RE Thunderbird X 500
Should you spend an extra `8000 for a flat handlebar and minor cosmetic changes?
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.
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