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Author Topic: Thunderbird 500  (Read 1902 times)

Thunderbird 500
« on: November 08, 2012, 11:56:36 AM »
Just looked at the newly released Thunderbird 500;  Pretty impressive-front and rear disc brakes, 20 litre tank for 250+ km range , new ergos,  projection headlight, beefier forks, stronger rear trailing arm etc.     Mini ape bars.  Black only with blackout engine.     Anyone know if we will be seeing these in North America?


dick_deck

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Re: Thunderbird 500
« Reply #2 on: November 08, 2012, 01:32:53 PM »

Arizoni

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Re: Thunderbird 500
« Reply #3 on: November 08, 2012, 10:24:27 PM »
I'm sure Kevin Mahoney,(the owner of this site and importer of RE's to the USA) knows if he plans on importing any of the Thunderbirds but I rather doubt that he will.

There are several other brands of 650 cc cruiser motorcycles available in the US that are priced at or below what I think a Thunderbird would sell for.

I think Royal Enfield and Harley corners the market for pre '70's style bikes and that is their main selling point.
The new Triumph's don't ride, feel or look like the old bikes and the new Norton is priced so high it doesn't have a chance of competing in the old bike market.

That said, I think if RE would offer a FI 650 or 700cc twin, styled like the big RE twins from the '50's (with disk brakes?)  it would be a winner in this country.
Jim
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Ducati Scotty

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Re: Thunderbird 500
« Reply #4 on: November 08, 2012, 10:51:05 PM »
I hope they come out with a parallel twin, that's an RE I'd really like to see.  Still, then you're competing very directly with the new Triumph.  Similar motor and price.

The Thunderbird is a great bike for India where the RE is the largest displacement domestic bike made and the cruiser styling is appreciated.  Over there the tariffs on imports make them prohibitively expensive. 

Here in the states it would be up against the Suzuki Savage/S40 and any other 500-650cc cruisers out there.  And there are precious few since they don't sell very well here.  People seem to want large displacement Harley's and clones thereof.  Not much of a mid size cruiser market here. 

Also, there are plenty of bikea in the same price range that are really tough to beat.  The V-Star 650 retails for under $7k and it's HUGE!  It's only got a 650 motor but size-wise the thing feels like an 1100.  I've had one and they're great.  Shaft drive, reliable as hell, very pretty.  Tough bike to beat for the money and even it doesn't sell very well.

Scott

dampking

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Re: Thunderbird 500
« Reply #5 on: November 08, 2012, 11:56:25 PM »
I'm sure Kevin Mahoney,(the owner of this site and importer of RE's to the USA) knows if he plans on importing any of the Thunderbirds but I rather doubt that he will.

There are several other brands of 650 cc cruiser motorcycles available in the US that are priced at or below what I think a Thunderbird would sell for.

I think Royal Enfield and Harley corners the market for pre '70's style bikes and that is their main selling point.
The new Triumph's don't ride, feel or look like the old bikes and the new Norton is priced so high it doesn't have a chance of competing in the old bike market.

That said, I think if RE would offer a FI 650 or 700cc twin, styled like the big RE twins from the '50's (with disk brakes?)  it would be a winner in this country.

They did have plans to work on a twin 700 and also a 750 but for some weird reason they have dropped the plan for now. Chances are pretty low!

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Re: Thunderbird 500
« Reply #6 on: November 09, 2012, 12:04:50 AM »
What?  When did the plans for the twin get shelved?  As I recall the official announcement came out around the time the Continental concept bike debuted and was announced as official.

Scott

dampking

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Re: Thunderbird 500
« Reply #7 on: November 09, 2012, 01:01:20 AM »
Yes that is true. They had plans of launching the Cafe, they were still not sure if that would suit a 535 engine or a 500. Recently I had a talks with couple of friends who work for RE and it seems they have dropped the twin plan for now.

Also, The person who came up with this idea of 700 and 750 twin is also into big time racing and got the fastest 350 G2 in the country. I think he's also the RnD head of RE and also works very closely with UCAL, as CV Ucal carbs were in his plan. Another friend of mine talked to this guy and it seems that RE doesn't want to work on any twin project for now. He is pretty disappointed too!

dampking

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Re: Thunderbird 500
« Reply #8 on: November 09, 2012, 01:02:51 AM »
A lot of things happening in the RE factory. They need a fresh bunch of people who know their stuff. RE is always into doing RnD with their customers! Recently they messed with few machineries and broke the machines which used to build AVL Head, 350 and 500. I hope that won't stop the production.

Re: Thunderbird 500
« Reply #9 on: November 09, 2012, 02:57:08 AM »
I am surprised that a thread that started out concerning the newly released Thunderbird (which is real , not hypothetical ) has turned to another "when will we be seeing the Twin thread......and will it be V or parallel etc etc)  .    Don't get me wrong   I would be pleased to see the twin, though even if it were real, I am not sure there is  any better chance of us getting it than the Thunderbird, and anyway, there is a whole R and D research curve to go into that (and regulatory emmisions control and so on) before it could ever be a reality.   I suspect the main target audience for the prospective twin is the Indian market as a way to outflank other makers like HD on their own turf in India  where brand loyalty would give them an automatic boost.    A twin, even if spectacular, would appeal to only a subset of the RE following here, (which is a small segment of the motrcycle market) and would face some pretty stiff competition from Triumph (class leader) Kawasaki W 800 (if they ever bring it here) Guzzis , HD Sportster etc.  It would be real hard to outflank these in quality performance and price, so the only real selling points would be vintage cache  , kick start (if they did it) and brand following :  Here in NA , though , that would be only a slice of the already small
 " RE Brand Loyal" slice of the market.  So and uphill climb for the twin.   Even the Kawasaki W 650 which was impeccably made, fantastic looking and reliable as all get out and had a lot of modern hidden tech (4 valves, bevel drive OHC)id not sell well here and was eventully discontinued.  Probably because , for most of the NA market it is up against just too much competition for it's vintage type performance to compete.   And there is no way that a stock RE of similar displacement would outshine the performance of the W 650 much.   

The 500 UCE, however is in a category of it's own and not really going toe to toe with any existing bike other than say the Suzuki 650 single (which is decidely a "cruiser" and sacrafices function for form.   .  And as far as lumping the new Thunderbird into a "Cruiser" category, really what the heck does that mean?   Most "cruiser" have much longer wheelbase, lower seat height,  steeper rake, heavier weight by far, and yes, larger dispacement:  But this , though dubbed a "cruiser" for the Indian market, is really  just a standard roadster with a split level seat, fairly upright ergos, the same (acutally shorter ) wheelbase as the Bullet, thus easily manouverable at low speeds and small turning radius, lighter weight than the bullet, THE SAME MARKET BEATING MILEAGE , reliable low maintenance UCE engine , and a whole lot of neat features like a super big gas tank with huge range, 4 way flashers, convertable bag seat with underseat storage, front and rear disc brakes etc etc.   And it looks pretty spiffy to me.     
In other words, to me , regardless of whether you call it a cruiser or a standard/roadster, it does everything the Bullet does a bit better and offers a whole lot of practical versatility besides.    If the UCE 500 classic can sell here, I see no reason why this, at a reasonable albeit higher price point shouldnt sell.  I would definitely rather pay for better brakes, larger tank, better lights , and convertable seat than more chrome and retro looking seating  .  This to me looks like a very practical machine.   If it is good for "Indian roads" why the heck would't it be good for ours? (at least as much as the Classic and G 5 are).   Remember the adage the only valid comparison for the Bullet is itself in it's various iterations over time.   I think that this is the natural progression of a great survivor and that it fills a definite niche that could go global , especially in an age of ever increasing fuel prices.   Frankly, RE was always know as an innovator in it's Redditch days, and I think this kind of forward thinking represents a continuation of the same entrepenurial spirit.  Names like "cruiser" and "roadster" are just labels, but the reality of the machine is its utilitarian and esthetic value:   The Thunderbird looks like a hit to me.    Just my opinion.   Nigel 

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Re: Thunderbird 500
« Reply #10 on: November 09, 2012, 03:18:18 AM »
You make some good points about it not bring a cruiser, but it looks like one so I'm afraid that's what it would compete against here in the US.  After all, the Kawasaki 500 was based on the ninja 500 twin.

Sorry for derailing into the twin conversation.  You can thump me if you want.

Scott


Re: Thunderbird 500
« Reply #12 on: November 09, 2012, 05:05:44 AM »
From  RE India site   
Thunderbird seat height 775 mm =30.5 inches  (compared to G 5 32 inches , Kawasaki 650 klr 33 (and believe me , sitting on that , that is TALL)  and most cruisers around 26 inches.    ie much more "standard"   height just a slightly cruiserly looking seat which, if you forget about the two level feature looks pretty much like a single seat for a Classic.

Weight 195 kg =429 lbs compared to G 5 412 , so actually a bit heavier , but compared to Triumph T 100 495 lbs and Honda Aerow 750 (a representative "cruiser" 578 lbs
 
Wheelbase 1350 mm  = 53 inches compared to G 5 54 inches and Triumph T 100 59 inches   Honda Aero 750  64 inches

Ground clearance 140 mm =5 1/2 inches

And no offset on front forks  so no loss of trail like the C5 for better tracking despite slightly shorter wheelbase

All in all a tidy little bike  with versatile manouverable dimensions, favourable power to wt , excellent mileage, killer range   19 inch front hoops  better for irregular surfaces . 

I still think this is the logical progression of the Bullet and a market natural even here.   It doesn't have to compete in the cruiser class because none of them will touch it.s economy range manouverability, easy seating in neutral stance, and useful features.   Many econo cruisers don't have rear discs.  Or 4 way flash.   Almost none have removable pillion pad with built in useable (not decorative) luggage rack , and this comes with dual locking seat release by the ignition key.   I just think this machine rocks.  It doesn't have to look "traditional" and it doesn't have to fit into a pigeon hole definition, because it is practical , good looking , comfortable looking, real motorcyle looking , econonomical , should be reliable, and still sounds and thumps like the original.   Brilliant.  Great commuter.   GREAT LONG DISTANCE TOURER AT 60 mph (faster than which is mostly illegal and no fun anyway)  Adequate occasional two up.   And still different enough to be notable.     I am sold.  It has displaced my dream G 5      Nigel

ace.cafe

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Re: Thunderbird 500
« Reply #13 on: November 09, 2012, 07:08:32 PM »
I would expect that the T-bird would sell fairly well.
After all, it is VERY reminiscent of the 1978 Yamaha XS650 Special, and was one of Yamaha's best selling bikes ever.
It definitely would have some appeal to a certain market segment, IMO.
I think it's a pretty good seller in India.



As for the twin, if all else fails, there's always this option as a custom 998 Musket or 1070 Cannonball.


And the other side.



There is some possibility that UCE top ends might be able to be put on this, but that hasn't been attempted yet.

« Last Edit: November 09, 2012, 07:19:54 PM by ace.cafe »

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Re: Thunderbird 500
« Reply #14 on: November 09, 2012, 07:52:24 PM »
If they went with the UCE top ends would they also go with hydraulic lifters?  Would you want to?

Kinda makes me want to by a cheap sportster and stuff one of those bad boys in there just to mess with people :)  "But...  I thought... What is that?!?"

Scott