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Old 15th August 2013, 16:58   #1
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Default A biker's heart thumps again: The RE Thunderbird 500

Let me start by saying that I so missed not being able to create a thread around my car experience. So this time, i did not want to miss the action. So here it is, right from the start. My 1st and only bike until now was a Kawasaki KB 125 bought in 1998. What a bike it was. Awesome power the 2 stroke engine produced and i always ended up utilizing all of the horses back then. A lot of memories and a couple of slides, once tearing my ligament. My Studds RB2 did an awesome job then or else i wouldn't have been sitting today sharing this. Always strap tight.

Moving on, completed my education and landed myself a job. As any car aficionado, immediately bought my first car in 2005, a zen and sold off the KB since it wasn't in a very good shape due to multiple engine overhauls and it had become very unreliable. Now after owning 5 cars ever since and currently owning a Vento AT, the seed to own a bike again was planted with the plethora of new options coming up. Noticeable ones being the KTM, Ninjas, HD. The miserable traffic conditions in Gurgaon also encourage one to have a bike and zip across. Test drove the Duke sometime back and found it to be a little risky for my profile. I am now 32 years old , loaded with responsibilities of a wife, daughter, parents and EMIs. Yes, in my college days, this would have been the choice. The most suited option being a HD not in reach, had to suppress the feelings. But as u know, once its seeded becomes difficult to eradicate.

Saw a neighbour riding a classic and quite liked the bike. Never really appreciated the REs until now, but the looks of the bike drew me strongly. And the news around Sidharth Lal and his dedication to take the company to newer heights by improving the quality kind of encouraged me to move forward. Next stop Manzil motors for a test drive one Saturday. Test drive went fine and the tussle between mind and heart stared. Difficult to justify spending upwards of a lac on a bike now with so many responsibilities and loan EMIs to service. Do note that this dealership is just awesome, one of a kind, with friendly staff, all RE models and accessories on display and the CEO, Puneet Gaur and avid rider himself. Anyways convinced wifey for a test drive and we again visited Manzil motors. This time we rode with the full pack being myself, wifey and my daughter. We drove the classic and TB.

I found the TB more comfortable and was drawn to it being a newer model. My theory, a newer model will always better the prior ones. Wifey also gave her thumbs up to the TB so we finally agreed to put our money on a TB350. So the booking was made on Aug 3 and the wait started. Dealer says 2 months and i am already finding it difficult to pass the nights. Hopefully weekdays will pass easily due to work. Somewhere though you feel like a kid waiting for the call to come asking you to collect your toy.

Meanwhile i sought help from fellow bhpians on what to expect and surfed the net around RE experiences. Thanks to all who helped me in this time.

Moving on to Aug 8, when i called few dealers in Delhi enquiring about bike's availability. Lucky for me few TB500s were available in Delhi and all this while it was already on my mind to upgrade to 500 lest i may regret later. Anyways, an evening with few close friends who also recommended buying a 500 and i decided to pick up the 500 next day which also happened to be Eid. What a beautiful day. Next challenge was to manage family expectations and take delivery of bike on same day and also arrange cash since it also happened to be a bank holiday. As they say, where there is a will, there is a way. Offered prayers early morning, wrote an email to dealer confirming that i will pick the bike followed by a call . Managed cash from family and took off at around 10 am for the dealer. My darling daughter , Maira also accompanied me on the journey. I asked my brother to meet me at the dealer since he will have to drive the car back home. Finally i reached the dealer, test drove the bike, still in 2 minds of whether to spend the extra money for 500 or wait for my booked 350. My brother joins me and i ask him to drive the 350. He comes back wanting the need for more power. Drove the 500 and came back beaming. So we decide to put our money on the 500. He took off with Maira and my Vento AT while i proceeded with the formalities. Finally got the bike delivered with the addition of the only accessory being a leg guard from the dealer. There was some whistling noise from the silencer which appears to be due to something being loose. Anyways after spending nearly 4 hours there and numerous calls from home, i decided to move on having this looked into after.

Next stop, helmet wala. Not great variety, so picked a basic steelbird full face helmet for now. Next the fuel station . A full tank cost just under a thousand. Tipped the patrol attendant 50 rs for sweets since he asked for it and now the journey to my folks place in Delhi begins where everyone is waiting for me. The ride is very pliant and build quality right now appears very solid. Hope it remains this way forever. Love the muted thuds on road irregularities. I keep the rpm under 2000 and speed under 50. I know it already that the beast has loads of torque up its sleeve and after the initial run in, this bike will be so much fun to ride. Especially the healthy torque. Eid celebrations continue from here on and we ride in the car for rest of the day.

Decided to pick up the bike on way back home in night. But, i miss a step on a dark stairway and injure my left foot ligament. This is the third time i injure the same foot albeit one of them being 15 years back, fortunately Maira in my arms was fine. We decide to head back home now and pick the bike later. Next day wife insists i consult a doc and he says bed rest for 3 days and no riding for 3 weeks. I am crying already. Imagine my state. I am thinking, god did not want me to have the bike before the original committed due date. My brother and folks come over and i hand him the keys, papers and helmet. So the beast is his to enjoy for a few days. At least someone is able to do that if not me. He is in awe of the bike and decides to ride it to Gurgaon on Monday on way to work. So finally i have the bike with me now. Teambhp key chain does the honor for the key. The odo says 85 kms. Doc recommended i wear an ankle brace and stressed on one being made by Aircast. It also gets delivered the same day, i put it on, good support to my injured leg and move out for a ride to the barber. Return back with odo at 115 kms taking the longest possible route back home . Enjoyed the ride thoroughly. Wife insists i dont ride it to work just yet so the beast been at home.

I noticed the throw of the projector lamps to be short. I do not have any other bike experience to compare with but at low beam, the throw was insufficient to identify irregularities and brake in time. Will get it checked at the workshop and see if it can be sorted by adjusting lest i will think seriously on upgrading the lights.

Car cleaner has been asked to clean the bike also daily, he asks for 100 rs a month and its a done deal. I watch the bike each evening while returning from work and mornings too while heading to work. I-day today. I pick up the SLR and head down to take a few pics. Here are couple of pics taken today followed by a ride within Gurgaon with full load on. Maira insists we ride and not drive. Itching to ride it for 500 kms and get the 1st service done post which i can open her a bit more and enjoy the torque more so. Manzil motors organised a breakfast drive too today to Dhauj which i so miss not being able to attend due to the foot. Will wait for the next one though. Met the CEO Puneet Gaur at the dealership when i went to cancel my original booking. Great chap , very enthusiastic of RE and a lucky guy to be doing what he loves doing. I always wanted to run a dealership too, but none to back me up. Do look forward to more rides that he will organise later and will be part of them too. Couldn't find RE helmet and jacket in my size. Waiting for it to arrive so that i pick it up too.

Ride safe. Hope to ride it to work tomorrow and will update the thread basis my experience.

Fast forward to 18Aug, the odo says 192 kms. Drove to Manzil motors last night too but was late and then today evening. Realised the need of a balaclava while riding with the visor up. One faces a lot of dust on our roads. Found a few options online but could not buy the monkey cap. On my visit to Manzil motors, bought a buff for 1098, this comes with a reflecting strip also. The sales guy was kind enough to demonstrate various modes of wearing it. I will use it majorly to cover nose and mouth, eyes protected by spectacles. Rode back with it and enjoyed the same. Very effective. I tried the RE full face helmet again and realised that it doesn't fit too well and is quite heavy too. My steelbird is doing a good job and will not upgrade immediately.

Got following three things checked:

1. Whistling sound is coming from silener. It could also mean replacing it. The SA asked me to get it checked again at 1st service. So the whistles continue for now,

2. Beam has been adjusted and brought upto the highest possible point. Wasn't dark so could not test and comment. Will do so in couple of days and comment . 2 other new TBs got the same adjustment done

3. Idle rev has been increased slightly allowing the bike to start using self in one go without having to use the throttle.

I list below my experiene from bike upto now:

Looks: it definiely is a looker. See it from any angle and its a good looking bike. It may not have the traditional looks of a classic which befits the bullet more but then this is the best RE till date and difficult to ignore when buying one.

Ride: very pliant whether single or with pillion. I rode pillion also with my brother riding it. Just absorbs minor bumps and since have been doing sedate speeds, cannot comment on high speed manners right now.

Brakes: comes with discs at both ends. This is the best RE has done until now and only bike with discs at both ends. Stopping power currently feels adequate , will add more when try high speed stoppings.

Handling: you need to respect the RE. Its very heavy nd this is my first RE. Dread dropping it and sliding. So need to build my confidence prior to trying any demanding turns on th bike.

Engine: upto 2000 rpm is what i have used until now and its a breeze. The bike pulls strongly with mild throttle inputs. This engine has loads of torque and am itching to complete the run in to enjoy it fully.

Build: again very solid, better than what i expected. The muted thuds on the roads sound too good and will put to shame any foreign product, i hope it remains this way for a long time to come.

Electricals: this ones loaded with projector lamps, led tail lights , parking blinkers, backlit instrument cluster, digital fuel gauge, awesome man. Its hard to ignore these and they all work beautifully, the switchgear, handle bar and levers are also pretty solid and feels made of good quality stuff.

Tires: got MRFs. Wanted these only over ceats that also come as OE. Have heard good reviews of them. And feel good up to now. Do not have any options to upgrade to. Hope to not get a puncture with no help around. Will also evaluate subscribing to one of the services for this.

Some of the bads noticed:

Engine sounds guff when revved. The workshop guy revved today up to 4000 rpm when stationary. Hope, it sounds better when i use it after the run in

The mud flaps or lack of it throws a lot of dirt on a wet road onto shoes and lower legs. Will have to evaluate changing these too.

Some points i noticed:

The gear lever does not work well with foot on both levers. I.e. trying to downshift with paw , up with heel and not use the middle footrest. Its better to use the footrest and position your feet in a manner that one is ready to use in one direction only.

I hope this is of help to readers and i will update my ownership reviews regularly. A lot will change after the 1st service.
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Last edited by GTO : 19th August 2013 at 13:57. Reason: Adding paragraph spacing for superior readability
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Old 16th August 2013, 13:13   #2
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Default Re: A biker's heart thumps again... This time to a beast.... The RE TB 500 :D

Congratulations! Sorry to hear about your leg, but wish you and your family happy miles on the beast
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Old 19th August 2013, 13:58   #3
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Default Re: A biker's heart thumps again: The RE Thunderbird 500

Thread moved from the Assembly Line (The "Assembly Line" Forum section) to Motorbikes. Thanks for sharing!
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Old 20th August 2013, 16:06   #4
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Default Re: A biker's heart thumps again: The RE Thunderbird 500

Congratulations on the TB 500. What surprises me is less than a week for booking and delivery of TB 500?Lucky you. Or did you book the bike on 3rd August 2012? And dealer said 2 months waiting for TB 350? here in Pune TB 350 waiting is told upwards of 10 months and TB 500 4-6 months. I booked the TB 500 in mid April. No signs of delivery in immediate future.
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Old 20th August 2013, 17:54   #5
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Originally Posted by the VTEC guy View Post
Congratulations on the TB 500. What surprises me is less than a week for booking and delivery of TB 500?Lucky you. Or did you book the bike on 3rd August 2012? And dealer said 2 months waiting for TB 350? here in Pune TB 350 waiting is told upwards of 10 months and TB 500 4-6 months. I booked the TB 500 in mid April. No signs of delivery in immediate future.
I gather that waiting periods down south are much higher. The day I booked my bike, another person booked for a friend of his who stays in Bangalore . Bumped into few other folks at dealership who got their bikes in 2 weeks too. You should also evaluate getting a bike from here. I could not understand the reason though of varied waiting periods. The only explanation appears that demand is higher in certain pockets and RE still wants to maintain some equilibrium on supply side. One has to keep dealers also interested. And yes I booked within this month only. However, ended up taking delivery from another dealer who had the bikes ready.
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Old 2nd September 2013, 07:46   #6
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1st service update
422 kms
22 days
Serviced at Manzil Motors in Gurgaon
Attended by Danish
Took 4.5 hours
Cost 866
Petrol was measured using a scale and recorded.
Additionally replaced silencer in warranty and the whistling noise has gone.
Hour digit on clock is flashing. The advisor said this happens due to wash fouling with electricals and will be fine shortly.
The bike feels much smoother after the service.
Overall satisfied with the service and staff response.

As per the manual, I can ride the bike upto 90kmph. I set off on the Gurgaon Faridabad expressway in the evening to enjoy the rev band released for use after the service. It felt great and the bike pulls strongly with no need to downshift. Best enjoyed while cruising at 50-60 followed by a twist of the throttle on finding an opportunity to overtake. I could feel some vibrations at speed of 90 kmph. More on it after a longer ride.

You get a lovely view of the city from the Aravalis at this time and I enjoyed the ride back home.

I have gained confidence and learned to lean into corners early and am carrying more speed into the corners now.

The headlight is adequate and visibility is good on both low and high beam. The position of the flasher is a difficult to use though.

I had to brake suddenly on a traffic signal while entering a right turn. The brakes and tires worked well and the bike stopped without any drama with just a slight sideways skid of the locked rear wheel.

Bought a new helmet too. The RE full face matt black for 4799. It goes well with the bike. The visor works beautifully with one finger and insulates from external noises well. This however, amplifies the wind noise around the helmet.

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Pictures of helmet and bill also enclosed.

I want to avoid a puncture situation on the bike and Manzil Motors suggested putting a slime into the tube which will ensure that any small punctures get sealed on removing the nail and rotating the wheel. Will cost around 1600. I will research on the same before deciding especially from a handling,* performance and cost view point.
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Old 8th February 2015, 12:07   #7
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Few updates which could be useful for fellow bhpians.

Installed HIDs into the TB stock projector. Got 6000 Calvin lamps 35watts. Some dealer from Karol Bagh who has a shop in Palam Vihar gurgaon too. Found a link from bhpian only who did his bullet lights. People would be keen on knowing the install and impact. Install was fairly simple with no wires cut. Just open the headlight, replace stock buld with HID unit, plug the wires and fix the ballast. The ballast has been put under the fork, behind the number plate securely with use of double sided tape, elfee and ties. The effect is nice to look at and the choice of color was good. It's nice and bright and maintains the original look of the bike. It doesn't resolve my issue of better lighting since throw remains same. So I guess a phase 2 will follow soon. But with a projector already in place, an HID begged to be installed. It has come with 6 month warranty and is of some brand rhyming with Ed Hardy. I guess Tech Hardy. I like the color and the way the light matches the Audis and fortuner here in Gurgaon

The other upgrade was of the off-road exhaust which is available with RE now. The feeble original sound is much better and the performance is also slightly improved with the delivery feeing lighter and smoother. Another must for all TBs out there.

Will keep posted on other changes I do on the bike.

Overall have done over 5000 kms and the thing that impresses me most is the build of the bike. I wasn't expecting such a tight build from Enfield given their reputation. But I am amazed. Maybe the new management or the factory is helping but the end result is that the brand is much more respected and I am proud of my bike.

The battery died on me sometime back since bike was not used for a month or so due to extreme cold in Gurgaon, had to kick start it and again to my surprise it came alive in the second kick. With regular riding , the battery is charged up and supporting well. I am noticing some wobbling of the handle and may ask the SC to check alignment next time. The Center area of the rear tire which comes in contact with the road most is wearing out more and cornering confidence is a little low. Tempted to change the tires but will wait for as long as possible. Will definitely try out for something like metzeller which come stock on KTMs for their grippy nature or any other tires which help grip. Braking as usual remains strong with a few hard brakes always stoping the bike bang on helped by the weight of the bike I guess. I never felt this confident riding the lighter bikes and again kudos to RE.

Until next time. Chow
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