The Royal Enfield Thunderbird is going through an overhaul and there have been several spy shots in the past to provide a glimpse of what we can expect from the all-new motorcycle. The Thunderbird is a touring legend in the Royal Enfield line-up, and upgrades will be comprehensive. We now hear that the changes won't be limited to just mechanicals and design, the motorcycle could get a new nameplate as well. Recent reports suggest that the new generation Thunderbird could be badged as the 'Royal Enfield Meteor' with the launch expected in the second half of 2020.
From what we know so far, Royal Enfield is developing its next generation of motorcycles on a new, modular J platform. The Thunderbird replacement is reportedly codenamed J1C0 and will go on to underpin the replacements for the Bullet and Classic series motorcycles. A new future-ready engine will feature on the motorcycles and could be a smaller version based on the 649 cc parallel-twin motor that powers the 650 Twins with the overhead cam. This will be a single-cylinder motor though between 350 cc and 500 cc. It is to be noted that the current 346 cc engine in the RE line-up has been upgraded to BS6 emission norms and gets fuel-injection.
The Meteor name itself isn't exactly new to the Royal Enfield stable. The company trademarked the nameplate in Europe in July last year and traces its origins to the Royal Enfield Meteor Minor 500 cc motorcycle that was sold in the 1950s. With Royal Enfield bringing back its older nameplates time and again, the new Meteor would be a welcome addition. Could the Meteor nameplate be reserved for international markets alone? That's something we'll have to watch out for as well.
Coming to the motorcycle itself, the spy shots have revealed an improved design language that looks like an evolution of the Thunderbird range. The bike gets V-shaped alloy wheels, new twin shock absorbers at the rear, and a blacked-out engine case. The instrument console is also expected to be digital on the new model replacing the twin-pod unit but could get a part-analogue set-up to keep that retro look intact. Other changes include a wider seat, new indicators, LED DRL and revised footpegs. Expect better ergonomics on the new motorcycle and possibly more mounting points too for the luggage.
It's not clear when Royal Enfield will launch the new generation Thunderbird or Meteor motorcycle in India and globally. While a launch around the festive season can be expected, we do think the bike could hit the market by early 2021. We will be closely watching all that comes from RE in the following weeks, so keep watching this space for all the action.
Spy Images Source: Dhabaswin KD on YouTube