First Ride: 2014 Triumph Thunderbird Commander and Thunderbird LT

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2014 Triumph Thunderbird Commander and LT

Make no mistake; Triumph Motorcycles is on a bit of a roll at the moment. The British company currently has one of the best line-ups of motorcycles it has ever had, their U.S. dealer network is profitable and growing and the company is optimistic for a big increase in sales in North America for 2014.

This week, Triumph launched its all-new Thunderbird Commander and Thunderbird LT, and the timing appears to be spot on. But can either of these British cruisers really be considered as serious contenders in what is essentially a sector entirely dominated by one U.S. manufacturer?

2014 Triumph Thunderbird LT

Triumph’s Recent History

To understand what is new at Triumph and why, you have to understand a bit about the company’s past and the close ties it has to the U.S.

At the introduction of the new Thunderbirds, Triumph was keen to underline that it has a long and illustrious story in America. Its motorcycles, most notably the Big D Texas Cigar followed by the Triumph Gyronaut X-1, were breaking land speed records throughout the 1950s and 1960s on the Bonneville Salt Flats at ridiculously fast speeds.

With its U.S. dealers, Triumph also raced with great success in the 1940s through to the 1970s against the likes of Harley-Davidson and Indian Motorcycles.

Triumph even lays claim to have kicked off the whole biker image with the brooding Marlon Brando in the 1953 film The Wild Ones. Although Brando had to ride his own Thunderbird in the film because the Triumph factory wouldn’t supply him one and even demanded that the tank badges were taken off the bike during filming.

Through all of this and much more besides, Triumph has become an iconic brand and their motorcycles, particularly the current line-up, very well respected on this side of the Atlantic.

This fall, Triumph will again be back on the salt flats with the Castrol Rocket (powered by a pair of Rocket III 1485cc engines producing 1000 bhp) running in the streamlined motorcycle class and intent on breaking 400 mph.

2014 Triumph Thunderbird LT

On the business front things have been changing quickly too. Since 2010, the U.S. Triumph dealer network has been revised and increased from 165 to 225 (17 new dealers alone were appointed in the last quarter of 2013) with the aim of a 300-strong network in the next couple of years.

Triumph worldwide sales last year were at a record level with 52,089 motorcycles sold and around a quarter of those were in the U.S This year, Triumph is expecting even better U.S. sales performance.

Greg Heichelbech, CEO of Triumph North America, told RideApart: “Triumph wants to be the number one import brand in the U.S. within the next few years. We believe we can overtake the Japanese here in the U.S. based upon what we have achieved so far and what we know is coming down the pipeline from Triumph in the near future.

“We sold 13,000 motorcycles last year in the U.S. and estimate for 2014 that will increase to 16,000. So it’s absolutely the right time for us to launch two new cruisers into the market.”

2014 Triumph Thunderbird LT

It’s not going to be an easy task for Triumph. Harley-Davidson sold 260,839 motorcycles in the U.S. last year, but Heichelbech said that Triumph’s not looking to compete head on with the Milwaukee company: “There are a number of customers out there who don’t want to buy a Harley-Davidson and want something different. They like the brand image of Triumph and can relate to that and what we can offer them.”

In the past year, Harley Davidson and the hugely ambitious Indian Motorcycles have been starting to square up as to who is going to be the top dog in U.S. cruiser market not just in sales numbers but also in terms of quality, choice and rider appeal.

With Triumph now on the scene with two all-new convincing cruisers and promises from the British company of even more to come, things could start to get very interesting.

Continue Reading: First Ride: 2104 Triumph Thunderbird Commander and Thunderbird LT>>

  • Nathan Haley

    This is a really great review! I completely agree about “the bad” – as long as Triumph styles its cruisers to look just like Harleys, it’ll always come across as a pretender (even if the bike rides better). Harley owns that look – the excessive chrome, 40-foot wheelbase, engine business and ancient silhouette. Is there no one who wants to see a forward-looking cruiser? Harley is trying to reach out to young people as its traditional generation/demographic ages and goes away – would love to see a Triumph (read: better) take on the 500 and 750 designed for young people.

    • NOCHnoch

      A forward looking cruiser is a sport touring bike. AKA a comfortable bike that actually handles.

      • Nathan Haley

        That’s a good point but there are some key differences (particularly in ergonomics) between a cruiser and a sport touring bike. A sport tourer typically has a few degrees of forward lean, putting pressure on the wrists (at least at low acceleration and wind speed). It also usually has higher, rearward footpegs that result in more knee and hip bend. There is always going to be a tradeoff between superslabbing stability (which cruiser riders prioritize) and cornering performance.

        FYI there exist cruisers that handle reasonably well despite limitations in their form factor – see Wes’s Moto Guzzi California review, for example (http://rideapart.com/2013/04/rideapart-review-moto-guzzi-california-1400/). I had the opportunity to ride one and loved everything about it, even the looks – why can’t more cruisers be like that?

        • mms

          The Guzzi California is awesome in person. They sure have been coming up with some great, distinctive bikes. I sure wish Triumph would get back to making the Thunderbird Sport. That was a heck of a sport tourer and it didn’t look like anything else.

          • Flying Couch

            The Thunderbird Sport is IMO one of the coolest looking bikes ever built. I certainly find it more fetching than the Bonneville.

      • Nathan Haley

        There are some ergonomic differences – people who like the feet-forward, zero-degree forward lean of a cruiser will hate a cramped sport tourer.

        Also, it’s not impossible to make a bike with a cruiser form factor that handles OK. See Wes’s review of the Guzzi California. I had a chance to try one and loved all of it – including the looks. It didn’t feel like a Harley, nor was it a Harley copycat in styling. I wish Triumph could have also innovated in their visual design a little bit.

        • Send Margaritas

          I’ve got an FJR and a Cruiser. I like ‘em both. They’re just different.

      • Stuki

        The Yamaha S10 is pretty much a cruiser; just one for those of us with sore enough backs to need some more suspension travel……

        Raked out forks. Kinda slow revving parallel twin, like this Triumph. Beach cruiser width handlebars. Will continue straight down the freeway even if you take a 15 minute nap. Outfitted the way most of them are, pretty close to a cruiser in weight. Target market consisting predominantly of older, heavier guys that like to play dress up to go biking (albeit in Klim rather than chaps) ……………..

    • Doug Herbert

      Triumph makes a forward looking cruiser, it’s the Trophy.

      • Nathan Haley

        good point, actually – though I would argue it’s more of a sport-tourer.

        • Piglet2010

          I would consider the Triumph Trophy a touring bike.

  • Richard Gozinya

    West of San Diego? That’s pretty impressive for a motorcycle.

    • Mark D

      I think they actually rode in Papua New Guinea.

    • NOCHnoch

      Cruiser riders aren’t the brightest bunch

    • Tim Watson

      Ah.. duh… you got me…never been blessed with a good sense of direction. i told my wife once that I was riding west for a week from California. She wished me good luck with that as I’d be in the Pacific. Thanks for the catch!

      • ThruTheDunes

        I know how you feel. When I moved to California, it took me about a year to get reoriented to the ocean being on the other side. When we moved back east, it took my wife about a year to reorient to the Atlantic. Of course, it didn’t help that there are highways around here where you are going north and south on the same road…

        • http://metabomber.com/ Jesse

          But, 93/95/3 is here to help!

          • ThruTheDunes

            Exactly! She wanted to visit her sister on the Cape, so I told her take the 128 south to 3 south. Little did I know that in the intervening 20+ years that the 128 now ends where the 95 goes south, the 93 north replaces the segment to the 3, and I had forgotten about the 1. Lordy, lordy, did I get an earful!

  • Nemosufu Namecheck

    Really nice bike except for that accordion-sized radiator that takes up the entire front. Maybe they could work on that detail.

  • Nathan Haley

    merely pointing out that a cruiser can be good to ride and not a sport tourer.

    • NOCHnoch

      actually a cruiser cannot be good to ride, otherwise it wouldn’t be a cruiser.

      • Nathan Haley

        guzzi california, duc diavel, harley v-rod, honda ctx…I think they’re rare but I don’t think it’s definitionally impossible.

        • Piglet2010

          The Diavel is as much of a cruiser as a YamaStar V-Max.

          Look at the riding position: http://cycle-ergo.com/

          • Nathan Haley

            are power cruisers not cruisers?

            • Piglet2010

              Well, something like a Suzuki M109R or a V-Rod is a cruiser. The Diavel, V-Max, and short lived H-D Street Rod are standards, not cruisers, even though they have some cruiser-like styling cues.

  • kevin

    It’s a good time to have just started work at a Triumph dealership. :)

  • zedro

    Do they need to be near 800lbs?, that’s 150lbs more than my utility 4×4 atv with steel rims and mud tires.

    • Lee Scuppers

      Cruiser customers pay by the pound.

    • Stuki

      Bolt upright, far back, seating, forward controls and short rear travel, does become much more comfortable on a bike heavy enough to absorb most bumps before they hit your spine. And, 800 lbs is much, much less detrimental on a low to the ground, 27 inch seat height cruiser; than on an 1200GS with 200 of the pounds strapped to the back. While fashion obviously play some part, this class of bikes wouldn’t have remained by far the most popular in America, if they were truly as onesidedly awful as many sports minded motorcyclists seem to automatically assume.

      • Davidabl2

        where i live it’s all old guys on BigTwins and kids mostly on sports bikes..plus a few kids on the new hipster Sportsters plus Triumphs & Monsters

        • Piglet2010

          No middle-aged guys in “snowmobile suits” on Beemers?

          • Davidabl2

            Yep, sure. But they aren’t from around here. They do work in some of the office parks, but I don’t know where they come from.

          • Davidabl2

            I see a few of them but they don’t seem like they’re from around here. Even though i see them pulling into office parks,i don’t know WHERE they come from:-)

      • Piglet2010

        Several of my neighbors have H-D cruisers, but they never seem to get ridden – to judge by used bike ads, my bloody 108cc scooter gets ridden more miles than a lot of H-D “Big Twins”.

        • Stuki

          I doubt it’s due to a lack of comfort vis a vis other bikes, though. The Harley Marketing department’s greatest success, is to find a way to sell 250,000 bikes a year to a population of 100,000 riders; obviously leaving some of the bikes to be used for other things. But that doesn’t imply the 100,000 who do ride, do so on somehow universally inferior motorcycles.

          • Piglet2010

            How many H-D buyers actually cross-shop other brands? Seriously, is a guy with an H-D emblem painted on the bedroom wall, a house full of H-D merchandise, a closet full of H-D casual wear, and a H-D tattoo going to even consider anything else?

            The new Indians are the first bikes in a couple of generations that compete directly with H-D – no one is going to pick a fight with you for showing up to a roadside country bar on one.

            • luxlamf

              I own a HD, Triumph had a Ducati for a while and a Sportster but those are gone and just the Scrambler and the Vrod now. So another one of your Facts down the drain… Difference is I had and do have great fun on every one of those bikes.

              • Piglet2010

                “…an H-D emblem painted on the bedroom wall, a house full of H-D merchandise, a closet full of H-D casual wear, and a H-D tattoo…”

                Do you meet all those criteria?

                • luxlamf

                  Once again I have no idea what you are implying, I ride motorcycles and I ride them on average 6 days a week, 23-27k in miles a year and enjoy the bikes I own, hence why I own them, didn’t matter the name on the bike etc.. Nor do I have any of those items you mention above, I wear no logos, the only logos I have are on the bikes themselves. Once again I ride my bikes, almost everyday, 1 is an HD I have had since 2005 and 118k on and the other a Triumph I bought in 2012 with 12k on it now, I have several friends that I ride with often, all of them also own several different makes of bikes, so once again your blathering on here makes you sound rather pathetic. Most of the people I meet and know ride because thats what they want to do and are very knowledgable about Motorcycling etc… What I do meet Too often are people who own a Brand of bike and like to pass judgement on people who own Other brands of bikes. 1 thing they all have in common, they don’t ride nor know How to ride, they prefer to stand around and gossip like you are doing here. So how many bikes Do you own right now and more important how many miles do you put on them a year?

      • Davidabl2

        Stuki, there’s the fitness question. Ya gotta either be young and/or in shape to feel comfortable in the sports bike for any length of time.

    • Send Margaritas

      You get used to the weight. Riding a heavy bike is a skill, and can be fun. Can you do this? http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZbUbGwB_tMA&feature=player_embedded
      There is another I’ve seen, even more impressive, of a cop on a 850lbs HD.

  • Andreas Stehl

    Tim, would you buy one of your Harley was stolen?

    • Tim Watson

      You know, I think I probably would. It’s really well put together and rides great.

  • Robotribe

    Great write up. Props also to the photographer; nice work.

  • atvman29

    One thing I have to say here as its bothering me… In the article you say “That’s cheaper than a Harley Davidson Softail”, but you fail to mention that for the same price as the Commander ($15,699), you can get the Fat Bob Dyna which looks identical. I really like RideApart but I’m not a fan of the bias against Harleys (I currently own a Honda CB500X for the record). I highly doubt that these bikes are THAT much, if any better than they’re H-D competitors. My last bike was a 2013 HD Street Bob and the fit and finish was phenomenal, it was an awesome bike.

    Personally, and I think I speak for a lot of people here (though maybe not on this website), I would never pay Harley amounts of money on a non-Harley bike with the possible exception of Indian a couple years down the road. Victory? Nope. Triumph? Definitely nope. Would I consider something like a Triumph Bonneville or a Street Triple, yes and only once they change the awful headlight respectively.

    After I sold my Harley (didn’t want the loan), I rode my dad’s ’03 Honda Shadow 750 ACE for a bit. It was essentially a much slower, cheap feeling and looking, uncool version of my Harley. Not a bad bike as it had a charm of its own, but certainly didn’t have the spirit of my Harley. I like Honda and the other Japanese manufacturer’s strategy of offering lower cost alternatives to Harleys, and I think there’s a bigger market there than trying to beat Harley at their game. But I must say Honda’s new CTX line has me VERY excited about these new “forward looking” cruisers. It would be fun to see Harley throw their hat into the game.

    Anyways, I understand competition is good, but please give H-D credit where credit is due. They’re selling awesome bikes, and they create a feeling of lifestyle unlike any other motorcycle company.

    • Tim Watson

      Show me precisely where there is a bias against H-D in this review? First off the Fat Bob Dyna is a very nice bike – check my review from last year and the extensive write up I did on the Project Rushmore H-D’s last August. the Fat Bob is not in the same league as the Commander in terms of comfort and performance. You’re simply not comparing like with like. Secondly, for what it’s worth I have a Street Bob – which is my fourth H-D – I have liked them all immensely but this Dyna is a keeper. I just don’t look at Harley-Davidson motorcycles through rose-tinted glasses.

      • atvman29

        Tim, I wasn’t targeting this article directly, though the comment I called out in my original post would be an example of where I think Harley could have been more fairly represented. I definitely don’t look at Harley through rose-tinted glasses either…as I said, I sold mine because it wasn’t the right fit for me. I just don’t think RideApart gives H-D enough credit is all, especially considering how substantial of a part of the US motorcycle industry they are.

        • Piglet2010

          Hearing people complain about H-D not being promoted enough is like hearing a Wall Street investment bank CEO complaining about not being paid enough.

          • Send Margaritas

            I took that as atvman29 looking for objectivity, not promotion.

            • Piglet2010

              Harley-Davidson models do not do well in objective price/performance comparisons. For less than the price of a most H-D Big Twin cruisers one can get an Aprilia RSV4 R APRC ABS or BMW S1000RR – granted they are very different bikes, but the Aprilia and BMW are cutting edge technology loaded with features, while the H-D’s are basic low-tech motorcycles loaded with flashy paint and chrome.

              • Send Margaritas

                I understand your perspective Piglet, and although I can appreciate an RSV4 myself, you’re being disingenuous in that comparison.Part of the appeal you either get, or you don’t. My FJR lighter, more advanced in many ways, and is double the HP of my Interstate…but the motor (while excellent) has a very small fraction of the ‘character’ of the Interstate engine….even in sport mode. Torque-tuned V-Twins do have character that recalls the classic, American, early age of motorcycles appeal…in much the way that the solid-lifter big-block V8 60s muscle cars do. When you ride, you listen to the engine…and having one that speaks to you adds something. V-Twins, and some triples, speak to me.

                • Piglet2010

                  Raw materials are a small portion of the cost of a bike in most cases – a 1600cc V-twin does not cost anywhere near twice the amount of money a 800cc V-twin does to build. Similarly, a bike that is twice the weight only costs slightly more to make with similar materials, and likely less if the heavy bike uses rolled and spot-welded mild steel, while the lighter bike used formed, TIG welded, and heat-treated aluminium alloy.

                  Aprilia and BMW compared to the Big Twin:
                  Twice the number of cylinders and four times the number of valves,
                  Costly, lightweight frames vs. inexpensive and heavy frame,
                  High end adjustable suspension vs. cheap, minimally adjustable suspension;
                  State of the art electronic riding aids vs. maybe ABS,
                  Etc, etc, etc.

                  The Aprilia and BMW workers almost certainly get compensated better, particularly with H-D going to a partly seasonal work force with low pay and few benefits.

                  So why does the Big Twin cost more? How much does it cost H-D to build “lifestyle and heritage” into a motorcycle anyhow?

                • Send Margaritas

                  I’m not sure how this reply is related to my post, but it is interesting how you framed your points.Comparing an RSV4 to a HD Cruiser, with their vastly different design goals is absurd. It’s like comparing a Chevy Impala to a Chevy Corvette, and carefully avoiding the fact that the Impala drivers want four doors and a big trunk. I’m confident you’re familiar enough with bikes to realize that 800cc bikes and 1600cc bikes are in different market segments (and that bigger bikes are typically priced higher).Would you expect a reader to believe that the suspension and engine design goals for a track bike (Aprilia) and a Cruiser are the same?I can certainly see why a HD is more expensive than my Honda-Davidson…the Interstate uses plastic where HD uses chromed steel.Ultimately your answer on cost is self-evident. Even priced as HD is, they still sell the VAST majority of the bikes in the US. HD sold 260,000+ expensive cruisers last year. If you combine BMW and Aprilia sales for last year, would it even come close to a quarter of HD’s sales…even at the high HD price? The answer is simply supply and demand.

                • Piglet2010

                  Yes, but a Corvette costs MUCH MORE than an Impala – for your analogy to work an Impala would have to have a MSRP in the neighborhood of $100K. Would you call a person who paid $100K for a run of the mill 2014 Impala smart or a fool?

                  So H-D sells more bikes in the US? Big fat whoopee! Justin Bieber sells many more recordings than Jon Vickers has, but the former sounds like a puppy being tortured (I’m being generous here, eh?), while the latter is one of the greatest singers ever. Popularity often proves nothing but the idiocy of the brainwashed masses.

                • Send Margaritas

                  Since I specifically mentioned design goals: “Comparing an RSV4 to a HD Cruiser, with their vastly different design goals is absurd. It’s like comparing a Chevy Impala to a Chevy Corvette, and carefully avoiding the fact that the Impala drivers want four doors and a big trunk.”…your points on cost are as disingenuously framed as your numerous attempts to compare an Aprilia RSV4 to an HD Cruiser. Jon Vickers is as sleep-inducing as your attempts to re-frame a debate design goals and cast economic realities such as supply and demand as horrible Bieber singing.There is no sense in my debating a closed mind. I’m not trying to persuade you, and at this point I place little value on your opinion Piglet.

                • Piglet2010

                  Now you hurt my feelings.

                  Bwah haa haa! :)

                  And I seriously doubt you had a clue to who Jon Vickers is until reading my post and looking him up – if you find him sleep inducing you have absolutely no taste – Klemperer’s Fidelio (HMV/EMI) and Colin Davis’s Les Troyens (Philips) provide all the evidence needed to the contrary.

                • Send Margaritas

                  Lol! All this makes perfect sense. You hate HD(s) irrationally, because someone slapped you silly for your lack of personality!

                • Piglet2010

                  If lack of personality means not wanting to hang around with a bunch of pretend 1% MC members, you are correct.

                • Stuki

                  The processes required to prepare aircooled motors, and other parts, for beauty contests, are much more costly than if all that matters is to hit certain functional performance goals. If efficiency was the sole goal. HD would have used plastic tanks and fenders as well, like everyone else. And plastic covers instead of repeated chrome dunking and ensuing careful handling of every little nonsensical part.

                  As little as it may seem you’re getting for your money with a HD, all the profits at that company stems from accessory sales. Not bikes. The bikes are largely loss leaders designed to hook the buyer into becoming a lifelong accessory addict. BMW is going the same way. But the only way to get away with that, is to build ‘something’, however irrelevant to purely rational practical buyers, into the product, that cannot so easily be replicated on the cheap. Shared stories, be they of Biker gangs or Ewan and Charlie, definitely plays a part; but so does (obsolete from any performance POV) heavy, expensive, metal fenders; umpteen coats of paint; and engine layouts so far outdated that the “performance and efficiency guys” literally have no corporate memory of how they even function, leaving them to start all the way from scratch if they ever wanted to catch up.

                • Piglet2010

                  If H-D is not making money on bikes, then they have either forgotten or never learned how to build them efficiently. Guess that is what protectionism followed by cult buying does for a company.

                  On your last point, it does make sense that H-D farmed out the Revolution engine design to Porsche.

                  Really, I would have no issue with people buying H-D motorcycles as long as they were honest about the reasons why, and stopped denigrating those who chose to get much better objective value for their money.

                • Piglet2010

                  Those 1960′s muscle cars were not that fast (almost none stock would break 14 seconds in the quarter-mile, and many could not break 15 seconds. And their handling, braking, and ergonomics were crap – OK, now I start to see the resemblance to cruisers. :)

                  As for sound, the uneven firing order in a H-D (and some other) V-twins reminds me of a engine with a misfire – rather unpleasant to listen to, in fact.

      • Send Margaritas

        Like atvman29, I do see a great many comments on RideApart, most often Wes Siler, in articles, and in comments, where he trashes HD’s in a mindless opinionated way. I discount his opinion greatly because of it. I find it a huge turnoff that pretty much hurts the credibility of the entire site. I like RideApart for articles on riding, and reviews. How can you take Wes seriously when he is so opinionated he can’t even give HD credit for fit and finish or appreciate the classic character? I don’t have a HD, but admittedly, I do have a V-Twin (and an FJR1300A), however I don’t view HD with rose-tinted glasses. I just like motorcycles, of all shapes, sizes, and design goals. There are many more of us out here.

        • Piglet2010

          I have a V-twin motorcycle (Honda Deauville), but fortunately the engine is hidden from view.

          • Send Margaritas

            A Honda Deauville is more like my FJR. My Honda V-Twin is far more of a classic styled v-twin cruiser. Nothing to brag about, but fun to ride through the back roads.

            http://i1265.photobucket.com/albums/jj518/Lethalbuddy/IMG_0475-1.jpg

            • Piglet2010

              My point was the Honda Deauville carries none of the typical V-twin/biker cultural associations – to me, this is a good thing.

              • Send Margaritas

                Why care what ‘cultural associations’ people think you have? Those that would misjudge you on such a basis are folks you’re better off avoiding, let alone worrying about….unless you’re worried Eric Cartman will soil your seat, should you stop for fast food in South Park, Colorado?

                • zedro

                  He like just doesn’t want to be a pirate me thinks arrrrr……

                • Send Margaritas

                  It does seem like we fall into three groups: Squids, Pirates, and Helmeted Deer Hunters on Transformers.

                • Piglet2010

                  No, it is a snowmobile suit! ;)

                • Piglet2010

                  Being associated with a pretend criminal/outlaw/bad boy lifestyle.

                • Send Margaritas

                  Interesting. You’re more worried about your image than those ‘Pirates’ you speak of.

                • Piglet2010

                  Gross over-simplification, there.

              • Grant Merritt

                Check us out at http://www.Xchoppers.com.
                We support you!

                • Piglet2010

                  Uh, what I ride looks just like this, except with dirt and scratches from being ridden hard and put away wet: http://images.motorcycle-usa.com/PhotoGallerys/2010-honda-NT700V.jpg

                  Not obvious to the casual observer that it has a V-twin engine – heck, many people think it is a Beemer until they get close enough to see the Honda logo

        • Mykola

          Send Margaritas, I just wanted to say your comments here have been on point and I’ve enjoyed reading them; keep it up.

    • Richard Gozinya

      Harley has been trying to sell a forward looking bike for more than a decade now, but even after all this time, most of the Harley faithful still detest the V-Rods. The cruiser market has little use for anything not a Harley. That includes Indian, unless you just really love tassels and racially insensitive logos.

      • Davidabl2

        Actually as far as I know there’s never been any real objections to the name from Native Americans, perhaps because it was billed as attribute to them
        at the dawn of the last century when the original Indian company was founded… it’s not like the Cleveland Indians mascot or something.

      • atvman29

        Indian outsold Victory in their first year of production. My bet is Indian is going to take a bigger bite out of H-D’s shares than you think. Plus, with Polaris behind the wheel, you can bet that new product will come out often. Look how far the RZR has come along in just 6 years.

        • Piglet2010

          Do you mean that the first year of Polaris designed Indians sold more units than Victory did in 1998, or something else?

          • atvman29

            The article I read said Indian sold more units than Victory did in 2013.

            • Piglet2010

              Seems odd for a couple of reasons – the only Indian bikes on sale through August were the tail-end of the Stellican design in a limited edition, and the new Indians are 2014 models. However, Indian sales for 2014 calendar year are expected to top Victory according to some analysts.

              Interestingly, about 80% of those who have bought new Indians are or were H-D owners.

    • RyYYZ

      One way in which this bike is significantly better than a stock Big Twin: 93 HP, stock. Meaning that there is actually some benefit to revving it while attempting a pass, for example. You’d have to spend thousands on aftermarket hop-up parts to get your Big Twin up to that power level. Of course, Victory also has a more powerful engine, but that hasn’t endeared them to the cruiser faithful (the styling might have something to do with that, though).

    • Piglet2010

      “…and they create a feeling of lifestyle unlike any other motorcycle company.”

      So that is what you get for all the money they cost over other, more comfortable, faster, and better handling bikes.

      • zedro

        I like the “feeling of lifestyle”…….(?)

    • Grant Merritt

      I own a Thunderbird (as well as 12 other motorcycles).
      The Triumph Thunderbird is a much better bike than anything from HD!
      If you want to see my bikes go to: https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.569772229727431.1073741881.147411351963523&type=3

  • Stuki

    I like the styling on these two. While highly stylized cruisers can look amazing, they often do end up compromising function over form in pursuit of curb appeal. And, while sports riders will probably always assume that the only reason buy ride a cruiser is for the looks; for the vast majority of non filthy rich actual buyers, the bikes are actually bought for riding. As in, to be functional motorcycles. With the focus on being functional on straighter rather than curvier roads; and at lower rather than higher speeds than sports bikes; but still; functional. For the kind of riding their buyers anticipate doing the most of.

    Personally, I have to say I prefer the look of this gigantic parallel twin to the Vtvin look, predominantly due to Vtwin overload. The Thunderstroke engine in the new Indians do look flat out awesome, as does the rest of the bike (I’m biased; my only ever proper cruiser was a Kawasaki version of an old Indian. Love those fenders..); and Harley always have some bikes in their catalog that just look “right”; but aside from those, I’d take the triumph as far as looks go.

    At least until KTM decide to have a go at the biggest bike category in the US…. The only way they know how to; by building something batshhhh…. insane. Like a Roland Sands designed flat tracker built around a bored and stroked version of the LC8 in the new Superduke or something……… Even being serious, that 75 degree engine is just plain beautiful in it’s compact starkness.

  • markbvt

    Um… The ’09 Thunderbird was not Triumph’s first cruiser. It was preceded by the America and Speedmaster, and then the Rocket III. All cruisers. The T-bird’s only first for Triumph was in being a liquid-cooled twin well over 1000cc. (The Rocket III is, of course, a triple, and the America and Speedmaster are air-cooled twins that started at 790cc and then later were bumped up to 865cc.)

    • Tim Watson

      All good bikes but none of them compete head on with H-D or what the Japanese have. My point was that with the first Thunderbird in 2009 followed by the Storm and now these two new additions means Triumph now has serious alternatives that compete on price, spec and performance.

      • cr0ft

        I’d say the Rocket III Touring does take Harley and the Japanese cruisers on head-on (and kicks butt in many ways.) It has pretty classic cruiser styling and an awe-inspiring engine and is superb for longer trips too. It’s not even that expensive, comparatively speaking.

      • Piglet2010

        The America and Speedmaster are comparable to the Sportster 883, Shadow 750, Boulevard C50, Star Bolt and Vulcan 900 in size, displacement, and price.

  • bbradsby

    For fresh design interpretation of the cruiser, Triumph et al need to look beyond imitation of HD form, feel, detail and silhouette which these obviously are, and look at the sparse customs that hipsters were creating from their machinery in the ’60s and ’70′s. Very original things were happening on those bikes with their light and airy feel, small, WWI/WWII-looking engine, a barrel oil tank, chopped & extended frame/forks, funky details… one only needs to be a bit creative.

    HD will rightly continue to squash all meek copycats, because theyre rip-offs of an original, The Motor Co has polished this schtick for a century, and cruiser dudes don’t want to be seen as copycats – they’re Outlaws (insert Trademark here). Full disclosure here: i don’t own HD stock and I ride only Ducatis.

  • Alec Boyle

    I’m confused – are the America and Speedmaster not cruisers?

    • Piglet2010

      They seem to have a cloaking device that negates their existence in the minds of the media – why we see the H-D 883 and Star Bolt being compared to the Bonnie instead of America and Speedmaster in some articles.

      • Alec Boyle

        It’s like they say, if a motorcycle doesn’t get worse gas mileage than an F250, it doesn’t exist.

  • mike

    I like the write up but the focus on boards is a little wonky. Select a test rider who likes cruisers. Also, the vague “subjective” styling choices go off as vague comments. Always be direct. People will understand perhaps your POV and will leave it a that. I ended up getting a R3T and it looks different and hauls buttocks. I’d like to see some break down of the models sold in the USA from Triumph.

  • Jonny Langston

    Nice job, Timmy. But you missed a helluva ride on Day 2!

  • scott

    I’d rather they bring back the Thunderbird Sport.

  • William Connor

    Very nice review. The style is definitely conservative but so are cruiser buyers by nature. They may add lot’s of baubles after purchase but the bike better look pretty normal when they go to buy it initially. I have ridden the Storm and it was a nice enough bike. Some of the best braking on a cruiser along with a very slick gear box. Not the best packaging, it sounds like Triumph upped the finish game on these two. I will certainly look them over at the local dealer.

  • cr0ft

    V-twins have a huge emotional appeal, but it’s not really a great way to design an engine, especially air-cooled. Harleys have to literally turn off the rear cylinder in stop/go traffic because otherwise it would proabably melt… I think there are lots of riders who like the cruiser style but prefer something that isn’t a Harley Davidson.

  • cr0ft

    Though the article is wrong, Triumph has had a cruiser on the US market before 2009; the Rocket III Touring is extremely similar to the new Thunderbird LT (many parts appear absolutely identical). The 140 cubic inch three-cylinder engine is just a fair bit less conventional.