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Old 6th June 2013, 11:59   #1
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Default Bullet Thunderbird TBTS 500 versus KTM Duke 390?

Folks

I am a 47 year old man who loves bikes. Weaned on a Jawa & a Bullet. Used to to own an RX-100 but have not used a bike in almost 15 years.

Somebody once said, "If you want to know if a man is middle aged, look between his legs. ... if you find a bike there, he is"

On those lines, I have decided to buy a bike. This is purely for occasional use and not too long distance. I can afford a Harley but thought I will not be able to do justice to it. So, have narrowed it down to either a Bullet Thunderbird TBTS 500 cc or a KTM Duke 390.

I know my heart but wanted to hear what you guys have to say. Which one would you recommend?

BTW, I did look at the Ninja. Think the price-performance is better on the KTM.
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Old 6th June 2013, 12:06   #2
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Default re: Bullet Thunderbird TBTS 500 versus KTM Duke 390?

I am in the same bus (well, not middle aged, about to hit 30), and looking to buy something later this year.

Earlier I would have been very tempted to jump and say KTM 390 - it will be fast etc. I am a previous owner of an Rx so I thought that would be my need when I buy a bike again.

But I have been riding around an old thunderbird recently. Only city use, for short bazaar/friend's house/gym trips. I realise that I like the thunderbird for those purposes - it has authority on the road, and can happily go very slow, and if you wish, make the right noises while going not too fast. Of course Bullets are not at all confidence inspiring at high speeds etc. (may be the new 500 is better) but I think at this age, thunderbirds are the right introduction back into motorcycling.

And people do still look and admire a phat-phati.

Last edited by manolin : 6th June 2013 at 12:10.
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Old 6th June 2013, 12:10   #3
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Default re: Bullet Thunderbird TBTS 500 versus KTM Duke 390?

Hi Sir,

It's always good to see someone following their passions. It's inspiring, to say the least.

The choice of your ride would depend upon various factors:
1. Riding posture preferred - relaxed / lean into the handle bars - to a large extent both the bikes offer a more straight backed relaxed posture, but the greater comfort is in the TBTS 500 for sure.

2. Riding Style: Dynamic/Comfort: The KTM would be your partner in regular hooliganism - riding through the city streets, ripping the accelerator, making full use of the short gearing could be fun. Or you could opt for the comfort of thumping your way along streets and open highways - cruising along at 50 kmph, and being comfortable even at 100 kmph on the TBTS 500.

3. Long Rides: You mentioned that these would be more limited. But in case you intend to use the bikes 200+ kms rides, it would probably be more suitable to have a more relaxed cruiser like the TBTS, as against a constantly angry one like the KTM.

If I may add here, I have the same decision to make - my choices are the same two bikes - a third option I am considering is the Classic 500. Also, I have not test ridden the Duke 390 - am waiting for them to get the demo bikes. I got a call from KTM telling me the bookings are open though.

Do the test rides, take your time with the decision. That's my 2 cents.

Hope it helps.

Cheers,
Sam
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Old 6th June 2013, 12:59   #4
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Default Re: Bullet Thunderbird TBTS 500 versus KTM Duke 390?

Buy the one which you like bro. Its really simple. Buying a bike is never a democratic process where every side has to be heard. There is just one opinion that really counts, and that is yours.

You would typically be classified under the broad term "born again biker" seeing as life caught up and you have probably been a cage enclosed family man for the past 15 odd years (I'm 42, and I never stopped riding).

Both these bikes would appeal to a born again biker. Depends on the biker. The bikes themselves are chalk and cheese.

Wait for the 390 to be launched, then ride the two bikes preferably back to back. Preferably somewhere where you can at least half open each of them out. Then buy the one which made you smile wider.

Last edited by ebonho : 6th June 2013 at 13:01.
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Old 6th June 2013, 13:25   #5
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Default Re: Bullet Thunderbird TBTS 500 versus KTM Duke 390?

I would say Ninja 650 . Duke 390 would be very RAW to you . If you can afford why not ninja 650 ? , you can also take your kids ,wife or even grand kids(if you have ) as pillion without they being uncomfortable . You live only once , make it better .
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Old 6th June 2013, 14:03   #6
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Default Re: Bullet Thunderbird TBTS 500 versus KTM Duke 390?

Quote:
Originally Posted by ebonho View Post
Buy the one which you like bro. Its really simple. Buying a bike is never a democratic process where every side has to be heard. There is just one opinion that really counts, and that is yours.

You would typically be classified under the broad term "born again biker" seeing as life caught up and you have probably been a cage enclosed family man for the past 15 odd years (I'm 42, and I never stopped riding).

Both these bikes would appeal to a born again biker. Depends on the biker. The bikes themselves are chalk and cheese.

Wait for the 390 to be launched, then ride the two bikes preferably back to back. Preferably somewhere where you can at least half open each of them out. Then buy the one which made you smile wider.
+1 to that. I myself am in the braod term category and fell in love with the KTM 200 with just one ride and bought it the very next day. Feel 18 all over again!!
In fact, if you are not going to ride too much, like you have mentioned, 200 is still a good buy
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Old 6th June 2013, 14:55   #7
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Default Re: Bullet Thunderbird TBTS 500 versus KTM Duke 390?

Quote:
Originally Posted by sridhu View Post
Folks

I am a 47 year old man who loves bikes. Weaned on a Jawa & a Bullet. Used to to own an RX-100 but have not used a bike in almost 15 years.

Somebody once said, "If you want to know if a man is middle aged, look between his legs. ... if you find a bike there, he is"

On those lines, I have decided to buy a bike. This is purely for occasional use and not too long distance. I can afford a Harley but thought I will not be able to do justice to it. So, have narrowed it down to either a Bullet Thunderbird TBTS 500 cc or a KTM Duke 390.

I know my heart but wanted to hear what you guys have to say. Which one would you recommend?

BTW, I did look at the Ninja. Think the price-performance is better on the KTM.
If your idea of relaxation is a stroll/jog in the park, the Thunderbird 500 will do just fine. On the other hand, if you love playing tennis or squash, buy the Duke 390.

Cheers,

Jay
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Old 6th June 2013, 15:07   #8
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Default Re: Bullet Thunderbird TBTS 500 versus KTM Duke 390?

Quote:
Originally Posted by sridhu View Post
This is purely for occasional use and not too long distance.
Based on just this statement, I'd say avoid the Thunderbird. I have a TB, not the 500, but the 350, when I bought the bike I used to take it everywhere, but since I've picked up a commuter bike I now dread riding the 'Bird in traffic. I use it only for long rides, where she's absolutely perfect. On the plus side, the Bird (at least the model that I have, AVL '07) will start up without any issues, even after a month of not being used. Buy a bike that you'll ride often. A friend rushed to pick up a Harley as soon as they were released. He's selling the bike now because he doesn't find the time to use it.

Nothing beats back-to-back test rides when you're trying to decide between bikes. There's only so much you can get from an online forum. I too am looking for a new bike that I can use for 'fun' and from the online descriptions I fell in love with the CBR 250. But one test ride and I disliked it intensely, too boring (CBR 250 owners, no offense).

Ride both the Duke and the TB500 and buy the one that brings a smile to your face. Fortunately for you, both the companies RE and Bajaj seem to be good about offering long test rides. Since these are two very different types of bikes, you'll know at once which one to go for as soon as you ride both.

Last edited by am1m : 6th June 2013 at 15:27. Reason: Adding more info
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Old 6th June 2013, 18:01   #9
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Default Re: Bullet Thunderbird TBTS 500 versus KTM Duke 390?

Same here Sridhu. I am 45 and own a trouble free Karizma (which has been driven 5k kms in 9 years!) which I use for an occasional tennis court run. Need a bike for purely recreational use which will be driven very occasionally. Had already owned a Bullet 500 and vowed to never go back to that phat-phatti as they have still not been able to sort out its build even after so many years. Also owned many Hondas, Bajaj Calibers/KB100s and RX 100s previously.

I am weening towards a Ninja 650. But also on my list are the Duke 390 (after seeing it when it launches), Aquila Pro GV 650 (but it needs hi-octane fuel, so a maybe) and HD Superlow (higher cost and absolutely rubbish ground clearance BUT its a HARLEY). And I would rather now go for a well engineered product that would last me my remaining biking lifetime.

Last edited by dkaile : 6th June 2013 at 18:04.
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Old 6th June 2013, 18:51   #10
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Default Re: Bullet Thunderbird TBTS 500 versus KTM Duke 390?

Many have told this earlier and on this very thread as well. You do have lot of Born Again Riders on this forum as well and I see a majority of them are with KTM with a couple on RE Bullet TB 500. Make your move after you do som thorough research.

If you can live with the heat and constant gear shifts go in for KTM.
If you are looking for something relaxing with more comfort to be thrown in go for TB 500.
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Old 6th June 2013, 19:31   #11
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Default Re: Bullet Thunderbird TBTS 500 versus KTM Duke 390?

I think another important factor that I used to miss is the weight of the bike.

TBTS and all bullets weigh a ton. Can you pick it up in case of an occasional fall? These can be quite stressful to park in a crowded parking lot.

I used to think I am strong, and I was humbled by a TBTS in a parking lot in Chennai's Spencer Plaza few years ago. I usually get into a gap and move the adjacent bikes with one hand. When I tried it with Bullet, it didn't move an inch.

Ninja 650 is same category. I have a Hyosung GT650N and a Honda CBR250R. Recently when the 650N fell, I just realized how heavy it is. I had to use all my strength to pick it up (I am terribly out of shape now, but I trained in almost five martial arts till about few years ago, and trust me these 650 bikes are heavy)

Help your heart, get yourself a KTM 390! (unless you are like Van Damme/Stallone types )
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Old 6th June 2013, 20:10   #12
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Default Re: Bullet Thunderbird TBTS 500 versus KTM Duke 390?

Quote:
Originally Posted by sridhu View Post
Folks

I am a 47 year old man who loves bikes. Weaned on a Jawa & a Bullet. Used to to own an RX-100 but have not used a bike in almost 15 years.

Somebody once said, "If you want to know if a man is middle aged, look between his legs. ... if you find a bike there, he is"

On those lines, I have decided to buy a bike. This is purely for occasional use and not too long distance. I can afford a Harley but thought I will not be able to do justice to it. So, have narrowed it down to either a Bullet Thunderbird TBTS 500 cc or a KTM Duke 390.

I know my heart but wanted to hear what you guys have to say. Which one would you recommend?

BTW, I did look at the Ninja. Think the price-performance is better on the KTM.


When buying something that you use daily specially something like a bike, always buy with your heart and not your mind. If you don't every time you see the bike you should have bought you will have that longing feeling.

I do not think anyone here can tell you what you should go for as both the bikes are meant to cater different needs. One a laid back relaxed and the other for a manic rider who'd love to rev, rip and carve.

Choose the bike on what your heart say , you wont go wrong.

MP
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Old 6th June 2013, 20:17   #13
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Default

Great thread sir, I was planning to start one on similar lines. I am already 30 and have not owned a bike for more than 4 years now. The last one I owned was a Pulsar 180 which I used for short daily commutes between home and local stations in Mumbai. Since then I have been to Bangalore for 3 years and now in Delhi. Got the chance to hire a CL500 in Manali for two days last month and then biking bug has bit me again ! Went for a TBTS 500 test ride couple of weeks back and was almost about to book it when I decided to hold on for KTM 390. My primary usage would be short weekend rides. I guess I will wait to test ride the KTM before making up my mind. What do you plan sir ?
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Old 6th June 2013, 21:13   #14
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Default Re: Bullet Thunderbird TBTS 500 versus KTM Duke 390?

Me is 31 and in the same dilemma
My options were:
1. CBR250R
2. Duke390
3. TBTS 350/500
4. N300

I was going to go for Ninja300 but the price killed my interest big time. 4L is too much to pay for a 300CC with no ABS. I hate bullets (Don't hate me for that, have had my share of bad experience and respect people who do like them).

CBR250 was also a prospect but is dropped due to low power (as compared to N300 / Duke390).

I have decided to go for Duke 390 as I absolutely loved the stance and the performance to price point of this one. Have TDed a Duke200 and the seating position is fantastic for city driving. Pillion rider's comfort is a different thing though...
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Old 7th June 2013, 06:33   #15
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Default Re: Bullet Thunderbird TBTS 500 versus KTM Duke 390?

I had never considered the weight factor. Have always been able to pick em up but ...
Good point!

The dilemma is 2 fold - old tech vs new and manic driving vs cruising. The bike will not be used for commuting certainly. I am thinking I will combine it with my other passion - photography and hence a weekly/ fortnightly usage of about 150km is probably what will happen. If the wife agrees, may be a couple of trips to Madras.

Like dkaile says, a Harley might be the answer but it feels too much like a poseur's bike. I too like well engineered products.

I think I am leaning towards the TBTS - I can see myself on it. The Duke's neck snapping acceleration might just snap my neck off at my age!

Will decide after the Duke has been ridden; for now, I have booked a TBTS hoping it will be in time for my birthday. If the Duke test ride does not happen before the TBTS becomes available, I will consider that the Flying Spaghetti Monster has decided the matter for me!
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