Being an automotive journalist it is easy and at the same time hard to choose a ride for your own(except your dream rides). It is easy as we are dealing with the reviews from owners, mechanics and other road expertise on a daily basis. Also, it is pretty difficult in the sense that being an automobile journalist it is our responsibility to pick a good machine from the market. People might follow our footprints with the conviction and faith in our decision. Therefore, here in this article section, I am sharing my personal experience and reasons for opting Royal Enfield Thunderbird 350 as my next personal ride.
I am an automotive engineer by profession and my love for automobiles originated way back in the high schooling days. I wasn't a cold blooded fan of motorcycles until I joined the Bikes4Sale. However, my engineering friends used to have few Enfields like the Classic 350, Bullet 350, Electra and we used to do road trips and long distance rides once in every two months or more. During this course of time, I came across riding myself a Royal Enfield and loved the way of motorcycling culture for the first time in my life. Moreover, my beloved friends used to customise their rides in their own unique way to suit their kind of riding styles which had attracted me a lot towards this machine. My desire for an Enfield was anchored by the riding culture that Enfield offers to its fellow riders.
However, none of my friends had a Thunderbird and everyone keeps on rejecting it and bought the much popular Classic and Bullet 350s. Like them, I also preferred to buy a Classic 350 or 500 one day. Although, my perspective towards the Thunderbird had changed when I learned more and more about this model. According to my knowledge, the Thunderbird 350 & 500 is the most advanced and well-refined machine that Royal Enfield has ever built in recent times. Unlike the Classic and Bullet, the TBs had got stiffer rear swingarm with rear disc brake, large 20-litre fuel tank, projector headlamps, a well-raised handlebar suiting the cruising characters, advanced console featuring a clock, trip meter, service indicator and above all a fuel gauge, that the brand has been lacking for their popular models. A well-cushioned rider sear and pillion seat with backrest support enhances its comfort level. Along with that, the latest Thunderbird comes in 5 vibrant colours with a black matte finished engine compartment to intensify its aesthetics. Most importantly, the two basic points I would like to quote here is; 1) I had already decided in the graduation days to own an Enfield for myself. 2) Among the Enfields, I think Thunderbird 350 is the most advanced and perfect motorcycle that suits my need. Now, I am eager to join the pack of two Desert Storms, four Electras, five Bullet 350s, one Bullet 500 and six Classic 350s with the only Thunderbird 350.
Why Thunderbird 350 over much powerful Thunderbird 500?
Yes, Thunderbird 500 gets much powerful 499cc, single cylinder engine with advanced fuel injection system. Moreover, the power and torque figures of the 500 really meet the exact power to weight ratio of the bike. Despite the fact that, 500 is power powerful and has got fuel injection system I decided to go for 350. According to me, the budget was in and around 1.50 lakhs and the Thunderbird 350 falls at 1.64 lakhs which weren't a burden. However, the extra 50000 rupees to spend on the TB 500 wasn't so welcoming for my pocket. Moreover, the technical anomalies with the fuel injection system of the TB 500 really helped me to stay on the TB 350. Afterall, TB 350 gets the conventional carburettor which is less complicated and can be easily repaired.
What about the new Bajaj Dominar 400
During each and every stages of my decision making, my friends used to suggest Dominar 400. It is a power cruiser and most advanced and powerful machine that Bajaj has ever built. On sheets and on roads, Dominar surpasses the entire Enfield clan in every means. It features the powerful 373cc, single cylinder engine from the Austrian made KTM along with Dual channel ABS and Slipper Clutch. To make it even more interesting, Bajaj had priced this piece at an amazing 1.55 lakhs (ex-showroom) to tackle down the strong Enfield market. Previously, I had a chance to test ride the Dominar 400 and I liked the way that Bajaj has improved its standards in engineering and designing.
Altogether, every odds here lands at the Dominar 400 for a potential buyer looking for a 250cc+ motorcycle priced under 2 lakhs. However, beyond every conviction, the brand value and the reliability that RE offers is something which one cannot make on a single day. One of the many issues that Bajaj has been facing through ages is their unreliable gearboxes. More or less, it is not the same exact engine and the transmission found in the Duke 390. The Bajaj engineers had re-tuned this with their Triple Spark Technology to bring this down to their level.
If I had enough sum to spend and an alternative 150-200cc motorbike, I would rather pick the Duke 390 without any second thinking but not the Dominar 400. Few may think that I have made a wrong decision by choosing TB 350 over Dominar 400. For those people, I would say TB 350 is a much-matured motorcycle which is equally good on and off the road with a reliable engine and gearbox.
Read: Bajaj Dominar Test Ride Review
Why didn't you consider Mahindra Mojo as an option?
For me, Mahindra Mojo is a far better motorcycle than Dominar 400, although it lacks the ABS, Slipper Clutch and much powerful engine. Mojo is a purpose built vehicle and it is a perfect tourer. The riding dynamics, seating posture and the handling are simply superb. However, the 2.1 lakh pricing was a let off for the Mojo. Furthermore, I do recommend this machine to anyone who is looking for an affordable tourer.
Read:Mahindra Mojo Test Ride Report
As I have many RE enthusiasts and few mechanics in and around I am very well known about the issues and problems of this machine. Yes, it is an overpriced machine with less power, poor throttle response, massive engine vibration, high maintenance cost and outdated engineering.
From my experience, I guess understanding your motorcycle plays a vital role in the long run. Always remember, an elephant is not tamed or cared in the same way we do with a cat or a cow. Like that, an Enfield is not supposed to ride or treat the way we do with the Yamaha FZ or Duke 200.
After keeping everything aside, Royal Enfield is one of the oldest motorcycle brands in the world which continues to sell their products globally without any roadblocks. The road presence, Enfield offers is truly irreplaceable and it is beyond every petty convention. Chosen by many, this royal motorcycle continues to excite its pride owners of every new generation.
Also Read: Royal Enfield: A Cult Beyond Petty Conventions