Royal Enfield Thunderbird Twinspark has enough grunt in reserve to keep up with faster bikes or negotiate steep inclines in higher gears. Though the vibrations are reduced and the new UCE (Unit Construction Engine) feels a touch more refined than the outgoing model, make no mistake, any higher than 80km/h and the characteristic Enfield vibrations start creeping in. Sure, the bike touches the sixty mark more than two seconds faster than the older version and goes on to hit a true 1 on the V-Box (with a speedo indicated 125!), but that is not the essence of an Enfield.
The new UCE engine that complies with the Euro III norms is compact and looks aesthetically better (the design of the kick-lever though is an eyesore). There have been a lot of changes to the heart of the bike including a new Trichoidal high flow pump, hydraulic tappets, an automatic primary chain tensioner, an improved clutch mechanism and most importantly the twin-spark setup. All these alterations have made the engine more efficient, refined and powerful.
The Thunderbird Twinspark has received minor visual enhancements as well. Apart from a better looking engine, the chain drive has been moved to the right, there are new stickers, a new seat and rear fender, et al. The bike has always looked handsome with a macho appeal and the new variant further enhances the overall look. Shifting of the rear brake linkage to the right side has improved the brake feel as well. The Thunderbird’s suspension remains the same slightly on the stiffer side but gets comfier with a pillion on. Straight line stability remains as good as ever and negotiating long sweeping curves at triple digit speeds isn’t a hair-raising experience either. We, however, recommend you swap the stock tyres for better ones, as the front tyre feels skittish under hard braking.
Into its sixth year of production, the Thunderbird Twinspark has been received well by both Bulleteers and non-Bulleteers. The new TBTS is surely a much improved bike. It is faster, economical and seems reliable as well. Our test bike had already been through the Himalayan Odyssey and during the week (and 750km) it was with me, everything worked fine.
Yes, false neutrals were encountered in abundance, but issues like these have always been an integral part of owning a Bullet. The nostalgic feel, the thump of the exhaust and the macho appeal an Enfield comes with cannot be matched by any other bike. Finally, the 350cc engine is now a match for other ‘performance’ bikes in India. People notice and respect you on the road, small city commutes turn into a long ride back home via the highway and planning out weekend trips becomes a favourite pastime. At a slight increase over the cost of the outgoing model, the Thunderbird Twinspark surely is a recommended buy if you have always wanted an Enfield for both city commutes and the occasional long ride.