2010 Triumph Thunderbird
July 26, 2009 9:01 PM
Triumph originated the "Thunderbird" moniker, later licensing it to Ford to use on one of their new car models.
When John Bloor pulled Triumph out of receivership in 1983, he knew he needed a new production strategy to compete with the Japanese, while continuing Triumph's distinctive tradition as the world's longest continuous production motorcycle manufacturer. After prodigious research, Bloor decided to adapt state-of-the-art Japanese production techniques, while returning to Triumph's roots to revive its most famous model names.
Created to appeal to the U.S. market's appetite for long distance riding, the Triumph Thunderbird first hit American shores in 1946. Lauded for its styling, agility and speed, the Thunderbird would soon gain iconic status when Marlon Brando rode the two-cylinder, 650cc 1950 Thunderbird 6T in the classic outlaw biker film "The Wild One." Ironically, British censors deemed the film scandalous, and banned its exhibition in Britain for 14 years.
While looking for a motorcycle to straddle the gap between the 863cc Bonneville and the gargantuan 2,300cc Rocket III, Triumph decided to re-envision the Thunderbird yet again, this time with the all new fuel-injected 1600cc, 98 cubic inch T-16 engine. The largest production parallel twin in the world, the water-cooled T-16 produces 85 hp and 108 ft.lbs. of torque. In a first for Triumph, a belt drives power to a six-speed gearbox, featuring another first, helically cut gears. A cushy 200 mm rear tire helps smooth out the road; dual front discs are standard, while ABS is available as an additional option.
American Tim Prentice jumped the pond to design the Thunderbird to be easily customized. A long list of over 100 accessories includes a long haul touring seat, leather saddle bags, and a big bore kit to take your horsepower over the century mark. This new Thunderbird may be a radical departure from its forebears, but it promises to live up to its legacy of cool, utilizing the best that modern technology has to offer.