Been three years with the Harley Davidson Superlow 883.
I have been itching to get me a bigger bike. The choices ranged from a Street Bob to a Fat Boy. Was seriously contemplating buying a Fat Boy when the opportunity to buy a Triumph Thunderbird Storm LT presented itself.
The bike was eye-poppingly gorgeous. That was it, the decision was made and I have got myself a seriously big cruise bike.
The Triumph Thunderbird Storm LT.
Engine capacity and weight wise it is more than 2x my Harley Superlow. 1700 CC and more than 400 KGs (when loaded).
(Aside: This takes the family count to 3 🙂 )
Predictably, I was a little skeptical of how I will be able to handle it. While I am bigger than the average Joe, 400Kg + of bike is seriously BIG.
This Wednesday I got an opportunity to take the bike on a big broad road, thanks to my office offsite.
Rode it out of JP Nagar for the first time. Out on to the airport road. Having reached close to the destination well ahead of time, I decided to go and cruise some miles on the Hyderabad highway. It was a great opportunity to experience the ride. Got an opportunity to open the throttle a bit and feel the wind. It was fluidity in motion.
Next day the off-site ended around 5-30 pm, giving me the opportunity to ride the beast in total peak hour traffic. Something that I was dreading.
Here are my thoughts after my first real ride on the Thunderbird LT.
Obviously, the bike is really heavy to move around from a stationery position. Especially if you are trying to back out of a parking. The Superlow itself is a bit heavy to pull out of parking and this one is seriously tough. So, whenever looking to park this baby, have to make sure that I can come out of the parking easily enough. Most often though try and park in reverse, facing the way you will be heading out.
Because it is so heavy, like all cruisers you need to make sure the bike is vertical at point of stopping or even slowing down. And preferably, keep it in a straight line. In peak hour traffic, straight line was the toughest challenge.
But once you are on the move, my word, the Thunderbird LT can eat up the road like nobody’s business.
The seating position is perfect, keeps your relaxed and the back straight. The stock seat has plenty of cushion and good back support built-in, the pillion seat adds further support too. The foot boards just make the whole ride so much more comfortable, never thought it would make so much of difference. Would expressly recommend, all those wanting to do long rides, to immediately upgrade pegs to boards. Seriously.
Now to speak of the power. Even in low gears, steering from a standstill, the bike can literally rocket off. The size and comfortable stance belies the kind of Torque and power it generates. In most cases you will leave the rest of the people at the signal staring in awe, unless there be superbikes.
Once in motion the bike handles like a dream, you have immense power available to you in almost all gears, so you can cruise and rev up whenever you want. More than once I just kicked the bike in to 20kph more by just revving a little bit. This worked even in fifth gear, did not get a chance to get to the 6th.
It is totally planted and rock solid on the road (plus side of the 400+ Kg), I hit a few bumps and a couple of potholes, did not have any impact in the least. The clearance is pretty good too, did not scrape any speed-breakers. Riding the Superlow for 3 years I am very conscious of speed breakers and the clearance, you can say I have developed serious respect for them.
The bumps and speed breakers gave an opportunity to get a feel for the shock-absorbers. They are good, you can feel the cushioning of the bump. They are really soft on the bumps, but not so responsive that they act as a damper on normal speed and uneven roads.
I also loved the ability of the bike to take curves, the weight comes in handy of course. While I did not go on any hills, just the usual sweeping turns on the highway. I found that I did not need to adjust anything to hold a line through the curves. Just lean on the handle bars a little and you are in business. Need to do some hill riding to get the hang of it though.
Need to figure a way to get someone to photograph me on one of these long sweeping highway curves.
The one issue I did find was with the handling at very low speeds. As I was stuck in traffic on the Hebbal flyover, I had plenty of opportunity to test this out as well. The handle bar wobbles and needs really firm handling, pressuring your arms.
Heating, peak traffic gives one the chance to really test the heating effect. Given the size of the engine, it was not too bad really. Especially when compared to the air cooled Harley I have been riding. Of course, this is liquid cooled with a huge radiator up front. However, it did get uncomfortable, so much that after an hour of riding in first and second gear I actually stopped for a few minutes to cool myself and the bike down. So, not really a bike for that city commute.
Last but not the least is the road presence. No one can ‘not notice’ this bike on the road. The massive size, the sheer volume of air it occupies is enough. The curves, the blue-white color, the windshield, the saddle bags, the lights all lend to the uber-cool look on the road. Then to add to it is the sound of twin engines revving.
All in all it is an awesome bike.
Here is to many many miles to go.
Ride Hard, Ride Safe!