RE Thun­der­bird X 500

Should you spend an ex­tra `8000 for a flat han­dle­bar and mi­nor cos­metic changes?

Evo India - - TVS APACHE RTR 160 4V - Words: Abhishek Waira­gade | Pho­tog­ra­phy: Ro­hit G Mane

What is it?

The Thun­der­bird is eight years old now and has been long due for an up­date. In Royal En­field’s tra­di­tional style, it has been put un­der the knife. The changes are few and RE is charg­ing `8,000 ex­tra over the Thun­der­bird 500 for the up­dated kit. The tar­get au­di­ence is the youth this time so the colour schemes are bright and funky, like we have seen on the Clas­sic 350 Red­ditch edi­tion.

All new?

Not at all. The X car­ries for­ward with the sin­gle down­tube frame and the same 499cc, air-cooled mo­tor. The high­light of the up­date is the flat han­dle­bar and alloy wheels. You also get tube­less rub­ber wrapped around the rims in the same 19-18in front-rear setup. The colour code runs through rims as well as the mono seat that re­places the twin seat on the Thun­der­bird. There is no back rest although RE will be pro­vid­ing it as an ac­ces­sory along with a cou­ple of fly screens to choose from.

Fun to ride?

The flat han­dle­bar does make a world of dif­fer­ence to how the Thun­der­bird X re­sponds on the road. Gone is the ape han­dle­bar that ob­vi­ously made it a more laid­back ride. Zip­ping through traf­fic is fun as there is no lack of bot­tom end torque and the X even loves a set of twisties. The han­dle­bar could’ve been moved slightly closer to the rider for a more com­fort­able rid­ing po­si­tion dur­ing long rides. Nev­er­the­less, the X offers a more in­volv­ing ex­pe­ri­ence than the Thun­der­bird.

So all good?

The en­gine is as gruff as ever. There are oo­dles of vi­bra­tions creep­ing in from the han­dle­bar, pegs, seat and fuel tank. So much so that af­ter 3500rpm your head starts shak­ing. Brak­ing is in­ad­e­quate too for a mo­tor­cy­cle that weighs 197kg.


Ev­ery RE buyer’s dream is to head to Ladakh and get them­selves a Bud­dhist prayer flag. The X is ca­pa­ble of do­ing so while keep­ing you happy in ur­ban con­di­tions as well as dur­ing week­end rides. The 20-litre fuel tank gives it long legs on the high­way as well. And did we men­tion how cool it looks af­ter be­ing made up? Although, the pric­ing with the new kit makes it the most ex­pen­sive RE out there.

1: Same clocks as on the Thun­der­bird 500, sans chrome. 2: Thank god for no chrome! 3: No me­chan­i­cal changes mean the en­gine still makes 27.2bhp.

4: Third Royal En­field to fea­ture alloy wheels





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