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Old 8th June 2014, 11:44   #1
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Default Royal Enfield Thunderbird 500: Lightning strikes

Owning a Royal Enfield is a dream come true for my whole family. The Pulsar 150 classic has been in my family for more than 10 years now and I had been riding it for 7 years. It had served me well and broke down only once till date. However I feel age had caught up with it and it just could not be driven as comfortably as before. The engine had become rough and no amount of trips to the mechanic seemed to fix it.

So in October my parents and I decided to get a replacement for the trusty old Pulsar. I became a regular visitor to Team-Bhp (Regular might be an understatement. I check-in everyday fanatically ). My first choice was the KTM Duke. I had been smitten by its looks and insane power. I had taken a friend's bike for a long test drive. I took my parents along to the KTM showroom in mid november. Both my parents did not approve of its design. Main complaint being the tiny Pillion seat and water splashing from the rear tyre during monsoons. Also I'm close to 6' tall and quite on the heavier side . So the Duke was ruled out.

Next on the list was the Honda CBR 250R. My parents preferred this bike over the Duke but still felt it wouldn't suit my build. I, however was very much attracted to it. Again I took my parents to the Honda showroom and took a test drive. I just wasn't satisfied with the test drive. Maybe due to the fact that the test drive vehicle was not maintained properly. So anyway I kept going online to check reviews and upcoming bikes and learnt about the refreshed version of the Ceeber with the 300cc engine. I would like to thank Honda for making me wait for the new Ceeber, which helped me in going for the Thunderbird.

My parents had always told me to go for a Royal Enfield but after checking so many reviews online I felt I could not take the headache of maintaining one. In the mean time I had been telling them to wait for the Delhi Auto expo where the new CBR 300R would be announced. When they did unveil it at the expo I learnt it would take a lot of time to reach the showrooms and also the power output and features would never justify the price.

On Feb 20 (Sunday) my mother came in to my room and advised me to go for a Royal Enfield as my dad has also been very keen to own one. To be frank even I had been wanting to own one at some level. I said 'why not? Sure let's go check it out.' and accompanied my parents to the Royal Enfield Brand store at Besant Nagar, Chennai. Once we got there I checked out all the bikes and sat on everyone of them. They could not provide me a test drive. So we went to Sri Velavan Motors on Greams road. They had a Thunderbird 350 for test drive. I took it for a spin and came back with a huge smile on my face. The bike was marvellous.

I enquired about the price, colors and then decided to go for the 500cc model in Twilight shade. The quoted price was 1,85,230. I immediately paid a booking amount of 5K. The waiting period was mentioned to be 2-3 months. In this time I kept coming to Team-Bhp and found marvellous threads and posts by J.Ravi, Arizona Jim, Majumdarda, Mobike008 and others. You all have been very crucial in instilling confidence in my decision. I always knew Royal Enfield enjoys a huge fan following and even from a young age I had known about various clubs for Enfield riders.

I realised the Thunderbird would not be one without problems but to be frank no bike ever, is. However I had faith that for any problem which might arise there would be a large, well-informed community at help. Now I could not wait for my Thunderbird to arrive. I kept calling the Showroom almost every week after the first month of booking. They were adamant about the 3 month long wait.

In May i learnt about the Logo change and new colors for the Thunderbird. I immediately called up the showroom and enquired about the same. They said I could change my color of choice if I wanted to. I was thrilled as I wasn't really a fan of the old colors. I saw the Thunderbird in Lightning shade and it was love at first sight. The color was beautiful and felt very Premium. I hadn't been a fan of the old Thunderbird logo as it felt very cheap and stencil like. I was thrilled when I saw the new metallic logo with the thick font. I know many do not share my views on the new logo but on the Thunderbird the new one looks absolutely perfect and substantial. I informed the showroom to change my booking to Lightning and carried on with the wait.

Finally on the 30th of May I was informed that my Bike had arrived and that I could make the payment. On June 3rd I made a payment of 1,80,585 (5K minused from booking advance) including 350 for Smart card RC. The next day, June 4th I took delivery around 6:30 PM. I was made to wait for close to 2 hours and realised the service was quite pathetic. I was informed that my Bike would be ready by 4PM, however at 5:30 they said it had gone for a water wash after which it would be dried, polished, inspected and given to me.

It took a lot of coaxing to get them work fast. When it did arrive boy oh boy! What a sight! It was absolutely gorgeous. Big, beautiful engine and the Projector headlamp, huge tank! I realised however that they hadn't really washed, or polished it properly. The indicators on both front and rear were misaligned. I asked them to fix the indicators and got a most absurd reply that "This is how they are on every bike sir." I tried reasoning but gave up. I did a quick PDI and after I was satisfied signed the papers and took off.

I took my brother along and went straight to the temple and got God's blessings. The ride back home to Kottivakkam was a challenge. I had to drive through Rush hour on Mount road and realised how big and heavy the bike was. At the same time I was having the time of my life. Although Enfields are quite common, people still turned their heads and looked. I reached home and took my mother for a ride. She was also very excited. I couldn't sleep that night due to the excitement.

Forgive me for the long story. Now for the views about the bike:

The Seat is large and soft. Shifting from a Pulsar 150, this seat feels like a sofa. I have sit on the pillion seat as well and found that to be comfortable as well but not as much as the rider's seat. The back rest helps a lot, although it's small. It gives enough support so as to prevent you from falling off due to the bike's tremendous pick up. The handlebar is quite high, with perfectly placed rear view mirrors. The mirrors are almost at eye level so you don't need to take your eyes away from the road much.They also provide a decent range of view.

The switchgear is not well finished and feels sub-standard. The switches have a nice response though. On the Right hand side, you can find the following switches:
Engine Kill switch
Engine start/ stop
Head lamp:- LED ring - Main head lamp

On the left hand side the following switches can be found:
Turn signals
High beam/ Low beam
Horn
Choke
Pass

Of all the switches I only found the pass switch a little hard to reach.

The instrument cluster has two pods and is a mix of modern and retro elements. The cylindrical design with the chrome finish is very retro with a classic analog Tachometer reading upto 8.5K rpm, along with indicators for Neutral, Turn signals, Side stand, High\low beam, etc. These indicators are easy to read at night but during day time they are a real pain. The brightness of the backlight is just not sufficient and it is very hard to make out the signals. The Left pod has the analog speedometer along with a digital display showing the mileage(Kms driven), dual trip meters, Time, Fuel levels, Service due, etc. The display has a cool blue back light and is gorgeous to look at during night time. The speed is shown in both Kmph and Mph. This is the first Royal enfield bike to feature hazard lights as well. The switch is located in the middle of the twin pod cluster flanked by the Select and Set buttons on the left and Right respectively.

The headlamp is a projector unit with LED ring for the Low beam and a Halogen bulb for the High beam. The illumination from the projector is bright enough for every situation and if needed the halogen throws more light to the surroundings. The only thing which I did not like about the Headlamp unit is that the Projector and Halogen are Yellow bulbs but the LED ring is white. RE should have maintained a uniform color. The indicators use LEDs and are very bright and clear. The tail lamp is an LED cluster which has a unique shape. It is very attractive and bright. I only wish it was a bit bigger or differently shaped so as to avoid the large gap below the number plate on the mud guard which looks very weird.

The 20 litre Fuel tank is large and Tear-drop shaped with an offset Fuel filler opening. This is to make sure it can be filled upto the brim even when on the side stand. Although the people at the showroom recommend only filling it with around 13 litres of fuel, which was very disappointing. They said it was to prevent air lock. The tank has minor imperfections and undulations, which I was informed were due to welding.

The battery cover and Air filter cover are beautifully shaped. They are easy to open but difficult to close back. From the battery cover you have access to an allen wrench which is used to open the tablet shaped utility boxes, containing Tools and Medical kit. I haven't opened these yet.

The Tyre at the rear is nice and big which suits the rear really well. The front tyre however is too skinny and robs the bike off it's muscular look. The front forks although bigger than before, could still be made larger. The disc brakes on front and rear are quite powerful but it is advisable to maintain slow and controllable speeds, as good brakes don't guarantee a perfect stop. The suspension is stiff for better handling and it does it very well. The Foot pegs are comfortably positioned and give a kingly stance to the rider. The gears shift with a nice clunky sound. I occasionally get false neutrals, which sometime become dangerous during traffic at intersections.

The Acceleration is amazing even at low RPMs and can give pillions a good fright. The throttle is a bit hard and leads to wrist pain. It might also be due to the shape of the handlebars as they force the wrists to fall at a weird angle. This is a small issue or maybe I need to change my seating/ gripping style. The exhaust note feels very personal now, in the sense that the rider can hear it well but doesn't disturb others in the vicinity. It is definitely softer than the older bullets, but it is mainly due to engine refinement, which I found to be quite reliable so far, as the bike starts up on the first go every morning using the Electric start. Well, to sum up here are the key points to look for:


Design: Large tank, Projector headlamp, comfy split-seat, LED tail lamp, Comfy foot pegs position.

Build quality: Feels very sturdy, Paint color is beautiful but it is very soft and is scratched very easily. Black paint on the engine isn't very good though.

Ride quality: Tremendous pickup, Thump is gone

Issues so far: Throttle is hard, Shuts off when idling, high pitched knocking sound when idling around 1K Rpm(fixed). Paint gets scratched easily.

Here are some pictures of my ride:
Attached Thumbnails
Royal Enfield Thunderbird 500: Lightning strikes-img20140605wa0003.jpg  

Royal Enfield Thunderbird 500: Lightning strikes-img20140605wa0005.jpg  

Royal Enfield Thunderbird 500: Lightning strikes-img_20140605_163921-small.jpg  

Royal Enfield Thunderbird 500: Lightning strikes-img_20140605_163956-small.jpg  

Royal Enfield Thunderbird 500: Lightning strikes-img_20140605_164008-small.jpg  

Royal Enfield Thunderbird 500: Lightning strikes-img_20140605_164035-small.jpg  


Last edited by ChiranJeev31 : 22nd June 2014 at 12:33. Reason: added details regarding ride quality and user experience.
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Old 8th June 2014, 17:43   #2
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Default re: Royal Enfield Thunderbird 500: Lightning strikes

Quote:
Originally Posted by ChiranJeev31 View Post
Owning a Royal Enfield is a dream come true for my whole family. The Pulsar 150 classic has been in my family for more than 10 years now and I had been riding it for 7 years...
. In this time I kept coming to Team-Bhp and found marvellous threads and posts by J.Ravi, Arizona Jim, Majumdarda, Mobike008 and others. You all have been very crucial in instilling confidence in my decision..
Hey ChiranJeev, I heard someone calling my name Welcome to the Elite group of Bullet Riders. I am sure every moment of it will be worth cherishing. Please do remember, machines will give problem, but we have to make it work. Its like taming a wild horse. You are most happy when you are atop it.

Seems we share similar bike models too. I own a 2004 Pulsar too, doing great.

By the way, please share and keep this thread updated with your observations, issues and enjoyment. The BHP forum is always there for you.

Vroom..vroom
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Old 9th June 2014, 09:09   #3
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Default re: Royal Enfield Thunderbird 500: Lightning strikes

Quote:
Originally Posted by ChiranJeev31 View Post
The next day, June 4th I took delivery around 6:30 PM.
Congratulations and best wishes, ChiranJeev31. Your Thunderbird 500 looks gorgeous in the new Lightning colour with fresh logos and monograms. Explore and enjoy riding your bird.
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Old 23rd June 2014, 13:18   #4
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Default Re: Royal Enfield Thunderbird 500: Lightning strikes

Thread moved from the Assembly Line (The "Assembly Line" Forum section) to the Motorbikes Section. Thanks for sharing!
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Old 24th June 2014, 14:52   #5
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Default Re: Royal Enfield Thunderbird 500: Lightning strikes

Hey, great to see a bird in one of the new colors. Wish you many happy miles on your 'lightning' and ride safe.
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Old 24th June 2014, 17:37   #6
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Welcome to the family ChiranJeev31 Many congratulations !

Treat her well for the first few months and she will remain loyal to you for years to come.

Wish you a long ride !
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Old 2nd September 2014, 00:13   #7
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Default Re: Royal Enfield Thunderbird 500: Lightning strikes

Congratulations on the new bike sir.

booked the same looking at the colour in the showroom on sunday. Looked Dark metallic grey, like that of an Innova / Swift. Lighting was poor i guess because it looks brown-ish in your pics.

So is t grey-ish or brown sir?
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Old 14th September 2014, 14:19   #8
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Default Re: Royal Enfield Thunderbird 500: Lightning strikes

Thank you all for the warm welcome. I have gone through a lot since the purchase and will duly share my experience in upccoming posts.

Quote:
Originally Posted by P.S. View Post
Congratulations on the new bike sir.

booked the same looking at the colour in the showroom on sunday. Looked Dark metallic grey, like that of an Innova / Swift. Lighting was poor i guess because it looks brown-ish in your pics.

So is t grey-ish or brown sir?
Congratulations on your booking sir.
RE has come up with two very mesmerising colors. They have to be seen with your own eyes as words can be hard to describe them. Both Lightning and Marine appear different under different lighting conditions. Lightning appears to be a dark grey on overcast days and a bit lighter and greener on bright sunny days. Marine appears a brilliant sparkling blue in the sunshine with dark fall-off. In the shade it appears darker. Hope this helps. Here are a few pictures of my bike in different light conditions.
Attached Thumbnails
Royal Enfield Thunderbird 500: Lightning strikes-cymera_20140905_172014.jpg  

Royal Enfield Thunderbird 500: Lightning strikes-cymera_20140914_140923.jpg  

Royal Enfield Thunderbird 500: Lightning strikes-cymera_20140914_141114.jpg  

Royal Enfield Thunderbird 500: Lightning strikes-cymera_20140914_141249.jpg  

Royal Enfield Thunderbird 500: Lightning strikes-cymera_20140914_141327.jpg  

Royal Enfield Thunderbird 500: Lightning strikes-cymera_20140914_141508.jpg  

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Old 14th September 2014, 18:02   #9
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Thumbs up Re: Royal Enfield Thunderbird 500: Lightning strikes

Congratulations on your new Thunderbird! Beautiful colour tone. Every time I read about a new, proud owner I look at the calendar and wonder how to make the months ahead fly by. Mine will come home only in December

Do keep us posted of your experiences/opinions and have many a safe riding days ahead!
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Old 14th September 2014, 20:52   #10
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Default Re: Royal Enfield Thunderbird 500: Lightning strikes

Good to see more TB500 owners here.
Lovely bike there.

To prevent scratches, I highly recommend PPF from 3M Car Care - get it on the tank and front mudguard. But before that, ask them to do a Paint Sealant process on all the metal body panels.

The other smaller niggles can be sorted out at the First Service - but make sure THEY ACTUALLY LISTEN to you when you list out the issues.

Wishing you many happy miles!
Sam
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Old 14th September 2014, 22:08   #11
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Default Re: Royal Enfield Thunderbird 500: Lightning strikes

Quote:
Originally Posted by ChiranJeev31 View Post
The indicators on both front and rear were misaligned. I asked them to fix the indicators and got a most absurd reply that "This is how they are on every bike sir." I tried reasoning but gave up.
Looking from the rear your RHS indicator will be pointing down when compared to the left one and looking from the front your RHS indicator would be pointing down. This is a common sight on all RE bikes.

The stalk that has the indicator lamp on it is threaded on the inner side where a nut is tightened to fix it to the headlamp bracket or the tail lamp assembly. This nut when tightened grips the stalk and turns (rotates) it a bit when the nut is almost fully tight and you apply more torque to tighten it further without restricting the rotation of the stalk. Due to the orientation of the stalks the RHS indicator will always rotate to point down when you tighten that nut and the LHS indicator will always rotate to point up.

Can be easily fixed. You have to loosen the nut fix the position of the stalk that you want hold it there and tighten the nut not allowing the stalk to rotate. Take it up on your first service.

Last edited by Tgo : 14th September 2014 at 22:12.
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Old 23rd May 2015, 18:44   #12
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Help needed. I am booking my TB 500 on Monday in Bangalore. Can you please suggest which colour to go for. This is my first tourer. Thanks

Last edited by ampere : 23rd May 2015 at 18:48. Reason: Edited multiple dots
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Old 25th May 2015, 09:57   #13
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Default Re: Royal Enfield Thunderbird 500: Lightning strikes

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Originally Posted by Amar@Chadha View Post
Help needed. I am booking my TB 500 on Monday in Bangalore. Can you please suggest which colour to go for. This is my first tourer. Thanks
Amar as quoted on some other thread by ArizonaJim about the choice of color. I too would like to second Jim on his suggestion. Color choice is very personal and also extremely subjective. Case in point myself, while buying the Thunderbird500 I was looking at the flicker black color but unfortunately it wasn't available. Thank goodness that it wasn't available as I got to see beyond plain black two beautiful shades of Marine Blue and Lightning Brown. My choice is too like Jim where I like glossy and shiny shades gleaming and shining on a bright sunny day. I saw a Lightning Brown color shade while I was at the showroom for test riding the Tbird500. It did catch my eye but I had already seen Marine Blue shade on the road for a couple of times. First time I came across Marine Blue shade when we were riding to Pune. I saw it standing outside one of the RE dealers' workshop ready for delivery. That color struck me then and there and I decided within my heart that this is the shade I will go for. Meanwhile there were rumours of RE re-releasing flicker black color but I was attracted to Marine Blue hence booked it eyes closed.

Infact during the waiting period, one of the RE dealers told me they have a Tbird500 in lightning brown ready for delivery. But I refused as Marine Blue is what I had chosen or was it that Marine Blue had chosen me. Hence my advice to you is to see the different colors in flesh, preferably on the road and not the showroom. As that is where your bike will be most of the time and you will get a better idea of the shade. Also remember lightning brown and marine blue shade is metallic color and has metal flakes which shine like tiny crystals on a sunny day. The looks are to die for. Anyways as I said it is ultimately you who has to decide. Happy Choosing .
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Old 25th May 2015, 20:27   #14
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Thanks Navin for sharing your thoughts. Really helpful in making a decision. I did book my Marine Blue TB 500 today. While booking, I checked if the crash guard was available as a RE accessory and I was told that they have recently introduced a crash guard for TB...I will have to check the price from the service centre. Thanks again
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Old 26th May 2015, 10:43   #15
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Default Re: Royal Enfield Thunderbird 500: Lightning strikes

Quote:
Originally Posted by Amar@Chadha View Post
Thanks Navin for sharing your thoughts. Really helpful in making a decision. I did book my Marine Blue TB 500 today. While booking, I checked if the crash guard was available as a RE accessory and I was told that they have recently introduced a crash guard for TB...I will have to check the price from the service centre. Thanks again
Congratulations Amar on booking the Tbird500. What's the current waiting period for a Tbird500? I have heard it gets delivered faster than a Tbird350 due to lower demand. About the Tbird specific crash guard as J.Ravi has suggested on his thread, it is better you get a quote from RE spare parts shop as suggested by him and also RE dealer from where you are buying your Tbird. Match the two quotes and go for the one that sounds reasonable to you. Also remember to go for a reliable brand instead of unknown brands. There are two options for these guards the one which comes in black and one which comes in chrome. Choose as per your liking.
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