The biggest question asked around is which Enfield to buy. The same question was in my mind couple of years ago when I had to buy myself a new RE. I did some research, did rides on both of them and finally here is my take on which one you should buy.
So, Thunderbird or Classic?
Talking about the engine, both of them come in 350 CC and 500 CC variants. The Classic 350 cc generates maximum Power of 19.8 bhp @ 5250 rpm and Torque of 28 Nm @ 4000 rpm whereas Classic 500 maximum Power of 27.2 bhp @ 5250 rpm and Torque of 41.3 Nm @ 4000. The same goes for the Thunderbird 350 and 500 cc variants. Hence, there is no difference in the engine. The biggest difference is in the fuel supply system. The 350 cc of both have a carburetor while the 500 cc ones have EFI which is Digital.
Now, going by my experience, I would any day prefer carburetor over EFI in the RE because we all know how RE’s R&D department works. I have many friends and fellow riders who faced a lot of issues in the EFI which costs a bomb to replace (any mechanic will not even touch it). Many of them have replaced the EFI with carburetor.
It depends on what kind of rider you are, for city limits, classic is more comfortable… add a highway and TB is more comfortable. Classic’s maneuverability is better in traffic than TB but it all comes down to your riding posture and riding technique. (Do a test ride for that). Seats, handlebars and accessories are all available out there to make things comfortable.
After market accessories and service –
I would rate both almost equally. Because as on today, tons of accessories are available in the market both of the motorcycles. The classic might have a 1 point advantage though simple based on the fact – it’s just too common now. Everyone has a classic for crying out loud! Even those pseudo and kid riders who need a bullet to show off! You know who I am talking about, right? Yep, those!
Now, the biggest difference is in the looks. The Classic is the new version of the old retro RE look. The one called “Bult” in Punjab. The stance is that of a macho street motorcycle. The Classic 350 is the unsung hero of the Royal Enfield range. It is the Classic 350 that makes up the numbers since it is the most selling motorcycle for RE. Its retro styling combined with the relatively affordable price tag have made it the highest-selling RE model so far. Plus it has most re-sale value than the Thunderbird.
On the other hand, the thunderbird is sold by RE as a cruiser. Where classic has stayed in the same shape since it was launched (except the new colours), the T-bird (as it is called) has received many uplifts and facelifts. It was first launched in 2000, then first update came in 2009 with the UCE (unit construction engine) and then in 2012 another update came in featuring a teardrop shaped fuel tank, digital instruments and fuel gauge and a projector headlamp. Additionally, the motorcycle gets an LED tail light and a few other cosmetic enhancements which is the current setup. Personally speaking, the models after 2013 are better than the old ones. The 2011 to 2013 had major oil issues. The T-bird is being sold as a cruiser which I think is ridiculous. It may be a semi-cruiser but nothing more than that
The major upgrades of TB from Classic are – LED lights, Projector Headlamp, Rear Disc Brakes (which come in some of the classic models too), Digital instrument panel with trip, mileage, etc (the fuel gauge sucks, trust me). My personal favourite is the emergency parking lights which help during night rides. Also, beware the headlamp on the TB comes with non-removable mirror so if anything happens (rare) you will have to either go for aftermarket products or change whole headlamp setup. The other thing I liked in the TB is the black engine 😛
Speaking of which, next is. ..
Now, one thing RE has mastered in all these years (wish they mastered in updating engine and build material and design) is the color of the motorcycles.
I have never seen other motorcycle brand offering fucking so many colours. Every year there is a new colour. Don’t believe me? Check this out –
Colors for Classic – 17 colors! Beat that!
- Squadron Blue (500cc)
- Desert Storm (500cc)
- Chrome (500cc) – It has 3 sub colours – Black, Graphite, Green
- Battle Green (500cc – Only available for the defence services or outside India)
- Normal 500cc – Silver, Black, Tan
- Normal 350 cc (Fuck me!) – Ash, Chestnut, Lagoon, Silver, Black, Redditch Red, Redditch Green, Redditch blue
Colors for T-Bird – 10 colors! Still not less!
- Stone (500cc and 350 cc) – Matt Black. (I ride this one)
- Marine (500cc and 350 cc) – Blue
- Lightning (500cc and 350 cc) – Glossy Graphite
- Flicker (500cc and 350 cc) – Glossy black
- Asphalt (500cc and 350 cc) – kinda green
Final verdict –
At the end it all comes down to one thing – how you want to ride the RE. If you are looking for daily commute and less long rides, I would suggest go for Classic 350. If you are looking for more long rides and occasional city rides, I would prefer TB 350.
If you want to look macho (lol) and want that retro look, go for Classic and if you want to stand out a little and need higher stance with a bit off-road capability, go for TB. TB does better off-road, personally speaking. Take it anywhere.
If you need more power go for 500cc but I would rather suggest buy Himalayan for 500 cc bracket. Both classic and Thunderbird in 500cc suck. Load of issues.