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Discussion Starter #1
Anyone who's spent much time riding their Thunderbird on unpaved roads,I would really appreciate hearing how it goes.

Here in Northern NSW Australia I often need to spend some time on gravel roads to get where I'm going and I'm wondering if I should consider a Bonneville rather than the TBird.

I guess Ikon progressive shocks might help?

Also a more general question; How well does the TBird do the job as a daily commuter, run to the shops collect child etc?

Thanks
 

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I really wouldnt want to ride mine on gravel roads. I have a gravel driveway about 1/2 mile then an other tar and chip road out to the pavement. The bike dosnt do bad on that but it is heavy and for me a heavy bike isnt what you want for gravel only roads.

As far as using it to run all my errands and pick up some groceries its great. with a backrest and the trunk rack I dont just stop for one or two items. I actually get my groceries and bring them home.
 

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I would bet a lighter bike and maybe consider an on/off road combination tire with a bit more aggressive tread.
 

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Just purchased a TBird after owning ( still do ) an America. I have done a fair bit of gravel on the America and only a little bit on the TB. So far the TB feels more stable at low speeds so would assume it will be better at speed. My driveway is gravel ( less than 1/2 km). The only problem i have come up against is when you go from the tarmac to the gravel when pulling over. Because of the weight, you need to take a bit more care than on a Bonnie. A totally different bike and a superior riding experience on the Thunderbird. IMHO.
Cheers
 

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Discussion Starter #6
Thanks for all your comments, I traded in my R1200GS for the TBird today so we will see how it goes. Thanks for your positive comment Moses62, that was good news. I am well experienced on gravel roads with the GS +8 years so if the TBird doesn't have any inherent gravel road nastiness in it, your comment gives me hope that I can manage.
 

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Discussion Starter #8
We do have awesome roads around here, but we like to travel and camp at various National Parks etc. Often the roads in the National Parks are gravel... and of course while travelling it is difficult to resist visiting places of natural beauty like waterfalls, remote beaches etc. which also take us on gravel roads at times.

Loving the Tbird so far on short local jaunts, looking forward to hitting the long road soon!
 

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Thanks for all the input on this subject as I am experiencing the same dilemma. As I posted on my first post, I am looking at the 01-06 955i Tiger's, the R1150GS, both Suzuki V-Stroms, and the 1986-90 Harley EVO XLH's. I like the looks of the 96-04 T-Bird's and Harley's best.
I am plaining on riding 90% back roads and the rest gravel/dirt roads when one comes up that looks interesting.
How does the T-Bird feel and handle on gravel/dirt roads and what mods would help to make it a better all-rounder?
 

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How does the T-Bird feel and handle on gravel/dirt roads and what mods would help to make it a better all-rounder?
It's a street bike. It is not meant to be an "all-rounder." That is what the Tiger is for. I can certainly appreciate that you want a Thunderbird since I own one myself, but let's not try to pretend that the designers ever intended for it to go off-road. Yeah you can do it, but there are better bikes for that purpose.
 

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Thanks Lantesh for your reply.
Knowing that the TBird was designed as a street bike, how does it handle on the back road twisties? I have been considering the 955i Tiger, R1150GS and 650 V-Strom, but as I mentioned I like the looks of the TBird, My first Triumph was a 68 TR6C. :) My other concerns are do I need ABS and the lack of dealer network in Michigan. The nearest dealer to me now is 1-1/4 hour drive, Triumph Detroit, Good people but a long way for parts & service.
 

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Thanks Lantesh for your reply.
Knowing that the TBird was designed as a street bike, how does it handle on the back road twisties? I have been considering the 955i Tiger, R1150GS and 650 V-Strom, but as I mentioned I like the looks of the TBird, My first Triumph was a 68 TR6C. :) My other concerns are do I need ABS and the lack of dealer network in Michigan. The nearest dealer to me now is 1-1/4 hour drive, Triumph Detroit, Good people but a long way for parts & service.
The Thunderbird will handle twisty roads just fine. If you've ever locked up the brakes on a bike and slid then you will appreciate the ABS on the Thunderbird. Lack of a local dealer is not the end of the world if you can find a good independent shop, but may cause issues regarding getting a recall handled.
 

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Argy The Tbird you are looking at is the "classic" 3 cylinder, not the big cruiser.


Check this forum: http://www.triumphrat.net/hinckley-classic-triples/


BTW: I've put Metzler tourances on my bonnie. They look a bit "old school," they are great on gravel and fire roads, are pretty good in ice and snow if I'm careful and I haven't lost any traction on the highway!
 

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I think I know the kinds of gravel roads being discussed here and I think the Tbird does great on them. I rode my Tbird through Rocky Mtn Ntnl Park and it was very stable on gravel roads. The center of gravity feels low and stable on gravel. I had a Tiger and loved it, but it's a tall bike and I would probably feel safer on the T bird. I accidentally rode over ice on the T bird (don't ask) and the thing was rock stable!
 

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Thanks everyone for your input. I do like the T-Bird's retro-looks and as most of my riding buddies will be on Harley's, for now, I think the T-Bird will do the trick. :)
Quick background info pertaining to myself;
I started riding at 6yrs on a Cushman Eagle then to a Honda 90, 65' BSA 650, 67' Bonnie, 68' TR6C, MX racing on, Yamaha 250 MX, Husky 450 MX, then short times on a 86' Honda V65 Saber, with test rides on the Tiger 800XC and BMW 1150 GS, and now back hopfully to a 95-04 Triumph T-bird or T-Bird Sport. I am 65 yrs old, 6'4" @ 250lbs, very active with a type A personality. My riding style will be that of two lane roads with twisties, meidum distance day rides and when an interesting dird/fire road presents it's self I'll, give it a go just for fun.

Sence I haven't found a used 96-04 TBird in my area to rest out I have some questions pertaining to the Tbird/TBird Sport;

1. What tires would be best for my type of riding.
2. What mods would work best for my riding parameters.
3. Does the T-Bird Sport have any different charistics, seat height, suspention, that might add to my style of riding.
4. Do any of the 96-04 T-Birds have ABS and is it a necesity?
PS I will not be riding fast power slides on the dirt roads! :rolleyes:
 

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Argy: I believe this is the Thunderbird you are talking about:


3 cylinder 885cc retro sport bike
It doesn't have abs.

My buddy is getting one. They are a great bike with a ton of personality.
Here is their forum http://www.triumphrat.net/hinckley-classic-triples/



This forum is for this version:


2 cyclinder 1600cc cruiser

But to answer your question:

Metzler Tourance tires would do fine on highway and gravel!


Here they are on my bonnie:
[/IMG]
 

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Discussion Starter #20
Well I have done about 1000km on my new TBird now and I am happy to say it is doing everything I had hoped it would better than I had hoped :)

Around town it is fun, in the awesome twisty roads we have around here I can do better than the speed limit *most* of the time without scraping the pegs (but this bike does scrape easily and roundabouts need to be approached at a very moderate speed). More than half the right feeler is gone already! I'm starting to get used to the lean angle now and can mostly anticipate an impending scrape.

Well graded gravel road doesn't seem to be a problem at all (except the cleaning afterwards!) but as soon as it gets a bit rutted or potholed the butt and kidneys take a severe beating. I wonder if Ikon progressive suspension will help with that? Anybody?
 
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