With a bigger engine than its predecessor, the 2014 Thunderbird, the 2015 Thunderbird Commander from Triumph packs a bigger punch in its appearance as well as performance. Spec-wise, it’s a carryover from the 2014 Thunderbird Commander with the addition of a Jet Black color choice. With black jugs accentuated with polished edges and plenty of shine in other places — such as an imposing polished top yoke, twin headlamp cans and polished stainless steel fork shrouds — the Thunderbird Commander could be considered a dressier version of the Storm, but with cruiser floorboards instead of pegs. If you think bling and nice paint is the thing, take a look at the Thunderbird Commander.

Continue reading for my review of the 2015 Triumph Thunderbird Commander.

  • 2015 Triumph Thunderbird Commander
  • Year:
    2015
  • Make:
  • Model:
  • Engine:
    Liquid-cooled, Parallel-twin, 270º firing interval
  • Displacement:
    1699 cc
  • Price:
    15999

Design

2015 Triumph Thunderbird Commander High Resolution Exterior
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First, let’s talk about the seat. Yes, it has a low seat height, which you expect in a cruiser, but what I really like is the seat is in two parts. The lumbar support is separate from the seat cushion. That means the lumbar support stays where it belongs and doesn’t move down when you compress the seat cushion with your weight. The wide, flared seat hugs your butt and gives a comfortable ride.

The handlebars have more pull-back than the 2013 Triumph Storm, which make a more relaxed posture for a shorter rider, but taller folks might prefer the wider, more drag-style bars on the Storm. As with just about any cruiser, if you lean even a little those wide die-cast aluminum floorboards are going to scrape. Knowing that, however, Triumph puts replaceable skid plates on the boards, so don’t be disheartened if you take a curve a little too aggressively.

The instruments are tank-mounted — which I don’t prefer, but it would wreck the upper lines to mount them on the bars — and controls are conveniently mounted in switch housings at the grips for hands-on access.

Chassis

2015 Triumph Thunderbird Commander High Resolution Exterior
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Triumph started with a twin-spine, tubular frame for the rolling chassis, and the frame construction keeps seat height at a moderately low 27.5 inches. This seems to set the tone for the overall look of the bike, which I would categorize as a low-and-mean boulevard bruiser. The front suspension reinforces this look with fat, 47 mm Showa forks, and the 4.7-inch fork travel ensures that it rides like a cruiser should. Coil-over rear shocks come with the usual mechanical preload adjustments that give you a choice of five preload settings, and the 3.7-inch suspension travel keeps the rear as cushy as the front.

The roundy-round parts really accentuate the road-hugging looks of the Commander.

I have to say, while the cast-aluminum rims and fat tires look ok on this bike, I can’t help but wonder how awesome it would look with laced chrome rims and gangster whitewall tires. That aside, the tires are really fat, with a 140 series up front and a 200 in the rear, both rolling on 17-inch rims. The roundy-round parts really accentuate the road-hugging looks of the Commander.

Big bikes need big brakes, and at 767 pounds soaking wet, plus your weight, this ride needs plenty of brakes. Triumph went with 310 mm brake discs all around, with a pair of Nissin four-pot calipers up front, and a twin-pot Brembo caliper in the back – all under the watchful eye of the ABS.

Drivetrain

2015 Triumph Thunderbird Commander High Resolution Exterior
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Triumph shows off its vast parallel-twin experience with the 1,699 cc powerplant. Unlike the old “twingle” engines, this monster runs with a 270-degree firing interval that gives it a distinctive rumble and gobs of torque.

Triumph shows off its vast parallel-twin experience with the 1,699 cc powerplant.

The torque comes on early, maxing out with 111 pound-feet at 3,500 rpm – plenty of stump-pulling grunt for hills and holeshots. You have to wind her up to 5,400 rpm to milk all 93 ponies out of her, but given the awesome torque output, I’m not sure how often you would need to wind her out like that. The electronic fuel injection and tuned exhaust manage to turn in a modest 38 mpg in the city and a decent 56 mpg at 56 mph cruising speed, which is fine considering that you wouldn’t pick this bike for its fuel economy anyway.

It looks like the factory made an effort to minimize drivetrain noise. The gearbox has helical gears for second through sixth gears, that generally make less noise than “straight-cut” gears. A reinforced belt makes up the final drive for quiet and low-maintenance cruising, even at highway speeds.

Pricing

2015 Triumph Thunderbird Commander High Resolution Exterior
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MSRP for the 2015 Thunderbird Commander is $15,999 for solid Jet Black and $16,399 for the two-tone colorways. Triumph covers your Thunderbird Commander with a two-year unlimited warranty and a 12-month unlimited mileage warranty on replacement parts.

He Said

My husband and fellow writer, TJ Hinton, says "I’ve always had an appreciation for the old Triumph parallel twin, though mainly that was based in nostalgia. This new parallel twin is a real monster and certainly worthy of the Triumph name, even if it is water cooled."

She Said

"An annoying feature, for me, at least, is the need for separate keys for ignition and steering lock. Really? In this day and age if it doesn’t have keyless start, at least have a single key for all operations on the bike. If that isn’t enough, consider also that Triumph warns that it is possible that both keys may fit both locks but each key will only open its respective lock and trying to open the lock with the wrong key may damage the key or the lock. Really? It’s 2015; get up with technology. Is that enough for me to not buy the bike? No, just it gave me something to rant about so I don’t feel like a cheerleader for a bike that I otherwise really like."

Specifications

Drivetrain:
Engine type: Liquid-cooled, DOHC, Parallel-twin, 270-degree firing interval
Capacity: 1,699 cc
Bore: 107.1 mm
Stroke: 94.3 mm
Compression Ratio: 9.7 to 1
Maximum Power: 92.5 Horsepower at 5,400 rpm
Maximum Torque: 111 Pound-feet at 3,500 rpm
Lubrication System Wet Sump
Ignition System: Digital electronic
Fuel system: Multipoint sequential electronic fuel injection, progressive linkage on throttle
Exhaust: Chromed twin-skin stainless steel two-into-two headers, tandem forward mounted large-volume catalysts, chrome-plated silencers
Final drive: Toothed Belt
Clutch: Wet, multi-plate
Transmission: Six-speed, helical type 2nd - 6th
Oil capacity: 1.1 Gallon (oil/filter change)
Chassis:
Frame: Tubular Steel, twin spine
Swingarm: Twin-sided, steel
Front Wheels: Cast aluminum alloy, Five-spoke, 17 x 3.5 inches
Rear Wheels: Cast aluminum alloy, Five-spoke, 17 x 6.0 inches
Front Tires: 140/75 ZR17
Rear Tires: 200/50 ZR17
Front Suspension: Showa 47 mm forks, 4.7 inches travel
Rear Suspension: Showa twin shocks with Five-position adjustable preload, 3.7 inches rear wheel travel
Brakes front: Twin 310 mm floating discs. Nissin four-piston fixed calipers, ABS.
Brakes rear: Single 310 mm fixed disc. Brembo two-piston floating caliper, ABS.
Rake: 30.1 degrees
Trail: 5.3 Inches
Dimensions:
Length: 96.1 Inches
Width: 38.9 inches
Height without mirror: 48.2 Inches
Seat height: 27.5 Inches
Wheelbase: 65.5 Inches
Details:
Instrument Display and Functions: Analogue speedometer and fuel gauge. LCD trip computer, range to empty and clock. LCD function scroll button on handlebars.
Fuel capacity: 5.8 Gallons
Fuel Type: 91 RON Unleaded
Fuel Economy: 38 mpg city, 56 mpg at 56 mph
Wet weight: 767 Pounds
Maximum Payload: 511 Pounds
Color Options: Jet Black, Crimson Sunset Red/Lava Red, Phantom Black/Storm Grey
Warranty: Two-Year unlimited warranty, 12-Month unlimited mileage warranty on replacement parts.
Price: $15,999 (Jet Black), $16,399 (Crimson Sunset Red/Lava Red, Phantom Black/Storm Grey)
What do you think?
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