New Thunderbird Commander Launch
I attended the Thunderbird Commander and LT Launch in Majorca on Thursday and Friday the 13th and 14th of March. This was a flight from Gatwick, so having checked out that there were no flights from Manchester and weighed up other public transport options, I decided to plump for the Tiger 800, mainly because it had a top box and heated grips. I left the Manchester shop mid afternoon on Wednesday having arranged to stop overnight at my friend Tony’s house in Kent. Thinking the journey from Kent to Gatwick would only take me an hour or so the next morning I thought it would be an ideal opportunity to catch up.
The Tiger romped down the Motorway, it was a beautiful afternoon and I even turned the heated grips off. Doing big stints on a bike is something I like and I really enjoyed this ride. The Tiger was one of our new demo fleet and the idea was to put a few miles on it. So I varied my throttle position and didn’t work it too hard, respecting the fact that this will in six months time be someone’s pride and joy.
The Majorca flight was uneventful but an ideal opportunity to discuss the market and all the other things dealers tend to drift towards when in a group. This includes the shortage of good used stock, the general approval of the new chap running the UK subsidiary and all things two wheels related. On arrival we were given a short presentation about the bikes vital statistics and encouraged to ride a cruiser as a cruiser ought to be ridden. This is not to ride it like you just stole it, but to feel the huge amount of torque and roll the throttle on and off. After the presentation we made our way by coach to the quay at Puerto Portals where we watched the start of a classic car rally. This added a bit of a buzz with some really top notch classics being put through their paces. Then onto the restaurant where we had a fantastic spread of tapas…..this stretched the evening out and we certainly went back to the hotel full!
After a good night’s sleep and an early start we were the first group out on the Commanders. The ride was led by Gareth Bright from Triumph who took us on an urban cruise down by the harbour and with the sea on my right. Wow! What a bike. This really is a fantastic machine. Very easy to ride, steers well -l in fact the new frame has really made this a sharp turning cruiser, that is mega comfortable. I recon the seat is the most comfortable seat I have ever sat on.
After the ride….back to the classroom for more tuition on the differences between all the Thunderbirds and loads of unique points to these two bikes. Both the Commander and LT have a new frame and the white wall tyres on the LT are the only radial white wall tyres on a motorcycle. These were developed in conjunction with Avon. Next was lunch, yet more Tapas. So by now we’ve had Tapas for tea, tapas for breakfast, and Tapas for lunch, mmmm….. can you get too much of a good thing? After lunch we were out on the LT. Now although similar to the Commander, I felt it had a totally different ride; more suitable for touring on as the screen is brilliant – in fact I had my visor up. For some reason we went on a few more twisties on this ride and the bike took them well in its stride. Obviously it doesn’t handle like a Street or Daytona but it feels much more together than some other cruisers I’ve ridden.
Another classroom session with quite a lot of suggestions on how to encourage customers to have a good demo. It’s important when taking a bike for a demo to really make the demo useful. So it’s a good idea to have a destination, some where you can get a cup of tea or even better a slice of cake. Breaking the ride allows you to reflect on the ride in two stages. Unless you are used to riding a variety of bikes it’s likely that the first part of the demo will be more of a settling in period where you spend time just getting used to the controls and riding position. But then the second half can be a period where you really get into the groove. Go out on your own at your own pace, by all means call on a mate if you want, or go to a biker meet….but take time to reflect and find out if the bike is really for you. After all you will be the one riding it.
After this it was a coach to the airport and flight back to Gatwick. Quite a whistle stop event but it really did give you a mega feel for the bikes. I rode up from Gatwick on the Saturday morning having spent the night at Lenny’s Lodge. With being so close to the airport I woke at 5:30am and was on the road for just after 6:00am. Saturday mornings are usually quiet on the roads, so the M25 was empty and I made real good progress up the M40. I arrived back at the Blackburn store for 11:00hrs having enjoyed every minute.
You need to ride these bikes to appreciate them. I do think that you would probably want to own one or the other and it might be that you demo the Commander and then the LT after which you fall in love with the LT. Of course that could be the other way round as well. The decision will be based on your bike usage and how you integrate your motorcycling into your life.
There is an LT available for demo now at both our Blackburn and Manchester Showrooms
View the LT
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The Commander will be available for a test ride at both our Blackburn and Manchester Showroom in about 2 weeks
View the Commander
Book a Test Ride