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The Royal Enfield Thunderbird is a cruiser style motorcycle which was introduced in 2002. Back then it came with a 350cc AVL lean-burn engine and a five-speed gearbox. AVL stands for - Anstalt für Verbrennungskraftmaschinen List (German for "Institute for Combustion Engines).
Now, owning an Enfield has become like a cult in our country simply because it's more like a status symbol for some people. But after you buy one, you realize that a lot of things need to be added (aftermarket fitments) if you're going for a long tour and want a comfortable ride. Royal Enfield, keeping that in mind has come up with the 2018 Thunderbird X (both in the 350cc & 500cc).
The motorcycle features a comfortable seat, has alloy wheels with tubeless tyres, a different handlebar, larger fuel tank and different colour schemes. We laid our hands on the 500 X for a couple of days and here's what we have to say about it!
At first glance, you will notice that the motorcycle has got an all blacked out theme with just the tank in a different colour. The test bike that we got was orange in colour, called the 'Getaway Orange', it also comes in the 'Drifter Blue' colour. From a distance, the bike looked pretty good, in fact, people might just misinterpret it for a single cylinder Bonnie.
At the front, you get an all blacked out forks and the headlight cluster follows the same. The instrument cluster sits right on top of the forks and is the same as the current generation Thunderbird. Surprisingly, the company has discontinued the hazard light feature which, I thought was pretty helpful. The 20-litre teardrop fuel tank seems big and has got the RE logo written in bold which looks appealing along with the different colour schemes. The switchgear quality could have been a bit better though.
The Thunderbird X now features a flat and blacked out handlebar compared to the mini ape-hanger which is present in the current generation Thunderbird. This handlebar coupled with the slightly front set footpegs helps the rider get an upright riding stance and feels very comfortable during long rides.
Oh yes, I forgot to mention about the seat. For the first time, RE has used a pretty good seat material with a lot of cushioning and I think most of the buyers will appreciate it and not opt for an aftermarket seat. The only drawback was that the bike does not come with a backrest, which might disappoint some of the buyers, but, aftermarket fitments (backrest) are there.
Powering the Thunderbird 500X is the same tried and tested 499cc air-cooled single-cylinder engine. The engine makes 27bhp of power and 41 Nm of peak torque. The torque helps pull the bike easily when you want to overtake in traffic and that too without shifting down a gear. Since both the Thunderbird X and the standard Thunderbird share the same kerb weight (197 kgs) the overall performance of the bike remains more or less the same. The sweet spot to cruise is around the 90 km/h mark, go beyond that and the vibrations start setting in through the handlebars and the footpegs which might hamper the ride quality.
For the very first time, Royal Enfield has also fitted the motorcycle with alloy wheels and tubeless tyres as stock. Moreover, the tyre profile remains the same with a 19 inch at the front and an 18 inch at the rear. The suspensions also remain the same as the standard motorcycle, which means it can withstand multiple numbers of potholes and ditches easily without a cough.
The front does not feel too heavy and though it's not a corner craving motorcycle, take it around the curves and it will happily lean into them until the pegs start scraping (which tends to happen really soon). Braking components are also carried over from the current Thunderbird: a 280mm disc at the front and a 240mm disc at the rear. Though the bite from the brakes is not that adequate to stop the beast down immediately. Unfortunately, it does not get ABS (not even as an option).
The motorcycle tends to heat up a little bit in stop-and-go traffic conditions, but, that can be taken care of if one is wearing proper riding gears. We got an overall mileage of around 27 km/l, which I think could have been a bit better.
Promeet Ghosh Thinks!
I would truly recommend buyers the Thunderbird 500X just because of its modern appeal. It comes with a price tag of Rs 1.98 lakh ex-showroom (Delhi), which is Rs 8000 more than the standard Thunderbird. You can definitely go on long tours on it and it's the perfect motorcycle for someone who is looking forward to buying their very first small displacement cruiser motorcycle.