There are many different types of motorcycles, each designed with a definitive purpose or riding style in mind, obviously intended to suit varied types of riders. Triumph offers a lineup of models in several categories including: Adventure and Touring; Roadsters and Supersport; Cruisers; and Classics. Many years ago, I used to ride a Triumph Bonneville – I don’t recall the specific model designation because it wasn’t my bike, but I do remember that in its day, it was both stylish and quick – definitely a bike to aspire to. It still is today and it’s available in three trim levels.
Now, I’m more of a cruiser or touring bike kind of guy, and I hadn’t thrown a leg over a Triumph for a very long time, so I was looking forward to doing so. The bike chosen for me to review was the 2012 Triumph Thunderbird Storm – one badass cruiser actually, based on the Thunderbird model, but with a great deal more attitude and more power to go along with it. I made arrangements to pickup my press bike from local dealer, Ace Motorsports of Concord, CA. The operations general manager was totally pumped about the bike, explaining that he was normally not a big fan of cruisers, but that the T-Bird Storm was enough to make him consider becoming a cruiser convert. Okay, he’s supposed to say things like that given his position, but he spoke the truth. After filling out the necessary paperwork, we walked out to the bike for a brief rundown.
At first glance, the bike displays a look that is perhaps even beyond sinister. It comes only in two versions of black – Matte Black and Jet (gloss) black. My T-Bird Storm test bike was done in the Matte Black finish, with blacked out engine, cases, covers and wheels, while only a minimal amount of chrome bling appears on the bike’s exhaust, handlebars, shock coil caps and non-locking fuel filler cap. Think of the T-Bird Storm as a stealth cruiser (except for the throaty exhaust note).
The fuel tank is large, (5.8 gallon capacity) sitting behind the swept-back drag-style handlebars, which are positioned aft of the dual headlights. A large solo saddle is backed by a passenger pillion with a strap handle. The pillion provides some lumbar support for the rider. Footpegs serve both rider and passenger, with the rider’s pegs positioned just ahead of center.
Power for the T-Bird Storm is delivered by a 1699cc liquid-cooled, DOHC parallel twin with multipoint sequential electronic fuel injection and progressive throttle linkage, chromed twin-skin stainless steel 2 into 1 into 2 tandem large volume catalysts in centralized catbox and chrome dual side pipes that exit into large, tapered megaphone-style tips. The motor is 100cc larger than the base model Thunderbird and generates 97 horsepower along with 115 pound feet of torque. That motive force is metered through a six-speed constant mesh transmission with helical type gears for 2nd through 6th gears, reaching the rear wheel via a primary gear drive to the final drive toothed belt.
The T-Bird Storm is based on a 63.6-inch wheelbase, is 92.1-inches long overall and tips the scale at 746 pounds wet and rolls on Metzler Marathon ME 880 rubber – 120/70 R19 front / 200/50 R17 rear, mounted on 5-spoke alloy wheels – 3.5-inches wide up front and 6-inches aft. Suspension consists of Showa front 47 mm inverted forks with black lowers and 120mm of travel and Showa black spring twin shocks with a 5-position adjustable preload and 95mm of rear wheel travel.
Braking chores are handled by twin 310mm floating discs with Nissin 4-piston fixed calipers in the front and a single 310mm fixed disc with a Brembo 2-piston floating caliper out back, with ABS optionally available.
My matte Black finished T-Bird Storm came with a base price of $14,799. Which on average will come to Roughly $16,099 after dealer prep and handling. The seat height of 27.5-inches is adjustable for riders of varying height.
The Triumph Thunderbird Storm differs in its design from today’s classically styled Bonneville models. It definitely comes across with more of an attitude, reflected by its bad-boy cruiser stance and form.
The riding position is comfortable, sitting down low into the seat, for a lower center of gravity. Handling characteristics are sporty and nimble, with excellent balance and a feeling of constant control, whether riding fast and furious or maneuvering about slowly in tight quarters. The handlebars and footpegs are placed for optimum ease of reach. Acceleration off the line is rapid and the power band is broad and steady in virtually every gear.
While I’m a big fan of the nostalgic, old school recreations in Triumph’s Bonneville lineup, the T-Bird Storm carves its own niche, looking like a heavy cruiser, while handling with the finesse of a sport bike. Yes it’s heavier than most sport bikes, but once you’re off and rolling, its mass is nearly imperceptible.
I didn’t care for the dual headlights initially, but they began to grow on me after awhile. In the final analysis, the Triumph Thunderbird Storm provides a great ride and its price is within reason considering its performance level.