It's the Revolutionary War all over again as we pit American and British cruiser motorcycles in a head-to-head comparison.
The 2010 Harley-Davidson Street Bob is nimble for a big cruiser.
“The British are coming, the British are coming.”
This should have been the cry of cruiser motorcycle manufacturers upon hearing the news that Triumph Motorcycles was entering the mid-displacement cruiser market with the release of its 2010 Thunderbird. How dare they invade the demographic that was the prime territory of American manufacturing giant Harley-Davidson. Were the boys from Hinckley trying to reignite the Revolutionary War?
No, it was nothing as drastic as that, but if Triumph could whittle a bit into the sales of the American magnate, you’d get no complaints from John Bloor. Triumph’s intentions were fueled more on its need to fill a niche, albeit a very lucrative niche, between its middleweight Speedmaster and classic-styled America cruisers that are both powered by an 865cc engine and its monolithic Rocket III with its gargantuan 2294cc of displacement. In true Triumph tradition, it also resurrected a hallowed name for the marque, as the Thunderbird’s roots originated in 1949 and was popularized by the success of the 6T Thunderbird.
For this cruiser comparo, it’s the Revolutionary War revisited as we pit the British-made Triumph, with its liquid-cooled Parallel Twin engine, against the American-made air-cooled V-Twin of Harley’s Street Bob.
Both companies stake claims as the longest continually producing motorcycle manufacturer in their respective countries with over 100 years in the industry, but who has learned the lessons of history better and is currently producing the better cruiser? Game on.
Harley has kept the design of the 2010 Street Bob clean and simple with bobbed fenders showcasing the black, steel-laced spoke wheels and Michelin Scorcher tires
The 2010 Harley-Davidson Street Bob’s styling is injected with an attitude that makes you want to hang out with the Boozefighters and go raise some hell in Hollister. You don’t ride around on a bike with your arms hung high gripping factory ape-hangers and your body curled up on a Bobber solo seat, legs tucked in tight on the pegs of the mid-mounted foot controls without feeling like a rebel.
The 2010 Triumph Thunderbird is a fierce competitor in the mid-displacement cruiser segment with classic lines, a rippin' Parallel Twin engine and refined gearbox.
The Thunderbird has a huge 5.8-gallon tank that feeds a steady supply through electronic fuel injection to the dual 800cc cylinders of the Parallel Twin.
Where the Street Bob sports a darker, rabble-rousing image, the Thunderbird is all spit-and-polish. It starts with the classy look of the machined engine heads of the big-bored cylinders and continues in the polished-up chrome primary and crankcase covers. But it doesn’t stop there. The shiny chrome treatment extends to its tank-mounted console, swoops down its side in the reflection of the big pipes, and is splashed in the small details like the chain guard and shock mounts bolted onto the side of the rear fender. It can be found on the rear pulley and in the 5-spoke cast aluminum wheels. The high level of chrome and overall fit and finish of the Triumph Thunderbird is what riders have come to expect from Harley-Davidson, who conversely has been shifting away from that look with its Dark Custom series of motorcycles.