Like a Train: Triumph Thunderbird LT First Ride

Triumph T'bird LT_007
It is big, butch and moves as if it’s on rails. Ladies and gentlemen, we ride the Triumph Thunderbird LT

Story: Ravi Chandnani
Photography: Rommel Albuquerque

It’s intimidating, this overly chrome-laden Triumph Thunderbird LT (Light Touring). It is big, has white-wall tyres, wide bars, a huge tank, a massive twin-cylinder engine, and a lot of chrome to put American bling to shame. But it’s essentially a British motorcycle that has so obsessively engulfed itself in the American dream that it hardly looks British. But that is exactly what Triumph were aiming for. They wanted to woo the Yanks with something completely over-the-top and the LT does that with extreme finesse.

It’s like complex fusion cuisine; a beautiful mix of two very different cultures. It is an enriching concoction with superb ingredients such as brilliant British engineering well-treated with excessive American zing and finely plated by a British company which now serves it in India. And it’s YUM!

It has got all the right elements of a true-blue American cruiser. Sickening amount of chrome, a menacing stance and then there is the world’s biggest parallel-twin motor that powers this beautiful depiction of a sophisticated long-haul touring machine. Besides, it’s heavy like a freight train on two-wheels.

As I was gazing at this giant, which had occupied the parking space for a small car, I was magically transported back to the 1950s. I wasn’t born then, but those huge handlebars, leather saddle-bags, wide and comfy saddle, enormous speedo cluster on the massive tank, beautiful two-tone colour scheme, metal fenders, wire wheels and classic white-wall AVON tyres painted a fairly reasonable image of the glorious era when these bikes dominated the minds and souls of many bikers all over the world.

I was brought back to reality when the sound of chaotic Gurgaon traffic hit my ears. It was time for me to get astride the LT and face the jarring reality called Indian traffic. I quickly settled in the comfy saddle with both my feet firmly on the ground. Saddle height is perfect and even shorter riders would face no problem in reaching terra firma while being seated on this monster. Ergonomics are brilliant as well. You don’t have to stretch your limbs to reach the bars or the wide foot-boards. Everything simply falls in place just the way it should.

I thumbed that starter button to turn the massive engine on to hear the majestic sound emitted by those gleaming chrome exhaust pipes. But to my surprise, it did not sound majestic at all. It sounded rather sedate as if Triumph forgot that the Americans, and many Indians, like motorcycles that would scare the living daylights out of their neighbours. However, it did sound good when I dialled in the revs, though most of the time it was just a faint thumping sound my ears had to be content with.
Triumph T'bird LT_180


More on page 2

I am fascinated by every aspect of a motorcycle, regardless of their genre. I am insanely crazy about motorcycles!

Bike India Magazine
Automotive Division
Next Gen Publishing Limited

Ravi Chandnani – who has written posts on Bike India.


  1.'Capt Ankur Agarwal says

    Very nicely written. I have the same bike and I loved it over Harley mainly for the sound as i dont like cruisers to make thundering noise as the long touring gets uncomfy with the sound ripping apart the ears. Also the seats were very comfy and then the pick up and braking is far more superior than any other cruiser in India as it gives a lot of confidence while riding this heavy machine.

  2.'Donald says

    I’ve had the LT in the U.S. for a year, with 6,000 miles on it and it’s a superb machine. If you want more sound (I did) put on the Triumph Off Road Silencers (TORS) with the Stage 1 Download. That will make it a more proper sounding bike…not obnoxious, but loud enough to rumble and give you a 5-6 extra HP to move this beast even more quickly. As the review stated, the ride and handling (and the retro style, fit and finish) are worth the price of admission for a cruiser. And if you tour, you’ll keep going in comfort. I’ve ridden many cruisers but have had none that combined the power and handling like this one–especially for an impressively large machine.

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