Triumph Thunderbird with Big Bore Kit — Test Drives — Triumph Touring…

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Triumph Thunderbird

Triumph Thunderbird with Big Kit

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a big, black, long-legged with titanic power and a vertical twin engine. So how do you it? Make it bigger, of course.

the folks at Hinckley decided to more thrust for the Triumph , they turned to a tried-and-true there’s no substitute for cubic

But how many extra cubics a better motorcycle? If you have own factory, you can build an engine as as you want, but there are practical bigger engines add weight, and power adds stress.

In form, the Thunderbird displaces cc. The folks at Hinckley decided to available a kit that would it up by 100 cc. To do it, they drew up a piston millimetres greater in diameter, bore to 107 mm and bumping displacement to cc.

That’s an increase of 1/16th of the displacement, just over six Well within the limits of we’re not doing this to be Can a six percent increase make a difference in an engine’s power

This is a big, …-kicking you feel it beneath you like you the movement of a bridge when a truck goes by. We’ll get the on paper to prove the case, but we really want is a boot in the

To get a basis for comparison, we took the to Pro 6 Cycle in Toronto and asked to measure its stock output on Dynojet dynamometer. They even sure it would fit on the but with a bit of pushing and a lot of pulling, the was coaxed up a ramp and tied on the rolling-resistance machine. The actual run was a disappointing experience: the windows shake, and the fire department was not It wasn’t even loud.

No one complained.

The results were only 75 hp, but a hefty 95 lb-ft of And that torque value was wide and low: from 2,300 rpm to about 4,200 rpm it at least 90 lb-ft. Horsepower, on the hand, climbed swiftly to a that lasted from 4,400 rpm to 5,100 rpm. a street weight of about 750 lb, a power-to-weight ratio of 1:10 on the scale.

And it’s power-to-weight, not power, that limits at speeds below about 160 (above that, aerodynamics more significant).

The dyno reflected what our seat-of-the-pants told us. This bike is of moving quickly, but it’s constrained by its weight. On the road, it like a motorcycle with a of a motor, something that Churchill might have

At 3,000 rpm, the Thunderbird’s 104 mm were churning out maximum and sitting right on the edge of horsepower field: strong, and about to get fast. Yanking the open in any of the lower gears at engine speed produced a rush of acceleration that out quickly.

However, even prominent than the sensation of was the sense of weight. It felt a big engine was acting against a drag. The word “anchor” to mind. And while the engine capable of doing the job against all weight, there was no mistaking the of mass. Which leads one to a conclusion: throw away 100 pounds of mass and see what engine can do.

Ah, but if we were sensible, be driving Ford’s Thunderbird, not

September 22, 2010. Sturgess Hamilton, Ontario. There’s a of Steve McQueen on the outside the King of Cool. The service is an underground bunker, reached a sidestreet just off King

It’s about 55 feet 25 feet wide. There are running across the low ceiling. are wooden shelves, doors here and there, racks of like batteries and small of parts, dark corners and jagged cracks in the concrete

Sturgess Cycle is a hundred old and looks it, but this is a well-equipped with four service each with a lift, and the look comfortable in their

In the last of four service Luke Money is working on the He’s about six feet rangy, with a marine haircut and large, expressive He bends over a shop reads for a few seconds, then on the bike, unscrewing something, something, pulling something Then he’s back at the bending at the hip, reading.

On the the White Stripes are playing Nation Army.

“When did you get mechanic’s licence?” we ask Luke. he says.

“Are you good at you do?”

He looks away for a thinking. “Well,” he says “I think I’m And I like fixing electrical Stuff that other don’t like.”

But he’s a little trouble with job. Laid out on a table him are the parts for this Thunderbird two pistons, two cylinder liners, two a set of clutch springs, piston a head gasket, a valve gasket, an alternator cover, an system. On the floor beside the on a protective blanket, are parts removed, the fuel tank, the system, seats, radiator, pod. He says, “I finding more things to off.”

The Triumph Thunderbird to 1700 conversion is so new, hasn’t had a chance to practice it. the people at Triumph Canada a little perplexed by the job. sent him the wrong cylinderliner “It’s for the big-bore motor,” he

He laughs, but later, he wonders if he made the mistake himself, the wrong tool.

And he’s getting conflicting about major portions of the Should he remove the motor, or One source says yes, says nodon’t pull the just raise the bike and the connecting rods from the

But the ceiling here is too low; if he the bike up far enough to work it, the guys upstairs in the showroom try to sell it.

In the end, he leaves the in place and uses a rear-wheel to jack up the back end of the bike, allows him some angle-room to get at the and unscrew those connecting

By the end of the first day, he’s got the through the final stages of the head is off, cylinder out, pistons and connecting lying on the table. The cylinder look like thick cans, rough on the outside, on the inside. They fit into the funnythere are odd spaces between the wall and the liner. I ask Luke it. “That’s where the water he says.

Of course: it’s a engine.

Luke thinks complete the installation by this tomorrow, provided nothing wrong. He’s been at it all day, and he frequently had to stop and something out, or wrestle some part that did not to be moved, or ask for physical assistance. Laidman comes over times from the next station to help out, something, push on something, coax some part place.

Hands and fingers into the half-assembled motor, grimace, a part moves into place. Hands fingers are counted.

Through it it’s easy to admire the Luke spends a lot of time but his hands are chipped here and and the force required to move parts is expressed in his face as he to it. In order to get the cylinder liners he has resorted to an old-school tool: tape.

He drapes he upper portion of the with tape, tearing off and massaging them against the circular inside wall. the motor is turned over by and a piston is forced up through the of the liner, its rings will on the duct tape, which bind onto the liner and the whole shebang will up out of the cylinder. So goes the theory, and has used it in the past.

But not in a long “Because, you know, we have the tools now,” he says. He appear to notice the irony in statement.

Later, one of the upstairs comes by to get something. He’s friendly, standing there for a to watch Luke work. time,” he says, “I somebody called him the Triumph

The following day, Luke the new pistons and cams into the gets everything bolted into place. The Triumph’s CPU is for the new pistons, and he’s put on an accessory system, even a windscreen and He rides it home that breaking it in, verifying that will fall off.

when we pick it up from his Ontario, home, he tells us it seems more punchy.

Right off the bat, it sounds but that’s likely an effect of the new system. Punching the throttle a clear demonstration of the engine’s power: the bike jolts with more immediacy.

In gear, it feels stronger. It well to throttle inputs, after a healthy power the electronic fuel injection never stumbles.

The Triumph however, balked at starting a of times. It seems vulnerable on hot and a couple of times has required two or attempts, cranking the motor for seconds at a time, before it start. The weather has cooled off the big-bore kit was installed, and we don’t any more starting problems.

In any event, the problem was infrequent, and it has taken more than a of minutes to get it going.

A Triumph exhaust system ($539) was with the big-bore kit and provides a full-throated and slightly gritty palette that is never loud.

The accessory windscreen and saddlebags ($755) installed at the time have turned the into a highway animal. It is no necessary to maintain a … on the handlebar at 120 km/h just to aboard. The leather saddlebags are enough to hold a substantial of gear, and though some hook-and-loop patches make the bags a clumsy process, seem secure and weather-proof.

A few after the big bore kit is installed, we the Triumph out to a country road and run it the gears at full throttle. It with alacrity, but feels not so stronger as more alert. The effect is one of improved response rather than greater

It just gets up and goes much quicker. It feels somebody has cut off about 100 pounds of

Back at Pro 6 Cycle, where once again wrestle the onto the Dynojet, the numbers the tale: 87.7 horsepower and lb-ft of torque.

That’s a of 13.7 horsepower and 7.3 lb-ft of The torque curves looks with a strong initial that begins falling off at 4,500 rpm. The character of the on the other hand, is quite

While both engines a nice steady rise in from low revs, the original 74 hp began to fall away at 5,000 rpm, but the modified horsepower graph continues to to its peak at about 5,500 at 6,000 rpm, the modified makes about 84 horsepower, the stock engine made 66 horsepower at that engine

Triumph’s hop-up kit is available not in pieces, but in a complete motorcycle the factory: the 1,700 cc model, in Haze Red paint, is $17,799, $300 more than our 1,600 cc bike. Of course, will deny themselves the of a before-and-after experience and that’s not an thing. While the stock felt like a heavyweight the hop-up kit transforms Triumph’s big twin into something flash.

It may not be lighter in 1,700 cc but after having ridden it the smaller motor, it feels and perception, as they say, is the battle.


MODEL Thunderbird (with big-bore kit

PRICE $15,499 ($17,498)

Liquid-cooled vertical-twin with valves per cylinder

HORSEPOWER 74 at 5,000 rpm (87.7 at 5,500

TORQUE (MEASURED) 95 lb-ft at rpm (102.3 lb-ft at 3,000

DISPLACEMENT 1,596 cc (1,690 cc)

AND STROKE 103.8 x 94.3 mm mm x 94.3 mm)



TRANSMISSION belt final drive

Telescopic 47 mm fork; dual shocks adjustable for preload

1,615 mm (63.5 in.)

32 degrees/151 mm

BRAKES Dual 310 mm rotors with four-piston rear 310 mm rotor with caliper. ABS

TIRES 120/70-19 200/50-17 rear

WEIGHT 339 kg (746 lb)

SEAT HEIGHT 700 mm in.)

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