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Old 22nd August 2015, 07:54   #1
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Default From a 49cc Silver Plus to 499cc Thunderbird - The Enfield wheel turns a royal circle

Pranams to navin_8, J Ravi Sir, commonman for the tips and doses of confidence.


A peep into the past:

Year 1985. Last year of graduation. I pestered my dad into buying my first two wheeler for me. The price was a princely INR6200/= Petrol was @Rs7/ltr or so.

The 49cc Silver Plus. Made by Enfield in collaboration with Zundapp of Germany. Three geared bike, which was a real eye catcher those days. Not many in the current generation might recall the name Silver Plus or Zundapp. Hence the pic below will be helpful.

From a 49cc Silver Plus to 499cc Thunderbird - The Enfield wheel turns a royal circle-silver-plus.jpg

The bike had a brushed aluminium kind of 7 spoke alloys, which were really beautiful and easy to maintain. The ride around town was easy and fun. I was the cynosure of many an eye in the college for this beauty.

Enfield later broke off with Zundapp after about 5 years of marriage, and began its solo run.

The period between 1985-2015 saw me riding various 100-125cc bikes and scooters. Ind Suzuki 100cc (1886-1990), Kinetic Honda scooter (1991-1995), and Yamaha YBx 125 cc (199-2008).
Honda Eterno(2008), Yamaha Ray(2013), TVS Jupiter(2014) continue to be with me, along with a Hero Octane bicycle to complete my set of two wheels.

RE Bullets and other heavy bikes were always a factor of intimidation for me. My mind was always thinking in the opposite direction, telling me that I was too thin to ride / control these metal monsters. Also the left brake and right gears of the early gen RE's were a big no no no no for me.
I loved the thump, but equally hated the "phat phat" of some bullets created by the rubber mat attachments found commonly in my home state. It gave a the riders a poor image.

I was really content with my latest ride, the TVS Jupiter, and cantering merrily in and around the town, doing fine.

August first week, I dropped into my class/becnh mate Ajay's shop for the usual end of the day chat, when he surprised me with the news about his Bullet 500 Chrome purchase. Most surprising because, we share all and everything between us. Somehow his new Bullet purchase never came up in our talks. It was raining that day and he had not brought the vehicle. Next day, he compelled me to ride / drive his new 500 cc monster. I was apprehensive, given my views on Bullet. For me it was a "thing" to be visually enjoyed, not handled. How very Wrong!

As I sat on the bike, I felt the height was perfect, the handle bars even better. As the engine started and the monster made its move, all my pre conceived notions were destroyed. I rode with the ease, never felt on any other two wheeler in my riding history. Huge speed breakers were glided over with the finesse of a butterfly. At the end of the ride, I was changed! Forever.

The machine that changed my views on Bullets
From a 49cc Silver Plus to 499cc Thunderbird - The Enfield wheel turns a royal circle-wp_20150815_013.jpg
Now my head was turning in the direction of every RE that came my way. I was deeply entangled in the net and the only way out was to own one.

I needed one! Now! The next fortnight was sleepless and consumed by research and inquiries.

In my research amidst the excitement, my query on which bullet to buy earned me an infraction for thread spamming. Apologies to T bhp...it was a fortnight of sheer madness and fast paced developments, and a few protocols were overlooked.Sorry.

I have not made such an irrational decision in my life as this one. But it was now or never.
I am sure that another bike in my life is unlikely, and I wanted a best buy. That fact made me go in for the best RE, and the pain of parting with hard earned money was conveniently forgotten.
Zeroed in on TB 500, due to the following facts: Styling, ride comfort(based on tbhp user opinions), rear disc brakes and better headlights.

Other RE bikes on my shortlist were the Desert Storm and the Classic 350 Ash. The rear disc brake on the TB 500 was the factor that tilted the scales, and as for the 350 Ash, the seven month waiting period was too much of an ask on my patience.

Made the booking- 5K, on 11th August, (test drove the TB 350, TB 500 was not available for TD) full payment was made on 13th, vehicle inspected on 18th, just to check the VIN and get it confirmed on Tbhp for accuracy, (July 2015 made)and bike was delivered to me on 20th. That was a whirlwind of purchase. I am yet to realize that this is happening.

The delivery process was smooth, doubts were cleared, and the keys were handed over and received by my friend Ajay, who is the prime reason for my Enfield story coming a full circle.

TB500- Reasons for purchase and likes:
1. Feedback on riding comfort- from T bhp, other internet sources
2. Style, Build Quality
3. Rear disk brakes
4. Powerful headlights
5. Black Engine block, with brushed aluminium edges
6. Torque. Pulls away finely in any gear.
7. The horn, very sharp and clear. Creates space ahead of you, when you need it.
8. Speed o and Rpm Dials....cool and impressive.
9. Side stand warning lamp on console.
10. Hazard lights

Dislikes:
1. Paint quality- Stone, matte black looks great, but as per owners manual, there is no warranty on paint. Washing to be done only using plain water.
2. Stiffer ride as compared to the 500 Chrome, evident over speed breakers and pot holes.
3. Small rattle, untraceable but, most likely from the fuel cap, on acceleration.
4. Finding neutral while parking and coming to dead stops in traffic. The gear slips between first and second and takes many attempts to find the neutral.
5. The fuel cap. No hinges. It comes out in total, when unlocked and can be irritating to hold it . A hinged one would have been perfect.
6. Lack of alloy wheels. RE should have given an option here to customise.

Experience at the dealership and the purchase process
The dealership, especially the showroom, leaves a lot to be desired. The showroom is a disgrace to the brand and the product. One is encountered by a narrow pathway leading to the first floor, which is the office and sales area. The second floor/rooftop acts as a mini yard/holding area.A lift is used to move vehicles up and down. As you pass through the narrow corridor, which is dimly lit, you can see brand new vehicles crowded together waiting to go through PDI and servicing. The handling of the vehicles will give you the creeps. The sales managers' room is a corner carved out of a staircase landing, on the way to the sales area, where one has to literally bang ones head to get in.

In the meanwhile, before making full payment, I took the pain of going to the service center, which is better managed and organised than the showroom. Got acquainted with the service head Mr Chacko, through a common friend and had a good chat with his preferred TB technician, on TB 500. I was informed that the new bird was better crafted on suspension, handle bar etc, and was the best RE bike for long rides. I also inquired regarding any long term issues with the TB 500, for which the feed back was not negative. So went back to the showroom and proceeded with the balance payment.

The sales/office personnel were better, in the sense that the perceived negativity generated on seeing the showroom was absent.The attitude of the sales team was not the very best, and all of them were extremely busy. So the anticipated personalized relation with a prospective buyer of a premium bike was absent. With a waiting period of 9 months for the Classic 350 Black, 7 months for the Classic 350 Ash, they have their noses up in the air. Demand far outstrips supply. Hence the reason for the attitude I guess.

I was informed that the waiting period for TB 500 and Desert Storm(my second choice) were one month, but a promise of full payment speed-ed up the delivery time. Luckily I could pay fully faster than I anticipated, and delivery was made possible in 5 days. On the third day, I was called in to check the vehicle as I had strictly told the sales team that invoicing should be done only after I had checked the vehicle. I took down the VIN, cross checked on Tbhp, got confirmation that it was July 2015 make, made sure that there were no scratches, dents, rusting and gave them the go ahead. The vehicle was billed on 18th, but I took delivery on 20th to coincide with my birthday. A self gift, a giant one, How very selfish!

A few random pics of the TB 500
From a 49cc Silver Plus to 499cc Thunderbird - The Enfield wheel turns a royal circle-wp_20150826_002.jpg
From a 49cc Silver Plus to 499cc Thunderbird - The Enfield wheel turns a royal circle-wp_20150828_003-2.jpg
From a 49cc Silver Plus to 499cc Thunderbird - The Enfield wheel turns a royal circle-wp_20150826_033.jpg
From a 49cc Silver Plus to 499cc Thunderbird - The Enfield wheel turns a royal circle-wp_20150826_095.jpg
Ownership experience in the first week

LOOKS
The bike is surely a head turner.The stone-matt black is a very subtle yet powerful colour. The all black engine block creates a very premium appeal as compared to the traditional RE finish. The edges are finished in brushed aluminium look, which makes it better.The headlight, with the halo ring creates an aura. Sad thing is I have to wait for another TB to cross my path at night to enjoy the looks. Not a single curve on the whole bike is disproportionate or out of place.The engine block looks powerful and well designed. All the muscles in the right place.
From a 49cc Silver Plus to 499cc Thunderbird - The Enfield wheel turns a royal circle-wp_20150826_009.jpg

POWER
The power is adequate, and does not feel under-powered or sluggish. The bike is still in the running in period and not yet crossed 100 km on the odo. Nor has it has not been ridden past the 50 kmph mark as advised by the sales staff and owners manual. The rains and heavy traffic in town due to the Onam festival have prevented a proper drive in city traffic conditions. However the nearly 8 km ride from showroom to home on day one in heavy traffic was handled with ease. It is very much adept at crawling speeds and does not feel heavy despite its about 200 kg weight.
.From a 49cc Silver Plus to 499cc Thunderbird - The Enfield wheel turns a royal circle-wp_20150828_002.jpg

MILEAGE
Fuel consumption, is a grey area at the time of writing. I was told that 3-4L of fuel was in the tank at the time of delivery. On the way home, I filled up for Rs500/= worth of fuel.That is yet to be exhausted. Unless a tank full to tank full method is tested, I will not be able to give a correct figure. The TB 500's fuel gauge is known to be unreliable, as per other user reviews here.

RIDING COMFORT
Though I am yet to do a long ride on this bike, I can tell with confidence that the riding position is close to perfect. The handle bars are perfectly placed, the rider sits in a very upright posture, giving maximum comfort to the lower back and arms. The seat offers adequate cushioning. The feet are perfectly placed both for braking and gears and the huge fuel tank does not interfere with the comforts. The controls are all within reach and work well.

HANDLING AND BRAKING
The Tbird handles very well in slow moving city traffic. Despite its weight, maneuvering around potholes and taking tight turns, is easier than anticipated, and is in line with the sales advisors' claim. The brakes have sufficient bite and stop the bike perfectly, inspiring confidence. However I must add that speeds higher than 50kmph have not be attempted due to the running in phase, and hence braking efficiency at higher speeds remain untested. However, I feel that the brakes would be adequate for speeds upto 80kmph.

Further additions to the ownership experience, will be updated on completion of 500km / first service. A few more random clicks to end this report. Hoping to add miles of happiness and discovery on the TB.
Attached Thumbnails
From a 49cc Silver Plus to 499cc Thunderbird - The Enfield wheel turns a royal circle-wp_20150826_007.jpg  

From a 49cc Silver Plus to 499cc Thunderbird - The Enfield wheel turns a royal circle-wp_20150826_020.jpg  

From a 49cc Silver Plus to 499cc Thunderbird - The Enfield wheel turns a royal circle-wp_20150826_028.jpg  


Last edited by jnpai : 28th August 2015 at 20:42. Reason: GTO's and Rehan's advice.
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Old 22nd August 2015, 08:30   #2
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Default re: From a 49cc Silver Plus to 499cc Thunderbird - The Enfield wheel turns a royal circle

This is a trip down memory lane, I recall the Silver Plus there was another bike that the Zundapp collaboration produced, was it the Fury? Both disappeared without a trace though.
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Old 29th August 2015, 14:43   #3
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Default Re: From a 49cc Silver Plus to 499cc Thunderbird - The Enfield wheel turns a royal circle

Thread moved from the Assembly Line (The "Assembly Line" Forum section) to the Motorcycle Section. Thanks for sharing!
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Old 29th August 2015, 17:32   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jnpai View Post
bike was delivered to me on 20th.
Congratulations and best wishes, jnpai. I wish you and your Bird infinite miles with smiles.
Quote:
The fuel cap. No hinges. It comes out in total, when unlocked and can be irritating to hold it .
Actually, Thunderbird's fuel cap is better than Classic's, IMO. The former is better-finished, sturdier, more attractive and safer than the latter. Once, I had a fall. Not even a drop of fuel spilled out.

Last edited by J.Ravi : 29th August 2015 at 18:02.
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Old 29th August 2015, 19:46   #5
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Hi jnpai,

Congrats on your T-Bird and welcome to the RE family. Wish you lots of happy and safe miles on your newest acquisition. You have made an apt decision.

There will be some niggles, don't let them bother you much. REs are supposed to be nigglesome.Living with a Classic 350 for a year, this is what I can say. Most of them disappear themselves. Oh yes- tune the bike to your taste. I can assure you that 'em small adjustments go a long way to make your ride more pleasurable. Get hold of a good, reputed and trustworthy FNG/mech. If guys at RE service can't diagnose a problem, they are the people you should visit ASAP.

BTW, really love the way the Zundapp looks!
Quote:
Originally Posted by J.Ravi View Post

Actually, Thunderbird's fuel cap is better than Classic's, IMO. The former is better-finished, sturdier, more attractive and safer than the latter. Once, I had a fall. Not even a drop of fuel spilled out.
You are absolutely right Ravi Sir. The fuel cap on the Classic is horrible. There are a lot of times that it just refuses to lock. The TBird's one is much better. Better still is the one on the Continental GT.

Cheers,
petrolhead_neel

Last edited by petrolhead_neel : 29th August 2015 at 19:56.
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Old 30th August 2015, 13:16   #6
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Default Re: From a 49cc Silver Plus to 499cc Thunderbird - The Enfield wheel turns a royal circle

@jnpai Congratulations and may you have miles and miles of hassle free ownership with your Thunderbird.
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Old 30th August 2015, 16:03   #7
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Default Re: From a 49cc Silver Plus to 499cc Thunderbird - The Enfield wheel turns a royal circle

Congratulations ��! Enjoy the bike. My experience is toy will never regret owning an Enfield. Words don't describe the getting of riding one.
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Old 31st August 2015, 09:54   #8
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Default Re: From a 49cc Silver Plus to 499cc Thunderbird - The Enfield wheel turns a royal circle

Quote:
Originally Posted by jnpai View Post
Pranams to navin_8, J Ravi Sir, commonman for the tips and doses of confidence.
jnpai mate I am very happy to see your dream come true. Your Tbird500 looks awesome.
Quote:
However the nearly 8 km ride from showroom to home on day one in heavy traffic was handled with ease. It is very much adept at crawling speeds and does not feel heavy despite its about 200 kg weight.
As I told you the weight and the heft just disappears once the motorcycle starts rolling. It is as much at home in the city as it is on the highways and also off road dirt tracks. I call it a dual purpose motorcycle.
Quote:
The brakes have sufficient bite and stop the bike perfectly, inspiring confidence. However I must add that speeds higher than 50kmph have not be attempted due to the running in phase, and hence braking efficiency at higher speeds remain untested.
Mate one word of suggestion/caution, the front disc brake has a powerful nasty bite which locks up the front wheel that can result in skidding under panic braking. I practice a braking ratio of 6:4 where 6 is for front brake and 4 is for rear brake.

I don't need to tell you about the running in procedure as you are following it well. Enjoy your Tbird500 and ride safe.
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Old 31st August 2015, 16:30   #9
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Default Re: From a 49cc Silver Plus to 499cc Thunderbird - The Enfield wheel turns a royal circle

Congratulations on your new ride and welcome to the RE family. You have gone through all the phases before becoming an RE owner and I'm pretty sure you already know how many misconceptions can be extinguished just by riding the bike. Long distance or city riding, RE's offer great comfort and the torque delivery on the 500 is addictive. In fact on our roads, even Softail Harley-Davidsons don't offer that kind of comfort.

Don't be surprised if your economy figures are low at first, and be sure to look for a time when the authorized service centre isn't busy to book an appointment. Most of the authorized workshops are choked because their business boomed out of nowhere, so sub-standard work is a common occurrence. Also, don't rush into any modifications.

Quote:
The price was a princely INR6200/= Petrol was @Rs7/ltr or so.
That statement stings.

Quote:
Now my head was turning in the direction of every RE that came my way. I was deeply entangled in the net and the only way out was to own one.
The head turning phase is quite an interesting one. I was never apprehensive about riding an Enfield, but never really realized the joy of riding one until well, I rode one. Two of my friends had the Electra 5s and one of them loaned me his ride for two weeks. That was enough to seal the deal.

Quote:
So the anticipated personalized relation with a prospective buyer of a premium bike was absent. With a waiting period of 9 months for the Classic 350 Black, 7 months for the Classic 350 Ash, they have their noses up in the air. Demand far outstrips supply. Hence the reason for the attitude I guess.
The experience varies from dealer to dealer. Most buyers have a bad experience because RE has a monopoly. Cruiser options are limited in that price bracket, so they don't need to make the effort to make a sale. 9/10 times, the buyer has no intention of buying anything else, so he's willing to take a little attitude.
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Old 2nd September 2015, 16:07   #10
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Wink Re: From a 49cc Silver Plus to 499cc Thunderbird - The Enfield wheel turns a royal circle

Mate one word of suggestion/caution, the front disc brake has a powerful nasty bite which locks up the front wheel that can result in skidding under panic braking. I practice a braking ratio of 6:4 where 6 is for front brake and 4 is for rear brake.


Thanks Navin. Riding the Tb500 has been fun so far, with a 40 km drive on Sunday last to a temple town nearby. The roads were good, providing a mix of straight runs, curves and a couple of wicked hairpins. The bird took it all in its stride, and gave me some opportunity to test the brakes and the stopping prowess. No issues so far, but I must say, higher speeds are yet to be tested. Will certainly have your advise on mind.

Meanwhile, yesterday got the crash guard fixed. RTO inspection for grant of number selected is sch for next week, and since the crash guard is mandatory for grant of registration, got it fixed. As suggested by you and J.Ravi sir, got it from a local dealer sourced from Quality Steels, Chennai.
Though the bike looks very nice without the crash guard, it is a necessary accessory both from the rules and regulation side and the safety viewpoint.

From a 49cc Silver Plus to 499cc Thunderbird - The Enfield wheel turns a royal circle-wp_20150902_006.jpg
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Attached Thumbnails
From a 49cc Silver Plus to 499cc Thunderbird - The Enfield wheel turns a royal circle-wp_20150902_007.jpg  

From a 49cc Silver Plus to 499cc Thunderbird - The Enfield wheel turns a royal circle-wp_20150902_009.jpg  

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Old 2nd September 2015, 16:10   #11
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Default Re: From a 49cc Silver Plus to 499cc Thunderbird - The Enfield wheel turns a royal circle

Long distance or city riding, RE's offer great comfort and the torque delivery on the 500 is addictive. In fact on our roads, even Softail Harley-Davidsons don't offer that kind of comfort.

True, very much. I've seen Harleys struggling over taller speed breakers due to their low GC. RE's glide over those

Thanks for your wishes.
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Old 2nd September 2015, 20:18   #12
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Default Re: From a 49cc Silver Plus to 499cc Thunderbird - The Enfield wheel turns a royal circle

Quote:
Originally Posted by jnpai View Post
Riding the Tb500 has been fun so far, with a 40 km drive on Sunday last to a temple town nearby.
Nice to know that you are enjoying riding your Thunderbird 500. I am eagerly waiting for pics of your bird on Muzhappilangad drive-in beach.
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Old 2nd September 2015, 20:56   #13
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Default Re: From a 49cc Silver Plus to 499cc Thunderbird - The Enfield wheel turns a royal circle

Quote:
Originally Posted by J.Ravi View Post
Nice to know that you are enjoying riding your underbird 500. I am eagerly waiting for pics of your bird on Muzhappilangad drive-in beach.

Sure, Sir. Will do as and when I do the beach run. I guess you are familiar with my location, as your suggestion indicates. Meanwhile, may I post a few pics from the temple town- Parassini aka Parassinikadavu, dedicated to Lord Muthappan.

From a 49cc Silver Plus to 499cc Thunderbird - The Enfield wheel turns a royal circle-wp_20150830_068.jpg

From a 49cc Silver Plus to 499cc Thunderbird - The Enfield wheel turns a royal circle-wp_20150830_046.jpg

The white structure across the river, are the temple premises, situated right on the bank of the river.
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Old 3rd September 2015, 12:07   #14
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Default Re: From a 49cc Silver Plus to 499cc Thunderbird - The Enfield wheel turns a royal circle

Hi Jnpai,

Congrats on getting the bird. Even i have a 500cc bird - but marine blue color. Didn't want the Matte as i was doubtful on how i'd maintain that paint job.

Nice shots of the bird. I like the shot of the console unit with the team-bhp chain hanging out. My bird has just completed 4K on the ODO.
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Old 3rd September 2015, 13:24   #15
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Default Re: From a 49cc Silver Plus to 499cc Thunderbird - The Enfield wheel turns a royal circle

Quote:
Originally Posted by trumpet View Post

Nice shots of the bird. I like the shot of the console unit with the team-bhp chain hanging out. My bird has just completed 4K on the ODO.
Thanks mate.
The lack of paint warranty for the matt black, figures in my dislikes. But that was discovered post purchase.
Hope your 4k running was free of issues, and wish you infinite miles of pleasure.
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