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Triumph Of The Will — 1,422 Miles — Cheeks Branded, Intact

May 25th, 2014 · Tags:Cities · Sports · Wi-Fi

The Bird


Before and after I bought the 2014 Triumph Thunderbird LT read many motorcycle reviews. One reviewer thought the bird blew away the home team favorite Harley. That writer was British. Another reviewer preferred the Victory over the Triumph and The Harley all in the similar touring class — leather baggers. Pretty sure there were some Victory ads throughout his Website. All of the reviews I read praised the Triumph for the most comfortable seat. So, I deduce all motorcycle writers have big arses.


A while back, we broke in the bike on the 380-mile, roundtrip ride from Fort Worth to Austin’s SXSW Festivus and back. Well, having just completed the 607 miles from Fort Worth to Columbia, Missou (in nine hours) … and then (a few days later) on from Columbia to Nashville (another 435 miles in six hours), my cheeks are impressed. Ha … they are probably imprinted to. The seat is embroidered with Thunderbird, and for that matter, Triumph took just about every imaginable opportunity to put its brand on the bike. Not a bad thing. Cool bike. Cool brand. Storied history. (I need to crawl under it to see if it says Triumph on the bottom.)



Easy Chair


Fort Worth To Columbia


I predicted torrential rains, twisters, snow flurries and everything else, just short of Sharknadoes for this long ride. But the “Leader of the Pack in the sky” gave me great weather. Rain clouds in the distance, in every direction. But I stayed dry, somewhat shaded and cool. I almost needed my leathers … in May! Two coincidences (which I love). I stopped in Tulsa, Okla. to call an old friend (named Dirt of all things) and ate at the first BBQ place I saw, as I maneuvered The Bird in around some street festival. Three or four days later, I saw that the same restaurant was featured on my Facebook newsfeed, because a new Rib Crib is opening in Amarillo (my old stomping grounds). The BBQ is worthy! Later on the ride, I pulled over and circled Springfield, Mo. because my friend Narkus was raised there (Markus). On the tour, I had my first encounter with Drury University, although, unbeknownst to me, it has been doling out liberal arts educations since 1873. Like I said, never heard of it … then five days later, flipping through the channel, and although I won’t say what show it was, but a young lady in a job interview said she had taken classes at … yes … Drury. Ha! There were other coincidences about the Ozark Mountain Daredevils too, in Springfield, their home town.


Drury University



This ride got a bit mundane at times. The countryside is green and lush and beautiful. I will say this. The last 100 miles around The Lake of The Ozarks and on to the Missouri River, and beside the dome of the Missouri Capitol made for an awesome end of the ride. But alas, the beauty is not Montana. Montana may have spoiled me forever – 5 pings.


Columbia To Nashville


First off, can I just say that Austin is great, but man, Nashville is so impressive. So much history … great old architecture everywhere … and the new, ultra modern skyscrapers … the mansions of country greats … So, about the ride to Music City. I expected rain on this ride too. But I only got sprinkled on for the first 10 minutes, leaving Columbia. Then it was clear sailing. Ha. I have a funny farmer tan on my wrists only, because my long-sleeve Yellowstone Park t-shirt shrunk a little and no longer covers all of my monkey arms. Made great time. The speed traps already had prey in their jaws before I zoomed upon them. Lots of little towns. Being sentimental nut that I am, I pulled over in Paducah, KY to honor my grandfather — Mr. Pieratt — who was born there. The road went through Missouri, Illinois, Kentucky and Tennessee (70 to 64 to 57 to 24). Dang it … I bypassed Festus, Mo. (could have had fun with that). In Marion, Ill., I pulled over for gas next door to a Harley dealership … and there must have have been a poker run on bikes or something. Harleys circling me on every side. Most were appreciative of the British bike, even on Memorial Day weekend. (Hey, I seem to recall our bravest of the brave fought side by side with the Brits in several wars …) Only one young punk on a bobber tried to impressive me by getting up on my tail. His bike sounded much cooler than mine, from what I could hear behind me, as I left him, on his smaller bike, behind.) Huge dealership in Marion. Later, In Paducah, I saw Four Rivers Harley Davidson, I think it was. I soon saw why the name. In one trip, I rode over The Mississippi, The Ohio, The Tennessee, The Cumberland and I think #5 was a smaller branch of The Red River. Beautiful. In Awe … love, love riding over the old bridges. I couldn’t help but think that no wonder several of the good songwriters in my iTunes have written about this area … Dave Alvin, and Ryan Adams, Wilco come to mind. Last thought … oh the smells! I sold yellow flowers everywhere, so they may have been the source. But as soon as I passed over the Cumberland, I was hit by a sweet scent of honeysuckle or other flowers, or something. Almost euphoric. Clover everywhere too. That is one of the things I found most enjoyable and surprising the day I became a rider — the vibrant scents you miss in a Prius … or in a real car. Also … I love how motorcyclists of all brand loyalties wave at each other on the road. It reminds me of my hometown, where everyone waves at each other, whether you know each other or not, or maybe even if you don’t like each other. I think my arm will be sore from doing the biker wave. I digress …



The river run was awesome. Can I just say I loved me some riding around Music City on a new bike … ha … until all air escaped the front white wall. Regardless … a beautiful day on Triumph – 6 pings.



She Blinded Me With Chrome


The T-Bird is pretty “blinged out” with chrome. Ha … the tail light assembly looks like an art deco hood ornament from an old Rocket ’88.  I purchased a special “launch edition” of the bird, so supposedly it has a little more chrome than others in the line — roll bars and such.


Interesting observation. The thing that really surprised me was how much reflection hits the rider in the face, when the sun is over the shoulder. It is like a spotlight, coming up from the very nice chrome speedometer fixtures. I had to wonder if this was creating an interesting visual on my face or helmet for the oncoming traffic. Reminds me of the days before in-air Wi-Fi on planes, when the only thing I had to amuse myself was using the crystal of my wristwatch to shine reflections on the flight attendant’s face — like playing a video game. I digress …


Stealth Is For Drones


Don’t get me wrong. I like a bike whose bite is worse than its bark … but a little more growl from the

T-Bird’s factory pipes would be nice. (I suppose there are government regulations that prompted that.) Me and a mechanic will have to address that later.


I mean … I have no interest in being obnoxious out in front of the coffee shop … but there is a saying among motorcycle enthusiasts: “Loud pipes save lives.” I have seen this over and over. Cars have blind spots. Most of them – unless they have subwoofers that shake man hole covers in the street — don’t have deaf spots. Make a little bit of noise. As far as my dealer knew at the time of purchase, there were no pipe options available to crank up the volume. (My Triumph Speedmaster is is 10 years older and half the size of the new bike, but is about three times as loud.)





As mentioned above, there are lots of reviews of the 2014 Triumph Thunderbird LT motorcycle, but the ones I have read are the product of a well-known motorcycle rider taking a test ride down the California Coast. Our research department seems to think this is the first review of the bike, from an owner of the bike — on extended rides.


PingWi-Fi has added the light touring T-Bird to our blogging arsenal, and for the next couple of years, we will hit as many Wi-Fi hotspots as we can on the two-wheeler. Yes, saddlebacks are a great thing for the old laptop and the Nikon. The Bird’s bags are leather, with faux buckles and quick and easy plastic snaps underneath. Inside, there are bag liners so you can snatch up all your stuff and carry it inside the place where you stay.


On the maiden voyage The Bird performed nicely among the idiots riding bumper to bumper on their way south to South By Southwest on 35. But, for the first 500 miles, our instructions were to keep the bike at low r.p.m.s to break the motor in. We tried.


So about this bike. First off, the Triumph name is an immediate giveaway that it is not a Harley and that will turn off many riders/readers. But, I would be remiss if I didn’t point out that the Triumph Thunderbird has quite a history. It — not a Harley — is the bike Marlon Brando rode in “The Wild Ones” … one of the first motorcycle movies. (He rode his own bike.) And of course, everyone knows Steve McQueen was a Triumph nut … The British company has recently introduced a vintage looking Steve McQ tribute bike.


Enough history … there’s lots more … but you probably aren’t into it like I am.


Let’s talk more about shiny — color schemes … There are only two. The T-Bird LT is blue/white or maroon/black. I opted for the bike that looked a little more red on the Internet. (Perhaps a pitfall of being the first to order a bike, sight unseen.) Ha … I would love to repaint it with my favorite British band, in honor of it’s UK pedigree. Both bikes — blue and maroon — come with wide tires of the white wall variety. Ha … pimpin. (My front went flat, riding around Music City … the diagnosis is not in yet on failure vs. a sharp thang … it was dark when I parked.)


Saddlebags — standard, as mentioned above, perfect for the tools of the blogging trade, but more important to have on hand some rain gear. … Been stuck in 50 degree rain for a few hours one time too many. (Raining in Nashville, as I type from the atrium of the Gaylord Opryland Resort.)


Gaylord Opryland Resort



Power? The new T-Bird has 1700 c.c.s of belt-driven … yes belt driven stuff, to just get on with it. Note: the first time I got it out on the open rode, I was pushing a little bit … not too crazy, but moving along somewhere near the speed limit … perhaps slightly above … when I realized I had yet one more road gear waiting for me to try it out. Done. You can conservatively hit 70, before shifting into road gear.


Fuel range/efficiency? The Bird gets about 40 miles per gallon, burning premium, and has a 5.8 gallon tank. Translation – where i used to stop three times between Fort Worth and Austin on the Triumph Speedmaster … just one stop now. Minor issue — the “splash guard” in side the tank actually leads to splashing when you fill up. The bad news, the mpgs are probably not as good as a Prius. The good news is — you are not riding a Prius.


The engine is rated at 94 horses at 5400 r.p.m. Which leads to another question — why know tachometer in this beautiful tank-mounted, elaborately chromed instrument panel? And why in the world did they put a cutesy little digital window, inside an otherwise art deco, retro speedometer. (The digital window has fuel report, mileage, tripometer, etc.) It is useful, but looks like an afterthought.


There is no factory cruise control … ha … so that is why guys like Harley’s better. Just kidding. We don’t need no stinkin’ cruise control!



Let’s see … the large windscreen is also standard, as is the passenger back rest, but they say these can be removed in a matter of minutes. We shall see. For now, leaving the bike in passenger (“biotch”) mode. Never knew how much I would appreciate the quieter ride on the highway … with the windshield. I can listen to music now with earbuds. Oh happy day!


I had to post this the other night in Boonsville, Missouri. I was riding along, feeling a bit macho, when my iPhone shuffle music played a great song by Kenny Loggins … Ha … a song about Winnie The Pooh. LOL.


Handling … No problems … the bike allows you to lean into any curve as fast as you care to go, as far as we’re concerned. (Some of the pro riders said they scraped a bit …) I think I will conserve chrome and flesh on me bum with a little more reserve.


So what’s not to like about the bike? Me thinks it doth not protest enough. The T-Bird standard package is the most quiet bike on the drag. What? Is this the same Triumph that made my noisy little Speedmaster that backfires and crackles like a Spitfire? I mean … It is embarrassing when you zoom by a herd of dairy cattle and they don’t even look up from their cud. 🙂


What’s to love? It is beautiful. It is fast. It is cool. It is comfortable. And it has tradition.




Only one thing that can keep me away from Wi-Fi … well maybe a couple.  I shot the bird the first six pings because it is awesome, plus one biased ping awarded because I own the thing … for a perfect 7 of 7 on our ping/bling tachometer.


Know what I sayin?