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Old 1st January 2013, 16:16   #1
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Default My ThunderBird 500 : Ownership review with pictures

Greetings to everyone !


A little History
I have been a bulleteer from about 4 years, when I first bought my RE STD 350 CI. My bull never let me down except I needed more power. STD CI was not made to go 90 kmph, so highway rides were somewhat a no no thing. Though I did cover good miles on my STD 350, covering great distances.

ThunderBird 500 & my love for RE

The first time I saw ThunderBird 500 at Auto Expo, I went kind of crazy. This beauty caught my attention at the first glimpse. I made up mind then and there that I will buy the new TB500 when it gets launched.

Just before the official launch and the streak of delays, came a news that TB500 would be costing something over 2L & I got fairly disappointed. 2L for RE was asking a bit too much. We all know that India is a country where people just love RE, no matter how downgrade and pathetic their QC is.

But, to some relief the official price came to 1.60 L ex-showroom ( 1.74 on road ). The Price tag was still a bit on the upper side, but I booked my ride on 7th Nov 2012.

Booking and wait
Initially I booked the TB 500 Stone ( the matte black one ) & the waiting time started. I was getting impatient and my phone calls to the RE dealership were getting frequent day by day

The First ThunderBird 500 that came for delivery ( Twilight Colour ) to Dehradun. The guy who booked the ride fell short of funds and the Dealership offered me the Bike.

So, I got my funds together and went to the showroom on 10-Dec-2012 & took the delivery this beast.

Day one

TB500 as any other RE motorcycle started showing the niggles that were expected ( not expected, but you always know that something might just go wrong with an RE )
  • Rear Tyre assembly creaked
  • The Disk brakes were sounding weird when applied
  • The rear right hand shock creaked
  • The Rear Number plate is and will always be tilted
  • Rear brake was non existent

I was able to fix the last two problems on my own, Just tightened the shock absorber myself & adjusted the rear brake via the adjuster near the pedal.

Rest of the problems will be fixed on first service ( as promised by the dealership )

First Ride
Being a RE STD 350 CI rider, I was blown away by the sheer power this beast generated. Back in the Day on this forum I read the thread by Jay, about his LB500 and how it pulled like a locomotive. I felt something like that happening with me. Though it's not about top speed with RE, the sheer pulling power was something that I wanted in a long time.

TB500 was quick, easy turning, snappy on all fronts, almost felt complete on all fronts. The Headlight is very bring and projection works awesomely. The handling is very good & as Jay Leno describes in some of his videos, you get a feeling of sitting inside the bike & so it makes it very comfy.

Sitting posture & comfort

The Rear seat is somewhat of a pain to sit in, it actually feels like it was made only for a female rider. So the impression is that either the seats are made for a single rider or a couple.

Sitting posture is great, but on a 70 km ride, my back started to pain and I was actually trying to move in different positions on the seat, just to get some relief.

Noise and niggles

TB500 is powered by the same Classic 500 engine, though for some reason it sounds different. Just to confirm, I started a brand new Classic 500 engine at the dealership for comparison & Tb500 was quieter.

I know not many people like the muffler on TB500, but I was looking for something not as loud as my STD 350. ( I love the sweet thump). The muffler does not gel up with the overall look and feel of the ThunderBird, but I am kind of happy with it.

Engine produces a sweet sound of power if a sudden twist of right hand is done & I love that.

As it's all metal, no other sound is audible.

Things that could be made better

The Instrument panel is shaky on bad roads and I feel it's going to come off, if I continue to ride on such roads.

Both the indicators are shaky and flex a bit too much.

The rear reflector looks too cheap & the empty space below the number plate looks weird. The tail light is beautiful but very very very small and I do not like it because it looks like it came from a 100 CC bike.

If RE was in fact copying Harley in it's design, and they wanted to keep the taillight small, they could have designed it in someway that I would not look so cheap.

Final Verdict

With all the niggles and stuff, I am still very happy with this bike. I love how it sounds and moves & yeah I love the attention it gathers on road.

I hope to clock some good miles on my TB500.

Here are some pictures :
My ThunderBird 500 : Ownership review with pictures-dscn2210.jpg

My ThunderBird 500 : Ownership review with pictures-dscn2211.jpg

My ThunderBird 500 : Ownership review with pictures-dscn2225.jpg

My ThunderBird 500 : Ownership review with pictures-dscn2228.jpg

My ThunderBird 500 : Ownership review with pictures-dscn2231.jpg

My ThunderBird 500 : Ownership review with pictures-dscn2232.jpg

My ThunderBird 500 : Ownership review with pictures-dscn2233.jpg

My ThunderBird 500 : Ownership review with pictures-dscn2236.jpg

My ThunderBird 500 : Ownership review with pictures-dscn2239.jpg

My ThunderBird 500 : Ownership review with pictures-dscn2242.jpg

My ThunderBird 500 : Ownership review with pictures-dscn2244.jpg
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Old 1st January 2013, 16:33   #2
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Default Re: My ThunderBird 500 : Ownership review with pictures

Congratulations for your new ride and thanks for sharing a brilliant first review!

The RE's have always been pretty much low on their overall build quality. Yet, they are from a different league which overshadows all other small niggles.

As far as the Thunderbird 500 is concerned I think the refreshed styling makes it all the more appealing as is evident from the posted photographs!

How much have you burnt through the ODO till date and whats the FE?

Hopw you get many happy miles on this wonderful bike.
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Old 1st January 2013, 16:34   #3
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Default Re: My ThunderBird 500 : Ownership review with pictures

Congratulations on acquiring the bike Shan. It looks gorgeous. Do you have pictures of the Head Lamps in action?

I test drove the Classic 500 sometime ago and have felt the 'pulling power' . It is something! Hopefully your niggles can get sorted quickly and you can have a trouble free ownership.

Ride Safe.
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Old 1st January 2013, 17:47   #4
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Default Re: My ThunderBird 500 : Ownership review with pictures

@nilaykmrsr : Thanks . Nice to know that you are from Dehradun as well. I have done 342 Kms & FE has been 18-22 so far. The thunderbird does have mpg FE display, but for some reason I was unable to get to those options.

@kaushikr : Thanks. Will click a few and post them.

I will be taking the Bull for service as the ODO hits 475, and hopefully the niggles will go away.

Here is another pic that I missed in the first post
My ThunderBird 500 : Ownership review with pictures-dscn2212.jpg
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Old 1st January 2013, 19:09   #5
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Default Re: My ThunderBird 500 : Ownership review with pictures

Hi Shan congrats on your new TB500. I would suggest you to take that sticker off the headlight as that would block the Projector from throwing the light correctly. You can stick it bit upwards in front of the high beam bulb.

Last edited by GTO : 2nd January 2013 at 13:13. Reason: Correcting typos. Please PROOF-READ your posts before submitting
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Old 1st January 2013, 19:10   #6
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Default Re: My ThunderBird 500 : Ownership review with pictures

Congratulations Shan. It is definitely a looker. I saw one on the road and except for the small tail lamp, I loved the way it looks.

Can you pour your views on the following:

- How does the bike handle corners, are you comfortable enough.
- What is your experience on the braking?
- What are the tyre specifications. How confident are you with them under different conditions.
- You have said you are feeling uncomfortable after a 70km ride. How is the overall ride quality?
- I love the console design, but you have said it is not fit well. How is the overall fit and finish?

Congrats again and wishing you many happy miles.

PS: Please get that sticker off the projector lens. It spoils the look and of absolutely no meaning on a Projected lamp.
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Old 1st January 2013, 19:30   #7
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Default Re: My ThunderBird 500 : Ownership review with pictures

Hey Shan, Congratulations on your ride. While the niggles you mentioned are a bit dampner, i hope they get sorted soon.

On the back pain bit, are you tall (above 5'10")? I understand guys above that height will have some backache on long rides due to the posture pressing on the tail bone..

Happy riding!! Have fun and ride safe.
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Old 1st January 2013, 22:33   #8
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Default Re: My ThunderBird 500 : Ownership review with pictures

@sam_b : Thanks. Yeah I am 6'1" & I think I will have to get some remedy for the back pain.

@desideep: Thanks . Yeah I will get that sticker off. I don't really use the high beam, so it's useless anyways.

@para_7k : Thanks & here are the answers.

Quote:
How does the bike handle corners, are you comfortable enough.
The one thing I liked best about TB500, is it's ability to cut corners. But let me clear one thing, If you are cutting corners in speed, it's all good. Though when it comes to making a U turn in small spaces, It's kind of a ridiculously long circle.

Quote:
What is your experience on the braking?
The front brakes are superb, though they make a sound when applied ( RE people say it will go away within 1000 KMS ) ( bad QC : In my opinion ). The Rear Brake was non-existent when I got the delivery. It was so bad that, if compared, drum brakes would be far better. Though I used the brake pedal adjuster & brakes got better.

Bottom Line Braking is not bad, if not excellent.

Quote:
What are the tyre specifications. How confident are you with them under different conditions.
Though I have just crossed 350 KMS mark today, the company fitted tyres are good enough in my opinion.

Front 19" : 90-90-19"
Rear 18" : 120-80-18"

I already have a Pirelli Sports demon 120-80 with me, so I will change it in a day or two.

If I have to make a judgement, I'd say the stock tyres handle very well and I did not notice any slips etc.

Quote:
You have said you are feeling uncomfortable after a 70km ride. How is the overall ride quality?
The overall ride quality is very good. Awesome is the word I am looking for. The handling, the torque, I just love it. As sam_b said, it's about pressure on the tail bone.

Quote:
I love the console design, but you have said it is not fit well. How is the overall fit and finish?
The overall Finish is superb ( visual finish ), actually I have never seen a better finished BULL from RE. This bike has got almost everything finished to perfection. I am just not that happy with the Whole Instrument Panel shaking on bumpy roads ( like that of a Jap bike )
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Old 2nd January 2013, 07:07   #9
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Default Re: My ThunderBird 500 : Ownership review with pictures

Shan
Congrats on the bike and on the fabulous color. On t he console noticed that it shows MPG. Surprised that an Indian bike is showing mikes to gallon instead of kilometres per litre.
Regarding the rear brake, would say its a poor PDI rather than improper QC.
How is engine running? Does it ride smooth even in low speeds/high Gera ? In other words how is the low end torque?
Ride safe mate ensure you gear up well.
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Old 2nd January 2013, 08:46   #10
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Default Re: My ThunderBird 500 : Ownership review with pictures

Shan, congratulations on acquiring the beauty.

I am always a sucker for the lazy thumper. I had customized a 89 bullet in early 90's. Looks like RE came a long way since then. The overall stance and composure looks more mature over the first T'birds. The hazard lights feature is a nice one. The fins get rubber dampers which is a nice add and the black and dull chrome finish on the fins looks good. I presume it also has a pass switch. How is the quality of the switch gear, the plastics quality and feel? And a few pics if possible please.

A few questions, is there a day running light ring around the projector or am I dreaming? And the pillion seat back rest is it a li'l off center or is it the angle from which the pic was shot?

Here are a few unsolicited suggestions!

1. I'd have cut the heel-toe gear shift into toe only and would have drilled swiss-cheese like holes in the lever to make it look cheesier

2. I'd have also replaced the plastic mirrors to chrome ones - probably would've borrowed from the Avenger or better, sourced round chrome ones to suit the curves.

3. I'd add a small number plate lamp that TVS used for their 150 cc scooter which they later fitted to their scooty I guess.

4. I'd have attempted fitting an old jawa/yezdi type of mudguard at the back.

Looks like I am trying to live my dream through you, enough said

Congrats once again for the wonderful acquisition, take good care of it and ride safe.
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Old 2nd January 2013, 09:56   #11
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Default Re: My ThunderBird 500 : Ownership review with pictures

Congratulations Shan. The bike looks awesome.Keep us posted on its performance.
Booked mine on 18th Dec '12.Waiting period is six months
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Old 2nd January 2013, 12:11   #12
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Default Re: My ThunderBird 500 : Ownership review with pictures

Wow. Silencer is looking very good and the powder coated black engine is a departure from the tradition.

I agree with you about the tail lamp, it lack design flair. At that rear relector reminded me of my HERO cycle.

Front shocks are two narrow/thin. I was looking for beefed up shocks. How is the front suspension feel when you apply the disc brake ?
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Old 2nd January 2013, 20:37   #13
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Default Re: My ThunderBird 500 : Ownership review with pictures

Quote:
Originally Posted by soonya View Post
Shan, congratulations on acquiring the beauty.

How is the quality of the switch gear, the plastics quality and feel? And a few pics if possible please.

A few questions, is there a day running light ring around the projector or am I dreaming? And the pillion seat back rest is it a li'l off center or is it the angle from which the pic was shot?
Thanks , The gear box is overall very very smooth. I did false neutrals just two times in the first 100 kms and none after that.

The Light Ring can be turned on anytime you like by turning on parking light switch

The back seat is ok, the angle of the pic was a little off.


Quote:
Originally Posted by LOKSIN View Post
Congratulations Shan. The bike looks awesome.Keep us posted on its performance.
Booked mine on 18th Dec '12.Waiting period is six months
Now, I feel lucky as I got mine in about a month. The Booking period is near 8 months to 10 months here at Dehradun. Hope you get it soon. Waiting kills me.

Quote:
Originally Posted by ku69rd View Post
Shan
Congrats on the bike and on the fabulous color. On t he console noticed that it shows MPG. Surprised that an Indian bike is showing mikes to gallon instead of kilometres per litre.
Don't be surprised. That feature is not yet available. The Instrument panel supports it. But I guess FE indicator will only be used on Export bikes. Here it does not show any FE.

Quote:
Originally Posted by ku69rd View Post
Regarding the rear brake, would say its a poor PDI rather than improper QC.
How is engine running? Does it ride smooth even in low speeds/high Gera ? In other words how is the low end torque?
Ride safe mate ensure you gear up well.
Engine is very smooth and gear shifting is way better than the Classic 500 ( I don't know why). Low end torque is amazing, really, trust me when I say that I never expected this good low end from this bike.

Quote:
Originally Posted by F150 View Post
Wow. Silencer is looking very good and the powder coated black engine is a departure from the tradition.

I agree with you about the tail lamp, it lack design flair. At that rear relector reminded me of my HERO cycle.

Front shocks are two narrow/thin. I was looking for beefed up shocks. How is the front suspension feel when you apply the disc brake ?
Front shocks might be looking thin, though they are very thick, thicker than Classic 500. On applying the front brakes, suspension is very steady and feels rock solid. No complaint there.

Thanks all you guys for the wishes. I am taking her for first service day after tomorrow as the ODO shows 455 KMS. Will post the Experience.
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Old 2nd January 2013, 21:00   #14
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Default Re: My ThunderBird 500 : Ownership review with pictures

Quote:
Originally Posted by soonya View Post
Here are a few unsolicited suggestions!

1. I'd have cut the heel-toe gear shift into toe only and would have drilled swiss-cheese like holes in the lever to make it look cheesier

2. I'd have also replaced the plastic mirrors to chrome ones - probably would've borrowed from the Avenger or better, sourced round chrome ones to suit the curves.

3. I'd add a small number plate lamp that TVS used for their 150 cc scooter which they later fitted to their scooty I guess.

4. I'd have attempted fitting an old jawa/yezdi type of mudguard at the back.

Looks like I am trying to live my dream through you, enough said

Congrats once again for the wonderful acquisition, take good care of it and ride safe.
These are some great suggestions. Will definitely try to do some of these.

Thanks
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Old 3rd January 2013, 10:57   #15
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Default Re: My ThunderBird 500 : Ownership review with pictures

Quote:
Originally Posted by shan2129 View Post
@sam_b : Thanks. Yeah I am 6'1" & I think I will have to get some remedy for the back pain.
Thought so..
Try some extra padding on the seat and you should be good to go. Also, do update us on resolution of the niggles post servicing.

Hoping to receive mine this month!
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