2018 Royal Enfield Thunderbird 500X Review

The Royal Enfield Thunderbird is the motorcycle that young Royal Enfield buyers love to customise. But now , it comes ready with a company warranty. Royal Enfield has effectively cut out the customiser from the formula by offering the same changes straight from the factory. With the new Thunderbird X, Royal Enfield is offering a sporty cruiser without compromising on the old school charm of Royal Enfield. They say “the Thunderbird 500X is aimed at ‘urban explorers’ – young city slickers for whom motorcycling is a lifestyle choice and not just a means of commute”

Is the Thunderbird X really for the millennials? Let’s try and find that out.

Design And Styling

Royal Enfield’s main focus while designing the Thunderbird X was to make the motorcycle look energetic and young. ” It’s all in the looks”

  • Royal Enfield offers four new paint options – Getaway Orange and Drifter Blue for the Thunderbird 500X and Whimsical White and Roving Red for the Thunderbird 350X.
  • These paint job only covers the 20-litre fuel tank, rest of body the including mechanicals, mudguards, headlamp casing, side panels and exhaust are all blacked-out making it look youthful and appealing.

  • Colour-matched rim-stripes and stitching detail on the seat trim brings a neo-retro style to this zingy bike.
  • The seats are now a single-piece unit, which gets firmer cushioning and a central patch featuring a fabric piece for comfort during long hours in urban conditions. The new seat profile is comfortable and has good grip, it looks much sleeker  and sporty than the super soft ones on the standard Thunderbird .

  • The cruiser handlebar has been replaced by a shorter handlebar in black finish, which offers a more upright riding posture and helps to flick around in traffic.
  • The Thunderbird 500X also features 9-spoke alloy wheels and tubeless tyres.
  • The Thunderbird 500X gets two blacked-out grab rails on either side of the pillion seat. These feel good to hold and also give the rear a sleek look.
  • The signature rounded headlamp with LED DRLs (Daytime Running Lights) gets blacked-out finish.

Engine And Performance

Mr X  has no mechanical changes . It gets the same 499cc air-cooled fuel-injected single cylinder powerplant, which douses out 27.5 horses and 41.3Nm of peak torque, mated to the same 5-speed gearbox.

The dimensions are also same. Kerb weight is also identical to the Thunderbird 500 at 197 kgs. So, with no change in performance you will love all you loved in standard Thunderbird and hate what all you hated in it .

We noted a top speed of 120 kmph. In our economy run, it had returned fuel efficiency figures of 30 kmpl in the city and 35 kmpl on the highway.

 Ride Quality And Handling

The 500X uses the Thunderbird 500’s chassis so the rides and handling are similar to  standard Thunderbird . The riding position has changed in a much sportier manner, thanks to the new handlebar. The more aggressive riding position gets you closer to the action and the new handlebar gives that extra fun on the road. On corners if you get too adventurous,  footpegs will scrape hence massive doping is not recommended .

The footpegs still use the relaxed forward-set position which will be comfortable on longer rides. The motorcycle gets the same suspension set up and it absorbs smaller and moderate bumps positively.  The front-end does feel a bit lighter to steer through. Braking is managed by 280mm front and 240mm rear disc brakes .

Cons

  •  The paint finish on the fuel tank could have been better
  •  exposed wiring eats  the premium look of the bike
  •  mirrors  are useless between 2,000-3,000rpm due to vibration
  • the vibrations can be felt on the handlebar, instrument cluster and  footpegs above 2500 rpm
  •  It still does not get ABS even as a option
  •  awkwardly high-positioned gear shifter makes it difficult to shift with riding boots

Worth the Extra Money ?

Yes !! Definitely . If you are in the market for a sporty looking scrambler styled bike that handles well on city traffic and provides good long rides experience then this can be the perfect pick for you. Priced at Rs 1.98 lakhs (ex-showroom) roughly Rs 8,000 more than the Thunderbird 500, you get alloy wheels, a cleaner look, neo retro colour options along and a ride suited for urban conditions.

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Author: Abdul Ahad Siddique

Managing Editor

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