2009 Triumph Thunderbird first ride review

One of motorcycling’s few truly great names is back. Again. And this time it’s attached to a cruiser aimed squarely at Harley-Davidson. Slickly engineered it may be, but she’s no wild one

Posted: 13 April 2010
by Ben Miller

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Click to read: Triumph Thunderbird owners reviews, Triumph Thunderbird specs and to see the Triumph Thunderbird image gallery.

As soon as the new Thunderbird and I leave the motorway, life gets better. Since Barcelona the three-lane highway’s been under a moody ceiling of grey cloud, the new Thunderbird’s chrome flat without a few rays of sun to bring it alive. But as soon as we start the climb up Montserrat, an incredibly photogenic mountain high above Barcelona, the grey recedes to leave behind a perfect blue and the sun beats down on what is a truly wonderful stretch of road.

Unsurprisingly, the new Thunderbird is no canyon-carver – it weighs 308kg dry and feels every one of them, boasts a substantial 1615mm between its contact patches and features pegs so low a support van of spare foot controls follows me everywhere – but Triumph claim the new T-bird enjoys class-leading dynamics and the handling composure to encourage enthusiastic riding. I don’t doubt them.

With Harley-Davidsons as class benchmarks I’ve seen loftier targets and, on the road, swinging through kinks and hauling down for tasty, cambered hairpins, the Thunderbird does possess something of the marque’s now trademark neutral, precise steering. For such a big, weighty bike, the Thunderbird turns easily enough and, once into a corner, the thing’s predictable enough to let you flirt with the limits of ground clearance all the way round.

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