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2010 Triumph Thunderbird Review


by Marc Cantin ,

In nasty weather, I am sure that I would miss the Kawasaki intelligent braking system (K-ACT) used on their heavy cruisers, or Honda’s C-ABS used on their sport bikes. I fully expect similar brake-by-wire assisted systems from other manufacturers in the coming years. In the meantime, I can live with what I found on the ‘Bird.

The wide rear tire (200mm) did not impede direction changes, at least those associated with cruising, where lean is limited by ground clearance. I admit that I did not try to throw the bike around. The T’Bird is a big bike and the 200 rear tire did not look out of place – it’s all good.

The nice, stout front end has no trouble handling braking and cornering loads, and I loved the twin discs once I had broken them in on the new machine.

The suspension was more than well behaved over all but craters, with enough compression damping in front to prevent bottoming in everyday riding, and a calm rear that also did not bottom too easily, nor throw you in the air in under-dampened rebounds.

In the city, the low center of gravity made the ‘Bird an easy ride, despite the wide bars that made lane splitting a little more delicate than on an urban bike or scooter. Hey, I am a big guy on a big bike!

Where does it fit

Priced at the base Dyna level, the Thunderbird clearly represents a better deal: more torque and power, smoother handling, and equal or better fit and finish. And the comparison works out even better when matched against the more expensive Softail models. Comparisons with Japanese cruisers show that Triumph pricing remains highly competitive there also.

OK, since price is not so much of an issue, let’s look elsewhere. Riding a Harley means that you are now “IN”, that you have made it. It also means that you are one of the thousands of unconditional believers in the Gospel according to Willie G. Riding a Thunderbird, on the other hand, means that you are different, aboard a distinctive, tighter looking and quicker machine, especially with the 1700 kit.

Tough choice, one that I am happy not to have to make with my money!

Torque, power
Smooth ride
Easy to drive under all circumstances
Tough, compact looks
Just the right vibrations
Lots of bespoke accessories from Triumph

Seat shape needs a little work for bigger dudes


Photo Credit : Marc Cantin
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