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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
I've been on the Bonneville forum since May, 2005, and have gained a good understanding of the bike's strong and weak points. However, I have a good riding buddy who is getting off his BMW R1150RT, thinking he wants to go to a slightly smaller, more traditional bike. The TBird Sport has caught his eye, but neither he nor I know anything about the 885cc triples.

He has spent a couple hours and over a hundred miles on my 03 T100, really likes the bike, but still believes he wants that additional 20-25hp and three cylinder smoothness provided by the TBird (actual or perceived??)

Any long time TBird/Sport riders here who could offer any positive or negative comments about the TBird/TBird Sport? Anyone that's owned both the Bird and a Bonnie could certainly offer some good info.

- overall reliability
- ride position
- ride quality and handling with stock suspension
- suitability of stock saddle
- long distance capability
- any items or parts that are notorious for breaking
- available hard luggage/mounts
- other?

If you'd like, drop me a PM instead of posting to the open forum.

Bob
 

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Bob:

Good questions... to preface this, I have no experience on a triumph twin and only about 7,000 miles on my TBird. I'll throw in what I can on your questions.

Overall reliability: Good, assuming it's been properly maintained. 99% of the problems I've had with my bike are ones that I've caused myself.

Ride position: It varies slightly from the Sport to the standard TBird. With stock bars on my standard TBird, it's very upright. The pegs are directly below you and the grips are closer than your cage's steering wheel. I put some flat bars on and it changed significantly.

Suspension: Ask someone else:D ...I say it's fine, others don't like it. I can say it handles very well for a bike in it's class. Some say it's top-heavy... and I can see that... but coming off of a BMW, it will probably be better.

Seat: not great. I like the style, but it's really not suited for most folks going on a long haul (The TBS seat is different, I think). I'm young and full of piss and vinegar, so I could care less. Also, it's HUGE and has lots of space to strap things or wives down.

Long distance: Good. I think 150 miles per tank is about average for most. Lots of luggage options out there and it's pretty easy to change the setup from Cafe-style to tourer. It's very capable at highway speeds, I'll do about 75-80 avg. on the highway with LOTS of power to go (see note).

Notorious problems... see the sticky at the top of the forum. Off the top of my head: sprag clutch, ignition coils. Some have problems, some don't. If he gets a used one (only option anyway), it might be a good idea to find out if any of those problems have been addressed.

Hard luggage: only seen a couple custom jobs out there for that. I don't believe there is and hard luggage readily available on the market.

Other: The engine! it's awesome! I'ts right smack in the middle of a loping twin cyl. and a high revving I4. Sounds like nothing you've ever heard before. The torque band is very flat and is comfortable at a great range of engine speeds. Can't say enough about the 885.

****Note: this is easy to find here in classic3s, but the main difference between the TBS and standard 'Bird is that the TBS has dual disc brakes in front, 6-speed gearbox, adjustable suspension and lower bars. No difference in the engine.

'99 and on models seem to have significantly less problems than earlier ones and after that, standard TBirds came with the 6-speed.

I hope this helped, and If I've misinformed, someone please correct me;)
 

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A few thoughts for you on Tbird & Tbird Sport(TBS).

Power-wise, the engines (& carbs etc) are identical on post 98 Tbirds & TBS, except the TBS exhaust is 3 into 2 & Tbird 2 into 1 plus 1 into 1. Reliability is excellent on these engines. Pre 98 Tbirds had a sprag (starter) clutch problem - can be an expensive repair, fitting later upgraded parts. Coils on both sometimes fail - aftermarket Nology items nail the problem (~$170 for set).

TBS has a much better twin disc front brake & better, adjustable forks & rear shock. Handling on both is excellent in this class.

TBS has 17" wheels front & rear vs Tbird 16" rear & 18" front. Wider choice of tyres for TBS.

Footrests on TBS are set a little higher & further back, as are pillion footrests. Pre 2000(?) TBS with twin silencers on the right have notably higher pillion rests. (Right side hard luggage pretty much excluded on these models for same reason.)

LegendTT & Adventurer offer slightly different variations using stock Tbird engine setup.

Saddles on all are said by some to be a little uncomfortable - i've been fine with stock Tbird seat - 3,500 (none 'freeway') miles in 15 days, no problem. Which probably also answers your question about long distances!

Hard luggage options are few, less for TBS than Tbird, I think. Sprint Manufacturing (UK) still do a Givi rack/pannier mount kit for Tbird, I believe.

A search on this forum will give you lots more detailed information on the things I've mentioned here.

A Thruxton I test rode last month seemed noticeably slower & less torquey than my slightly modded Legend (80-85bhp?) or a stock TBS I'd ridden. Mileage is good, ~65mpg imperial. Raised gearing helps here, mine around 8% higher than stock Tbird.

Hope this helps...
 

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A few corrections, Dice ;-)

Bob:

Good questions... to preface this, I have no experience on a triumph twin and only about 7,000 miles on my TBird. I'll throw in what I can on your questions.

****Note: this is easy to find here in classic3s, but the main difference between the TBS and standard 'Bird is that the TBS has dual disc brakes in front, 6-speed gearbox, adjustable suspension and lower bars. No difference in the engine.
Cross-over pipe on the TBS gives it a bit more punch. That and the suspension mods make it better suited for performance riding.

'99 and on models seem to have significantly less problems than earlier ones and after that, standard TBirds came with the 6-speed.
Only issues with the Sprag were the '95 and early '96 versions. After that, it was sorted out. Around '99 / 2000 models had big issues with weaker coils. Coils are easily upgraded to Nology. Other that this, all years and models are pretty bullet-proof. Remember it is a carbureted bike, though, and those have to be properly maintained. Most the issues I am seeing around here on the earlier models appear to pertain to poor maintenance practices cropping up over time... you have to be careful of a bike that has less than an avg of 1000 miles per year on it!

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All of them are strong and highly reliable rides. I have 40k on mine, and there are lots of folks with even more. I think the TBS would be the best all around option, considering what your friend has been riding. Ventura makes a rack kit for the bikes, and you should be able to mount up some Givi bags to it. I am pretty happy with Cortech throwovers for distance riding. The bike definitely has more punch than the Bonnie - no comparison. It does feel more top heavy. You are going to want to replace or mod the stock seat if you are into distance riding - stock seat has about a 250 mile range for me. The fuel range might be a little disappointing at 150 miles.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
Thanks for all the responses. I think my riding bud should be able to sift through them and determine if the TBS might be the right bike for him.

Unfortunately, you have me thinking that it might be the right bike to add to my small stable (and I swore I'd keep it at two bikes, once I sold off the W650 and ST1300).

Bob
 

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Hi Bob,

I have a '95 Thunderbird, and your riding buddy may wish to know that the early Thunderbirds were slightly different? They had a slightly taller seat position (& shorter wheelbase) - you can identify them by their eccentric chain adjusters. The "later" Thunderbirds had a slightly lower seat position - identified by the sliding chain adjusters as also fitted to the Thunderbird Sport.

My riding buddy has a 900cc T100, and this is a much lower & lighter bike. With similar mods to you, it is quite quick, but I can always 'work' the Thunderbird to catch him up.

I don't know if it helps, but "mecscc" on your twins forum, use to own a Thunderbird (until written-off). With Monte also being in Ohio, you may wish to talk to him about this question? Please give Monte our regards if you speak to him.

Good luck,
Geoff
 

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Hi Bob,

I have a '95 Thunderbird, and your riding buddy may wish to know that the early Thunderbirds were slightly different? They had a slightly taller seat position (& shorter wheelbase) - you can identify them by their eccentric chain adjusters. The "later" Thunderbirds had a slightly lower seat position - identified by the sliding chain adjusters as also fitted to the Thunderbird Sport.Good luck,
Geoff
Good point, Jeff, especially for the less vertically challenged! Only the '95 had the ecentric. The T-Bird had the taller height through the '98 model. With the 17" wheels, the TBS sits a bit taller than the T-Bird in all year models
 

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cafebird..... why should one watch out for a TBS/Tbird with less than a thousand miles average a year?
That dosn't make sense to me ,why get a high miler?
I understand neglected or sitting junk "rats living in the airbox "type stuff but I just thought old BMW's were the ones to worry about (seals bearings etc) so does this stuff fail on a sitting tripple?

I want a low mile TBS ---Lower the better and more it sat in a garage the better.
 

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Carb related

cafebird..... why should one watch out for a TBS/Tbird with less than a thousand miles average a year?
That dosn't make sense to me ,why get a high miler?
I understand neglected or sitting junk "rats living in the airbox "type stuff but I just thought old BMW's were the ones to worry about (seals bearings etc) so does this stuff fail on a sitting tripple?

I want a low mile TBS ---Lower the better and more it sat in a garage the better.
I think he was saying that carburetors not getting enough use can lead to some issues. Let me just say I bought a 2000 Thunderbird with 3500 miles on it. Runs a bit rough, but is in perfect condition....may just need to be run. I will be driving it home Tuesday....Already own a speedy, but I really like these. They just seem very well built, the sidecovers themselves are a world apart....I might really love that thing! NEW TOY! YeeHaa!
 

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TBS didn't have a center stand; due to exhaust it never will.
Seats are always subjective -- TBS sucks.
Bars are 7/8" on all 4 variants (Tbird, TBS, Legend, Adv). Means it is cheap to change for a better fit.
Eccentric swing arm adjusters allow for some ride height and suspension adjustment (aggressiveness).
Legend had lower dog bones in rear suspension for a lower ride height; 17" wheels, single disc.
Early Tbirds had restrictive intakes (rubber carb connector).
Another option is an older Sprint or RS. Not sure on the suspensions, but more horse power, similar in a lot of components.
TBS has adjustable clutch and front brake levers (many Kawi's use the same system, so non-TBS can be upgraded).

Play with the search engine for more. It's not the best search engine, but can be made to work. You aren't the first person to ask this broad question.

Coils seem to be an occasional problem, but appears that factory fitted Nology and Gill coils. Not sure it matters which you put on, as both can fail.

What is nice is that outside of the engine itself, almost everything else is Japanese, so that makes it easy to either source parts, or get knowledgeable help with problems as a lot of folks have been exposed to the major Japanese suppliers products. Nothing magic.

Lot's of range of mileage, and of range. ~5 gallons capacity. So about 200 miles range for most. Some more, some less.

Enjoy!
 

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cafebird..... why should one watch out for a TBS/Tbird with less than a thousand miles average a year?
That dosn't make sense to me ,why get a high miler?
I understand neglected or sitting junk "rats living in the airbox "type stuff but I just thought old BMW's were the ones to worry about (seals bearings etc) so does this stuff fail on a sitting tripple?

I want a low mile TBS ---Lower the better and more it sat in a garage the better.
Sorry for the delay replying. Denny is on the mark - any bike/engine that has sat up with not enough maintenance is an invitation for trouble. You start getting issues with rust, corrosion, contamination, hardened rubber - a whole myriad of issues, especially if it was not put up properly. As with any engine, it is better if it has been ridden regularly and well maintained than ridden little and poorly maintained. These engines are very robust, and can take A LOT of miles before developing issues.

If you are dealing with an 03, 04 model, you are probably going to be O.K. with low miles, but I would be VERY wary of buying a '98. '99, 2000 model.
 

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I totally agree with what your saying. I just look at miles + condition and I keep my bikes in as like new shape as possible. I worry when I see a bike that is neglected cosmetically as it most likely could be lacking in the maint. dept. also.
But I think your right if a bike has sat and has not been put away properly for that "storage" then trouble may persue no matter the make or model.
We have all seen the add that says "It ran when I parked it ____ years ago" Yea and it most likely ran bad if at all.
 

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THE main diffrence from a standard thunderbird is approx. 69HP to 82HP for a "SPORT" Sport has 13 more HP!!
 

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replying for future readers......I just bought a mint '98 Thnderbird SPORT with 12,900 miles....runs and looks like new....every bike needs to be looked at and evaluated on its own merits.....
 

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THE main diffrence from a standard thunderbird is approx. 69HP to 82HP for a "SPORT" Sport has 13 more HP!!
Those extra hp were developed by the clever people in the marketing department. Same cams, same carb jetting, same ignition profile- it's just not possible.

The only significant difference is the linked exhaust system on the TBS and that is not worth 12bhp, especially in view of the above.
 

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Sorry..Can't agree Slinky....I've owned 2 1998 Thunderbird Sports....I test drove a stock Legend 2 weeks ago just before buying my 2nd mint TBSport....The TBS definitivley has more power and torque!!!; without question...additionally: quoted from original Triumph owners booklet....." Thunderbird/Adventurer max power...69HP @ 8000 rpm...53.10ft/lbs torque @ 4800rpm...........THUNDERBIRD SPORT max power...82 HP @ 8500 rpm 56 ft/lbs torque @ 6500 rpm ".....you CAN feel the difference....
 

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Slinky's right

I had an early T'bird with mikuni's that had uprated needles (sorry don't know what they were) 20k on the clock

A late standard T'bird with Khliens 10k on the clock

A standard Sport with Khliens.24k on the clock.

It really helps having 3 bikes that you can ride one after the other. All bikes were running TOR's.

The first bike felt more powerfull than the other 2 by quite a bit. The late T'bird and Sport felt the same. The brakes on the Sport were noticably better but I found the rear shock too hard.

All 3 bike were in top condition, but the extra chrome on the late standard T'bird does make it stand out much more. The black engine and trim of the sport made it look like a poor relation of the other two. I know that part is subjective, you either prefer the chrome look or the nasty, dowdy, cheap look of the black! Guess which I prefer?
Saying that the all black finish seems to be the popular choice on the Bonnies at the moment, so each to their own.
 

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.... the extra chrome on the late standard T'bird does make it stand out much more. The black engine and trim of the sport made it look like a poor relation of the other two. I know that part is subjective, you either prefer the chrome look or the nasty, dowdy, cheap look of the black! Guess which I prefer?
Saying that the all black finish seems to be the popular choice on the Bonnies at the moment, so each to their own.
Everyone has their preference. For me, chrome is for show, black is to go.
 

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