In search of the Missing Thump

When I got a call today morning from the local Royal Enfield dealer, who also happens to be a dear friend of mine, that they are letting me test drive the new Thunderbird 350 BSIV variant, there was no dearth for my excitement. I reached the showroom and collected the keys of the Cruiser that was majestically waiting for me to acknowledge its presence. Although we are used to the styling of this Cruiser, which has remained almost unchanged since the TB got its first update back in 2012, there is still something about this motorcycle which attracts everyone’s attention.

Thunderbird 350 definitely looks like a proper cruiser with its layback relaxed sitting stance, padded seats and the proper cruiser like handlebars. Of course, there is plenty of new modern tech in the cruiser which makes it really modern, and if we think about this price range in which the Thunderbird 350 is positioned, there is no other motorcycle that can compete with this Royal cruiser.

Talking about the BSIV variant, in particular, there is no change in power or torque output which is a good thing because compared to the displacement, the Cruiser does not generate sufficient amount of power on paper. Don’t get me wrong, when you ride it in the City traffic, you will realise that there is enough to push you forward through with ease, and as always, is a breeze on the highways too.

Now, I have had the motorcycle with me for a whole day and ridden almost 150 kilometres on it, covering almost every road condition our roads have to offer. Here is a comprehensive review of the new 2017 Royal Enfield Thunderbird 350 and what exactly are the changes you will find in this BSIV variant.

Click past jump to read our full review the new 2017 Royal Enfield Thunderbird 350

  • 2017 Royal Enfield Thunderbird 350- Road Test Review
  • Year:
    2017
  • Make:
  • Model:
  • Engine:
    inline-1
  • Displacement:
    346 cc
  • Top Speed:
    75 mph (Est.)
  • Price:
    INR 162000 (Est.)
  • Overall:
    7.2/10

STYLING

2017 Royal Enfield Thunderbird 350- Road Test Review Exterior
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2017 Royal Enfield Thunderbird 350- Road Test Review Exterior
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2017 Royal Enfield Thunderbird 350- Road Test Review Exterior
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The Royal Enfield Thunderbird has never lost its identity, and that’s the best thing about this motorcycle. The first generation TB was launched back in 2000, and it received its first facelift back in 2012, where it was bestowed with some modern features like projector headlamps with an illuminated DRL ring on the headlamps, LED taillamps, a digital plus analogue instrument cluster, etc. The proper Cruiser like handlebars too has been carried over from the older Cruiser with few modifications. The teardrop shape fuel tank is large and can hold up to 20 litres of fuel, and is made out of metal which helps the rider to stick any magnetic tank bags on the fuel tank whenever they are planning a tour on the Cruiser.

The best things about the Thunderbird 350 is its comfortable saddle which is soft and provides plenty of spine support. The pillion seat too is plush and supportive, although bit small, is well padded. The padded pillion backrest also comes in handy during long rides. Towards the rear, the TB gets LED Taillamps as well that gets five vertically illuminated red line, which also happens to be one of its signature stylings. The split seats and a new exhaust completes the overall styling of this Cruiser

2017 Royal Enfield Thunderbird 350- Road Test Review Exterior
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2017 Royal Enfield Thunderbird 350- Road Test Review Exterior
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Quite honestly, there is nothing new about the BSIV variant TB350, except there are no switches for headlamp on and off, courtesy the compulsory AHO regulation, which means that the motorcycle headlights automatically turns on as soon as you light the ignition. There are no changes to the instrument cluster as well which consists of twin pods having analogue meters for speedo and tacho. There is a separate digital screen which displays the amount of fuel and 2 trip meter which can be set with the help of a button positioned in the instrument cluster. Lastly, there is also a hazard lamp switch positioned in between the two round pods and a digital clock.

the Thunderbird is a modern looking cruiser with some elements which shouts retro
2017 Royal Enfield Thunderbird 350- Road Test Review Exterior
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2017 Royal Enfield Thunderbird 350- Road Test Review Exterior
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Take a look at it and you will realise that the Thunderbird is a modern looking cruiser with some elements which shouts retro.

DIMENSIONS

Length 2,060 mm
Width 790 mm
Height 1,205 mm
Wheelbase 1,350 mm
Ground Clearance 140 mm
Fuel Tank Capacity 20-litres

ENGINE DETAILS

2017 Royal Enfield Thunderbird 350- Road Test Review
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2017 Royal Enfield Thunderbird 350- Road Test Review Exterior
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The Royal Enfield Thunderbird 350 BSIV variant continues with the same single cylinder, 4 stroke, Twinspark air cooled 346 cc unit borrowed from the Classic 350. The single cylinder mill is capable of producing about 19.8 Bhp of peak power at 5250 rpm and 28 Nm of torque at 4000 rpm. This is a carbureted unit while the TB 500 gets the Electronic Fuel injected variant. The engine is paired to a 5-speed manual gearbox as usual. Few modifications have been carried in the engine to make it meet the BSIV emission norms.

The engine unit itself has been finished in Matte Black Colour which goes well with the overall styling of the motorcycle.

SPECIFICATIONS

Engine 346cc, single-cylinder
Maximum Power 19.8 BHP @ 5,250 RPM
Peak Torque 28 Nm @ 4,000 RPM
Transmission 5-speed Manual

PERFORMANCE AND RIDING IMPRESSION

2017 Royal Enfield Thunderbird 350- Road Test Review Exterior
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2017 Royal Enfield Thunderbird 350- Road Test Review Exterior
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2017 Royal Enfield Thunderbird 350- Road Test Review Exterior
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Handling and Cruisers, well, it does not go hand in hand. I mean, it is not called as a sports bike for a reason, right? If you are looking for a fast as well as powerful motorcycle looking to crunch the apexes, I suggest you look elsewhere. However, If you are a matured rider and loves a laid back, relaxed and a comfortable ride, then I can assure you that this is the best motorcycle for you.

Now, don’t get me wrong, the Cruiser surely is powerful enough when it comes to city traffic and highways, but if you are looking for something which can speed up as soon as you twist the throttle, then I am afraid the TB350 will disappoint you. The TB350 takes it own sweet time to accelerate from 80 kph onward and runs out of breath if you push it hard. Yes! You can easily cruise at 100 kph mark but the intensity of vibrations that creeps on the foot pedals and handlebar is appalling and will force to decelerate. The sweet spot of this Cruiser is definitely in between 60-80 kph, but that is, of course, my own opinion.

When it comes to handling, there is no doubt that RE has paid a lot of attention to make this motorcycle the best handling thumper of the lot. The low-slung seat height, the easily reachable handlebars and, of course, the comfortable rider position makes it an ideal bike that could be ridden on highways all day long without getting tired. The only problem is its weight, which takes a toll on the rider while manoeuvring the motorcycle while it is stationary or in city traffic. Changing directions on the TB350 is effortless because of its low seat height and shorter wheelbase. Brakes work quite effectively on the motorcycle because it gets a 280 mm disc up front and a 240 mm disc at the rear. However, I did miss the absence of ABS sometimes while applying the brakes at higher speeds.

low-slung seat height the easily reachable handlebars and offcourse the comfortable rider position makes it an ideal bike which could be ridden on highways all day long without getting tired
2017 Royal Enfield Thunderbird 350- Road Test Review Exterior
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2017 Royal Enfield Thunderbird 350- Road Test Review Exterior
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Suspension Telescopic Forks (Front), Twin Shock Absorbers (Rear)
Brakes Disc (Front), Disc (Rear)
Front Tyre 90/90-19, 52P MRF Zapper FM
Rear Tyre 120/80-18, 62P MRF Zapper C
Wheel Type Spoke
Tubeless Tyres No
Alloy Wheels No
Battery Type Maintenance Free
Capacity 12V
Voltage 8 Ah
Front Brake 280mm Disc, 2-Piston caliper
Rear Brake 240mm Disc, Single piston caliper

PRICE

2017 Royal Enfield Thunderbird 350- Road Test Review Exterior
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The BSIV variant of the Royal Enfield Thunderbird 350 is priced at ₹ 1.61 Lakhs ex-showroom Delhi.

COMPETITION

Quite honestly I can be professional and say that the new Bajaj Dominar and the UM Commando are its rivals, but if we think sensibly, then there is absolutely no other motorcycle which can take on the Thunderbird 350 at this price point.

Of course, the Bajaj Dominar is a modern so-called power Cruiser which gets plenty of advanced features like LED headlamps, an all-digital instrument console, dual channel ABSand more. But at the end, it is made our of fibre and plastic and has no after sale value at all. While UM Commando on the other hand although is a Cruiser, is still a whole new brand which is still struggling to establish themselves.

We are all for Royal Enfield because we love this brand and although it may have plenty of flaws, when it comes to Cruising and comfort factor, which stands on top of our priority list when you think of touring, then there is no other brand which could replace Royal Enfield.

BAJAJ DOMINAR UM COMMANDO
2017 Bajaj Dominar 400 Exterior
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2016 UM Motorcycle Renegade Commando Exterior
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Displacement 373.2 cc 279.5 cc
Maximum Power 34 bhp @ 8000 rpm 24.8 bhp @ 8500 rpm
Maximum Torque 35 Nm @ 6,500 rpm 21.8 Nm @ 7000 rpm
No. of Cylinders Single Cylinder Single Cylinder
No. of Gears 6 Speed 5 Speed
Top Speed 148 km/h -

VERDICT

2017 Royal Enfield Thunderbird 350- Road Test Review Exterior
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Yes. The RE TB350 might not have received a lot of changes even in this BSIV variant, and there are plenty of flaws in its build quality. I could not see the instrument Cluster readings clearly while I was riding the motorcycle at 60+ kph because of the vibrations. All that said, we know people buy a Royal Enfield out of plain emotion and for the love of Cruising.

However, I did miss the thumping sound that the Old RE’s generated because of all these new norms that the Indian Government has passed. Build, fit and finish quality was also not upto the mark because I saw all these loose wires dangling just below the handlebar although it was a new motorcycle with just 12+ Kilometres on the odometer. What I did like was the ride and handling that this Cruiser provided. It did not require any effort to ride the motorcycle which was and still is its biggest plus point.

2017 Royal Enfield Thunderbird 350- Road Test Review Exterior
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2017 Royal Enfield Thunderbird 350- Road Test Review Exterior
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there is no other motorcycle which can replace this Retro Cruiser and the spirit of riding that this motorcycle ignites in the riders

Lastly, I would like to state that if you are a diehard Royal Enfield fan and love to explore unknown places on a comfortable motorcycle which you can ride for long distance and on highways without adding any extra effort, then there is no other motorcycle which can replace this retro cruiser and the spirit of riding that this motorcycle ignites in the riders.

  • Leave it
    • * Still Lacks ABS
    • * Fit & Finish
    • * Looks bit dated
What do you think?
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