Escape- to where?
Royal Enfield's Thunderbird appears to me as a dilemma between advanced biking and biking made simpler.
I doubt whether Royal Enfield wants to offer a super cruiser bike or an entry level bike fitted with 346cc engine. Though it looks like the bike is designed to look similar to Harley Davidson super bikes but Royal Enfield has a long way to go towards achieving that.
To begin with, Thunderbird has the same 346 cc engine of its brother, Bullet. Had the power been a bit higher, say 500 to 600 cc or more, the bike would have been attracted more enthusiasm? Further a V-shaped twin cylinder in lieu of single cylinder would have given it a true Harley Davidson image.
The bike, in comparison with bullet, has some changes, which I'm not sure are improvements or ''just for change''. It has a conventional 1 down 4 up gear shift pattern to be operated with left leg and breaking with right leg, while bullet riders use their right leg for gear shifting and left one for brake, a feature which made Bullet stand unique. The auto neutral lever is also desperately missing in thunderbird.
Thunderbird's footrest and seats could have been a bit more ergonomic, (Consider Yamaha Enticer and Kawasaki Bajaj Eliminator for that matter) in order to make it more cruiser friendly.
The instrument panel is covered with a dark piece of glass because of which the rider will have to struggle to see the neutral light and other indicators, particularly in daylight.
My suggestions in this review, if implemented will surely add to the cost of Thunderbird but India desperately needs a super bike of its own. The recent issue of ''Super Bikes'' has not considered Thunderbird while writing about Indian bikes that are affordable and come close to ''Superbike'' status. (Kinetic Aquilla, Hero Honda Karizma and Bajaj Pulsar 180 DTSi were the only three bikes considered)
Thunderbird's mileage is worth mentioning. 35-40 kmpl on road in city is quite efficient for a 350cc engine.
It's simpler to ride, easy on maintenance. But if those are the decisive factors, a 100cc bike will serve the purpose. In a bike like Thunderbird, from a respected manufacture of high end bikes- The Royal Enfield, the die hard fans of enthusiastic biking expect something unique. Escape - are you listening?