This was the question I was trying to answer before I finally selected the Classic (Desert Storm). The choice depends on how you are going to use it. I stay in a mountainous area. Have owned an Electra (which is like classic) in a city earlier. For city and hills, I prefer the classic due to better control and an upright posture (keeps you alert and ready for braking). The set of muscles in the arms are well developed (in everybody naturally, without going to the gym) to control the handle when you are on a classic as compared to Thunderbird because the handle is having more height in TB. (I hope you can imagine this). Handle bar of Thunderbird also feels heavier. This might also have to do with the rider’s height. I am 5′8″. Taking sharp turns or U-turns is easier on classic which happens a lot in the hills and to an extent in a city also.
Anyways, you would be aware that Thunderbird is a “cruiser” which gives a relaxed posture and is ideal for going on a highway with minimal traffic and not needing to stop for 100 kms. How much are you going to ride on such roads? Will you find less traffic on these roads? I am not saying that you cannot ride this bike in the hills or in a city. People do! Maybe people taller than me have a different experience! And a Thunderbird owner will eventually get used to it so much that riding a classic anywhere would led him/her to conclude that TB is the best (and vice versa)! I am trying to give you an objective answer rather than asking you to go for a test ride because the road conditions during that ride will greatly impact your experience due to the factors listed above.
Royal Enfield Thunderbird or Classic 350 – Lets accept it. Many people want to show off their bikes and if how you look on a bike is your concern, I would advice you to not let that feeling influence your decision too much. The engines are the same. Their is detailed electronic display in TB as compared to traditional and minimal display on classic. Should not matter much in the longer run. If still aesthetics matter more than the riding experience, you can go for any of the two!! But classic makes more sense in general because you might be riding locally in the plains and some of your trips must be to the mountains!
Royal Enfield Thunderbird or Classic 350 – My choice was also between 350 cc and 500 cc engine. As my previous RE was having 350 cc engine, I had felt the lack of power at some instances particularly while going uphill and I made the best decision to go for 500 cc. Their is a very significant improvement in the power and torque that translates much more into the riding experience because the weight of 500 cc classic does not increase in the same proportion compared to 350 (better power to weight ratio). Fortunately, the price for 500 cc also doesnt go up that much and is better value for money! Undoubtedly! If you can afford, Classic 500 is the best!