Royal Enfield Thunderbird Twinspark review
- Published On: 27 April 2017
- 6 min read
Two spark plugs offer better combustion but is the Thunderbird 350 the ideal cruiser?
The introduction of an all-new Twinspark Engine in the Thunderbird promises to make the biggest difference to owners. The company claims it has been optimised to deliver hassle-free motoring with minimal maintenance. So has it maintained its original charm?
On the outside
At first glance, you would be hard pressed to tell the difference between the Twinspark and any other Thunderbird. That’s until you look at the engine. It’s a modern-looking powerplant by Royal Enfield standards and it comes with an integrated crankcase and gearbox intended to reduce oil leakage.
The rest of the bike is more or less the same - the round headlamp, twin instrument pods, front disc brake, swooping seat and pillion backrest are all carried forward. What does immediately catch your eye, though, is the shorter muffler.
The quarter panels below the seat feature a tiny ‘Twinspark’ sticker, which is your only indicator to tell you about the tech that sits inside this machine. Also on either side, just below the tank, are round reflectors that are useful on the highway. The sheet-metal on the fuel tank flange welded below it is an eyesore, while the fuel tank cap looks ancient. This bike could have done with a redesigned tank.
The big news about this bike is its all-new engine - it features twin-spark plugs firing together, an automatic decompression facility and unit-construction that the company claims has solved the problem of oil seepage, a problem that plagued the previous bike. This bike makes 2hp more, for a figure of 20hp, and 28Nm of torque, which is a negligible 1Nm more than the older version.
From the saddle
You won’t be able to notice the difference in power instantly. Thumb the starter and you will immediately notice it feels smoother near idle. As you get going, the bike feels a bit better than the earlier bike. A six-plate clutch instead of four is a welcome addition.
This smoothness sadly diminishes as you pick up the pace and is replaced with Royal-Enfield-typical vibrations, these amplifying as the engine closes on red-line. Thrashing the engine is not the way to ride this bike though - it feels at its brisk best shifting up just past 4000rpm, where it produces maximum torque. Shift action is relatively lighter, however still nowhere close to as good as this day and age demands. The sprint to 60kph is less than a tenth of a second quicker than the regular Thunderbird.
The Twinspark’s saddle is a reasonably nice place to be on long rides. Stretches of rippled and rutted tarmac, so common on our roads, need you to throttle back or risk being thrown off the line. However, the new T’bird, like most Royal Enfields, isn’t a bike you throw into a corner.
The bike is a burden in city traffic, but stable on the highway thanks, in some measure, to its 19-inch rims. There is no escaping this bike’s rangy wheelbase and heft in the city. The Twinspark handles like the earlier Thunderbird, with a heavy, suspect amount of front-end grip. The rear stays pretty much planted, which inspires confidence. The Thunderbird Brakes from 60kph in 18.14 metres, which is good considering its weight.
Fuel economy is not a subject of relevance among Royal Enfield Bike lovers, For the record though, the Twinspark returns 35.7kpl in the city and 36.8kpl on the highway.
Is it worth the money?
The Twinspark’s lacklustre overall quality, the hefty price tag and the dated technology go against outright sensibility. Yes, the new engine is improved and more modern, but then these are changes that should have been made a long time ago. But looking at the Thunderbird Twinspark as such is missing the point completely. It is a bike you buy with your heart. It is a bike you buy when you want character, exclusivity and old-world charm in today’s hurried times.