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Old 10th November 2014, 12:34   #1
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Default Undying hunger, my 5th Royal Enfield - The Thunderbird 500

Prologue

My very first ownership thread on TeamBHP. It is interesting to know and a surprise for me as well considering I already have four and a half RE motorcycles from all generations. What a coincidence my Fifth acquisition is from the current generation of RE bikes. You all must be wondering what a Jerk!! Doesn’t he know about other better motorcycles on offer? Is he been living under a rock or what? Well not exactly let me flaunt my acquisitions and most of you will understand.

Acquisition No.1: RE Standard Bullet 350 CI 1996 model bought in April 2010, of course second hand.
Acquisition No.2: RE Standard Bullet 350 CI 1969 B1 Engine model (caught your attention didn’t it?) bought in December 2012.
Acquisition No. 3: RE Standard Bullet 350 CI G2 1961 Engine and Gearbox only (this is what I meant by half) in June 2013. Gets interesting here eh!
Acquisition No.4: RE Thunderbird 350 AVL LB Engine bought on February 2014 for its comfort and touring abilities.

Now comes the interesting conversation between my Brainy Brain and Hearty Heart.

Heart: Your collection would be complete if you acquire the current generation UCE bike from RE.
Brain: Are you crazy?? There are already four of them Junk pieces why do you want to add another one?
Heart (H): You won’t understand my logical friend; it is beyond your logic and reasoning!
Brain (B): Awww! Come on you ain’t no Richie Rich, what do you want to prove man?
H: Nothing it is just that I love RE motorcycles and I am looking at touring now extensively.
B: But you already have the Thunderbird AVL for touring, that’s what you bought it for?
H: Yeah although it is powerful and comfortable, I am still not satisfied man.
B: Oh I know you had rode one of your friends’ Thunderbird 350 2014 model for a short distance while going to Lonavala, Right?
H: Yes Right!
B: So just by riding it for 20 odd Kms you have decided to buy it, God Help you man!!
H: No I haven’t decided to buy that!
B: Oh Hallelujah! Now you make sense.
H: I have decided to buy the Thunderbird 500!
B: What!! There you go again, you crazy or something?
H: No dude, it is just that I am sold over its looks, comfort and riding pleasure!!
B: Please explain!!
H: The all new Thunderbird has beefy front shock ups, redesigned swing arm and handle bar, digital instrument cluster, humongous 20 litre fuel tank, LED tail lamps and corona ring upfront, HID headlamp, Improved torque and power, fatter rubber at the rear, EFi and….
B: That’s enough, even the KTM Duke 390 has them and it is far better in terms of everything compared to the Thunderbird. It gives more power, better reliable engine, alloy wheels, metzeler tires. Besides you took one of your cousins’ Duke 390 for a short spin too, right? Didn’t you feel anything while riding it?
H: Yeah I rode the Duke 390, but it just didn’t cut it for me.
B: You mean it is not good as compared to Thunderbird 500.
H: I didn’t say that, it is very good but it just doesn’t suit my taste.
B: Oh ok go on…
H: My friend can you analyze the Thunderbird 500 for me, please?
B: Yeah, as you said the front beefier forks helps in gobbling up the undulations on and off road, it enables in handling too, ditto for the rear redesigned swing arm, the fatter rear tires give a better grip an d traction, 20litre fuel tank gives you a range of about 500 to 600 Kms, redesigned seat and handle bar is suitable for long highway rides, disc brakes rear and front gives a better stopping power although it ain’t have no ABS unlike Duke 390!
H: Yeah you have a point there. RE should have offered ABS on a bike costing almost 2 lakhs. I agree with you.
B: So what have you decided?
H: I know it is an expensive proposition for me; it will be the most expensive RE motorcycle I have ever bought!
B: Yeah, let me hear it; you don’t want to buy a two lakh rupee bike, rather do up your Thunderbird AVL and use it instead.
H: I am thinking of buying the Thunderbird 500 aka The Highway Cruiser.
B: Mate leave the thinking part to me, I am telling you to use the AVL Thunderbird.
H: I am going to the showroom on this Sunday to take a test ride of the Thunderbird 500.
B: Looks like what I am saying is falling on your deaf ears, eh!
H: Let me at least ride it to see if it touches my strings.
B: Alright as you wish, go ahead burn your money.


Booking Experience

Cut to July 20th 2014 Sunday. Me, one of my cousin and my friend go together to the RE Dealer showroom in Goregaon Mumbai. I was aware of the attitude of the lousy sales staff at RE showrooms thanks to TeamBHP booking and ownership reviews. To my surprise the sales staff saw us and felt these guys mean business and ain’t here for just window shopping. They must have thought this because I was riding my Thunderbird AVL, my cousin on his Duke 390 and my friend on his all new Thunderbird 350 Flicker Black color (the devil’s own who gave his Thunderbird to me while riding from Lonavala and triggered my will to buy the all new Thunderbird)

The sales staff approached us and I told them I am here to test ride the Thunderbird 500, the test motorcycles were standing outside. I took one of them Thunderbird 500 twilight blue for a test ride. The conversation that took place between my brain and heart during the test ride.

H: Oh there it is the Thunderbird 500, let me look at its beauty first before taking it for a spin. In goes the key, on goes the engine switch, press the clutch lever and thumb start the beast. Whoa what a magical thump!! Sounds familiar albeit a little smoother and softer.
B: Can we start the test ride now?
H: Yeah sure. Slot in the first gear, release the clutch slowly and give a mild throttle. Whoosh!! That torque is making me fall back, what a surge of torque, looks like it will pull the showroom out of its foundations!! Slot in second and third and fourth wait there’s traffic ahead; let me give it some mild throttle to see if the torque band is available at low speeds on high gear. After all this is a 500cc and must be having a flat torque curve like its elder siblings.
B: Yeah right! Some logical talks now; sounds interesting!!
H: Oh man this thing pulls like a WDP 4 locomotive at slower speeds on higher gears, this is amazing. Let me see how fast it goes. Oh the test ride is over such a small test ride, never mind. I got what I wanted
B: You happy now? What have you decided?
Heart: I am gonna buy this, it was already decided.


Happy Ending, “Heart rules over brain.”

I hope you guys didn’t get bored to the core by reading this…

Coming back to the booking experience. Post the test ride I entered the showroom with some kind of electricity passing through my body, I got goose bumps. The sales guy comes to me and asks, “how was it sir?” Without replying I say I want to book the Thunderbird 500! My cousin and my friend look flabbergasted. My cousin asks me, are you sure Bro? Do you want to test ride other bikes? NO! comes the reply at the speed of light. I proceed for the booking and the sales guy tells me sir the previous colors have been discontinued except the matt black. I said fine I will buy the bike unless it is black as I already have two black bikes. I had a look at the lightning brown color on display at the showroom but didn’t like it. Most of the boys like blue color and I am one among them, so booked the Marine Blue color without even thinking twice. I had spotted a couple of Marine Blue Thunderbird on roads before and this sealed my decision. I fill up the booking form and give a cheque of Rs.5000 as the booking amount. I get the booking receipt after three days of booking as the “system network is down” at the showroom. Get a first taste of the infamous RE showroom experience. The tentative delivery period is one month, according to that I may get my motorcycle on approx. August 25th is what I tell myself. The sales guy repeats the same and says you might get the bike by the last week of August. Although I own 4 RE motorcycles I can’t wait to lay my hands on the all new Thunderbird 500, as the thread title says, “The Undying Hunger”.

Wait!! Shoot!! What the hell!! On the way back from the showroom I come back to senses and my brain takes over me!

B: What the hell have you done!! What will I tell my mom? (I am not married as yet hence mom is my queen, unfortunately dad passed away.)
H: Oh come on she is my mother she will understand.
B: Damn! Not when she hears that her son has bought a 2 lakh rupee bike spontaneously, classic example of impulsive buying!!
H: She knows my craze for vehicles since my childhood; she understands and knows me better than me myself!!


I reach home and couldn’t gather up the guts to tell her I bought yet another bike, all this while my brain was having a blast of a time. Finally after receiving the booking receipt I tell her innocently that I bought a bike. Mothers know their children and what a creation they are, intriguing at the same time predictable. She looks at me smiles and says what are you going to do with so many bikes? I look at her and tell, “Mom you know me, don’t you? She smiles back and says alright but this is the last one. I smile at her and say, “Yay! I am mamma’s boy”.

The painstaking wait for the Thunderbird begins although I am unaware of what was awaiting me. I wanted the bike our riding group was looking at riding towards Pune in August followed by a ride towards Bhandardara in October. I waited patiently for one month and visited the showroom for a follow up only to learn that it will take another 10-15 days. I visit again after 10-15 days and soon two months pass and it is now Sep 20th. All this while I use my trusty old AVL Thunderbird for my two trips to Pune and Bhandardara Nasik. I casually decide to call up the company owned RE showroom in Bandra and the showroom guys tell me that the Thunderbird 500 can be delivered in a matter of 10-15 days excluding registration that may take another 10 odd days. I double check with them and they reply is in positive. I calmly and politely ask the earlier showroom to cancel my booking and return my booking amount.

I decide to make the full payment to the RE company showroom for my soon to be acquired Thunderbird 500 Marine. I visit the showroom on 23rd Sep and make the full payment through DD and submit the necessary documents for registration. I get a call from RE showroom on 29th Sep that the motorcycle is allotted to me and will now be sent for registration. I ask for the engine and chassis no. and with the help of my friend Nikhil try to decode it. Voila! The bike is September manufactured and I am delighted to know that I will receive a factory fresh hotly baked bike! While on a trip to Bhandardara on October 2nd I get a call from RE showroom that my bike is registered. In the evening while having tea at the resort I get an SMS from the RTO confirming my bike registration. I am delighted to see the SMS while my cousin and my friend Nikhil are equally happy to see that I am going to finally lay my hands on my Thunderbird 500. I get a call on the same day from the showroom staff stating that I can come and collect the bike from the showroom. Hearing this I am on seventh heaven, but I am still in Bhandardara with two more days of trip remaining. I told myself I waited for so long, let me wait for another 5 days to lay my hands on the Thunderbird 500 and claim it.

We reach Bombay on 5th October from our Bhandardara trip, although I am so tired but still cannot sleep during the night due to excitement. I have some important work in office on 6th October Monday so cannot go to collect the bike. Damn! I ask the showroom to arrange the delivery on 7th October and they agree.

More about D-day, delivery experience and pics coming soon…

The D-day

I wasn’t able to sleep on Monday night as the delivery was on next day. I had asked for the delivery by 3.pm. on Tuesday 7th October. I had some work in the office so couldn’t go early for taking the delivery. I didn’t believe I was behaving like some 8 year old boy who was desperate to lay his hands on the new bicycle. In office too my colleagues were asking, what is wrong with you? Why are you so anxious? Is everything alright? I said yeah my Thunderbird is due for delivery today. Hearing this they said oh come on it is just a motorcycle not a Mercedes Benz, I told myself pity them friends they can’t understand the passion of a RE enthusiast.

Each passing minute seems like a year, I must have seen my watch gazillion number of times and cursing why the hell is the time going so slowly today! It’s lunch time and out of sheer excitement I can’t have my lunch as well my belly feels full. I somehow eat my lunch and wait for the clock to strike 2.pm. I disappear from my office in a flash once it is 2.pm. I catch an auto rickshaw from outside my office gate and head to the RE Bandra Showroom. In the rick I watch the RE Thunderbird videos to control my anxiety and excitement. In about 40 odd minutes I reach the showroom and behold there it is! I have a first look at my Marine Blue Thunderbird 500 and I start believing in Love at First Sight. I remembered that epic line from Clash of the Titans movie where Zeus says, “Release the Kraken” I told this to myself while I saw the bike in flesh hahaha!! The bike was been readied by the showroom staff where it was undergoing polishing. Flashback to 1993 when I was a kid and my daddy bought me a new bicycle, it was the same nostalgic feeling I was having while taking the delivery. I was all alone while taking the delivery as most of my relatives and friends were busy being a working day. I didn’t feel alone though as I knew I would soon be paired with my companion standing in all its glory.

The brain now takes over heart and tells me, “Enough now! The bike is yours and nobody is gonna steal it from you. Now take out that PDI checklist that you got from TeamBHP and other forums and do a thorough PDI and don’t even think of giving this task to the heart!” with a hawk eye I start the PDI by visually inspecting the bike, one by one I go through the checklist and make sure I have covered everything mentioned and even beyond. I am satisfied with my PDI and find no flaws, a big shout of thanks to those guys who made the PDI checklist, especially the RE Thunderbird PDI checklist. I check the switches, buttons, lights, seat, toolbox, amount of fuel filled in the petrol tank by the dealer, etc. With my brain still in control of me I proceed to do the documentation paper work. The staff at RE Brand Store is courteous and the documentation goes on smoothly. I sign and collect the owner’s manual, delivery note, insurance policy, tax invoice, RTO registration receipt, life time taxation certificate and the vehicle delivery checklist. The staff prepares to give me a basic demo of the motorcycle; With my brain still in control I patiently listen and ask questions as I am an old school motorcycle rider (I own older generation Bullets which are pure mechanical and electrical devoid of any fancy electronics). I check the fuse box, how to take out the front and rear seat, exposed wires, EFi unit, etc. it was all overwhelming for me to see so many electronic parts on a RE bike! Although I am familiar with electronically controlled motorcycles from other manufacturers as I rode my cousins’ KTM Duke 390 but all this on a RE motorcycle was a little overwhelming to me.

The heart is about to take control but the brain whips it down saying, not yet! I am not done! I go through the dealership vehicle delivery checklist and find the battery warranty card checkbox is not ticked, I ask the staff and they say that the battery is under RE company warranty so there is no need for a battery warranty card. I ask for the first aid medical kit as I haven’t received it as yet which is promptly given by the staff. By the time all the documentation and the bike is still getting polished it is 4.00.pm I go outside to see the bike once again with my brain still in control I start scrutinizing again, this time I see a minor abrasion on the fuel tank bottom where it meets the seat. I bring it to the notice of the staff and they say the abrasion is very minor and will go away with polishing. Meanwhile I sit with the showroom manager and have some tea with him while chatting about RE bikes. We are lost in our chat and it is soon 5.pm. I prepare to take the delivery and ride my newly acquired Thunderbird 500 back home. The experience has been so far so good with the company showroom in Bandra, although there was no celebration, sweets, etc. nothing to make you feel special, to hell with that! The Thunderbird 500 already makes me feel special.

The heart takes over the control and I thank the staff and the showroom manager and proceed towards my steed with the keys and fire it up for the very first time. Ah! The electric start is so convenient, but like an old school Bulleteer I got that itch to kick start. I didn’t do it, I thumb start it and take off. The feeling of riding my own Thunderbird 500 for the first time was surreal and cannot be described in words. I head to the nearest petrol bunk and fill it up with apprx. Rs.1000 worth of normal unleaded petrol. I head home which is about 8 odd kms, damn! Why is my home so near? I tell myself. The first ride was exciting at the same time challenging. The bike feels bulkier, taller and heavier than my AVL Tbird and that immense torque was literally throwing me back every time I accelerated from standstill and even while in motion. That 41 odd NM of torque does something strange to you, I hope my fellow Tbird 500 would agree with me here. I reach home at 5.45.pm. and park it proudly at the parking lot, my sister who delivered a baby boy was in the balcony and saw me approaching she immediately called my mom, I could hear her shout on the ground floor hehehe. Some old ladies in my building were sitting outside their homes and they said, “Son your love for Royal Enfield is so much that you haven’t got married as yet!” I laughed and the charm of an RE bikes still attracts people from all age group. Children who were playing around came running to see this big blue whale and I was careful they don’t scratch it in excitement. The children were like, “Yay! Bullet Bullet Bullet”, I corrected them saying it is a Thunderbird and like monkey see monkey do they started shouting out of joy saying, “Yay Thunderbird Thunderbird Thunderbird”. My mom and sister with my 6 month old nephew rushed down to see my latest acquisition and were very happy. My 6 month old nephew was like out of control he wanted to lunge on that bike, looks like it runs in the family. My mother blessed the motorcycle with some holy water and prayed over it, I didn’t take the bike to the church or for any blessing of that sort as I am not very religious but I am spiritual. My sister was very happy and my brother in law congratulated me over the phone. The little nephew was still lunging towards the bike, my sister made him sit on the motorcycle seat and he became silent, next he wants to grab the handle and the fuel tank. I tell him patience my boy your time will come. While my nephew is still sitting on the rear seat my sister notices some abrasion cut on the rear backrest, I am like what the hell how did I not notice this while doing PDI! Never mind I will call up the showroom and have the cushion cover replaced. I cover the fuel tank with a soft cotton cloth call me over cautious but the feeling of having a new bike comes with all these side-effects. I also don’t have the luxury of covered parking; the birds on trees have a gala time dropping their shit all the time. I buy a breathable body cover for the Thunderbird 500 to keep it safe from nature’s elements.

You all must be wondering all this while I never named my bike, I don’t like giving names to my motorcycles. I prefer calling them by their factory name, sounds boring isn’t it, but that’s the way I am. The RE Thunderbird 500 EFi is proudly sharing space with my older steeds.

Undying hunger, my 5th Royal Enfield - The Thunderbird 500-20141007170737.jpg

Undying hunger, my 5th Royal Enfield - The Thunderbird 500-20141007170749.jpg

Undying hunger, my 5th Royal Enfield - The Thunderbird 500-20141007170758.jpg

Undying hunger, my 5th Royal Enfield - The Thunderbird 500-20141007170809.jpg

Undying hunger, my 5th Royal Enfield - The Thunderbird 500-20141012151746.jpg

Undying hunger, my 5th Royal Enfield - The Thunderbird 500-20141012151757.jpg

Initial impressions on the ride and overall feel

You guys must have noticed by now that this thread is in flashback mode, yes that is because I was caught up with loads of work that prevented me from starting the ownership thread. Anyways coming back to the initial impression on the ride and overall feel. I will not compare my Thunderbird 500 with any other motorcycle but with Thunderbird AVL 350 as they both belong to the same category and share the same underpinnings. Also because I was looking at a replacement for my AVL 350, the Thunderbird 500 was a no brainer. The Thunderbird 500 feels better built and has better quality than the AVL 350. Given below are my initial impressions on the bike and the overall feel after riding it for 340 Kms:

1. Bigger, heavier and bulkier than its predecessor.

2. Beefier front forks aid in overall handling and soaking up the bumps, although the same forks feels heavier than the AVL 350 offset forks while taking turns but still handles well and I am getting used to it

3. Redesigned rear swing arm helps the bikes overall stability and makes it a capable handling cruiser on long winding roads, one cannot attack the corners like other performance sports bikes but as far as cruiser characteristics go this is one motorcycle that won’t disappoint you while coming in and out of a corner.

4. The rear stiff suspension has to be given some credit for handling but at the sacrifice of comfort in soaking up bumps, I believe two up the stiffness should reduce like in old school CI standard oil filled shock ups. I am not tinkering with the rear suspension setting as I want to get a feel of it before changing the settings.

5. The big beautiful fuel tank complements the overall bike looks and character. The capacity of the fuel tank is truly amazing for a bike of this size, I mean which manufacturer gives such a humongous fuel tank on today’s motorcycles especially long touring ones barring the Adventure motorcycles, very few I think. Those 20 liters of petrol can take you far… very far, like some ownership threads on this forum and elsewhere let’s take an average of about 30 KMPL overall. Do the math and you can see it has an envious range of about 550 Kms apprx. (550 because I am deducting the reserve capacity of 2 liters of petrol), that’s the distance from Mumbai to Goa on a single tank full, Truly Amazing. Hat’s off to RE on the tank capacity and the overall range. I had filled her up on day one and haven’t had to visit the petrol bunk till date.

6. Night riding has become a less troublesome thanks to the HID projector beam headlamp; the throw is nice and bright. Although the headlight is adequate but I think one needs more illumination on our unlit national highways and interior sections where there are no street lights. The LED powered tail lights are a delight to watch, very effective and bright even on bright sunny days. The LED corona ring in headlight makes it look cool and upmarket, very useful as a DRL while riding in a convoy for identifying fellow group riders on the RVM while on a long ride.

7. The engine is a delicious unit and has enough juice to keep a sedate rider happy. The engine does not feel vibey for a big single unless you see the RVM’s shaking. Those RVM’s do shake but given that this is big single 500 cc monster it should be acceptable, though the RVM’s do not shake as much as in the AVL 350 and CI 350, once can see a blurry image in the Thunderbird 500 RVM compared to earthquake like scene in AVL and CI powered RE’s. Coming back to the engine, it is one torque monster hiding its identity beneath that moderate 27 odd BHP of power. The torque band is spread across the RPM’s and one can feel the never ending torque flowing through the engine. This motorcycle has one of my favorite characteristic and that is the Flat Torque Curve, I mean I didn’t realize which gear that I am on unless I came to crawling speeds while approaching a signal, it’s only while downshifting I knew I was on fourth gear against me thinking I was on second gear. The bike neither jerked nor stalled. Maybe the torque, 500 cc heavy fly wheel and EFi are working in tandem with each other to prevent this. I didn’t do it purposely as I don’t like lugging the engine, but came to know about it accidently during the first test ride and while riding my Thunderbird 500, a blessing in disguise I must say! I am carefully running in the engine by following the 2000 rpm and 50 KMPH speed limit till 500 Kms.

8. The gearbox is a nice 5 speed unit. This is where an old school rider like me realizes it is a UCE where the gearbox is integrated unlike a separate unit on AVL and CI. The shifting pattern is same as the AVL one down – four up albeit a little precise and softer than the famous “Khataak” clunky gear shift on the AVL and CI. The gear ratios are nicely matched and one doesn’t need to work the gearbox thanks to that immense torque band. I haven’t explored the gears to their full extent thanks to the 2000 rpm limit but from what I have ridden so far it has satisfied me. Once I open up the bike a bit more then will I know how long and short the gears actually are. There is some rubbery kind of feeling while shifting gears which may be due to running in. Hopefully it should improve after the first service.

9. The brakes have a good stopping power in RE parlance, considering you are using both the brakes. The rear brake although disc doesn’t give much bite compared to my AVL 350, the front brake has a good biting force though. I have always been using both the brakes on all my RE motorcycles thanks to the infamous braking and stopping power of the old school bullets. Seasoned riders use engine braking and use both the brakes to reduce the speed and stop the bike. There is no excuse here for RE they should have given ABS as standard on this behemoth costing almost 2 lakhs.

10. The split seat looks very cool and gives the motorcycle a proper cruiser character. I am 5 feet 9 inches and the saddle is very easy to climb on and depart from. The seating position is bang on for me and the soft cushion padding is a delight for my back and bum. The styling is amazing at the same time very comfortable, the rear seat too is nice and wide although the rear backrest might interfere with the lower back of the pillion due to its short height compared to AVL 350 where a proper backrest is provided. The handlebar is newly designed unit which has a good feel and one doesn’t feel tired in city traffic or on the highway.

11. The twin pod instrument cluster complements the bikes cruiser looks, the background blue light looks very sharp and clear (matching!! My bike too is blue color). There is analog speedometer and RPM meter, Thank You RE for keeping them analog. There is digital odometer and two trip meters, digital fuel gauge (which works on its own mood and it has mood swings I tell you). The digital clock is a cousin of the fuel gauge both has mood swings. These features are a bonus for old school riders like me who were devoid of fuel gauge, clock and what not. But seriously RE should take notice of this and work on rectifying it, I mean I am paying 2 lakhs and expect some basic functionality on these basic parts.

12. The switchgear although good quality could have been better, nevertheless it does what it is supposed to. The buttons feels nice to touch and seems will last long. The all new rear and front indicators look and feel upmarket and looks very good. There are some wires hanging loose which should have been secured with a plastic tie at the factory, never mind we RE owners are used to this and I will do it myself to cover them. But RE should not know they can’t allow this to happen on a 2 lakh rupee bike. The electric starter is something of a convenience for old school bullet riders like me, who had to rely on kick start to start up the iron horse. It is very handy while waiting at traffic signals where one can start the motorcycle instantly and buzz off.

13. The rubber grip on the accelerator handle is nice and soft to hold and is of good quality, the foot rests have broken the mold of old RE footrests and RE shows us that yes footrests can be made beautiful. Those four footrests look very good while RE takes it further by giving us the front folding footrest in case of any impact neat safety feature. The overall quality of the footrests looks like they are built to last and have a visual appeal as well. Chrome side stand adds to the overall look, the center stand with fulcrum too is good which helps in mounting this 200 Kg beast an easy affair.

14. The paint quality is top notch and oozes quality, the metal flakes on a Marine Blue Thunderbird looks like tiny diamond crystals in the sunlight. Even the paint on certain parts like chassis, saree guard, etc. is very good; I didn’t find any rust spots on my bike. Maybe the facilities at the new plant in Oragadam Chennai have improved for the better. The chrome parts shine like stars and feel well built.

15. Rubber up front and rear are chosen wisely. The front 19 inch and rear 18 inch wheel configuration is one of the contributing factors that help the motorcycle handle really well. The MRF rubber is of good quality especially the rear one; it is fat and has a nice pattern. It makes the bike look premium while being grippy which aids in handling. The fact that one cannot change the tires to tubeless due to steel rims is a downer though.

16. Lastly the sound that unites and divides all the Bulleteers, yes The Thump! That ever elusive sound everyone is so crazy about is missing in the Thunderbird 500. Nevertheless it has its own sweet melodious thump which is equally appealing at least to me. I believe every motorcycle has its own character and this one too does and a plenty of character at that, so much so that you can ignore to focus just on the sound, there are so many other things to look at. If the sound doesn’t appeal one can always retro fit the Indore Dholki, Goldstar, Wild Boar, and many other.

RE Quality raises its ugly head and All hell breaks loose!!!

Forgot to mention this in the previous post, regarding the rear back rest cushion abrasion and cut before the delivery, I brought it to the notice of the RE showroom in Bandra and they agreed to replace it. I got it replaced after a week of purchase. I was happily enjoying my new found love with the Thunderbird 500 by riding it strictly as per running in instructions. See the pic of my first 100 Kms
Undying hunger, my 5th Royal Enfield - The Thunderbird 500-20141012091419.jpg

The rides were mostly in the city and thereabouts, by October 24th 2014 I had covered about 220 odd Kms. I know 220 Kms in 2 and a half weeks for this motorcycle is very less, but what to do thanks to my busy schedule. I decided to do ride towards the extended suburbs in Bombay especially a place called Vasai which is about 60 odd Kms from my home. I thought I would cover about 180 odd Kms on that day and come closer to the first free service but it was not be!

I on my Thunderbird 500 along with my cousin on his KTM Duke 390 started riding towards Vasai on October 25th. The odometer on my bike was showing some 235 Kms in the morning before I started riding; I checked and cleaned the bike before the journey as I do with all my RE’s. I started riding with an eye on the speedometer and the rpm meter to make sure I don’t cross 50 KMPH and 2000 RPM. We stopped just before entering Vasai on the Mumbai – Ahmedabad Highway for a break, after about 15 minutes we started riding again and soon entered Vasai. While taking a right turn near the railway station I noticed the battery icon started flashing on the instrument cluster, I couldn’t stop as there were vehicles all around me. By the time I could park the bike on the left side of the road, pop goes the bike! Kaput! The bike just dies with its RPM and Speedometer needle stuck in the middle.

I push the behemoth on the left side of the road to let the traffic behind me pass, my cousin is unaware of the situation as he was leading and had gone ahead due to mad rush traffic at the Vasai market area. I SMS him about my situation and he comes back in about 10-15 minutes. All this while I am trying some basic troubleshooting like turning the key in off and on position and using the kill switch on and off but nothing happens. I try calling the RE showroom in Bandra to see if they can help, the showroom call their mechanic to guide me on the phone. I explain the problem to the mechanic and say the battery icon was flashing on the instrument cluster before the bike went dead. The mechanic asks me to open and check the fuse and use the spare fuse provided incase the fuse has blown. I open up the fuse box and check the fuse and try to change the fuse with the one spare fuse provided, still nothing happens. The RE showroom mechanic tells me on the phone to show the bike to some local mechanic to check the battery. I ask him if I do so will not my warranty become void, he says no just make sure you don’t allow the mechanic to fiddle with the wires he also says you have no other option as due to Diwali all the service centers are closed, the nearest one is the RE Service Centre in Mira Road which is about 30 odd kms but that too is closed, only the RE Bandra showroom is operational. Meanwhile the DIY guy that I am thanks to CI and AVL models that I own, I opened the battery box cover and found that the battery has overheated and has become like a hot non-stick pan. It is too hot to even touch it, as I allow the battery to cool down I ask some local guys in Vasai market to find out if there is a mechanic in close vicinity, one auto driver says there is one about 200 feet from here further down the road. I with my cousin go to find the mechanic on his Duke 390 and spot him, I tell him about the problem and he agrees to see the bike. He comes and checks the battery and says there is no charge left in the battery and it has overheated, I ask him what can we do now? He says we will tow this bike to my workshop and check it there by putting another spare battery. My cousin places his foot on my Thunderbird’s rear foot rest and pushes it while seated on his Duke 390, we start rolling albeit my Thunderbird is still dead.

We reach the mech’s garage and he brings out the spare battery although it is a smaller one but still he checks whether the bike comes to life or not. The bike doesn’t budge no reaction at all, the mechanic tries to check the wires, but I tell him do not pull out anything as the motorcycle is under warranty. About 20 minutes go by while he is still checking, I ask him to stop so that he doesn’t fiddle with the wires. All this while my brain is cursing my heart. After a lot of thoughts I decide to put the bike on a flatbed mini truck and take it to the RE Authorized Synergy Auto service centre located in Sakinaka Andheri East, it is closer to my place as I stay in Andheri West. I have decided but the next challenge is to find a flatbed mini truck on a Diwali holiday! The mech tells us to go near the railway station or Waliv phata (Industrial belt in Vasai) to find a flatbed mini truck. As me and my cousin prepare to leave we spot a flatbed mini truck (Tata Ace) with some cargo on it, I just try my luck to stop him and coincidentally he happens to be a friend of the mech. We strike a deal with him to haul the Tbird’s ass after he delivers his cargo, meanwhile we go to have lunch and meet a relative. The flatbed guy calls me and says he has delivered his cargo and is waiting for me at the mech’s garage where the Tbird is standing. I rush with my cousin to face another challenge that is to mount the behemoth Tbird on the mini truck. It takes six of us healthy guys to lift the Tbird and place it on the flatbed, I tell you my heart was in my mouth when we lifted it, I was dreading what if it falls or what if it scratches and paint scrapes off! Fortunately nothing like this happened, we mounted the bike and the carrier guy was a pro. He secured the Tbird with those flat nylon ropes in such a way that it didn’t move at all till I reached Sakinaka Andheri, hat’s off to him. You guys must be wondering why didn’t I click the pictures of my Tbird on the flatbed, honestly I was ashamed to click the photo of less than 3 weeks old 2 lakh rupee bike on a flatbed.

We started our journey towards the RE service centre in Sakinaka, wait!! What the hell!! All the service centre’s are closed today. I call up a friend who has a workshop in Sakinaka to check whether I can keep my bike in his workshop till Monday, he is out of state but says the workshop is closed but will call back and confirm. He calls back in five minutes and replies he is asking his man to open the workshop and I can keep my bike, I am relieved hearing this and thank him. I thought it was better to keep the bike near the service centre rather than taking it home as I have to ultimately take it to the service centre. While on the way I try my luck calling up the mobile numbers mentioned on RE website against Synergy Auto. I get through after the 10th call and the other person on the line gives a lousy and uninterested reply (The infamous RE After Sales Service at its best) saying the service centre and showroom both are closed and he never even attempted to ask me if he can help in any other way of what was wrong with the bike. We reached my friends’ workshop and I knew we would have to face the same challenge unloading the bike from the flatbed, same technique used as before where 5 of us work in unison to unload the bike. The bike touches the ground and I breathe a sigh of relief, I push the bike inside the workshop and the workshop guy closes the shutter. Phew! What a day

Last edited by GTO : 12th November 2014 at 16:34. Reason: Adding full review to the opening post :)
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Old 10th November 2014, 12:48   #2
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Default Re: The Undying Hunger: My Fifth RE Motorcycle Presenting the RE Thunderbird 500 (Mar

Happy Ending, “Heart rules over brain.”

Congratulation for conquer the massive Royal Enfield Thunderbird 500! Wishing you Safe and Joyful Rides! I am glad that you have obey your heart. RE bikes always wins the heart of True Blooded Royal Enfield Enthusiasts.

Last edited by Nick_Wanderlust : 10th November 2014 at 13:05. Reason: Got confused while typing the comments in Quote section.
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Old 10th November 2014, 18:28   #3
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Default Re: The Undying Hunger: My Fifth RE Motorcycle Presenting the RE Thunderbird 500 (Mar

Congrats on your TB500,Navin.I thoroughly enjoyed your heart vs brain discussion.

I did come across you mentioning about your other rides(the B1 and the half G2) on another thread,I did see the pic you uploaded of your Marine Blue TB500 on there.

Is the B1 restored?Can you put some pictures of the B1.And I'm curious to know how you ended up with the "half" motorcycle

If I may ask,since you have 5 Bullets,Are you keeping the 95 CI and the AVL due to the heart winning over the mind?

Regards
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Old 11th November 2014, 09:22   #4
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Happy Ending, “Heart rules over brain.”

Congratulation for conquer the massive Royal Enfield Thunderbird 500! Wishing you Safe and Joyful Rides! I am glad that you have obey your heart. RE bikes always wins the heart of True Blooded Royal Enfield Enthusiasts.
Thanks mate for the wishes. For me when it comes to vehicles heart takes over the brain. You know I owned Opel Astra in the past (a car most people stayed away from) and now the Mitsubishi Lancer. I listen to my heart. Thanks again.
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Old 11th November 2014, 09:53   #5
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Congrats on your TB500,Navin.I thoroughly enjoyed your heart vs brain discussion.

I did come across you mentioning about your other rides(the B1 and the half G2) on another thread,I did see the pic you uploaded of your Marine Blue TB500 on there.

Is the B1 restored?Can you put some pictures of the B1.And I'm curious to know how you ended up with the "half" motorcycle

If I may ask,since you have 5 Bullets,Are you keeping the 95 CI and the AVL due to the heart winning over the mind?

Regards
Thanks BOV, the B1 restoration is been going on for quite some time now. I bought the B1 in December 2012 in a totally abandoned condition, me and my mech had to dig it out of its grave. I mean the bike was half buried into the ground, it still held strong thanks to it being an ex-military 1969 motorcycle. I am painstakingly restoring it to its original stock form, I am lucky that the bike has most of its stock parts like front and rear mudguard(the rear mudguard was cut from the bottom due to rusting), front and rear cycle hubs, rear metal speedometer cable, original footrest stand, original centre stand, original lucas headlamp, and ofcourse original B1 engine and gearbox. I will post the pics soon.

Coming to the half motorcycle the G2 Engine and Gearbox, I always wanted a G2 motorcycle and got a tempting deal on just the engine and gearbox from a 1961 model. I bought the engine and gearbox through my mech's network, the motorcyle it was on during that time was going to be scrapped. I didn't buy the motorcycle as it was a bits and parts motorcycle from late 80's barring the G2 Engine and Gearbox. I think of swapping the LX engine on my 1996 Standard with the G2 engine and gearbox, I have already procured the original G2 fuel tank, front and rear mudguard, etc. rest of the parts will be donor parts from my 1996 model. I will start the G2 project sometime next year when the B1 project becomes complete.

Regarding the 96 CI and 2004 AVL, many people told me to sell it including my mechanic. But 96 CI is going to be used as a donor bike for my G2, and NO I wont sell the 96 CI Engine and Gearbox either . It has a light crank CI engine which has a good pickup and ideal for city as well as highway riding. The 2004 AVL Thunderbird has its own charm, that engine is way reliable than the Standard CI's I own. It is a 5 speed engine with gears on the conventional left side, the torque is amazing, the ride is very comfortable thanks to the superb front and rear shockups infact I was gliding on potholed and offroad trails on the AVL while on a monsoon trip to Pune and to Bhandardara in summer. I might consider transforming the AVL thunderbird into a cafe racer or a clubman sometime later . As you rightly said heart rules over mind, and my heart says I have all the engines and motorcycles from most of the generations except the 500 CI, 500 LB, G series from early 50's, etc. But as of now I am happy with my collection. The Thunderbird 500 (which is not considered as a Bullet by purists) is a wonderful bike, one has to ride it for long distances to believe it. I am happy with my decision of buying the Thunderbird 500.
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Old 11th November 2014, 11:18   #6
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Default Re: The Undying Hunger: My Fifth RE Motorcycle Presenting the RE Thunderbird 500 (Mar

Congratulations Navin! I hope you have a great time riding your TB500 over the months and years to come. Ride safe, and have fun!
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Old 11th November 2014, 11:28   #7
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As you rightly said heart rules over mind, and my heart says I have all the engines and motorcycles from most of the generations except the 500 CI, 500 LB, G series from early 50's, etc.
Having owned both, over 10 years and more than 100,000 kms, I must say that you are missing something from your collection.

The LB500 is probably the best overall Bullet 500 made by RE. I rank it above the CI 500 and the CI 535 mechanically and technically. And it was still a Bullet at heart, in its soul, albeit with a teutonic twist (good).

Everything after that truly cannot be called a Bullet. No offense.

Last edited by ebonho : 11th November 2014 at 11:54.
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Old 11th November 2014, 12:06   #8
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Congratulations Navin! I hope you have a great time riding your TB500 over the months and years to come. Ride safe, and have fun!
Thanks for the wishes Silverflash. You too have a great time with your wolf.
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Old 11th November 2014, 12:23   #9
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Having owned both, over 10 years and more than 100,000 kms, I must say that you are missing something from your collection.

The LB500 is probably the best overall Bullet 500 made by RE. I rank it above the CI 500 and the CI 535 mechanically and technically. And it was still a Bullet at heart, in its soul, albeit with a teutonic twist (good).

Everything after that truly cannot be called a Bullet. No offense.
Hey what's up Doc? I know what you mean when you say about the LB500. I rode a Machismo LB500 Alberto Green color(although not mine) it had oodles of torque and seemed eager and refined compared to 500 and 535 CI's. Doc that last line you said about everything after LB500 cannot be called a Bullet, I will just ignore it

The title "The undying hunger" and your lines "I must say that you are missing something from your collection" goes very well. Since you have mentioned this, let me say that I have been looking at sourcing/procuring just the 500 LB engine(I believe I can mate the AVL LB 350 5 speed gearbox with the LB 500 engine). I like to play with different engines as each has its unique character and charm. By the way congrats to you Doc on your purchase of the ballistic missile The Duke 390.

The Thunderbird 500 EFi is what has caught my attention now, and I must say I am thoroughly enjoying it to the T.

Last edited by navin_v8 : 11th November 2014 at 12:28. Reason: grammatical correction
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Old 11th November 2014, 12:26   #10
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Doc that last line you said about everything after LB500 cannot called a Bullet, I will just ignore it
As I said, no offense. Congratulations on your new bike. From all reports, she is a very competent machine, and would complement your collections well. As a working bike, more than a collectors item. Use her well!
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Old 11th November 2014, 12:38   #11
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As I said, no offense. Congratulations on your new bike. From all reports, she is a very competent machine, and would complement your collections well. As a working bike, more than a collectors item. Use her well!
Thanks for the wishes Doc! you too enjoy with your KTM Duke 390.
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Old 11th November 2014, 17:16   #12
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Default Re: The Undying Hunger: My Fifth RE Motorcycle Presenting the RE Thunderbird 500 (Mar

Navin, congratulations for getting your 5th bullet

I too dont beileve in all that cast irons are the "real" bullet and EFI's arent story (even if there is some truth to it, as I prefer to stay away from negativity...LOL) and recommend you to give it a deaf ear.

A bull is a bull as long as your sure its coming out of an RE factory

I love my bullet too being same like yours (EFI) and has all the characteristics of one (including the quintessential pain in back quality)

Btw, loved the new blue color in TB's and isnt there a similar one for classic too?

Enjoy your new ride and have fun !!!

P.S: I think this thread deserves a group picture (5 bulls together)
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Old 11th November 2014, 17:44   #13
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Default Re: The Undying Hunger: My Fifth RE Motorcycle Presenting the RE Thunderbird 500 (Mar

Congrats Navin, Bullet is a bullet, TB is a TB, be it with what ever engine. What matters is , you should be able to ride it and ride it well.

Congrats once again.

PS. i have sold my bullet this sunday and i feel there is a GAP.
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Old 11th November 2014, 17:49   #14
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Navin, congratulations for getting your 5th bullet

Btw, loved the new blue color in TB's and isnt there a similar one for classic too?

Enjoy your new ride and have fun !!!

P.S: I think this thread deserves a group picture (5 bulls together)
Hey Avi thanks for the wishes man, hope your Maroon Marauder and Black Bruiser are doing well, I follow your threads. The classic does come in blue color but not exactly this shade.

The group picture is definitely on the cards. I will do it once the B1 is restored completely. By the way you can notice my other two bullets in the background in one of the photos.

Meanwhile enjoy the pics of my 1996 Standard CI and Thunderbird AVL 350.
Attached Thumbnails
Undying hunger, my 5th Royal Enfield - The Thunderbird 500-2014629070200.jpg  

Undying hunger, my 5th Royal Enfield - The Thunderbird 500-2014629070213.jpg  

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Old 11th November 2014, 17:58   #15
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Congrats Navin, Bullet is a bullet, TB is a TB, be it with what ever engine. What matters is , you should be able to ride it and ride it well.

Congrats once again.

PS. i have sold my bullet this sunday and i feel there is a GAP.
Hey desideep thanks for the wishes dude. Every RE motorcycle model is unique and has its own individual character. I own them and ride them hence know each has a different character.

It is sad for a bulleteer like me to hear that a fellow bulleteer has sold his bike. Tell me you are going to buy one soon. Let me hear it
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