Triumph Thunderbird 900


Make Model

Triumph Thunderbird 900


1995 - 04


Four stroke, transverse three cylinder, DOHC, 4 valve per cylinder.


885 cc / 54 cu in
Bore x Stroke 76 x 65 mm
Compression Ratio 10.0:1
Cooling System Liquid cooled


3 x 36 mm Mikuni carburetors





Max Power

51 kW / 70 hp @ 8000 rpm  (rear tyre 50 kW / 66.9 hp @ 7300 rpm)

Max Torque

72 Nm / 7.34 kgf-m / 53.1 lb-ft@ 4800 rpm


Wet, multi-plate


6 Speed

Final Drive

Chain, O-ring


High tensile steel spine

Front Suspension

43 mm Telescopic forks

Rear Suspension

Monoshock, preload adjustable.

Front Brakes

Single 320 mm disc, 2 piston caliper

Rear Brakes

Single 285 mm disc, 2 piston caliper

Front Wheel

3.50 x 18, 36 spoke

Rear Wheel

3.50 x 16, 40 spoke

Front Tyre


Rear Tyre





106 mm / 4.2 in


Length: 2250 mm / 88.6 in
Width:    860 mm / 33.8 in
Height:  1105 mm / 43.5 in


1580 mm / 62.2 in

Seat Hieght

776 mm / 30.5 in

Dry Weight

220 kg / 485 lbs

Fuel Capacity 

15 Litres / 4.0 US gal / 3.3 Imp gal

Braking 60 km/h- 0

14.7 m / 48.2 ft

Braking 100 km/h- 0

42.3 m / 138.8 ft

Standing ¼ Mile  

12.9 sec / 163.5 km/h / 101.6 mph

Top Speed

191.1 km/h / 118.7 mph

One glance at the Thunderbird said everything about the bike that Triumph created to spearhead its return to the American market in 1995. The three-cylinder cruiser was built for nostalgia, echoing the British firm's 1950s and '60s look from its high bars and chrome headlamp all the way to its wire wheels and old-style 'peashooter' silencers. The name added to the period feel, too, for the original 650cc Thunderbird parallel twin had been a big US hit for Triumph in the '50s, and was the bike famously ridden by Marlon Brando's character, Johnny, in The Wild One.


The Thunderbird represented a big step for the fast-expanding Hinckley firm, as it was the first model to move significantly away from the modular concept on which Triumph's range had been based. Although the basic layout of this bike's watercooled, twin-cam, 12-valve powerplant was shared with the eight other triples in the range, numerous engine and chassis components were unique, making the Thunderbird more complicated and expensive to produce.


Triumph retained the big triple's familiar 885cc capacity, but the T-bird's cylinder head, crankcasei and covers were restyled to mimic those of ok aircooled models. Internal changes, including different cams and a lower compression ratio reduced peak power to 69bhp from the normal 97bhp. Like the Speed Triple, the new triple had five, rather than Triumph's more common six ratios in its gearbox.


The frame's main spine was similar to the other models', but joined a modified rear section that allowed a slightly lower dual-seat. Bodywork was al new, and did a great job of recapturing the look o the old twins. The classical 'mouth-organ' tank badge was almost identical to the '50s original. The fuel tank's shape, the chrome carb-covers and wire spoked wheels (in 18-inch front, 16-inch rear sizes all added to the period effect.


Triumph's previous triples had been superbly tractable, yet the detuned engine was even stronger at low revs (peak torque arrives at just 4800rpm Given a handful of throttle, the Triumph surge forwards almost regardless of how far the tacho needle was from its 8500rpm redline. The mote was wonderfully smooth, too, and the gearbox typically slick. Top-end performance was les impressive, as the T-bird began running out c breath well before its modest top speed of 122mph.


The Thunderbird's chassis was well up to containing its engine performance. The frame was stiff, and suspension at both ends firm by cruiser standards. Hard riding, particularly over a series of bumps, sometimes revealed the handling's limitations with a slight twitch. Unlike other Triumphs, this bike made do with a single front disc brake, but it was effective providing the lever was given a solid squeeze.


For short trips and gentle cruising the Thunderbird was comfortable, maneuverable and very pleasant indeed. Inevitably, some practicality had been sacrificed to style. This bike's fuel tank held only 3.3 gallons, compared to the 5.5 gallons of most other Triumphs, limiting range to about 100 miles. By then, the wind-blown riding position had normally made the rider glad of a stop, despite the broad and comfortable dual seat.


Triumph offered extra practicality - and style -with a range of accessories including a screen and panniers. But many riders preferred the added retro image of cosmetic options such as traditional two-tone paintwork and rubber knee-pads for the fuel-tank.


That carefully cultivated air of nostalgia, combined with good performance and excellent build quality, rapidly made the new Thunderbird a big hit - not just in America but all over the world.