Royal Enfield Himalayan Vs Thunderbird 350 vs Thunderbird 500 Comparison

RE Thunderbird 350 vs Himalayan Comparison Review:

Pricing & Features:
The Himalayan, retails for 1.75 Lakh Rs. on road, Delhi. This makes it just over 15,000 more expensive than the Thunderbird 350, costing 1.6 Lakh. The Thunderbird 500 on the other hand, is 27,000 Rs. more expensive than the Himalayan, thanks to a 2 Lakh Rs. price tag. In terms of equipment, the Thunderbird sports an HID Projector Headlamp, while the Himalayan boasts a monoshock rear suspension. The digital console on the Thunderbird, is just a derivative of the old T-Bird. In contrast, the Himalayan's speedo & odo, gives you a unique and refreshing retro adventure-bike feel. The pods are neatly placed, and readability is quite amazing even under direct sunlight.

Himalayan vs Thunderbird 350 & 500 Video Comparison Review:

RE Himalayan is a new breed of motorcycle in India, manufacturers like Hero and Bajaj have tried their hands at this segment but have failed in the past. RE Thunderbird is a bike which has evolved for years whereas the Himalayan is a completely new bike for the company as well to the Indian community. Talking about the Himalayan, it's a really tall standing motorcycle when compared with the Thunderbird. Thunderbird is an old school interim cruiser motorcycle, you can't put it into a complete cruiser category due it’s lesser rake angle.  Himalayan has a unique feature of the hazard lamp switch on the centre of the speedo which is completely new for most of the motorcycles available in India. Well the Thunderbird is available in five different colors whereas the Himalayan is offered in only two color options.

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Build Quality & Refinement:
Fit and finish of both the bikes, is not at all up-to-the-mark, compared to industry standards today. For example, the Thunderbird's wiring harness connectors are completely exposed at all the locations, with not enough anchoring points, whereas on the Himalayan, sides of the frame have external ribbing plates which are directly visible, and look extremely crude and tacky.
Rear view of T-Bird
Even the digital compass on the Himalayan does not show the right direction at times, and also does not have an option to reset it either.

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Performance & Tractability:
The biggest difference between the Himalayan and the Thunderbirds, is in terms of their engine characteristics. Himalayan is powered by a completely new power-plant. It is probably Royal Enfield's very first and arguably the only, grounds-up, self developed engine, since the beginning of its Indian innings. RE has finally gotten rid of the push rods, giving birth to their first overhead cam shaft driven valves. Due to its new engine construction, vibrations have been significantly reduced, and the engine revs far more enthusiastically than the Thunderbirds'. However, the bike no longer makes the exhaust thump, synonymous with the Royal Enfield legacy.

Even though the Himalayan, is one of the lightest bikes in Royal Enfield portfolio, it still tips the scales a hefty 182 kg, against the 192 kg kerb weight, of the Thunderbird 350 and 195 kg of the Thunderbird 500. In terms of performance, the Thunderbirds are simply no match to the Himalayan, not even the Thunderbird 500. The Himalayan accelerates from 0 to 100, in 10 seconds flat. The Thunderbird 500, in spite of its 88 cc advantage, takes 12.5 seconds to get there. The Thunderbird 350 takes a yawn-inducing 15 seconds, to get to the 100 kph marker. If you don't want to be embarrassed at the traffic light drags, by bikes with less than half the displacement and half the price as yours, you better stay away from the Thunderbirds.

Power to weight (PS/ton): Himalayan - 137, Thunderbird 350 - 104, Thunderbird 500 - 141
Torque to weight (Nm/ton): Himalayan - 176, Thunderbird 350 - 146, Thunderbird 500 - 212

Comfort & Ergonomics:
Both bikes have great seating comfort for the rider. On the Himalayan, you sit quite upright, as compared to the laid-back seating position of the Thunderbird. However, the Thunderbird's rear seat is quite confining. The Himalayan is about 130 mm longer than the Thunderbird, which creates ample space for the rider and all his luggage, for long journeys. On top of it, the seat cushion of the Himalayan is made of a unique material, having a memory-foam effect, which gives you the feeling, of sitting 'in' to the seat rather than 'on' it.

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Handling, Ride Quality & Off-road Ability
Going off-road is like a walk in the park on the Himalayan, thanks to a newly developed double cradle frame, which provides better stability, and structural rigidity around the corners. Himalayan also has a 21 inch front wheel, and 200 mm of fork travel, as compared to the 19 inch rims and 130 mm of travel, on the T-Bird. Even riding at around 40 kph off-road, will not make you feel out-of-place, as the suspension has been tuned brilliantly, by the guys at Harris Performance, UK. Surprisingly, Himalayan's high speed stability, and cornering manners are remarkably good, for such a tall and pliant trans-roader. The Thunderbird on the other hand, is neither a good off-roader, nor is it any good around the bends. Even its ride quality, is quite harsh and jarring, thanks to a weak single-down-tube frame and therefore, a stiff suspension, required to keep its overall composure, in check.

Rear view of Himalayan
Fuel Efficiency:
Neither of these bikes, are expected to be frugal with the fuel. Depending on how hard you wring the throttle, expect the Thunderbird 350 and the Himalayan to return a fuel efficiency of around 35 kmpl and the Thunderbird 500 to average around 30 kmpl.

Real World Mileage:

Himalayan - 35 kpl
Thunderbird 350 – 35 kpl
Thunderbird 500 - 30 kmpl

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Fuel Cost (for usage of 60,000 km):
Himalayan - 1.2 Lakh Rs.
Thunderbird 350 - 1.2 Lakh Rs.
Thunderbird 500 - 1.4 Lakh Rs.

Reliability & After Sales Service: 
Royal Enfield bikes are so notorious for their troublesome ownership experience, that it has become one of the defining characteristics of the brand. It is so absurd in fact, that anecdotes of their walk-home-failures and unsolvable issues, tend to rack up far more mileage at the local pubs, than the bikes themselves. Premium pricing has given them some breathing room, to sort out a lot of their inherent issues, over the past decade. However, even today, Royal Enfield remains the manufacturer of the most unreliable two-wheelers in the country, bar none, and that too by a huge margin.

Resale & Cost of Ownership:
Five to seven year old Thunderbird 350s, retail for around 85,000 Rs. today. The Thunderbird 500 is bound to retain slightly better residual value of around 95,000 Rs down the line. The current Himalayans, still have a few teething troubles, which doesn't bode well for their residual value. Expect the 2016 Himalayans to retail for around 70,000 Rs. in the year 2022.

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Resale Price (after 5 - 7 years & 60,000 km):
5 to 7 year old Thunderbird 350s, retail for around 85,000 Rs. today. The Thunderbird 500, is bound to retain slightly better residual value of around 95,000 Rs. down the line. The current Himalayans, still have a few teething troubles, which doesn't bode well for their residual value. Expect the 2016 Himalayans to retail for around 70,000 Rs. in the year 2022.
Himalayan - 70,000
Thunderbird 350 - 85,000 Rs.
Thunderbird 500 - 95,000 Rs.

Total Cost of Ownership (Price + Fuel Cost - Resale Price):
Overall, the Himalayan works out to be around 30,000 Rs. more expensive than the Thunderbird 350 and around 20,000 Rs. cheaper than a Thunderbird 500 in terms of Overall Cost of Ownership.

Himalayan - 2.25 Lakh

Thunderbird 350 - 1.95 Lakh
Thunderbird 500 - 2.45 Lakh


Technically, the Himalayan is a far superior motorcycle than the Thunderbirds. It has incredibly better performance, distinctly superior ride-handling and inherently more capable off-road behavior than the Thunderbirds. It is also relatively more practical bike than the T'birds, thanks to a more ergonomic riding position and plenty of anchoring points for mounting luggage. But what really distinguishes it from the Thunderbirds, or for that matter any other Royal Enfield is that it feels half a century more advanced than the others. Right from the way it cranks, the way it responds to throttle inputs, the way it revs, the way it absorbs the bumps, the way it tackles the turns, the way it cruises, right down to the way it stops . Every living second spent astride the Himalayan is way more rewarding than that spent astride the Thunderbird. And that is why the Royal Enfield Himalayan is the clear winner of this test.

Himalayan Speedo cluster
Thunderbird Speedo cluster

411 cc
346 cc
Maximum Power
24.5 BHP @ 6500 rpm
19.8 Bhp @ 5250 rpm
Maximum Torque
32 NM @ 4000-4500 rpm
28 Nm @ 4000 rpm
No. of Cylinders
No. of Gears
Seat Height
800 mm
775 mm
Ground Clearance
220 mm
140 mm
Kerb/Wet Weight
182 kg
192 kg
Fuel Tank Capacity
15 litres
20 litres
Top Speed
145 kmph
130 kmph

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