Enfield screws up Thunderbird

I own a 350cc Thunderbird from the stable of Royal Enfield. It’s frankly one of the worst bikes to maintain. I have had multiple trips to the mechanics trying to fix oil leaks from the gear box as well as get the carburetor tuned to mix air and fuel in the right proportion so as not to guzzle fuel. Added to these minor annoyances, is the big one, it rusts at an amazing pace. Mine is 6 years old and I will have to change the exhaust & back support which have completely rusted in the next service (2 months from now).

But, I like the bike. There is a certain elegance about it that makes people next to your at traffic lights ask, ‘kitna deti hai‘ (and mind you, I am not a thump fan or a showoff, my bike noise is always muted and I don’t dress like a biker dude).

Over the years, the makers of Royal Enfield have been screwing up with the elegant design of the Thunderbird while taking the design of the Classic notches up. Here’s my take…

Thunderbird 350cc – 2005

thunderbird 350cc 2006

This is the bike I own.Lots of positives…

Its super elegant to look at unlike the midget Yamaha enticer or Bajaj eliminator. Very comfortable to sit and ride – in the city as well as on the high ways, handles great. Has a muted thump (unlike the drum beat of other Royal Enfield bikes)  just to make it sound part of the Enfield family.

Thunderbird 350cc – Twin Spark


This was an improvement that followed  4 later. Some minor changes in dimension that make it look a little less elegant – notice the fuel tank, the back rest and grip as well as the gap between the fuel tank and the engine.

The big change was the new engine platform called the Unit Construction Engine (UCE) that replaced the Lean Burn Engine. The engine also came with the Integrated gearbox and twin spark technology. All these gave it a 10% increase in power and torque.

Thunderbird 350cc- 2012


This is the one they screwed up on design. The 350cc bike is now a little fatter and shorter (has a smaller wheel base) add to that the bazooka exhaust is gone. The  indicator consoles become plasticky, in the name of an all new digital console. The only things I can live with are the new LED head and tail lights and the front and rear disc breaks.


For the more discerning the specs below…

2012 2009 2005
Engine Type Single Cylinder, 4 stroke, Twinspark, Air cooled Single Cylinder, 4 Stroke, OHV, Dual Spark Ignition Engine, Air Cooled Single Cylinder, 4 stroke, singlespark, Air cooled
Displacement 346cc 346cc 346cc
Bore x Stroke 70 x 90 mm 70 x 90 mm 70 x 90 mm
Compression Ratio 8.5:1 8.5:1 8.5:1
Max Power 19.8 bhp @ 5250 rpm 19.8 bhp @ 5250 rpm 18.01 bhp @ 5500 rpm
Max Torque 28Nm @ 4000 rpm 28 Nm @ 4000 rpm 27.12 Nm  @ 3500 RPM
Suspension Front Telescopic, 41mm forks, 130mm travel Tele Scopic With Hydraulic Damping. Stroke 130mm. Hydraulic forks, 155mm travel
Rear Twin gas charged shock absorbers with 5-step adjustable preload, 80mm travel Swing arm With Gas Shock Absorbers stroke 80mm ES Nitrox gas-damped twin coil springs, 60mm travel
Dimensions Wheelbase 1350 mm 1370 mm 1370 mm
Ground Clearance 140 mm 135 mm 140 mm
Length 2060 mm 2120 mm 2120 mm
Width (w/o mirrors) 790 mm 780 mm 750 mm
Height (w/o mirrors) 1205 mm 1080 mm
Seat Height 775 mm 740 mm
Kerb Weight 192 Kgs 180 Kgs
Fuel Capacity 20 Ltrs 14.5 Ltrs
Breaks Front 280mm Disc, 2-Piston caliper 280mm disc, Hydraulic Disc Brake 280mm, Single disc. Twin piston caliper
Rear 240mm Disc, Single piston caliper 152mm, Internal Expansion (Drum), 153mm, Expanding brake (drum brake)
Tyres Front 90/90-19, 52P 3.25 x 19″, 6/4 PR 3.25-19
Rear 120/80-18, 62P 3.5 x 19″, 6/4 PR 3.50-19
Electrical System 12 volt – DC 12 Volts 12 Volts
Exhaust system Single ´bazooka´ chromed cast-iron Single ´bazooka´ chromed cast-iron
2014-04-15T18:50:44+00:00April 15th, 2014|Musings|0 Comments

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