Ever since its inception, the Royal Enfield Thunderbird 350 has been the defacto choice for all those cruiser aficionados who had been looking out for a cruiser motorcycle in a budget conscious segment of sub-Rs. 2 lakh. Also, it gave one more option to the Royal Enfield enthusiasts, who had nothing but the dated models from the Bullet range at that time.
Over the years, Royal Enfield has given the Thunderbird 350 a series of updates which are testimonies to the fact that how Royal Enfield has been growing and improving itself as a motorcycle manufacturer. It was the year 2012, when Royal Enfield gave the Thunderbird 350 its first major update, which incorporated a long list of modern day features and a much improvised 350cc engine.
In 2014, when Royal Enfield went under the process of rebranding itself as a renovated company, the Thunderbird 350 again went under some minute changes, which have been carried forward for the 2015 model as well. Here’s a quick outlook on the latest version of Royal Enfield Thunderbird 350.
As said above, the Royal Enfield Thunderbird 350 received its first major upgrade in 2012, which was a much more contemporary model than the one it replaced. The current iteration of the Thunderbird 350 retains the basic silhouette and design of the model launched in 2012, but has some very minute changes which have made the bike fit the label of being a ‘new’ motorcycle.
The show of the front of the Thunderbird 350 is largely dominated by the round headlamp unit, which is surrounded by a chrome strip and engulfs a projector bulb for low beam light. The very simple front fender as well as chrome bathed, orange colored turn signals are the other significant details of the front view of the motorcycle.
On viewing from the sides, the Thunderbird 350 has the same curvy fuel tank as well as side body cowls and chrome covers as the previous model. However, the fuel tank now gets the new 3-D logo of ‘Royal Enfield’. The rear fender is again a very simple fender, with a small LED tail lamp, chrome finished orange turn indicators and cushioned back rest with aluminium pillion grab rail completing the rear profile of the Thunderbird 350.
The chrome bathed two pod instrument console of the Thunderbird 350 is the most comprehensive among the motorcycles in the Royal Enfield’s lineup. It features analog dials for speedometer and tachometer, and a small rectangular LCD panel, which displays fuel gauge, odometer and trip meters.
Other significant features which make the Thunderbird 350 a desirable motorcycle include alloy levers, split seats, chrome handlebar ends, black finished engine and an all new exhaust pipe. The spoke wheels at both the ends further enhance the appeal of the motorcycle.
The Thunderbird 350 was the first model by Royal Enfield to feature the ‘Twinspark’ technology, which basically indicated the usage of two spark plugs. For the new model, Royal Enfield has carried forward the engine with the tech, but this powertrain has undergone a series of minute tune-ups, which in effect, have increased the efficiency and refinement of the mill.
The Royal Enfield Thunderbird 350 sources its power from a single cylinder, air cooled, 346cc engine, which pumps out 20 PS of maximum power and 28 Nm of maximum torque. The engine is coupled to a five speed gearbox. In the process of development, this engine has lost a very minute part of the thumping sound which generates out of the exhaust pipe. The major credit for that goes to the redesigned exhaust pipe.
The 346cc engine feels way more refined as well as torquey in feel than the previous model. The five speed gearbox works well, though it can be notchy at some times, with the false neutrals spoiling the fun. In terms of efficiency too, there has been some improvement, but by a very little margin.
Apart from the engine, the new Thunderbird 350 retains the single downtube frame, front hydraulic telescopic forks and rear 5-step adjustable twin gas charged coil springs. The overall ride quality and maneuverability of the motorcycle has improved a lot than before. However, the comparatively smaller pillion seat can be a bit less comfortable for the pillion rider. The high-set handlebar has been positioned in a typical cruiser fashion, and contributes a lot in the overall excellent ergonomics of the motorcycle. The bike comes with a 280mm disc brake at the front and a 240mm disc brake at the rear.
The new Royal Enfield Thunderbird 350 is available in a total of four sober paint schemes – Marine (glossy dark blue), Lightning (glossy dark green), Stone (matte black) and Flicker (Glossy black).
Royal Enfield has priced the Thunderbird 350 at a price point of Rs. 1.36 lakh (Ex-showroom, Delhi). The motorcycle is completely manufactured locally at the manufacturer’s facility in Chennai, and is available with the self start and rear disc as standard equipment.
For years, the Royal Enfield Thunderbird 350 has been facing a stiff and sole competition in the form of Bajaj Avenger. The Avenger was launched as a replacement of the Eliminator, and has undergone a number of changes in its entire life span, including the upsizing of the engine from 180cc to 200cc, and then finally to 220cc, which the current avatar of the bike comes with.
The Bajaj Avenger is powered by a single cylinder, air cooled, 219.8cc engine, which delivers 19.03 PS of power and 17.5 Nm of torque. The Thunderbird 350 clearly has a big advantage in the engine’s cubic capacity, which also results in a great lead in the peak torque output. This makes the Thunderbird 350 a lot more comfortable and powerful motorcycle over the Avenger 220.
Apart from the engine, the Thunderbird 350 also has a clear win over the Avenger in terms of equipment, as the former comes with tachometer, digital LCD screen for fuel gauge, odometer and trip meters and rear disc brake, features which the Avenger is devoid of.
Ask any cruiser lover, and he/she will have a thing for the Thunderbird 350. This motorcycle, while matching the trends of the current day motorcycles, also preserves the originality of the old models of Royal Enfield. A modern day Enfield, this motorcycle comes with several cool features which were unavailable in any of the Royal Enfield models previously. The design is appealing as before and commands respect from the passers-by.
The matter of improvements in the engine of the Thunderbird 350 is the main trait for the Thunderbird 350 to boast of, as the engine is the most sorted out mill when compared to the other 350cc models of Royal Enfield’s lineup. The motorcycle certainly features quite a good premium over most of the motorcycles at this price. But at the end of the day, it shines out as a motorcycle which will never let down the smile on your face when you are astride on its saddle.