Custom bike builders like Vijay Sigh (Rajputana Custom Motorcycles) and Tarun Sidhu (PanjLoh Hand-Made Motorcycles) are known to build beautiful, one-of-a-kind custom motorcycles. Though these wallpaper bikes are gorgeous to look at, they’ll also cost you a king's ransom to afford. There are many of us who'd like to personalise our bikes to our liking but can’t afford to do so.
Fortunately, there are companies like Royal Enfield and Jawa who’ve taken it upon themselves to build and offer budget factory customs like the Thunderbird 500 X and the Perak. Granted that these bikes won’t have you harping about ‘exclusivity’, but they’ll surely give you a taste of customisation. While the RE Thunderbird 500 X is a stylish cruiser with some custom elements, the soon to be launched Jawa Perak is a proper factory customer bobber. Also, since these bikemakes manufacture on a large scale it’ll be a lot easier for you to find replacement parts in case something goes wrong. Enough with the chatter then, here’s how the RE Thunderbird 500 X fares against the Jawa Perak on paper.
Design and Features:
Starting off with the newcomer, the Jawa Perak. No, it isn’t just the classic Jawa-Jawa with a single seat. The bikemaker has ensured the Perak is easily distinguishable from its siblings. For this, the bike features an all-black paint scheme with a contrasting single tan seat. Though the bike employs the same dual-cradle frame from the Jawa and 42, the rear swingarm is all-new and specifically designed to accommodate a fatter rear tyre and a monoshock that’s neatly tucked away under the seat. It creates the illusion of a hardtail and almost resembles the ‘swing-cage’ swingarm seen on the Triumph Bonneville Bobber.
And that’s not all, it gets a round tail light that’s positioned under the seat rather than the typical fender-mounted one. Moreover, the side panels have been redesigned to flow with the lines of the swingarm. The short rear fender gets turn signals mounted to its leg supports.
The RE Thunderbird 500 X features a dual-tone colour scheme, matching rim tapes, a single step-up seat, a street handlebar for slightly sporty ergonomics and split grab rails. Additionally, the bike also gets modern alloys painted in black instead of conventional spoke wheels. The Thunderbird backrest has been traded in for sharper looks. Aside for the above-mentioned modifications, the bike remains untouched.
Though the bodywork hasn’t changed much, the Thunderbird 500 X gets a couple of extra features compared to the Perak. For instance, it gets a dual analogue instrument console compared to the single pod on the Perak. Furthermore, the former also gets a digital screen that reads out the odo, two tripmeters, average speed, fuel gauge, clock, service indicator and low battery indicator. On the contrary, the latter comes with a simple speedometer that looks dated and features a small digital screen with readouts for the odo and other tell-tale lights.
If you consider the overall looks aside from the antique-looking speedometer, the Perak has to be our pick.
The Perak comes with a slightly larger engine compared to the Jawa and 42. And, thanks to a bigger bore, it produces 3.4PS and 3Nm of torque more than the standard models. It comes mated to a 6-speed transmission which should help it achieve a better top speed compared to its competition. Also, the Jawa’s engine is derived from the Mahindra Mojo, so it provides a flat torque curve and meaty mid-range. While we haven’t ridden the bike, we believe the Perak’s sophisticated DOHC engine with liquid cooling should run a lot smoother and cooler compared to the Thunderbird.
The Thunderbird isn’t one to shy away from a challenge though, and hits back with a fistful of torque which comes in at revs as low as 4,000rpm and makes the same amount of power as the standard Jawas. Unfortunately, its 5-speed gearbox a big let down on the highways and will have you constantly looking for more.
Even though we haven’t ridden the boober from Jawa, we have ridden a version of the motor on the Mahindra Mojo and loved the way it delivered its power. Also, it’s a lot smoother compared to the 500 X and is hence the winner here.
The Thunderbird’s suspension is set up on the firmer side which is best suited for highways, however, in a city filled with potholes it isn’t the best. Since we haven’t ridden the Perak we’d stay away from talking about its suspension setup for now. Although, the bike does feature the safety net of dual-channel ABS which comes as standard. The 500 X is expected to be launched with the same feature pretty soon.
Staying true to its neo-retro looks, the Perak adopts spoke wheels on both ends. Notably, the front looks slightly larger compared to the rear. The wheels come wrapped in stickier Pirelli Angel GT tyres which offer better grip in contrast to the MRF tyres on the 500 X. However, the tubeless MRF tyres on the Thunderbird will have you riding to the tyre repair shop rather than pushing it, something you’ll have to do with the Perak in case of a flat.
It's tough to pick a clear winner here. Both have their ups and downs so it boils down to the way you ride them. We would keep this for when we ride the Perak and have a better understanding of the way both the bikes ride.
So how much do you have to shell out for the two bikes? Well, the Perak will cost you Rs 1.89 lakh while the RE Thunderbird is Rs 10,000 dearer (both ex-showroom Delhi). Though Jawa’s factory custom bobber is some time away from production, it seems like a better proposition. But if the waiting game is too bothersome for you, you could pick the Thunderbird 500 X which offers a better service network and a cult following.