So this Memorial Day weekend I took my kids out to Cedar Point Amusement Park in Sandusky, Ohio. What an amazing time we had – thanks to Fast Lane that is. Sure it cost extra, but we were able to ride just everything we wanted multiple times. It was so hot and so packed that if we had to deal with normal lines it probably would have been a much different weekend.
Anyway to make the trip even more entertaining I’d decided to ride there and back – and the guys at Precision Bikeworks Triumph of Erie hooked me up with a 2012 Triumph Thunderbird Storm with Anti-lock Brakes to demo. It wasn’t just any old Storm either – this one was the beneficiary of Triumph’s Short Muffler Kit, high-performance air cleaner and download to make it all communicate the right way. Rich was nice enough to also think about my comfort a bit, and added a Longhaul Touring Dual Touring.
I was super excited about getting an extended ride on what’s been so many people’s Bike of the Year two years running. The fun started as soon as I arrived at the dealership. Rich was ready with a small stack of paperwork for me to sign, and then we went out to go over the bike. It was parked next to my Fat Bob – they looked like twins actually. Both had the dual headlights, the flatblack paint, not too much chrome and an aggressive stance. There are lot’s more to talk about so let’s take a look.
Appearance is kind-of subjective, no? In my opinion the Storm looks awesome. I love the sinister look of it, minimal chrome, etc. The dual headlights look really awesome too – they set it apart on the road from just about every other bike (almost!). Everything on it was of very high quality as well, from the paint to the black wheels. They also included guides for the cables, to minimize clutter, and added cool touches like the Storm logo on the primary cover. Comparing the T-bird to my Fat Bob, my kids were split on looks, with my son preferring the Storm by far, and my daughter liking the Storm quite a bit better. For me it’s at tie, but that’s only after I’ve invested a lot of time and effort into customizing my Harley. Stock vs. Stock I think the big, black Triumph has a slight edge.
Since the test bike is brand new, we couldn’t dyno it to get to actual numbers, but luckily there are plenty of sources online that have already done this. A stock Storm comes in at about 86HP and 102 Torque at the rear wheel – the addition of the pipes, air cleaner and download can only help. The Storm has outstanding power through the entire rpm range; very smooth and linear, just like my old Speed Triple. Compared to my Harley it had a little less low-end and a ton more mid and high. Mind you my Fat Bob has about $3,000 worth of upgrades and costs about $2K more to start so in my mind the Storm is a bargain. The upgrades they did to it for the ride are just about the only upgrades I think the bike needs, performance-wise – the only thing I would do differently is go with a more aggressive exhaust. There aren’t too many of after-market exhausts around just yet, but I was able to find a couple of good options. Easy would be the D&D slip on but I think I would actually go with the Hog Slayer http://www.british-customs.com/british-customs-triumph-thunderbird-1600-hog-slayer-exhaust.html by British Customs . It’s a full exhaust that looks great, increases performance and sound, and saves 13 pounds to boot. Given that most racers equate 7 pounds to 1 HP that’s almost a 2 HP gain on top of whatever the actual pipe does. Plus if you’re riding any non-Harley cruiser can you really go wrong buying a pipe called a Hog Slayer, lol?
Wow! What a nimble bike. It turned very well at low speeds and handled so smoothly at high speeds that in inspired a lot of confidence. The bike was very stable and went where you wanted it to go when you wanted to do it. Every time I talk about it I start to say sport-bike handling and stop myself; obviously it’s not a sport-bike but compared to most cruisers it handled like one. I have to say that my Fat Bob handles well too, with its chubby front tire and great balance, but even this great handling Harley loses the handling battle to the Storm.
Here is where the Storm really impressed. Brakes were very strong and linear with a nice, easy pull. They really inspired a feeling of control out there, especially when combined with the outstanding handling we already discussed. Since the weather was beautiful I didn’t get a chance to test our the ABS, but I never felt any flutter at all, regardless of how aggressively I was braking. This is definitely the best braking cruiser I’ve ever ridden.
All in all I really love this bike. I really urge you guys to go down to Precision Bikeworks and check out whichever Triumph style matches your own, but the Thunderbird in particular does it so well for so many. You can set it up as a slick solo cruiser or hook up bags, boards and a windshield (and that comfy seat – thanks Rich!) and ride till across a state or two – it will do it all. If was going to get my own I’d probably go with this insane swirled red Thunderbird they had on the floor, upgrade it with the Storm performance package which happens to be crazy cheap, some of those Hog Slayer pipes and headlights off the old Speed Triple – either way I want one. Good luck and if you do try one out be sure to let me know.