Long-Term Bikes: 2010 Triumph Thunderbird


2010 Triumph Thunderbird
MSRP: $12,799

Caretaker: Zimmerman

Measurements: 6'/190 lbs./33-in. inseam


Total Miles: 7046

All good things must come to end, and so what's now my favorite long-term test bike of all time has to be returned. For the curtain call, the Bird and I flew down Skyline Drive, over the Blue Ridge Parkway and across the "Dragon." Before we left our local Triumph shop, Branchville Motors spooned on a new set of skins, and replaced the rear pads, which had worn themselves to a frazzle. They also changed the oil and filter. The original tires had some life left, though how much is debatable, and I didn't want to find out in the middle of a slippery turn somewhere on the Blue Ridge.

Other than that, the T-bird was as reliable as the proverbial anvil, though much more fun to ride. Part of the fun came from the conversations. At nearly every stop, someone would question me about the bike. It's been a long time since any bike I've ridden generated that kind of interest.

Despite being freighted down with gear, the T-Bird made short work of the Blue Ridge climbs, and got two hundred miles to the tank. I was also impressed with the handling, especially on my ride down the "Dragon." True, I rode it like a guy that was by himself and over a thousand miles from home, meaning I tempered my enthusiasm with some common sense. That being said, the bike got around those switchbacks in a sporty manner without doing anything dramatic, although there was one point where we passed a squid on a 600cc sportbike that had badly misjudged his ability to pilot a motorcycle.

If I did the same 2600 miles over again, I'd opt for the larger touring shield and maybe a gel seat, but otherwise, I wouldn't change a thing.

In short, the T-Bird is a true do-it-all motorcycle, equally at home out on a Sunday ride, commuting to work, or touring the hinterlands. It also has a certain cachet that I find refreshing. In my book, those are excellent reasons for buying one, which I would if I could. It will be missed.


TOTAL $644