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Old 15th October 2014, 23:33   #1
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Smile Royal Enfield Thunderbird 500 Review - Back to the Future

Hi everybody

My name is Anand, and I booked a Royal Enfield Thunderbird 500 on October 6th 2014. Before placing the booking, I looked up long term ownership reports of the bike on the internet, and came across this forum. I enjoyed reading some passionately and informatively written threads like J. Ravi's motorcycle diaries, and decided to start my own after booking the bike.

I thought it might be nice to start off from the booking phase, and document each activity (from booking to inspection to delivery to actual riding) as it happens.

The Buying Decision - Background

I was born and raised (and currently live) in a joint family of bike lovers. Some of my earliest memories of my childhood are of my grandfather seating me on the fuel tank of his Bullet and teaching me how to accelerate, brake and clutch. Some of the bikes I've grown up around are my grandfather's and father's Bullets, my father's Jawa, my uncle's Ind-Suzuki (one of the first bikes off the then-new production plant in Hosur, which we still have and ride at home), the KB100, the RX100, the original Pulsar 150 (the first bike I bought with my own money), and several scooters like the Lambretta, the Chetak and the Vespas and Scootys ridden by my aunt and cousins.

Like I said - joint family of bike nuts. :-)

I moved to Gurgaon for work from 2008 to 2012, and my family refused to let me take my Pulsar with me (they said that the roads were too dangerous, and I should buy a car), so I regretfully left my Pulsar behind when I moved, and bought an i10 in Gurgaon. I still own and drive it - I love it, and have never regretted the purchase. I got married in 2012, and moved back to Madras. My wife and I currently live in my joint family home, and my renewed proximity to bikes set me on the path to ownership again.

The bikes currently in our house are the Ind Suzuki, my cousins' Scooty, my aunt's Vespa and my uncle's Harley Davidson Street 750 which he bought almost 2 months ago. My mother sold my old Pulsar when I was still in Gurgaon, because nobody was riding it.

I needed a new ride!

The HD750 (with my nephew chilling on it!)
Royal Enfield Thunderbird 500 Review - Back to the Future-20141009_092003.jpg

Narrowing the Field

Growing up, I've loved fast, sharp handling, sporty bikes. I adored throwing around RX100s and gunning RD350s across town from Shenoy Nagar to Besant Nagar beach and back, and really miss the sheer violence of the acceleration that those 2-strokes could give you. I occasionally rode really big sports bikes like the TL1000 S (owned by friend's friends) at the Sriperumbudur race tracks on non-race days, but in general the RD350 is the best sheer-performance bike I've ridden for an appreciable amount of time. I've ridden the Bullets and the Yezdis, but naturally had more of a preference for sharper performers like the Fury, Shogun or the Pulsar.

So when thinking about what bike to buy now, I naturally started looking for bikes with sharpest performance characteristics, in and around my budget (which was anything from 2-4 lakhs), and after test-riding a few contenders, quickly arrived at what I thought was an absolute firecracker for the price - the KTM Duke 390.

The Duke 390, IMHO, marries huge versatility with absolutely crackling riding performance at a price point that should be driving Kawasaki and Honda absolutely nuts. It works as a city commuter, a highway rider or a long distance tourer. It can be a relaxed mile-muncher, or a hell-raising hooligan, or anything in between. The riding position is fantastic to ride the heck out of it on corners. The brakes are great. I loved the looks, especially the orange trellis. Heck, with the RC variant out now, the whole performance package got made even better. And at 2 lakhs, it is a steal. I was certain that I had found the bike for me, until I hit an immovable object.

My wife.

After taking one look at the bike, she flat out refused to even consider it. She wanted me to get a bike that she could also be at least relatively comfortable on when she rode pillion, and on the Duke, she complained that it felt like she would go sailing straight over my head and land flat on her backside when I braked hard. No amount of cajoling, or promising that I would ride slow and not brake hard when she was on the bike with me, or reasoning that she wouldn't feel it too much over short distances, made any difference. My KTM dream was stillborn. :-(

So I started looking at my situation like a married man with a non-biker wife. My pure-performance cravings would have to wait - my first bike as a married man would have to be a solid middle-grounder in order to calm my wife down. Something that I could go touring on, but also use for in-city commutes with my wife behind me. Something that had character, but not at the cost of her comfort. Something with grunt, but not as strong as the HD750 (she feels uncomfortable with its huge torque and acceleration). A bike that would mean something to me and my biking roots, but also include her in my enjoyment of it. Something like.... an Enfield?!?!

The Decision - Which RE?

I'm not sure what made me think of it first. The previous two generations of my family have owned and ridden Bullets from the 60s all the way through the early 90s, and I've done my fair share of mileage on a Bull, but they've never really struck me as being the most sensible motorcycles. I mean, what really is the purpose of a Bullet, its reason for being, the one thing that it does supremely well? Growing up, it seemed to me that the only thing the Bullet did well was produce that trademark thump. You could work on your bike and get that soundtrack to be anything from a low warble to a reverberating din, and I never ever heard any other bike sound like it.

But that apart, it always seemed pretty average to me. Not the fastest or the quickest accelerating - the RD blew it out of the water on both fronts (two-strokes, baby!). Not the easiest to run - owning and riding a Bullet always involved regular Sunday mornings spent working on the bike to keep it running well, and you couldn't be blissfully ignorant about bike maintenance. Not the most reliable - it wasn't a bulletproof Honda, far from it. There were always issues to deal with.

But my grandfather loved his Bullet to distraction, as did my father until he sold his. They would complain about it, but always end their rants with a little smile and a shake of the head, before riding off somewhere on it. And I remembered them as being decidedly average bikes - which was exactly what I needed to calm my wife down.

So I started test-riding several RE models over the last half year, and I found out that apart from their distinctive soundtrack, REs had one more thing they did really well - they looked absolutely gorgeous. What my boyhood eyes had dismissed as old-fashioned or over-large strikes me today as retro-cool and wickedly stylish. The Classic, the Standard... all look wonderful. Also, while their performance wasn't great, the bikes had clearly come a long way from the maintenance-time-sinks that my father and grandfather owned. Owner reviews all over (and on this forum) talked about how they still needed care, but not the kind of obsessive week-on-week maintenance sessions that they did in the past.

But in the middle of all this, I found out something else during my test rides. I found out that Royal Enfield had a bike that - apart from looking and sounding good - does something else really, really well. It was the Thunderbird 500, and it lets you gobble tarmac all day long at a 90 kmph wolf-trot that feels supremely, gloriously relaxed, and does it better than any other bike near its class that can carry my wife as a pillion rider comfortably (she is pretty specific on what she thinks is comfortable and what is not!).

My workplace is almost exactly 40 km from my home, and the ride includes a little city traffic, some highway sections with traffic and some open highway sections, and the Thunderbird simply felt in a different league from any other RE for two reasons:

- The riding position is absolutely perfect for me (6 ft tall, and abnormally long legs for my height). The HD750 has its pegs set too far back for me to feel comfortable on long rides (longer than an hour), and the other REs like the Classic 500 didn't feel as comfortable in the seat and the shoulders. This, coupled with the massive 20L tank, meant that on the Thunderbird I could hit the sweet spot of around 90-100 kmph and cruise all day long with no strain. Touring purposes - check.

- Astonishingly (for me), RE actually seem to be making an effort to do something differently with this bike. The Thunderbird 500 seems to represent their effort to make a bike that not only looks good, but actually tries to work like a modern bike is supposed to. Instrument cluster with digital information alongside the analog. Better handling through the corners by far than the Classic 500 - if it is due to those fatter front shocks, they're working all right. Fuel injected engine from the Classic 500. Rear brake disc to complement the front. Sensible offset fuel tank lid to go with the fuel gauge and warning lights. Nice bright headlights. Pass switch (which I was aghast to realize the HD750 did not have). It is - and I find myself chuckling as I type this - an eminently practical Royal Enfield bike, at least by design.

Oh sure, it isn't all peaches and cream. It still seems to need diligent ownership and care, and there still seem to be little niggles that crop up now and then going from the ownership threads here, so it is still a temperamental RE. It isn't very fast. It doesn't accelerate all that quickly. It isn't going to be a "no-problem" bike. But while it didn't scratch my performance itch, it was superb for my touring needs, and ticked all my other boxes like city riding, work commuting, etc. without terrifying my wife.

And then my heart took over.

I remembered sitting and watching my grandfather cleaning and greasing his Bullet even when he was 75 before taking it out for a short ride, and felt a pang of nostalgia for something I would never be able to do with him again (he passed away in 2009). I remembered the far-away look my father gets in his eyes as he talks about his Bullet, and the little smile that plays on his lips when he does so, and wanted that for myself. I wanted to experience what it was like to to be the owner of a temperamental, character-filled British single long-stroker, and learn for myself (to some degree, at least) what that smile was all about.

I wanted a third-generation Royal Enfield in the house, and the Thunderbird 500 seemed like the most progressive of their bikes. And my wife was fine with it.

Booking made.

An Unexpected Development

After making my booking, I settled down to wait for the Thunderbird to arrive. I was told when placing my booking that the bike would be available within 45-60 days, so I mentally prepared myself not to expect anything until December 6th. But no! Team BHP to the rescue! On one of the TB500 threads here, there was a person who told me that RE guarantees delivery within 1 month for the TB500, and that I should not settle for less. I resolved to contact the showroom the next morning to insist on delivery by November 6th. All this happened on October 17th, IIRC.

But I never had the chance to call them and remonstrate. By some coincidence, that very evening, I got a call from a person in the showroom saying that a TB500 had arrived on another customer's allotment, and since this customer wanted to delay delivery for a month, would I like to take it? I was immediately suspicious - why would someone order the bike and then hesitate to take it? Were there any flaws in this piece due to which the original customer passed on it? Was it the color I wanted? Most importantly, could I actually see and inspect the bike before paying up for it?

The person from the showroom assured me that the bike was fine, and the previous customer had delayed delivery because of financial reasons only. I still insisted on inspecting the bike before paying up - after some hesitation, he agreed to show me the bike the next morning (October 18th) at their service center. If I was happy with the piece, I could then make the payment by cheque, and I should be able to get the bike registered and in my hands in about a week after that.

I was beside myself with a mixture of apprehension and excitement. I was still suspicious, and didn't want to get my hopes up too far only to have them dashed. But I couldn't quite contain my growing excitement at the possibility of getting my hands on the bike far sooner than expected. I stilled my mind, and went to sleep.

The Wolf Cub

October 18th (Saturday) dawned gray and wet - the retreating monsoon, which had been delayed in Madras, had finally arrived in all its glory. I braved the rains and the traffic and got to the showroom (Sri Velavan Motors, Greams Road) at 11 AM as instructed by the salesperson. Once there, I had a chance to observe the RE buying experience first hand. First, I had to sit around in the showroom from 11 to around 11:45 before the person I had to speak to even acknowledged my presence (was dealing with other customers). Then, he told me that the bike was at their service center, and he had told them to get it ready for me to inspect. The service center was on the parallel road, and I got there in about 5 minutes.

At the service center, I was told that my bike was going through PDI assembly only now (apparently they had only been told late last night that I would be coming to look at it), so I would have to wait. I asked how long I would have to wait, and was told 20 minutes (it was noon). At 12:30, I asked again, and the person just repeated my question to the mechanic and gave me no answer. All righty then. Message received loud and clear - it will be ready when it is ready. RE customer service and staff communication standards are still a far cry from 21st century expectations, I'm afraid. Finally, at 1 PM, I was told that my bike was ready for inspection. I walked into the work area, moved past numerous parked Classics, GTs and Standards, rounded a pillar, and looked at the bike for the first time.

Love at first sight

Royal Enfield Thunderbird 500 Review - Back to the Future-20141024_153102.jpg

The matte black TB500 is such a good looking animal - the bike looks great in every color option, but something about the matte black makes it look a little more... organic, and I love it. The non shiny, muted look appeals to the part of my brain that always finds animal analogies for my bikes. Through my extended test rides with the TB500, I've come to think of it as a wolf. Why? - wolves aren't the fastest animals in the wild. Nor are they the strongest. Nor are they the biggest. Nor are they the quickest accelerating. But legend has it that a wolf can run at a quickish trot for astonishing lengths of time without tiring, and can cover prodigious distances daily due to this ability, hence the massive ranges that wolf packs occupy. Whenever I ride the TB500, I feel like the animal I'm riding can keep going at that relaxed clip all day long, and the wolf analogy stuck in my head for good.

So what about this particular wolf cub? To cut a long story short, he was absolutely gorgeous. I went armed with PDI checklists, and took extra care because this was someone else's allotment and I was suspicious, but my suspicions were baseless - this piece seemed just about flawless! I double and triple checked, shining my torchlight into every nook and cranny, beneath the seats and mudguards, everywhere - not a spot of rust. I went over all the chrome bits with a fine toothed comb, and found no rust there either. The battery was an Amaron and tested OK. The console worked fine, and had 6 km on the odometer. The indicators, brake lights and head lights worked perfectly. Fork alignment was fine. As wolf cubs go, this one was an almost perfect example of the breed.

By around 2 PM, I was done with my inspection of the bike, and had decided to take him. The mechanic in charge assured me that he had checked it thoroughly too, and that there were no faults with the bike. I then had to go back to the showroom to give my cheque to the salesperson, but the rain, which had been constant but manageable so far, became worse and worse, and the traffic on Mount Road and surrounding areas became an absolute nightmare. Stuck in traffic and hungry beyond all description (I hadn't had lunch yet), I made a snap decision to first go back home and eat before doing anything else. I'd seen the bike and was happy with the piece - the dealer could wait a few hours to get my cheque.

But it was not to be - the rain and traffic steadily got worse until it became clear that going anywhere in the evening was a bad idea. I called the salesperson and asked him if there would be anybody in the showroom the next day (Sunday), so that I could give them the cheque then. He said that there would be a person from noon to 5 pm, and that I could drop it off then.

I went back on Sunday (October 19th) at 12:30 PM, and handed over my cheque to the salesperson there. I was told that it will take 3 working days for my cheque to clear, so with Wednesday being Diwali, it should clear on Thursday, which means that I should be able to take delivery of the bike on Friday (October 24th), and register it on Monday (October 26th).

Now I was REALLY excited. My wolf cub would be home soon, and after building his strength and stamina during the first 1500 km of his life, we would be ready to answer the call of the road no matter how far it comes from!

The First Ride

Friday, October 24th dawned with mercifully little rain. The roads were damp, and there was some water around, but nothing too bad. I called the showroom, and they confirmed that I could come and pick up the bike any time after 4 PM. My family wanted me to pick it up and take it to the temple for a pooja immediately, so I decided to pick it up after 5 PM so that the temple would be open. I reached the service center at 5:30 PM with my uncle (who owns the HD750), and we were given the demo. I finished my checks from the PDI list and was ready to take the bike. The toolkit was missing the align key, and I was given another one to replace it. The bike had 2 liters of petrol in it, so I would have to first visit the fuel station before going to the temple. I received the keys to my new ride from my uncle, got astride Lobo (as I've named my wolf cub) and started him up.

Wow, you can feel it when you crank up a brand new Royal Enfield. I'm not sure if every new RE bike feels like this, but I was immediately struck by how raw and mechanical the bike felt as I started riding to the petrol bunk. The engine sounded fine when started, and caught immediately, but the gearbox felt grindy/meshy. With instructions not to rev too high or exceed 50 kmph for the first 500 km, I tried to shift around the 2-2.5k mark on the revs, but could hardly get into 4th in traffic. Everything sounded unrefined, but solid. No real troubles with false neutrals or finding neutral (easiest to find it before the bike stops moving completely). The gearshifts feel tactile, but right now they feel a bit imprecise, like they're searching for the right groove to settle into at each change. I'm hoping that as the engine and gearbox bed down with each other things should smoothen out a little bit.

I got to the petrol bunk, tanked up, got Lobo's tyre pressure to 22/32, and set off again to the temple. We reached by around 6:45 PM, and finished the pooja by around 7 PM. I took Lobo home, and the rest of the family got to welcome him to his new den. My father immediately took him for a spin around the block, as I expected he would. He loved the bike, and felt that he might be able to ride it once in a while on short stints. I took my wife, mother, aunt, brother and sisters out on rides, using each run as an opportunity to put different parts of the bike through their paces. By the end of the day, the odometer showed 16 km, so I had done about 10 km in around 5 short runs.

The ride quality is solid and comfortable - after the rains the roads are pretty bad all over Madras, but I wasn't troubled by the bumps and potholes at all. The rider's seat feels great for me, and my wife (who sits astride) and mother (who sits side-saddle) both felt pretty stable and comfortable in the pillion seat. I'll be able to write more about the ride quality as I start using the bike for my daily commute from next week.

The engine and exhaust notes are solid and rhythmic, but a little background mechanical chatter accompanies them. Nothing too concerning, and I'm not hearing any misfires.

The front brake has been great, but rear brake pedal has very little give in it. Another thing to get sorted out on Monday. I can't go for any long drives over the weekend because my registration will be complete only on Monday. I'll write more after I've taken Lobo on a few runs within the city over the next couple of days!

200 km report

I've been out of town (Singapore) from October 29th to November 2nd, so that combined with the monsoon weather in Madras has not allowed me to run Lobo in as much as I would have liked after registration. I've done a few short rides around the city, but it was only today that I was able to bring him to my factory (just beyond Sriperumbudur), which is a good 40 km ride one way from my house in Shenoy Nagar. The odometer has just hit 200 km, so I thought I'd put up a first report on Lobo's various ride characteristics:

Lobo taking a little break on the way to the factory

Royal Enfield Thunderbird 500 Review - Back to the Future-20141105_112439.jpg

Engine and Gearbox - Sounding a little better now. Still some mechanical chatter accompanying the engine beat, but seems to have settled down a lot from when I first rode him from the showroom. The gearbox feels a LOT less grindy and clunky, with gears clicking into place a lot better. Can still slip a gear sometimes, but not nearly as unrefined as on day one. By the way, what the RE mechanics say about running the bike in at 50 kmph for the first 500 km is a bunch of horsecrap - shifting between 2-2.5k rpm, I'm already at 55-60 kmph when I hit 5th gear, and slowing down even a little below 50 kmph makes the bike feel lurchy and chuggy. I've found that a far more comfortable speed to cruise on while running the bike in is 60 kmph. Nothing much to say about what it feels like to really open up the throttle since I'm in my initial run in - will add more on that as the miles go by.

Suspension and Comfort - No real complaints. The rear is a little bit stiffer than I thought it would be, but nothing that makes me overly uncomfortable, especially after riding the HD750 regularly (that bike has a way stiffer rear). The seat feels fine to me, though ideally it could have done with better springs, IMHO. The front feels fine, and overall I'm able to pretty much ignore smaller bumps, holes and ripples on the road as Lobo takes them in his stride.

Electricals - No problems so far, fingers crossed, even though the rains are in full cry in Madras. I drape Lobo in a full size made to order cover that I got for Rs.800, so no real water seepage issues, but still, I worry. He is, after all, an RE, and I don't have the luxury of a closed garage. I started him up today morning with the electric starter and he came to life on the first try. Lights are great, horn is perfect for the highways.

Switchgear and Console - Most of it is fine, but I absolutely hate the buttons on the console that we use to reset the trip readings. They feel cheap and unreliable. Everything works, but I just wish they had used slightly better quality materials on it. The console works all right, but you have to be careful not to panic regarding the fuel gauge. As it says in the manual, the moment the last bar starts flashing means you still have around 5 liters in the tank. So a steady single bar doesn't mean you are dry. Quirky, but this is RE. The fact that there is a fuel gauge at all is progress for me. Oh, and the odometer is a liar, as others have noted. Distance to my factory is 40 km, odo shows a bit more. Around 5% error on the plus side, I'd think.

Brakes - Front is fine, gives me enough stopping power and feel for most occasions. The rear is a different story - I'm just not getting enough feedback from it, and with the roads being constantly wet, I'm leery of really pushing down on it to see just what it will take to get it to talk to me. I need to wait for some dry weather before I can really write down with any accuracy what is the real issue with it, and what might make it better.

Niggles and Minor Irritants - Much as we could do without them, it wouldn't really be a RE bike without them, would it? Well, there are several screws and bolts that seem to have loosened out since I got the bike, and I need to sit down this evening and tighten them up. The accelerator has a little more play than I personally like, and so does the clutch. Every once in a while (once in ten times), the bike will not start on the first press of the starter, and needs a little throttle (can someone tel me why this is?) But overall, I haven't seen any major issues with the bike. Granted, it's only been 200 clicks, but still, so far, so good.

So that's what things have been like for me with Lobo so far! I'm reporting this thread so that it can go live on the forum, and will update it regularly with my ride reports and maintenance stories (gulp). I'd be thankful for any advice or thoughts from the many members here, and look forward to sharing stories about my bike and all of yours' as well in the weeks and months to come.

Last edited by Silverflash : 5th November 2014 at 13:21. Reason: Added photos
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Old 7th November 2014, 15:36   #2
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Thread moved from the Assembly Line (The "Assembly Line" Forum section) to Motorbikes. Thanks for sharing!
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Old 7th November 2014, 15:57   #3
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Originally Posted by Silverflash View Post
I received the keys to my new ride from my uncle, got astride Lobo (as I've named my wolf cub) and started him up.
Congratulations and best wishes, Anand. I wish you and Lobo - your wolf cub - infinite miles with smiles notwithstanding the poor customer support and niggles that come with the bike.
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Old 7th November 2014, 16:02   #4
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Originally Posted by J.Ravi View Post
Congratulations and best wishes, Anand. I wish you and Lobo - your wolf cub - infinite miles with smiles notwithstanding the poor customer support and niggles that come with the bike.
Thank you, Ravi! Your motorcyclediaries chronicling your adventures on your Bluebird were a huge inspiration for me to order the bike, get on this forum and post this thread, so I'm triply grateful.
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Old 7th November 2014, 16:31   #5
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500 km 1st Free Service Update

Yesterday (Thursday) saw Lobo complete his initial 500 km run in period, and so today morning I took him in for his first free service. I reached the Velavan Motors service center on Mount Road at 8:30 AM, and after inspection and tagging, the bike was taken in.

I pointed out some of the niggles that had come up on the bike, and the mechanic made a note of them. I left the center at 9:00 AM and got back home by autorickshaw. At 11:50 AM, I got a message on my phone saying that the bike was ready, and the feel was Rs.966. I took a rick back to the center, and Lobo was ready. I took a quick spin around the building (results below), paid up, and rode Lobo home.

What a difference that first service makes! I was billed for engine oil and oil filter change, but it feels like the whole bike has been slicked up nicely. Some things that I noticed:

ENGINE: Had started sounding better and better over each day, and now sounds nice and mellow. Idlng has been reduced to exactly 1k, and the bike sounds better at rest.

GEARBOX: Biggest change after the service. The gears had already started to click in better with time, but after the service the feel is so much more precise. Not quite the feather touch Ind-Suzuki gearbox that I was weaned on (and it never will be that good), but vastly improved from pre-service. Sounds nicely "clickety-click" now with the odd "clack" to remind me that this is still a RE machine.

VIBRATIONS: Loose screws on the starter motor cover and other screws tightened, and no more rattles from there. While riding home, I did notice that the petrol tank has been pushed ever so slightly off center by a thick wad of wrapped wires wedged in on the right side beneath it, resulting in a mild vibration from the left bottom edge at higher than 3k revs. Need to go back tomorrow and sort it out.

ELECTRICALS: Starter motor worked fine when I took the bike, so fingers crossed. Hopefully it will not return as an irritant.

After getting the tank seating issue sorted out tomorrow, I plan to take Lobo on his first short distance run on Sunday to Pondicherry and back. I'll put up some pictures and a ride report on this thread!
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Old 7th November 2014, 16:43   #6
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Default Re: Royal Enfield Thunderbird 500 Review - Back to the Future

Congrats Anand on your Lobo cub. He looks cute and cuddly. That was a riveting read. I thoroughly enjoyed it. From the heart.

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But my grandfather loved his Bullet to distraction, as did my father until he sold his. They would complain about it, but always end their rants with a little smile and a shake of the head, before riding off somewhere on it.
Any Bullet owner who does not rave and rant about his Bullet, and has only saccharine sweet things to say about her, is a fanboy in my opinion. The Bullet can and will and does get on your last nerve. It also gives you a feel and pleasure when she's running good that few bikes (if any) can match. She will frustrate you to tears many a time, but she will somehow always get you home, never hurt you (to th extent that you do not act the fool in between), and never ditch you when you're really depending on her. But when the going is good, and you are in a safe place, with help at hand, she will often make you want to

Quote:
I remembered sitting and watching my grandfather cleaning and greasing his Bullet even when he was 75 before taking it out for a short ride, and felt a pang of nostalgia for something I would never be able to do with him again (he passed away in 2009).
I realise now what my kids are going to remember of me.

Quote:
I remembered the far-away look my father gets in his eyes as he talks about his Bullet, and the little smile that plays on his lips when he does so, and wanted that for myself.
The same with my dad, who finally sold his Deluxe after having her for 15 years and moved on to a scooter.

Quote:
I wanted to experience what it was like to to be the owner of a temperamental, character-filled British single long-stroker, and learn for myself (to some degree, at least) what that smile was all about.

I wanted a third-generation Royal Enfield in the house, and the Thunderbird 500 seemed like the most progressive of their bikes. And my wife was fine with it.
A Bullet family needs a Bullet. It is like an unwritten law, from the north to the south of our country, from the east to the west. It is a matter of honor. The family's prestige. Its part of our racial DNA.

Last edited by ebonho : 7th November 2014 at 16:44.
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Old 7th November 2014, 17:25   #7
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A Bullet family needs a Bullet. It is like an unwritten law, from the north to the south of our country, from the east to the west. It is a matter of honor. The family's prestige. Its part of our racial DNA.
Amen to that, Doc. My uncle took Lobo for a spin just now, and he was saying how nostalgic it felt to be able to ride a bull again.

Thanks so much for your wishes!
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Old 7th November 2014, 17:55   #8
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Default Re: Royal Enfield Thunderbird 500 Review - Back to the Future

Congrats to you Silverflash on getting your RE Thunderbird 500. Like Doc said Bullets or for that matter any RE motorcycle leaves a never dying print on your mind and heart. Ask me I have four and half RE motorcycles with me and haven't sold any one of them and neither will. You may be thinking what is half, it is the 1960's original G2 engine and gearbox that I have which I plan to do up.

Coming back to your RE motorcycle, I will say it is decision well made and very practical in terms of pillion comfort, long trips or just commuting. This particular model from RE gives a lot of bang for the buck. I haven't been so lucky however, I got my Thunderbird 500 on 7th October 2014 and exactly after 280 Kms the bike broke down in a matter of three weeks of ownership . I had to tow it on a flatbed to the authorised service station when I was about 50-60 odd kms away from home. The problem was identified as a faulty battery as it overheated before the motorcycle went kaput. Guess what? they also diagnosed that the starter motor is faulty as well . The battery and starter motor is being replaced and my Thunderbird 500 has been in the service station since 27th October 2014.

Hopefully I should get it by early next week. I too will start a detailed ownership thread soon. Congrats once again and keep an eye on your Wolf for these niggles.

Happy and Safe Riding
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Old 7th November 2014, 18:06   #9
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Congrats to you Silverflash on getting your RE Thunderbird 500. Like Doc said Bullets or for that matter any RE motorcycle leaves a never dying print on your mind and heart. Ask me I have four and half RE motorcycles with me and haven't sold any one of them and neither will. You may be thinking what is half, it is the 1960's original G2 engine and gearbox that I have which I plan to do up.

Coming back to your RE motorcycle, I will say it is decision well made and very practical in terms of pillion comfort, long trips or just commuting. This particular model from RE gives a lot of bang for the buck. I haven't been so lucky however, I got my Thunderbird 500 on 7th October 2014 and exactly after 280 Kms the bike broke down in a matter of three weeks of ownership . I had to tow it on a flatbed to the authorised service station when I was about 50-60 odd kms away from home. The problem was identified as a faulty battery as it overheated before the motorcycle went kaput. Guess what? they also diagnosed that the starter motor is faulty as well . The battery and starter motor is being replaced and my Thunderbird 500 has been in the service station since 27th October 2014.

Hopefully I should get it by early next week. I too will start a detailed ownership thread soon. Congrats once again and keep an eye on your Wolf for these niggles.

Happy and Safe Riding
Thanks for your wishes, Navin!

What you're saying about the battery and starter motor is setting off warning bells in my head - one of the little niggles on the bike is with the self start acting up once in a while. I'll keep a close eye on it, as you recommend.

Your bike is with them since Oct 27th? That seems a bit extreme if they have diagnosed the issue. I look forward to your thread, and hopefully there will be no more issues to spoil your riding pleasure on the bike!
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Old 8th November 2014, 08:54   #10
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Default Re: Royal Enfield Thunderbird 500 Review - Back to the Future

Congratulations. Thats a wonderful steed!
So nice to know about your family and its history with motorcycles. The bike seems to be behaving well, going by your review so far.
No doubt the Thunderbird is one of the most modern products by RE, and offers a good balance of various things.

Hope you have a long & wonderful ownership! Welcome to the club

Cheers!
Sam
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Old 8th November 2014, 09:36   #11
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Default Re: Royal Enfield Thunderbird 500 Review - Back to the Future

Thanks Sam! Good to be back in the RE family. Your thread was very helpful with my decision, so thanks again.
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Old 8th November 2014, 11:50   #12
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Default Re: Royal Enfield Thunderbird 500 Review - Back to the Future

Anand, Lobo does look cool especially with the Stone finish. Welcome to the club and wish you many miles of happy riding.
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Old 8th November 2014, 12:03   #13
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Anand, Lobo does look cool especially with the Stone finish. Welcome to the club and wish you many miles of happy riding.
Thanks so much, Rajneesh! It feels good to be back on a bike, and I look forward to sharing my adventures with Lobo on these pages in the days to come.

Fuel Tank Vibration Update

I went back to the service center this morning and showed them how the fuel tank was vibrating because of the cable cluster wedged under it. They took the bike in, and I watched them not only reorient the cable cluster, but also remove and refit the tank as precisely as they could.

Rode to the factory after that, and it seems to have worked. That irritating vibration above 2.5k rpm has disappeared, and Lobo hummed along nicely.

Now, I'm shifting gears closer to 3k rpm, and settling into cruise mode at 80 kmph in 5th gear (~3k rpm). Still not really belting it, I know, but now Lobo sounds a little more full throated as he rumbles upwards through the revs.

With my throttle hand given a little more freedom, overtaking on the highway became much more enjoyable. Earlier, I'd have to inch up on vehicles that were moving at around 60 kmph. after the 1st service, I'm using the mid range pull a lot more and easing past vehicles at 70-75 with very little effort.

Now that my tank vibration issue is sorted, Pondy tomorrow (Sunday) is a go. I'll take a few pics on the way if I can, and post a report tomorrow evening!
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Old 8th November 2014, 12:53   #14
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A Bullet family needs a Bullet. It is like an unwritten law, from the north to the south of our country, from the east to the west. It is a matter of honor. The family's prestige. Its part of our racial DNA.
Doc, you give these inspirational speeches which gives us the itch to run and buy another one.
@silverflash : Congratulation and may you have a hassle free ownership of your new Bullet
regards adrian
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Old 8th November 2014, 12:59   #15
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Doc, you give these inspirational speeches which gives us the itch to run and buy another one.
@silverflash : Congratulation and may you have a hassle free ownership of your new Bullet
regards adrian
Many thanks for your wishes, Adrian!
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