Author Topic: Thunderbird 500  (Read 3142 times)

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Alan France

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on: March 10, 2019, 08:10:36 PM
Does anyone have one?! No category on the forum
UK. Alan France
2012 Thunderbird 500 twin spark - black
2014 GT dual saddle - blue
2015 GT single saddle - red


Adrian II

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Reply #1 on: March 10, 2019, 09:34:27 PM
It would or should be under "Bullets with the UCE engine", as that's what it is.

As far as I know it's still only an Indian home market bike, though a few have escaped to the UK and possibly USA.

A.
Grumpy Brit still seeking 500 AVL Bullet perfection! Will let you know if I get anywhere near...


Warwick

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Reply #2 on: March 10, 2019, 10:40:00 PM
RE sells the 350 version in Australia but unfortunately not the 500. At a loss of why.
cheers heaps
Warwick
2007 Bullet, 1999 Lightning, 1994 Honda CBR1000f, 2010 Honda VFR1200f, 2007 Kawasaki GPX 250


Alan France

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Reply #3 on: March 11, 2019, 08:00:05 AM
Problem with data base error. Not good needs sorting!
Just interested to see who else had one . Mine is a2012 twinspark from the Punjab. Great bike. Used for touring the Yorkshire dales
UK. Alan France
2012 Thunderbird 500 twin spark - black
2014 GT dual saddle - blue
2015 GT single saddle - red


Adrian II

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Reply #4 on: March 11, 2019, 12:38:58 PM
I have a friend in Fareham who bought one, I think he got it shipped over. Seems to be a pretty decent bike, though it's a shame RE India felt it necessary to smother everything in black powder coating.

A.
Grumpy Brit still seeking 500 AVL Bullet perfection! Will let you know if I get anywhere near...


Alan France

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Reply #5 on: March 11, 2019, 02:04:45 PM
I think RE were doing a Henry Ford in the early years of its production. Any colour so long as its black! Unbelievably it was available in three shades. Mine came from Ludhiana .The latest incarnation has moved from HD tourer to street cruiser. I saw a few in India last year when it was launched. Its ok but not for me. I dont do cast wheels and bright orange/ pale blue / white ocolor schemes. I like my bikes to be 60s style so I like the plain black.The 20l tank gives it a range of about 350 miles. If your mate has any tips for U.K. operation let me know. Thanks
UK. Alan France
2012 Thunderbird 500 twin spark - black
2014 GT dual saddle - blue
2015 GT single saddle - red


Alan France

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Reply #6 on: March 12, 2019, 08:40:35 PM
Hi Warwick
I noticed your query about 350 and 500 Thunderbirds. In India RE sell thousands of Bullets/ Classics. As far as I can see the vast majority are 350. Certainly in Delhi you rarely see a 500 in all that traffic. The reason for this is that its a hot country and progress is slow. 500s overheat quicker apparently than 350s. The 350s therefore are preferable to the punters. I know Australia is not India but it is hot so the RE logic maybe that a 350 is a better bet. Indian logic?!
UK. Alan France
2012 Thunderbird 500 twin spark - black
2014 GT dual saddle - blue
2015 GT single saddle - red


ringoism

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Reply #7 on: April 02, 2019, 06:31:38 PM
Originally I think they were just an alternative fashion statement and very cruiser-ish with a high, sloping tank, originally with the AVL 350 / 5-speed only, I guess maybe around 2004 or so(?).  More or less replaced the Lightning 535.  Nowadays they're bit more conservatively styled, fairly tasteful I'd say, often considered (especially the 500) to be more of a touring bike here in India:  Broader seat, forward pegs, big tank, projector headlamp (which you can actually adjust the height of, vs. all the casquetted Bullets), high handlebar.  A rather premium price vs. the usual Bullets.  I kinda like 'em.

Contrary to someone above, I actually like both the all black, and also the orange with black alloys of the newer 500x... rode one last week and it was a quite strong/responsive performer and ergonomically it feels kinda good in its own way.  Flywheel felt a LOT lighter than what I'm used to with the AVL.  And there was a certain rpm range where vibes were very minimal, around 4-4,500 I think, which probably translates to a good highway speed on India's more modern roads.  It was a 2018 model I guess, but with 22,000km's unfortunately both the ABS and check-engine lights were on, and above a certain rpm the engine just would cut out... it had just been into RE for service (three hours' ride away from here) and besides the above (the owner didn't really know anything about the meaning of the warning lights, or that they weren't supposed to be on) the chain was filthy / loose... They used to have trouble with the electronic meters going bad... not surprising on a bike that vibes a lot... the replacements were not cheap, either. 

In India RE sell thousands of Bullets/ Classics. As far as I can see the vast majority are 350. Certainly in Delhi you rarely see a 500 in all that traffic.

Other reason is that the Thunderbird 350 costs something like $800-1000 less than the 500 and looks pretty much identical (same situation with the Classic (CL)350/500... and looks are a lot of what sells these bikes anyway.  Cost of maintenance / fuel also much less - the first few years of the UCE500 were disastrous from a maintenance point of view (crankshafts bad below 10,000km's etc), whereas the 350's run a long, long while unproblematically.

Some of the 350's I've ridden run plenty strong for usual Indian conditions - They also sound just as good with an aftermarket "silencer", manage 45-50kmpl (120mpg) on the highway, which is just phenomenal when you think about it: a rather heavy (by Indian standards), solid, all-metal, retro-looking bike that runs reasonably strong and gets the same fuel economy as a lot of disposable 150cc commuter bikes.  There's a reason they're selling 50,000+/month of these here year after year.  A new 350 Bullet Standard is still only around $1650 brand new here, and in Punjab at least they're still the best-selling Enfield... in that arena, the Thunderbird is rather exclusive, rare, and fairly undesirable it seems.  I think mostly urbanites who like to do some weekend / occasional longer touring and aren't as stuck on the 1950's retro-look of the CL's are buying them (TB's might be kinda 1980's come to think of it).

-Eric

« Last Edit: April 02, 2019, 07:02:20 PM by ringoism »


Alan France

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Reply #8 on: April 04, 2019, 10:56:32 AM
Hi Eric
Interesting take on the 500 TB which I agree with. I m not as keen on the new model because of the abs and the cast wheels. Its  more of a street cruiser than a tourer.
In the U.K. mine will do 300 mile +. It s ideal for running round the Yorkshire Dales and the North York moors. I m not really interested in a white knuckle ride - I prefer to see the view!
UK. Alan France
2012 Thunderbird 500 twin spark - black
2014 GT dual saddle - blue
2015 GT single saddle - red