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Old 10th December 2014, 11:38   #1
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Default Story of Almighty Bruce! My Royal Enfield Thunderbird 500

Having the love for bikes and biking ever since the RX 100 came in, I was patiently waiting for the right time. I honestly don't even remember the last time I rode a bike. But I firmly believe, that the passion in you remains there. It doesn't die. It stays dormant, waiting for an opportune time to manifest itself.

Sometime in August this year, I was on Team-BHP as usual. This is my morning practice - to check the site out before opening any mails. My eyes lit up when i saw the Continental GT, but then discovered that it was not the right choice. But then, all hell broke loose when i saw the Thunderbird. I just couldn't wait. It is one of those moments when, in your gut, you know that damn thing is yours. Period.

Bikes considered:

Actually none! Simply, because I was not looking for a racing bike or a mean machine to flaunt or anything. I wanted something with power to spare and a reliable workhorse. The only name that came to my mind was a Bullet, and so it was destined.

Showroom and Booking Experience

I visited "Southern Motors", Anna Nagar on September 20th for a test drive. Went straight for the Thunderbird 500 and i booked it. The sales guy, Mr. Rajesh, was kind and helpful. He told me that there would be a nominal waiting period of 45 days. But then, the human mind does not care for all this. Rest assured, a lot of calls went through. The on-road price was Rs. 1,85.000. Preferred to pay it in one shot and be done with the deal. Folks, if you are buying this now, it costs Rs. 10 K more!

Pricing:

My point of contact was Mr. Rajesh from Southern Motors. Since this is a company showroom, I didn't get any discounts at all. The bike's on-road price was Rs. 1,85,000. I had some savings, so I transferred the amount directly. Southern Motors has a rule that states that only after the bike has come to the showroom and after the customer inspects the bike, will they receive the payment. So, I was holding on to this for 2 months - the time period that it took to make the bike. The staff was courteous, prompt and swift in handling all my queries.

Delivery day - Dec 02, 2014

Once you book something, till it comes to your hand, it's a long wait. Anyway, my tryst with patience and tempers ended on Dec 02, when the showroom called me to say the bike is ready to be taken. I arrived at the showroom by 5:00 PM and by 6:30, I was out with Bruce after completing all delivery formalities. They gave me the insurance and the sales invoice. After being promised to be given the RC book within a week, I immediately went out with my new love to a sign board shop to get the plates done and fixed.

Overall Summary
  • Really masculine!
  • Headturner for sure
  • Nice turning radius
  • Powerful engine, electrics
  • Perfect for folks over 5'9"
  • the second heaviest bike, the heaviest being the GT.
  • comfort riding at 50 kmph is unrivaled
  • has so much torque that you have to be in control
  • Real nice blue color and chrome additions make it a beautiful sight
  • Seats are ergonomic, the pillion seat takes the cake with the additional torque
  • Not to be compared with Dukes or other fast bikes. This one stands for reliability, ruggedness and unmatched power - all day long.
  • Feel-good switches

First look

At first look, the bike seems heavy and huge. But you can easily mount on the bike and will immediately feel at home. The tank wraps your legs correctly and the footrests are also spaced correctly to maintain the gait and posture. From idle, the bike just burns up road markers in the blink of an eye. A small deft turn of the throttle is all that's needed to boost your drive. Your environment just blurs once you're on this machine. This bike is not about beating the lights, or about the fastest lap time. This bike is all about brute lugging power. It's all about how much torque is available freely for you at the gear you are riding. And once you have experienced that, your mind will ask for more! In my opinion the best way to experience what this bike can offer is a sedate driving speed of 50-70 kmph and just become 'one' with the bike.

The bike does not look big or tough when viewed from a distance, the ‘tear drop’ shaped tank does not reveal itself fully until you are near. It is quite huge, but wraps around you nicely. The dials are nice to see and they do a full 180-degree motion when turned on. I like the turn indicators, which give a retro feel. In short, every component reeks history of the bike. Be it the discs, be it the tank – anything. The bike to me looks best when it’s on the center stand. I choose to go with the Marine blue color. Most folks will think it’s still a black paint job – only to closely go and find out the difference. Actually after getting it home after the number plates, I was finding out every excuse on earth to take Bruce out.

What i like:
  • Nice color and finish. It's the TB 500 Marine blue
  • Heavy - cross winds and overtakes won't dislodge this one
  • Well planted ride
  • Funky controls and dials. They've managed to mix the old with the new
  • Power output - feels like a locomotive
  • Powerful electrics
  • Auto decompression
  • The exhaust note and blast

What I don't like:
  • Speedo console fitting is quite loose. Looks as if it will fall any moment
  • Fit and finishing not that great. Not after you paid 1.8L
  • Compression is high with the 500. I still get reverse kick at times.
  • Fuel gauge is erratic.

Initial riding impressions:

I have a feeling that the battery is a little under powered, the fact that it takes a little longer for the engine to start up. It’s kind of putting pressure on the starter, need to check that. But once there's motion – the beast glides along. I have also faced some issues in slotting 3rd and 4th gears… need to get that checked as well. But besides that, it's a good ride. Since it’s the initial run-in – I am enjoying the smaller things of the ride. I had not gone beyond 40 kmph and have clocked 50 kms already. The Thunderbird 500 may not offer you outright acceleration, but it offers you power in a more refined, elegant manner without any cloud of doubt of torque across any gear. The more you ride it, the more you feel one with the bike. The torque band is wide and at times you forget which gear you are currently in. The looks I get when I stand at signals is awesome. Once folks understand it's a 500, the kind of questions and attention i get amazing. I have touched a max of 60 kmph and have covered 399 kms till date. It's a well made piece of engineering. I get an average mileage of 25 kms (tank-to-tank). I am quite impressed at the outcome. You should not hard press a heavy crankster like the TB 500, that's one of the reasons why I think they have lower RPM cycles when compared to other bikes.

I had been to the service center to explain the lengthy starting process. The issue was not with the battery. The major issue was with cranking, which my service guy explained correctly. Earlier, I had to kick 5-6 times to get moving, but now its reduced to 2 and even starts on first kick. The remedy is to loosen the buildup of compression by kicking the lever till you feel it moves freely. As you do this, in the next repeated cycles that you kick, at one point the kicker will become stiff again. Find this position by trial and error and then swing your leg in one powerful motion to start the bike. The position is mostly the 8 'o' clock position. They have advised to kick start on a cold mornings and use ES afterwards. ES is actually better and starts faster as there are no carbon deposits issues that are commonplace when you use the kick start.

Ride and Handling

Once the bike starts moving, you will forget that you are moving 195 kilos this easily. It doesn't feel that way at all. As the bike speeds up, it becomes lighter and you can easily weave in and out of traffic without issues at all. I have done this many times and have not scraped any portion at all. The issue of weight starts only when the bike is standstill.

It offers me a pleasant ride always. The suspension is adjustable for different load setups. I have no complaints till date. The only issue I have is brakes. They need to bite a little more and need to engage faster. This will avoid panic braking. I am also learning how to use the front and rear brakes together so as to divide the load equally. The mirrors are good, they do their job well. But they could have been a tad bigger, as it adds to the look of the bike and also helps you to scan more of the road at one go.

Engine

This is the best part of the whole bike. Since it's uses RE's latest technology, it's more of a fill it-forget it attitude and I think it has paid off. Having the bike for four months now, I have not faced any major issue or any leak, or any seal rupture or anything like that. It's just awesome to hear the beat of the bike on starting up. I prefer starting up by the kicker rather than the ES.

This is what I do. I start the bike and idle it for a minute. This allows the oil to reach out everywhere and the tappets also do their thing before I take off. When I stop, I stop the bike in gear (if I have not made it neutral by then) and then I move the bike a little around to engage the gear shifter and bring it to 'N'. This way, I don't strain the gears or their mechanisms. But what i am surprised about is that out of a 500 cc engine, the output is 27 BHP, which i think is low for an engine capacity this huge.

Riding in the city, you can easily touch 60 in the 3rd gear itself, with the RPM hitting around 2K mark. Actually in-city driveability is great between these 3 gears. The moment you go to 4 or 5, you end up downshifting as there's some obstacle on road, you might have to turn, etc.

On the highway, my policy is to reach for the 5th as soon as possible and slowly increase throttle till you feel it's enough. With the amazing reserve power, you can overtake almost anything that comes your way. This bike needs open highways for best sprinted performance, since it's not a high speed bike, it takes time to reach that level of speed if you have reduced speed for any reason. But at the end of the day, its not speed for what this machine is built.

Fuel efficiency

The Thunderbird 500 easily gives you around 25 kms in the city. My first tank-to-tank yielded 25 kms, the second one after the service, yielded 28. But the most surprising fact is, the fuel display will blink to indicate time for refueling after the last bar is shown. I think each bar represents 5 liters. To the life of me, it never blinked, I was only at the last bar as I went to office 3 days in a row - that is 50 kms. At the end of the 3rd day, I decided to tank up again. Now after this tank up, I will again note the mileage and let you guys know about it.

Ground clearance

The bike has 140 mm of ground clearance. This is more than adequate for my needs. I have never scraped any point till date, self or with pillion. It seems to take any pothole or disturbance on road with a mind of it's own. Even when swerving its still a charm.

Gearing

I don't know much about gear ratios to talk on this, but from what I have put the bike through, the gear system is able to get the best out of the engine. I feel the gear ratios are well selected to give the right power band to the bike. Since there's so much torque available, I don't even know which gear I am in at times since the bike just goes on and on. At times, there is difficulty in slotting them, but if you change them at the right RPM then this issue is not there. Also, you should always try and make it neutral before a complete stand stop. There's no use in stomping the shifter once it's stationary. What I follow is this: I gradually reduce my speed, and downshift, one gear at a time. This comes through practice, you'll notice that at certain correct RPMs, the shifting is butter smooth. Repeat this process till you are at N. If for any instance, I don't get to do this, I do this once I switch off the engine. At times, the gears may not slot, and releasing the clutch level at this point creates a chaos as the gearwheels try to interact with each other when the engine is still running. I normally do 16 kms a day, as my office is very near my house. So after I come back, I take Bruce for a long spin.

Accessories

The bike does not have any accessories built in. No mud flaps, no storage bins, nothing! I am also not planning to put in anything that takes the look away. So I normally carry a bag with me for any emergencies. I want a bike polish to be done quite urgently. I have not done any polishing till now, it's only been water washes.

Free Service One - Jan 19, 2014

I have the bike in for service at 600 kms. This was due to the fact that I was only doing 16 kms a day. My office is near home, so I took Bruce to ECR to complete a small run-in exercise. The service costs came up to Rs. 1,080, which was OK as per the consumables that were needed to be replaced. The next service is due at 3,000 km. The response has been smooth. The bike is slowly settling in. I had given the bike in for service after the Puja holidays. Bruce seems to have lost 100 ml of oil. The shop guys say that's not much of an issue. I will be topping it up in a few week's time.

Next, a quick ride till Kalpakkam...

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Last edited by Aditya : 27th March 2015 at 12:26. Reason: Spacing :)
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Old 26th March 2015, 17:44   #2
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Default re: Story of Almighty Bruce! My Royal Enfield Thunderbird 500

Thread moved out from the Assembly Line (The "Assembly Line" Forum section). Thanks for sharing!
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Old 26th March 2015, 18:39   #3
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Default re: Story of Almighty Bruce! My Royal Enfield Thunderbird 500

Many congratulations on your new ride!

This shade of blue looks brilliant on the 'bird! Always liked this motorcycle a lot. Brilliant rider comfort as well as riding position.

I feel saddle bags in the same shade will look mesmerising on the Bruce! Do give it a thought.

Wishing you a lot of carefree, jovial and thump-filled kilometres!
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Old 26th March 2015, 19:04   #4
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Default

Congrats on buying the T-Bird and welcome to the Enfield club. You have written a good, crisp review of the thumper. Thanks for the same. Just hope that RE dumps those ugly plastic RVMs and replace them with chrome.

One note of advice: RE bikes are best photographed in daylight, even better if it is cloudy. Please click some more daylight images and post it on the thread. I even dare say that the pics you have provided don't do full justice to Bruce.

Please keep this thread updated. Happy thumping.

Cheers,
petrolhead_neel

Last edited by petrolhead_neel : 26th March 2015 at 19:12.
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Old 27th March 2015, 10:59   #5
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Default Re: Story of Almighty Bruce! My Royal Enfield Thunderbird 500

Dear petrolhead_neel,

I truly, honestly and sincerely agree with your comment on the pictures. Will be posting more of them as i have completed some rides so that all of you can see Bruce properly.
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Old 27th March 2015, 11:08   #6
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Default Re: Story of Almighty Bruce! My Royal Enfield Thunderbird 500

Thanks for the share and good choice with the colour!

Quote:
Anyway, my tryst with patience and tempers ended on Dec 02 when my showroom called me to say the bike is ready to be taken.
Oh how I remember the day I got the call from the Bandra dealer in Mumbai. Two of my friends, my brother and I, gunning it through rush hour traffic to make sure I reached the dealer before it shut down in the evening. Must've called three times in one hour to keep telling them "Don't you dare shut shop."

Quote:
I have a feeling that the battery is a little under powered, the fact that it takes a little longer for the engine to start up.
Through your ownership you will realize that Enfields are quite weak when it comes to electrics, though the start-up issue doesn't seem to be battery related. Be sure to keep a few fuses handy. Not to scare you, but my initial months were plagued with battery terminal and fuse issues. 5 minute fix, but very annoying.

Quote:
They have advised to kick start on a cold mornings and use ES afterwards. ES is actually better and starts faster as there are no carbon deposits issues that are commonplace when you use the kick start.
Here's what I do. Hold down the clutch and give her 3-4 super-light kicks to get the oil flowing. (Also stick to the short warm up post start). Then with the kill-switch off, give her a half kick. You can then switch the button to on and then use the ES or give her another, half kick. Works 9/10 times for an immediate idle without any further persuasion.
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Old 30th March 2015, 16:13   #7
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Default Re: Story of Almighty Bruce! My Royal Enfield Thunderbird 500

Trumpet, Blue TB (Bruce) looks awesome amongst the new set of colours, and hearty congratulations on your purchase.

Well, i hardly depend on the fuel indicator for full 'accuracy' (perhaps vestigial in that aspect). Once you tank up, better to reset the Trip meter and roughly calculate based on distance covered (about 300 plus kms, you would have consumed about 12-13 litres), rudimentary yes !
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Old 31st March 2015, 12:12   #8
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Default Re: Story of Almighty Bruce! My Royal Enfield Thunderbird 500

Guys,

Good morning/afternoon/evening all,

I have a question. The exhaust note of my TB 500 has increased - in the sense it's grown louder. No updates or changes to the bike in any form. It's a TBTS Marine Blue 500.

The note used to be softer earlier on, till the first service. I am running a stock build.

After the first service, I did 2 rounds to ECR, was running in normally - no high speed chases or anything. Since i wear a helmet, i don't hear that harshness now, but if i ride without it, then i am more conscious.

What i want to know is, is this a part of the engine settling down? or should this be checked.

Regards,
Trumpet
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Old 31st March 2015, 12:20   #9
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Default Re: Story of Almighty Bruce! My Royal Enfield Thunderbird 500

First of all, congratulations!

Secondly, you need a better helmet.
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Old 31st March 2015, 22:33   #10
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Default Re: Story of Almighty Bruce! My Royal Enfield Thunderbird 500

Quote:
Originally Posted by trumpet View Post
Guys,

Good morning/afternoon/evening all,

I have a question. The exhaust note of my TB 500 has increased - in the sense it's grown louder. No updates or changes to the bike in any form. It's a TBTS Marine Blue 500.

The note used to be softer earlier on, till the first service. I am running a stock build.

What i want to know is, is this a part of the engine settling down? or should this be checked.

Regards,
Trumpet
Trumpet, I hope you are very sure about it, and if so, please get it checked. I do know the engine sound changed a bit with time, post initial run. Don't recollect happening to me or other guys on this forum.
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Old 7th May 2015, 15:18   #11
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Default Re: Story of Almighty Bruce! My Royal Enfield Thunderbird 500

Quote:
Originally Posted by trumpet View Post
Regards,
Trumpet
,
Hello Sir,

Congrats with your new ride and wish you many miles of wonderful riding.

Can i request for a small favor from your end.

MY TBTS 500 is 1 Year old and the Battery has started acting up.
The battery icon on the panel is blinking continuously and i see a marginal drop in light and power output of the lights.

looking at the forums it seems i need to go in for a replacement battery and as per consultation from the RE service center i should have it replaced as well.

Can you please post a picture of the Battery on your bike and the warranty card, i have posted a more detailed query in another forum.

I need to be sure which model is being shipped with the current models so i can inquire outside for its cost.

Thanks in advance sir.
Regards,
Jimit

Last edited by Jimmy_u : 7th May 2015 at 15:27.
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Old 8th May 2015, 14:19   #12
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Default Re: Story of Almighty Bruce! My Royal Enfield Thunderbird 500

Hi Sir,


I initially had a weak battery. One of the cells was under performing. I got a replacement battery done up. Both batteries are Exides. The one I have currently works fine without any issues.
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Old 8th May 2015, 15:03   #13
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Default Re: Story of Almighty Bruce! My Royal Enfield Thunderbird 500

Quote:
Originally Posted by trumpet View Post
Hi Sir,


I initially had a weak battery. One of the cells was under performing. I got a replacement battery done up. Both batteries are Exides. The one I have currently works fine without any issues.
Thanks for the update, surprised to hear that you got an exide, the newer ones have amaron as per the service center
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Old 8th May 2015, 15:07   #14
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Default Re: Story of Almighty Bruce! My Royal Enfield Thunderbird 500

I am not sure about that. But since this was under waranty, the service center gave it for me.
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Old 14th August 2015, 11:44   #15
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Default Re: Story of Almighty Bruce! My Royal Enfield Thunderbird 500

Hi guys,

My Bruce has completed 3888 kms. I know it's a little slow. I was wondering about the pros and cons of having a free flow exhaust. This is a EFI 500 - Marine Blue Thunderbird we're talking of here. I just wanted to take the group's view on such a mod.

Experts, please chip in.

Ride safe!
VJ/Trumpet
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