Royal Enfield is on a roll at the moment. Its new 650 twins were one of the talking points of EICMA last year and now it’s revealed the new Thunderbird X models in India.
The new Thunderbird X machines, available in 350 or 500cc forms, derive from the existing Thunderbird cruiser. But some mild styling tweaks manage to completely change their appearance. Where the Thunderbird is a single-cylinder, cruiser-style bike, the Thunderbird X adds bold colours in place of chrome to give a far more modern feel. Enfield has replaced the wire wheels of the normal Thunderbird with alloys and tubeless tyres. A sporty, sculpted seat replaces the trad-style original one. But the overall effect is far greater than these changes suggest.
Royal Enfield has completely eliminated the chrome, replacing it with either black or body-coloured elements. It’s a fun look that’s a far cry from the wannabe cruiser style of the original.
Underneath, it’s business as usual. The Thunderbird X machines use Enfield’s usual air-cooled, twin-spark single. In the 500X it’s a 499cc 27.2bhp unit, while the 350X makes do with 246cc and 19.8bhp. Don’t expect a lot of performance.
The motor bolts to the Thunderbird’s steel tube frame, with 41mm forks and twin shocks. Wheels are 19in at the front and 18in at the rear, with a single 280mm front disc and 240mm rear. Kerb weight is 197kg for the 500X, 195kg for the 350X.
At the moment it seems unlikely that the Thunderbird X will make it to Europe. There’s no ABS and it’s not clear that the engine will meet Euro4 limts; Enfield would need to make big changes to make it Europe-legal, and since sales might not be high enough to justify the cost they’re unlikely to happen. But it’s another notable marker in Enfield’s progress towards being an ever more relevant bike firm nonetheless. And – along with the Himalayan – shows that it’s not purely obsessed with its 1960s heritage.