2018 Royal Enfield Thunderbird 500X first ride review.
5 (100%) 4 votes

Up till now, thunderbird possession has involved a straightforward set of rituals: purchase one, source aftermarket alloys for it, add supporting lamps and you’re good to go. But now, Royal Enfield is aware about these changes and is all set to step in and prevent you from the difficulty of a trip down aftermarket lane. Meet the thunderbird 500X – a refreshed, urban-focused, Royal Enfiled’s popular aspirer cruiser.

What’s new in this?

The first new thing is the “X”. What Enfield has attempted to achieve with the “X” is a contemporary-looking cruiser. Noticeable thing, is the paint job. Enfield has kept it bright and simple. Though it is clearly visible that it has drawn inspiration from the Triumph Street Twin.

You can choose from between two colour options- orange and blue. However, the fuel tank is the only recipient of these new colours, because rest of the part of the bike is black. The Thunderbird 500X comes with a 19/18-inch (front/rear) (tubeless) alloy tyres combo.

The headlight lens now gets a darker surrounding. And RE claims that it’ll provide a stronger contrast to the projector light and DRL. The headlight dome is neatly executed with a matte-black unit and gets a cool three-point bracket. The telescopic forks are blacked out too. The new handlebars are upright unit and are simple. Also new in the “500X” is a one-piece seat, which looks aesthetic and is well-finished. A nice, but minor detail on the seat is the stitching, which is matched with the colour of the fuel tank. Lastly, there isn’t a backrest any more, which means the bike ends in a tail-light unit but with a matte-black shroud, instead of chrome seen on the regular thunderbird. The sissy bar is mounted on a slightly-shortened rear fender. The grab-rails on this one have been neatly tucked in under the pillion seat.

Engines on this one is identical to the regular Thunderbird. Both new Thunderbird variants use the same motor and gearbox as the standard Thunderbird range does. The 350X is integrated with the 346cc motor from the initial Thunderbird 350, which makes 19.8hp and 28Nm of torque; while in the 500X power come from the 499cc motor from the standard Thunderbird 500, which produces 27.2hp and 41.3Nm of torque. Both motors are mated to the same five-speed gearbox.

Does ride on this one is different?

Since the Thunderbird 500X remains mechanically and dimensionally unaltered, so there’s not that much difference. Similar to the standard thunderbird this one also remains a motorcycle with an enjoyable ride quality and even the worst of Delhi’s roads and traffic didn’t affect its plushness. Those 19/18-inch wheel combo, respectively on front and rear (with tubeless tyres) works well. The wheels are tubeless MRF tyres – 90/90-19 (front), 120/80-18 (rear) – which offer decent grip. Although they aren’t the most confidence inspiring units on urban roads, and that too under hard braking. The 500X does get a disc at either end (280mm at the front, 240mm at the rear) though ABS will make debut next year.

The powerplant or i should say engine has a muffled thump to it and you will definitely enjoy its mild pulse at low revs. At revs higher than 3,500 rpm you’ll feel some vibrations at the at the handlebar and pegs. What i also found is that the gearshift offering needless travel. The new handlebar makes the 500X easier to manage. But if it RE tilt it closer to the rider it will make the Thunderbird more comfortable.


Who’s it for?

If you love the Enfield brand but can’t bear to keep chrome elements shiny and rust-free, the Thunderbird 500X is for you. It has its own character and attitude. The thunderbird has always been a decent highway companion with it’s 20 Litre fuel tank and 500X is no exception either. Since there’s no backrest, the second person will find it uncomfortable. The grab rails present on the bike are not that good and could have been positioned better. However, in all the bike is good. And the Thunderbird 500X is RE’s most expensive bike on sale in the country right now.

Should you buy one?

A big yes. If you aren’t a fan of the smaller-displacement cruisers like Bajaj Avenger and Suzuki Intruder, then this one is for you. It’s cool, has a great design while still staying characteristically laid-back and relaxed. The Thunderbird 500X is priced at Rs.1.98 lakh making it Rs.8,000 expensive than the standard. The hike in this one is quite fair. You’ll get factory-fitted alloys and tubeless tyres. And the most important thing? After buying this one you’re good to go to a trip to Leh Ladakh.


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