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2010 Triumph Thunderbird Review


by Marc Cantin ,

Performance figures from the 1600 engine do exceed the standard Twin Cam engine from Harley-Davidson (The TC96), a baseline unit that barely meets requirements for younger riders or heavy touring. Even though the Triumph 1600 produces 15% more torque at much lower rpm than the TC96, Triumph wisely offers a more powerful option for the Thunderbird, a big bore kit that raises displacement to 1700cc (+6%). The kitted engine develops 100hp (+18%), and 115 lb-ft (+6%) of torque, from a $2000 investment to buy and dealer-install the kit.

A simple bike, just what pleased at the time - and still does today.

You can feel the increase in performance aboard the bike, and more so when showing up TC110-equipped CVOs or quick Japanese cruisers.

Reading between the power and torque numbers tells me that the increase in torque is directly in line with the increase in displacement, which means that the engine’s highly appreciated torquey disposition has been maintained. The net increase in power (18% total - 6% from extra displacement = 12% net) likely comes in part from some savvy ECU remapping, but also from optimizing engine breathing at higher revs, say 5300 rather than the stately 4750 of the 1600cc engine. All good from where I would like to sit!

The six speed tranny shifts as if by magic, but better use the clutch to make it silky smooth, as the big engine’s inertia does not make clutchless shifting easy.

The right chassis and suspension for the job
The tubular steel, double spine chassis felt stiff enough to keep things calm and in line under all riding conditions I encountered, as did the suspensions. The 47mm Showa fork was up to the task as were the twin preload-adjustable shocks.

The two discs and four pot calipers in front are assisted by a large single disc at the back and an unobtrusive optional ABS system.

Klassic Kruiser Ergos
A plush, low seat, wide handlebars, feet forward, low floorboards – it’s all there to please the rider and to project the right look. And it works ergonomically, even for a non-cruiser rider like me. As far as looks are concerned, this is one head turner, in the same league as high end Milwaukee machines from what I saw in France.

You can see the curvature of the front saddle, and how high the passenger sits. The good part of this rear seat layout is that even a shorter person can see over the rider's shoulders, and helmets are not banging into each other every time the brakes are applied.
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