2010 Triumph Thunderbird 1600 details released at world launch

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Our favorite Norwegian, Ivar Kvadsheim, sent us a present this morning– namely, all the materials from the world press launch of the 2010 Triumph Thunderbird 1600. Aimed squarely at the custom cruiser market in the 1400cc to 1700cc range, Triumph is claiming the $12,999 parallel twin 1600cc cruiser is for “riders who want a mainstream cruiser” and “want to stand out from the crowd.” We’re pretty sure there’s a contradiction in that somewhere.
Styled by cruiser-happy Californian Tim Prentice who penned such jewels as the Triumph Rocket III Touring, Yamaha Road Star as well as Honda’s VTX and Rune, we’re actually very happy to see the Thunderbird gets cast alloy wheels, a reasonably narrow 200 rear and Metzeler rubber. There’s also a big bore kit that puts the capacity at 1700cc, upping output to 100hp and 115lbs-ft.

Does that mean we’d ride it? Hmmm. Prentice said it’s not really even a Triumph, so why bother? “If we made it overall very Triumph (or English) it simply wouldn’t work in the US market.” We’re sure there are others out there who will love it. Each to their own, we suppose.



Type Liquid-cooled, DOHC, Parallel-twin, 270º firing interval
Capacity 1597 cc 98.0Cubic inches
Bore/Stroke 103.8 x 94.3mm
Compression Ratio 9.7:1
Max revs (Urban Sports) 6500rpm
Idle speed 850rpm
Fuel System – Multipoint sequential electronic fuel injection with SAI, progressive linkage on throttle
Generator – 630W
Battery – 18Ah
Exhaust – Chromed Stainless Steel 2 into 1 into 2. Tandem large-volume catalysts in centralised catbox, chrome-plated silencers
Ignition – Digital-inductive type via engine management system.
Throttle body diameter – Ø42.0mm

Primary Drive – Gear
Final Drive – Toothed Belt
Clutch – Wet, multi-plate
Gearbox – 6-speed constant mesh, helical type.

Gear Ratios
Primary – 1.4407:1                                                                                 
1st – 2.9875:1
2nd – 1.958:1
3rd – 1.536:1
4th – 1.219:1
5th – 1.029:1        
6th – 0.909:1
Final drive ratio – Final: 62/28
Final Drive – Belt, 32mm wide, 141 teeth
Oil Capacity – 4.2 litres 1.1 US gallons

Frame – Tubular Steel, twin spine
Swingarm – Twin-sided, steel
Front Wheel – Cast aluminium alloy 5-spoke 19 x 3.5 incl
Rear Wheel – Cast aluminium alloy 5-spoke 17 x 6 inch
Front Tyre – 120/70 R19 Metzeler Marathon ME880
Rear Tyre – 200/50 R17 Metzeler Marathon ME880
Front Suspension – Showa 47mm forks. 120mm travel
Rear Suspension – Showa chromed spring twin shocks with 5 position adjustable preload. 95mm rear wheel travel
Front Brakes – Twin 310mm floating discs.  Nissin 4-piston fixed calipers
Rear Brakes – Single 310mm fixed disc. Brembo 2-piston floating caliper
ABS – Optional, dual-channel ABS
Instrument display/functions – Tank mounted instruments assy with large speedo and integrated tacho. Includes LCD to
display ODO, Trip1, Trip2, Fuel Gauge, Range-to-empty & Clock. Integrated instrument scroll button on handlebars.
Warning lights – Indicators / High Beam / Neutral / EMS / Fuel / Oil Pressure / Alarm / Water Temp
Headlight – H4 60/55W, single reflector
Rear Light – LED
Indicators – Clear-lensed, self-cancelling

Length – 2340 mm 92.1 in
Width (Handlebars) – 880 mm 34.6 in
Height – 1120 mm 44.1 in
Seat Height – 700 mm 27.6 in
Wheelbase (mm/in) – 1615 mm 63.6 in
Rake/Trail – 32°/151.3mm
Fuel Tank Capacity – 22 litres, 5.8 US Gallons
Vertical Ground Clearance – 140 mm 5.5 in
Dry Weight – 308 Kgs, 678 lbs
Weight in running order (full tank of fuel) – 339 Kgs, 746 lbs
Fully laden weight – 561 Kgs, 1234 lbs

Maximum Power EC – 86PS /85bhp / 63kW @ 4850rpm
Maximum Torque EC1 – 146Nm / 108ft.lbf @ 2750rpm
Max speed (mph/Kph) – 115mph, 184kph

Fuel consumption
100kph – 54.6 mpg (UK), 45.5 mpg (US), 5.2 l/100Km
120kph – 44.2 mpg (UK), 36.8 mpg (US), 6.4 l/100Km
140kph – 37.5 mpg (UK), 31.2 mpg (US), 7.5 l/100Km
Mixed use – 53.9 mpg (UK), 44.9 mpg (US), 5.2 l/100Km

Jet Black
Pacific Blue/Fusion White
Aluminium Silver/Jet Black


Tim Prentice Q&A

How long did it take to get from initial idea to the final concept?
It took around a month to get to the approved 2D sketch stage. You can come up with a good design concept quite quickly, but the real work comes making that vision into reality and balancing the compromises you always have to make for production. The full-scale production mock-up took around seven months from the beginning to concept model signoff. The final production version of the Thunderbird is almost indistinguishable from the concept model.

What was the inspiration for the design of the bike?
I was given a minimal design brief which essentially asked for a “modern cruiser using a parallel twin engine.” The guys at Triumph didn’t want to add or speculate on any other details. They wanted the blanks filled in by an American who understood the cruiser market. At the time, there was no talk making any a link to any previous Thunderbird. Triumph saw a gap in their lineup between the America and Speedmaster and the Rocket III. This midrange was seen as a large segment in the market.

What are the key design elements that define the bike?
Any cruiser is essentially defined first by the seating position: feet forward and low seat. Next are a few styling cues such as teardrop fuel tank and how the frame works as a structure for the body. Each part should not look like it’s trying to be something else. For example, we were made the throttle bodies a styling element instead of hiding them with a cover. This allows one to clearly visualize the intake all the way through the end of the silencer – straightforward, honest and mechanical.

Is there any area of the bike in particular that you are proud of?
Actually, no. I am most impressed with how the Thunderbird turned out as a whole – which is really the ideal for a designer and often the most difficult to achieve. Another way to say this is that it’s more important to create balance than to focus too much on a few parts. The Thunderbird has a great balance between the engine and mechanical elements, the body work, the materials and finishes, and this was achieved by working very closely with the engineering team. But if I had to pick a couple of parts, I’d say the engine and fuel tank. Both are the most difficult parts for styling due to technical considerations, but these two parts are essential to describe the character of the bike.

What makes this bike a genuine Triumph?
This was a big question for us. If we made it overall very Triumph (or English) it simply wouldn’t work in the US market. Therefore, we focused on the Triumph parallel twin engine as the heart of the Thunderbird. This engine layout is almost unique to Triumph, especially in the cruiser market. It is a bit of a risk going away from the expected V-twin engine, but we believed that this gave us an opportunity to give the customer something more original and to impart some real Triumph identity and heritage. Not every type of engine can work in a cruiser, but I think the Triumph parallel twin is a strong alternative. So we took some cues from the Bonneville parallel-twin engines (such as triangular generator cover) but gave the engine cleaner and more modern surfaces.

Aside from the engine, the form is straightforward cruiser. For styling inspiration, I looked towards the 1960s muscle car. I did not try to make it a two wheeled muscle car, but I wanted a strong stance and muscular proportion that would look at home sitting next to a Shelby Cobra or ’67 Mustang. We wanted the bike to be comfortably recognisable to the US cruiser market. The forms themselves are simple and honest, and are meant to work well with the mechanical nature of the bike.

How closely did you work with the engineers?
Extremely. This was the only way to keep the direction and style of the Thunderbird on track. It’s all too easy to let a design go wrong if you’re not directly involved at every step. The team provided me with all the tools necessary to do the design work, and also gave me excellent engineering and modelling support. Adrian Shaw was the project leader and was critical to making things work well between myself and the engineering team.

Was there anything that you had to change as a result of liaising with the engineers?
Yes, but by working closely with the engineering team we were able to keep the changes small, or in some cases make some parts even better. Again, the exposed throttle body of the Thunderbird became a styling feature instead of something to hide under a cover. There were many other changes, but these usually involved minor adjustments to surfaces. The engine had many adjustments made to it during its development, so we had to keep going back and refine each part to keep the overall look in line with the original vision.

It is completely expected to have things change once the full-scale concept mock-up model has been completed and signed off, but it’s the nature and amount of the changes that make it challenging. This is why it is so important to keep working closely with the engineering team as the design of each part is refined for production tooling, or to comply with the supplier or other homologation requirements. The success in developing Thunderbird was that the many changes were quite small, or that we were able to work closely to find solutions that kept the final production Thunderbird essentially unchanged from the development mock-up.

What was the biggest challenge in designing the bike?
Balance. The styling challenge for me was to balance the need to make this very clearly a cruiser, yet impart enough uniqueness and Triumph identity to it. Also, customisation is a key element for the cruiser market, so another important factor to balance into the equation is to make the bike a starting point that allows riders to customise it, often in very different directions. Some people will make more of the performance image while others will push the look in a more classic or touring direction. Making that possible with one design is the key to making the Thunderbird successful.

Who named the bike the Thunderbird?
It was one of the few names that Triumph can use (without making something completely new) and has some great heritage value in the US market from back in the 50s. The previous 1990s model Thunderbird was not a strong or well known model in the US and has long since been discontinued, but the name was perceived to be a good fit for the Americ
an market due to its earlier heritage. The name Thunderbird did not “stick” until well after the production mock-up was finished.

via MC24

  • pbxorcist

    I think I’m going to give it a pretty solid “meh”.

    The design aesthetics aside the bike fails for me on a compelling reason for its existence. In a glutted cruiser market you need stand out features to lead you to purchase outside the defacto choice of Harley.

    Other than owning the largest displacement parallel twin out there, I’m just not seeing it. On a side note I do like the look of the racy version but if I were in the market for a power cruiser, or that look specifically I’d choose the Vrod or the Suzuki M109.

  • aoelus

    Caste concrete? Untouchable? New to me. As for the bike, the Hinckley works is nothing if not enterprising.

  • http://bolty.net Stacy

    The Honda Rebel has a parallel twin engine too. I think I’ll start calling it the “Triumph Thunderbird Mini”.

    Can’t really say much about this new Thunderbird except, “It’s a cruiser.” I’m sure some folks will like it very much.

    • http://hellforleathermagazine.com Grant Ray

      How about “The Little Triumph that Could”?

  • http://www.damiengaudet.com blankfocus

    Boring. (and I’m a Triumph fan-boy)

  • geonerd

    i’m trying hard not to meh. but if i saw this bike rolling down the strip, i wouldn’t give it a second glance. just another cruiser.

  • geonerd

    Maximum Power EC – 186PS /85bhp / 63kW @ 4850rpm
    Maximum Torque EC1 – 146Nm / 108ft.lbf @ 2750rpm
    Max speed (mph/Kph) – 115mph, 184kph

    I think you mean 86PS

  • Ken

    86 bhp, 308 kg dry, 450 kg with Fat Bastard on it. I’m no physicist but …

  • drjohndee

    “86 bhp, 308 kg dry, 450 kg with Fat Bastard on it. I’m no physicist but …”

    Torque is very high though. 86bhp is more than enough to pull 300-400kg; there are plenty of cars that make that kind of power or less and still break ‘the ton’.

    There’s nothing new on the bike apart from the engine, but that’s a big something and I think it looks really good (the engine). Otherwise they’ve just taken a big dollop of Harley and smaller bits of Victory and some recent Jap cruisers — especially Kawasaki I think. It’s as MOR as it could be and that’s deliberate. It’ll sell.

  • geonerd

    you’re welcome.

  • joe

    “On a side note I do like the look of the racy version but if I were in the market for a power cruiser, or that look specifically I’d choose the Vrod or the Suzuki M109″

    Let me add the few words at the end of that sentance that you forgot to include…

    “because i couldn’t care less about handling, and lets face it, a parallel twin looks and is in all respects exactly the same as a v twin”

    Triumph built it’s rep on handling, and this bike will be no different as the reviews so far have concluded. Of course if thats of little importance to you plus the uniqueness of the parallel twin throws you for a loop because you want to be like everyone else with a V, by all means, go for the asian junk or the over priced hardly.

  • hodenkat

    why didn’t they bring back the 900 T-bird but with the new 1050cc stuffed inside?!

  • http://www.markbayersmotorcyclenews.9f.com Mark Bayer

    I have been impressed with Triumph’s ability to compete in major market segments while maintaining their own innovation and identity. Look at the Rocket III, a 2300cc’s in line three. No one else is even close. The Bonneville series looks back and forward at the same time! The new Thunderbird is also unique. A 1700cc water cooled twin which is very different from most cruisers (not a V-Twin) yet is very consistent with the style of the modern cruisers. I am also impressed with the quality that Triumph has committed themselves to. I hope the best for the company. What a story Triumph has made! From old dead bikes(very alive in their day) to some of the most modern, reliable, good looking, and inspiring models.

  • Thom Will

    First off, I am not a fan of metric bikes. This Thunderbird really sucks, looks like another soulless McCruiser. Now if Triumph ever builds the Baseline model, I will buy the first one available.

  • Raúl Vicente

    It curves nicely for a cruiser, so for me it’s a victory altogether. But a good motorcycle is always controversial: the best and worst of it is appreciated as a whole by the educated eye. But the worst is always pointed out in excess by haters, who erroneously fear that the progress within such models makes obsolete contraptions of their own machines.

  • Jesse

    Got my T-bird… Other bike companies
    can learn a lot from this bike.
    You might like old fashion tech and Crome
    drama, so for you… Please just move out of
    the left lane… You know is the right thing.

  • http://www.academicexperts.us/writing_jobs.html freelance writing career

    Of course you are right! For sure.