If you just glance at the T-bird Commander’s shape and shiny twin-headlight grin, there doesn’t seem to be much difference between this latest mean-and-moody parallel twin and the Thunderbird Storm with which Triumph gave its cruiser line an extra dollop of menace back in 2011. Dig deeper though, and the Commander is very different – much more like the LT with which it shares the majority of both engine and chassis components. That 1699cc parallel twin engine is common to all three models, but the airbox and exhaust system that detune it slightly to a max of 93bhp, while adding a bit more noise, are like those of the LT. The Commander also shares the Light Tourer’s chassis with its revamped frame, dual-rate shock springs and thicker seat.
Masses of low-rev grunt mean that you don’t have to lift your left boot from the footboard to use the perfectly good six-speed gearbox unless you particularly want to. The big Triumph responds to the throttle in an impressively instant, smooth and controllable way, thudding forward at an entertaining but never threatening rate until the tank-top speedo is showing three figures and you’re requiring a pretty tight grip on the slightly lower one-piece handlebar.
The Commander’s pleasantly easy to steer, and very stable on twisty roads. More ground clearance would be good, but pilots of all sizes seemed impressed by the bike’s comfort levels.
Details are mostly excellent, as is the quality of finish, and you can expect a respectable range from the 22-litre tank. The accessories list is comprehensive, incorporating many chromed parts as well as the quickly-detachable screen and panniers that would make the Commander as good a long-haul bike as the LT. Only trouble is that at £12,999 the naked twin is only a grand less expensive than its dressed and much more versatile stable-mate, so the LT seems better value for money unless you won’t want to ride very far.
Price: £13,999 (LT); £12,999 (Commander)
Engine: 1699cc, liquid-cooled, dohc 8-valve parallel twin
Power: 93bhp (69kW) @ 5400rpm
Torque: 111lb-ft (151N.m) @ 3550rpm
Curb weight: 380kg (LT); 348kg (Commander)
Seat height: 700mm
Tank size: 22 litres