6) and riding comfort was one of the reasons I went in for this bike. My wife has ridden pillion for a short distance and she did nt complain.

3) The head lights were not properly focussed earlier. I had them attended to during the first service. Now they do a pretty decent job.
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Old 9th December 2012, 17:16   #12
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Default Re: Royal Enfield Thunderbird 500 Twinspark Ownership Report

Congos for the TBTS.I am in two minds,whether to go for the TBTS or the classic 500.Since i have a 220,am hooked for the projectors,hence more inclined to the TBTS.the first mods i would do is swap the normal headlight bulb with HID since i am using one on the 220.Moreover i need a comfortable pillion seat for my would be wife and i guess the TBTS would be more apt.
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Old 10th December 2012, 09:32   #13
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Default Re: Royal Enfield Thunderbird 500 Twinspark Ownership Report

congrats on your TBTS500 , i currently ride a 350tbts and was eagerly awaiting the launch of TBTS 500 , however couple of things like reduced tire size , funny exhaust pipes and most of all the emotional connect with the bike was missing in my test ride. now looking forward for triumph .


Ride Safe
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Old 10th December 2012, 09:57   #14
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Default Re: Royal Enfield Thunderbird 500 Twinspark Ownership Report

Hearty congratulations Rajneesh for aquiring the RETB 500. Looks like you are the first on Team BHP to do so. Have a safe ride.
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Old 10th December 2012, 10:36   #15
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Default Re: Royal Enfield Thunderbird 500 Twinspark Ownership Report

Quote:
Originally Posted by rajneeesh View Post
Thanks Thumpingheart. The saddlebag is an RE original. Well I don't like the looks of the stock exhaust. Will consider areplacement once the bike is run in.
Dear Rajneeesh - thank you for posting this report. I looked at the same bike in Pune but poor reliability reports have put me off for some time so I'll wait and see how things work out before taking the plunge. On the exhaust, although I also don't like its shape, if I am not mistaken, this bike has fuel injection and the muffler will have a small catalytic converter inside it. I would leave it alone. Exhaust back pressure calibration is an important parameter to realize performance and fuel economy. Actually, the dealer should know such information and guide the customer properly.

Best regards,

Behram Dhabhar
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