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Auto Expo 2012 - Royal Enfield Thunderbird 500

Team OD  | Updated: May 09, 2013, 04:16 PM IST

Royal Enfield India unveiled the Thunderbird 500 at the Auto Expo 2012. Not only has the Thunderbird got an engine upgrade but it also gets a host of new features which is sure to attract more customers.

The Thunderbird was first introduced as a brand in 2000 with a 5-speed gearbox and a 350cc AVL engine. In 2009, the Thunderbird was given a 350cc unit construction engine (UCE) with twin spark plugs. And after that it is now in 2012 that the Thunderbird gets another engine upgrade - a fuel injected 500cc UCE with 27.2PS of power at 5250rpm and 41.3NM of torque at 4000rpm. Apart from the bigger engine, the Thunderbird now sports Bybre 280mm front and 240mm rear disc brakes.

Ergonomically, the foot pegs have been re-positioned which RE claim results in a better riding position. The pillion seat, which is separately mounted, can be removed to make way for additional luggage. Not something that your partner would be too excited to hear about. RE have also provided the Thunderbird 500 with bungee hooks to tie down the luggage and make those long distance trips more secure.

The Thunderbird now has an LED tail lamp whereas the headlight gets a 55w projector lamp for the low and 55w halogen for the high beams respectively. A separate switch for the hazard lamp, a first for a locally manufactured bike, has also been provided. The fuel tank is now 20 litres, enabling riders to ride to their destination without frequent stops for refueling. The Thunderbird 500 also has twin digital trip meters. The mirrors and turn indicators are also a new unit. The bike now features 41mm forks in front and an oval section swingarm at the rear to enhance its handling.

RE aims to project the Thunderbird 500 as an affordable alternative to the Harley-Davidsons and the newly launched Triumph range of bikes. To be sold only in shades of black - midnight black, matte metallic black and arctic winter black, the Thunderbird 500 will be launched by June-July 2012. The pricing details haven't been divulged yet but the recently launched Desert Storm costs Rs 1.32 lakh ex-showroom Delhi and taking into consideration the features that the Thunderbird 500 comes with, we expect it to be priced around Rs 1.5 lakh. The 500cc Thunderbird will not replace its 350cc sibling but will be sold along with it and RE have informed that based on the feedback from customers, they will apply the changes to the 350cc too.

Along with the Thunderbird, Royal Enfield also displayed its Cafe Racer 500cc concept which will most likely make it to production by 2013. This striking bike has garnered a lot of attention with its styling. The clip-on handlebars which sit low, very unlike any other Royal Enfield bike, the twin pod console, the rear view mirrors mounted on the handle bars, the long fuel tank and the short seat all make for a very attractive package. Displayed in sporty red at the Auto Expo it was quite the head turner. Now the wait for the pricing details to emerge.

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