When tradition meets technology….
As the city so is the maker, the nature of the manufacturer reflects the culture of their location.Bullet landed in chennai in 1950s. Since then both the city and the bullet maker evolved gradually and are making great strides. Chennai a city known for its heritage and its culture has never been in the limelight but has made huge strides in all sectors. It is one of largest software exporter in india and its a detroit of India. Similar to the city, Royal Enfield is silent (forget the thump) bike maker but making records without making lot of news. RE has a huge fan following even in countries like UK, France, Italy and USA.
As the city of tradition embraces modern technologies, Royal Enfield has started incorporating modern technologies for its products. The iron cast engines paved way to the Lean burn engines now RE has come up with an new engine called UCE (Unit Construction Engine).As evident from its name Engine,gearbox and clutch are being made as single compartement in UCE. This new set up results in lesser parts and hence lesser friction. The main architecture of this engine is developed in-house by RE while NVH (Noise, Vibration and Harshness), internal combustion of the engine is tested by European design consultants. Royal Enfield calls this new engine platform as “engine of future growth”. Let’s check out whether RE finds success in its bid to modernise their products.
1) Thunderbird Twinspark: It is the same Thunderbird in design and styling. Just two twinspark badges on the side flanks and a twinspark decal on the pillion backrest are added. Surprisingly there is no UCE (Unit Construction engine) badge or a sticker in the Thunderbird Twinspark
2) Thunderbird Twinspark: With the UCE, RE wishes to improve the reliability of the Thunderbird and reduce the manual intervention needed for smooth functioning of the engine. The valve clearance of this UCE adjust automatically through the use hydraulic pushrods and thus the vehicle maintains optimal valve timing in all situations.Another notable feature in the new Thunderbird Twinspark is the auto decompressor. The slide switch is gone. The auto decompressor which activates at 250rpm helps the rider to start the engine with ease.The electric motor is placed on the inner side of the UCE engine to reduce the problems usually associated with the sprag clutch.
3) Thunderbird Twinspark: UCE engine cranks out 19.8bhp of maximum power at 5250rpm and 28Nm of peak torque at 4000rpm. The all new 6 plate clutch can be engaged and disengaged with little effort. Credits to the five speed transmission the low end and mid range torque is spectacular. The engine revs upto 6000rpm without any strain but the needle refuses to move after that. The new Thunderbird Twinspark clocks 60kmph from stand still in just 6.2 seconds nearly a second faster than the Lean Burn Thunderbird. We manage to clock a top speed of 102kmph but i still believe some more is left in the engine. However the pickup is not smooth and there is room for refinement.
4) Thunderbird Twinspark: The new UCE features superior gerotor – rotary oil pump which pumps oil at higher pressure and ensures better cooling. This results in efficient burning of fuel and thereby increasing the fuel efficiency or mileage when compared to the previous engines. Thunderbird Twinspark returned 42kmpl in our combined city and highway drive.
The twin-pod instrument cluster is intact with odometer, speedometer, RPM meter, fuel gauge, resettable trip meter, and tell-tale lights for neutral, high beam, turn signal indicators. The blue back instrument panel is readable even in bright sunlight but the rear view mirrors shows more the pillion rider than the vehicle at the rear.
5) Thunderbird Twinspark: Even at high speeds the bike remains stable though the vibrations are heavy. Thunderbird Twinspark vibes heavily when you keep pressing the clutch and crawling in the traffic. Even while hard braking it remains stable. Thunderbird Twinspark uses disc at the front and drum at the rear. The brake offers sufficient bite and the bike comes to halt from 60kmph in just 3seconds.
6) Thunderbird Twinspark: Ride quality has never been the favourite for the bullets. Thunderbird Twinspark is no exception. The wider seats and comfortable riding postion ensures a fatigue free riding. But all is not well the kick lever is very hard and is awkwardly positioned. The 19″ tyres and gas charged suspension transmits little vibration to the rider. But when you take the bike to off-road it starts transmitting shocks heavily.
7) Thunderbird Twinspark: Along with the new engine, Royal enfield has upgraded few features. Halogen lamp replaces conventional lamp and hence you can expect increased life. To facilitate the easy parking of this 168kg machine Royal Enfield has made foot rests (rider) of the Thunderbird twinspark foldable. To reduce the metal, rear brake cable and chain sprocket is moved to the right side of the bike. Also, an oil window is provided to check the oil level.
8) Thunderbird Twinspark: The new Thunderbird twinspark will be available in three colours (monotone) – silver,red and black. Thunderbird twinspark is priced Rs1,03,000 in (Ex-showroom) Chennai.
The objective of UCE is to make Thunderbird a reliable bike. The UCE is a strong leap in that direction. The new Thunderbird never made us to left stranded i enquired a friend who has already clocked 2000kms with the new Thunderbird and he told the same. But in the pursuit of reliability has Royal Enfield diluted the man-machine relationship? yes to a little extent.
Plans for India: Royal Enfield has showcased a 500cc UCE EFI engine in the 2007 Birmingham auto show and is test maketing the Electra EFI there. It plans to incorporate EFI (Electronic Fuel Injection) technology in Thunderbird as well. Royal Enfield also plans to rollout Machismo, Electra and the Bullet 350 with twinspark engines before 2010.
Here’s caution for the Bullet maker, never led the technology to dominate the biking. Few sports bikes maker tried this and bite the dust in the recent past. Never ever use the technology for technology’s sake. When you develop new technologies, its aim must be only to enhance the man-machine relationship. Instead improve the quality of the material used and earn more hearts.