Sharing the 1,699 cc engine with the 2015 Thunderbird Storm, the 2015 Thunderbird LT from Triumph packs an impressive amount of power and torque, making it a real contender in the American cruiser market — a market long dominated by Harley-Davidson. Essentially the same bike Triumph offered in 2014, you can get the 2015 model in Jet Black; but if you want the two-tone paint job, you’ll have to pay more than last year. The long-stroke engine with the 270-degree crank — pioneered by Yamaha back in the mid-to-late 1990s in the 849 cc TRX850 — gives balls-to-the-wall performance in the Thunderbird LT. Triumph touts it as the world’s largest parallel-twin engine.

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

  • 2015 Triumph Thunderbird LT
  • Year:
    2015
  • Make:
  • Engine:
    Liquid-cooled, Parallel-twin, 270º firing interval
  • Displacement:
    1699 cc
  • Price:
    14499

Design

2015 Triumph Thunderbird LT High Resolution Exterior
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Combine a low seat height of 27.6 inches with a butt-hugging, deep foam-padded seat with lumbar support, and that sounds like a comfortable ride. Classic styling is evident nose-to-tail on this cruiser, and includes an analog-style speedometer on the tank-mounted console along with a fuel gauge, twin trip meters, odometer and clock. Removable leather saddlebags give you 5.9 gallons of storage.

The fat front suspension, windshield, headlamp and passing lamp arrangement is reminiscent of Harley FL models reaching all the way back to the 1950s, as does the heel/toe shifter, floorboards and the tank-mounted instrument console. Confidence-inspiring front and rear engine guards lend ample protection for the chromed side covers and exhaust, and give you a handy mounting location for the highway pegs.

Chassis

2015 Triumph Thunderbird LT Exterior
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For the front suspension on this baby, you find Showa 47 mm front forks with 4.7 inches of travel. The twin-sided steel swingarm provide the mounts for Showa chromed, coil-over twin shocks with five-position adjustable preload and 3.7 inches of travel in the rear. While 3.7 inches of travel seems a little underwhelming, it’s probably sufficient for a cruiser on all but the roughest roads or longest trips.

Dual 310 mm floating discs and Nissan four-piston fixed calipers handle braking in the front. The rear has a single 310 mm disc and a Brembo two-piston floating caliper. ABS comes standard. All this rolls on Avon 16-inch, fat white-wall radial tires and cast aluminum, 56-spoke wheels.

Drivetrain

2015 Triumph Thunderbird LT High Resolution Exterior
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A glance at the machined fins on the powerplant of the Thunderbird LT tells you this is no V-twin. The liquid-cooled, SEFI, DOHC, parallel-twin engine with a 270-degree firing interval mated to a six-speed transmission delivers a whopping 95 horsepower at 5,400 rpm and 111.4 pound-feet of torque at 3,550 rpm. My response when I heard that was, "Wow, that’s nice."

That tells me the Thunderbird LT has great big brass ones that’ll carry you effortlessly over hill and dale. The chromed twin-skin stainless steel exhaust with tandem large-volume catalysts delivers the sound and feel of a 90-degree big V-twin. Blacked out and tucked between the front-frame down tubes, the radiator is unobtrusive and preserves that air-cooled look.

Pricing

2015 Triumph Thunderbird LT High Resolution Exterior
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MSRP on Jet Black is $16,999. The two-tone color options — Caspian Blue/Crystal White or Lava Red/Phantom Black — will set you back $17,399.

He Said

My husband and fellow writer, TJ Hinton, says, "This is an interesting bike. It has a lot of design features that will be very familiar to Americans while maintaining that distinctive British flavor. I particularly like the cut of the front fender, and the way that it gives a better view of the big, gangster white-wall tire up front while not appearing to be too cut down."

She Said

"The terms ’parallel-twin’ and ’in-line twin,’ while sometimes used interchangeably, are not exactly the same. In motorcycle vernacular, ’parallel-twin’ means the crankshaft is transverse across the frame, while ’inline-twin’ refers to the front-to-rear, in line arrangement of the cylinders with a longitudinal crankshaft. The 270-degree crank creates a lope that sounds like a 90-degree V-twin, which has to be better than the pissed-off lawnmower sound associated with the old Triumph "twingle’ engine. Triumph says this is the largest parallel-twin engine, and it is quite large. The other parallel-twins that I can think of right off-hand — Honda CTX700, Norton Commando 961 and Yamaha FX-07 — all come in less than 1,000 cc.

It is a nice cruiser, but if I’m going to spend that much money, I might cough up the extra $1,500 for an H-D Road King with the Project Rushmore enhancements, although on the Road King, ABS is an option."

Specifications

Drivetrain:
Engine: Liquid-cooled, DOHC, Parallel-twin, 270-degree firing interval
Displacement: 1699 cc
Bore: 107.1 mm
Stroke: 94.3 mm
Max power: 95 horsepower at 5,400 rpm
Max torque: 111.4 pound-feet at 3,550 rpm
Fuel Delivery: Multipoint sequential electronic fuel injection, progressive linkage on throttle
Exhaust: Chromed twin-skin stainless steel 2 into 1 into 2, tandem large-volume catalysts in centralized catbox, chrome-plated exhaust
Final drive: Toothed Belt
Clutch: Wet, multi-plate
Transmission: six-speed, helical type 2nd - 6th
Primary Drive Ratio: 1.440 to 1
Gear Ratio 1st: 2.875 to 1
Gear Ratio 2nd: 1.958 to 1
Gear Ratio 3rd: 1.536 to 1
Gear Ratio 4th: 1.219 to 1
Gear Ratio 5th: 1.029 to 1
Gear Ratio 6th: 0.909 to 1
Final Drive Ratio: 2.214 to 1
Chassis:
Frame: Tubular Steel, twin spine
Swingarm: Twin-sided, steel
Front Wheels: Cast aluminum alloy 56-spoke 16 x 3.5 inches
Rear Wheels: Cast aluminum alloy 56-spoke 16 x 3.5 inches
Front Tires: Avon AV71 Cobra WWW 150/80 R16
Rear Tires: Avon AV72 Cobra WWW 180/70 R16
Front Suspension: Showa 47 mm forks, 4.7-inch travel
Rear Suspension: Showa chromed spring twin shocks with five-position adjustable preload. 3.7-inch rear wheel travel
Brakes Front: Twin 310 mm floating discs. Nissin four-piston fixed calipers, ABS
Brakes Rear: Single 310 mm disc. Brembo two-piston floating caliper, ABS
Dimensions:
Length: 92.1 inches
Width - handlebars: 34.7 inches
Height without mirror: 44.1 inches
Seat height: 27.6 inches
Wheelbase: 63.6 inches
Trail: 5.9 inches
Rake: 32 degrees
Details:
Oil capacity - oil & filter change: 1.1 US Gallon
Instrument display and functions: Analogue speedometer and fuel gauge. LCD trip computer, range to empty and clock. LCD function scroll button on handlebars.
Storage capacity: 5.9 gallons
Wet weight: 837.8 pounds
Dry weight: 769.4 pounds
Fuel Type: Premium Unleaded
Tank capacity: 5.8 gallons
Fuel Economy: city: 38 mpg — 56 mpg at 56 mph
Colors: Jet Black, Caspian Blue/Crystal White, Lava Red/Phantom Black
Price: $16,999, two-tone colors: $17,399
What do you think?
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