Triumph Thunderbird Commander Review, Long and Low Cruiser !

Triumph have used the Thunderbird name on and off since 1949. The first was a version of the cutting-edge Speed Twin. Post-collapse, the first Hinckley-produced Thunderbird was a retro triple. Since then the name has been applied to a variety of increasingly retro and/or cruiser-ish bikes. 

Today the Thunderbird family consists of the 1597cc Thunderbird and four 1699cc variants: the Storm (different wheels, meaner looks); Nightstorm (meaner still); this Triumph Thunderbird Commander (different seat, lights and exhaust); and also the LT (screen and panniers).

Prices start at £11,699 and go up to £14,499 for the Thunderbird LT. They’re all more expensive and bigger in every way than Triumph’s Bonneville-based cruisers, the Speedmaster and America. The Triumph Thunderbird Commander is a well-made, cleverly executed bike that’s easy to enjoy. Like all naked cruisers the riding position discourages high speeds, but still lets you enjoy the acceleration instantly available from that torquey but smooth big parallel twin. It doesn’t have the quirkiness of Harley-Davidson’s V-twins, but is on a par with the engaging engines of Victory and Indian.

If you accept it’s mostly about chugging around, the Triumph Thunderbird Commander can be comfortable and relaxed. Your feet aren’t too far forward on the footboards and your hands are wide apart but always feeling in control. The bike’s considerable length comes not from its forks being raked out, but from a long frame. Fork geometry is relatively conventional, and it corners accordingly. The brakes are more than up to the job and the suspension is unruffled by bumpy British B-roads.

It’s a matter of opinion, but to me the Triumph Thunderbird Commander looks a little ungainly, with gaps in front of the tank, a long distance between the cylinders and the shocks, and the fork shrouds making the chromed headlamps disappear from some angles. The LT’s screen and panniers make better use of that otherwise largely vacant real estate.

Specs :

Engine : 1699cc Parallel Twin, DOHC, 4-Valve per Cylinder, Liquid Cooled
Power : 93 HP @ 5.400 RPM
Torque : 111lb.ft @ 3.550 RPM
Transmission : 6-speed, Belt Drive
Chassis : Steel Twin Spine
Front Suspension : 47mm Forks, 120mm Travel
Rear Suspension : Twin Shocks, Adjustment Preload
Front Brakes : 310mm Discs, 4-Piston Calipers
Rear Brake : 310mm Disc, 2-Piston Caliper
Front Tyre : 140/75 - ZR17
Rear Tyre : 200/50 - ZR17
Wheelbase : 1665mm
Rake/Trail : 30.1°/135mm
Seat height : 700mm
Kerb Weight : 348Kg
Fuel Capacity : 22 Litres

Price : £13,499