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Triumph Tiger 800
Total photo(s): 16
Triumph Tiger 800
The more road-going version of the middleweight adventure bike follows the same script as the 800XC – effortless to ride yet extremely rewarding
WHAT WE LIKE
NOT SO MUCH
Non-adjustable front forks
Unlike its mammalian namesake, the Triumph Tiger 800 is an omnivore. It's true that it will regularly attack bitumen apexes in its search for something meaty but it's also happy devouring dirt roads, unsealed and the even the odd grassy surface.
Content grazing or hunting, Triumph's all-new Tiger 800 adventure bike makes a very positive impression, due in large part to the engine. Simply put, it's a pearler.
This is the kind of motorcycle that's effortless to ride, but rewarding at the same time and boasts the kind of capability that could take you from one side of this giant island continent to the other.
Spending quality time astride the Triumph's latest adventure bike, the second impression is one of refinement. The bike feels well bolted together, the engine is creamy smooth yet has a significant mid-range punch, and it handles remarkably well -- so well in fact that I couldn't stop grinning after an engaging blast through the hills.
And after a few days in the saddle it was smaller features that began to stand out: the adjustable seat height, the adjustable headlight angle, the powerful alternator and AUX power socket. It was these simple features along with things like several tie-down anchorage points beneath the pillion seat that make the bike more appealing in the long run.
Released in tandem with the Triumph Tiger 800 XC, or Cross Country, the Triumph Tiger 800 is more of a road-biased machine, featuring cast alloy wheels in lieu of spoked rims, and a smaller 19-inch front wheel as opposed to the XC's 21-inch jobbie. Firmer and shorter travel front and rear suspension also suits the Tiger 800s nature.
If you're torn between the Tiger 800 and the Tiger 800 XC, I don't envy you -- it's a tough choice. My decision would be the road-biased Tiger 800 as I do less off-road riding by and large and more scratching.
Priced at $14,390, the 2011 Triumph Tiger 800 represents impressive value for money, as does the ABS-equipped model which costs another grand at $15,390. The 800cc BMW F 650 GS is slightly cheaper at $13,990, but it could be easily argued that the Triumph offers more equipment, more torque and a better chassis.
Triumph’s Tiger 800 is easy to ride; it's not intimidating or overly complex in any way.
The upright seating position and cushy seat presented no problems for all-day riding and the slightly raised bars are angled toward the rider slightly, putting them in easy reach. The rider’s posture is fairly upright, and for the most part weather protection is very good, but I did notice some wind buffeting around my head.
The controls are straightforward and uncluttered, and the clutch is relatively light. The gearbox snicks through gears whether under duress or just cruising, while throttle response and fuelling are excellent, providing for precise, well measured motivation.
JACK OF ALL TRADES
Punting along straight highways, the Triumph Tiger 800 delivers a smooth ride and overtaking manoeuvres are effortless thanks the engine's glut of mid-range torque. You can just leave in sixth gear and roll on the throttle to pass slower moving trucks and cars, such is the tractability of the triple.
With a 19-litre tank the Tiger 800 could probably extend to around 400km if ridden casually, which isn't too shabby. Though the 43mm upside-down Showa front forks are non-adjustable, they are well sorted for a range of different scenarios.
When push comes to shove on tight and twisting bitumen roads, the Tiger responds with aplomb. The nicely spaced 795mm wide handlebars make the transition from upright to tipping into a corner seamless and, although mid-corner bumps will upset the bike's composure, there's enough give in the front end to carry on unscathed.
At the rear is a Showa monoshock with hydraulically adjustable preload, and it's a neat little unit that keeps the rear wheel in steady contact with the road, and even under full throttle the rear ends feels steadfast.
The bike has slightly different geometry than the Tiger 800 XC model, with a slightly shorter wheelbase that is more suited to road riding.
As such it tracks keenly through corners; apt levels of feedback are felt through the bars and, after a few hours of hard riding through the hills, I was slowly getting my head around the Tiger 800's performance threshold. Which is best described as significant!
You can just keep pushing harder and harder into corners and the bike almost flippantly responds: "Yeah we can do that. What's next?"
So confidence-inspiring is the chassis that through one corner the side stand scraped the road (a centrestand is optional), showering the rider behind me with sparks. My fault! But even in this high stress situation the bike didn't really buck and thrash around after kissing the asphalt -- it simply kept to its rhythm and off we went, eyeballing the next apex.
The Pirelli Scorpion tyres are good all-rounders too, providing scads of grip and above average feel when turning up the tempo. The brakes also do a reliable job of decelerating the Tiger's 210kg (wet) mass; twin 308mm floating discs cuddled by floating twin-piston Nissin calipers.
There's a touch of a front end dive if you hammer the brakes hard (it can sometimes happen when heading into a corner a little too hot...), but it's not chronic and is par for the course for an adventure bike.
When it came time to explore the bike's off-road aptitude, it was clear that the Tiger 800's Pirelli Scorpion tyres were not as adept as the Bridgestone Battle Wing items fitted to the Triumph Tiger 800 XC models. But that's not to say it's not up to the task. By and large it was predictable and pliant on the dirt; it was just that mid corner grip wasn't as pointed.
Long story short, the Pirelli Scorpion tyres do a very good job on sealed roads, and are above average on graded dirt roads.
So the chassis is surprisingly capable in a range of situations, but it's the engine that gives the Tiger 800 its personality.
Outputting 95hp at 9300rpm, the Tiger has a 10,000rpm rev limit, while peak torque of 79Nm hits the crank at 7850rpm, but in reality you feel a massive surge of torque building from as low as 5000rpm.
Triumph has installed the catalytic convertor low in the exhaust system, and it heats up unburnt fuel on the overrun which results in a lovely pop-crackle when using the engine to decelerate from higher speeds. Combine that with a ridiculously torquey mid-range and you've got a motorcycle engine that is as engaging as it is capable.
One downside to the thermal intensity of the catalyser is that the exhaust plumbing gets quite hot, so much so that it melted a hole through my Dainese enduro pants. Not a big hole, but the zipper is now melted.
Nevertheless, Hinckley's 799cc adventure bike pulls convincingly from 3000rpm in sixth gear, and will hit well over 200km/h. Or so I'm reliably informed.
Triumph says the engine was the most expensive part of the research and development of the new bike, and was not simply an exercise of taking the 675cc engine stroking it out, with only 20 percent of the old engine carried over.
Another aspect of the powertrain is equally impressive, with the Triumph Tiger 800's six-speed gearbox offering very direct and not too notchy shifts.
TAKING CARE OF THE LITTLE THINGS
There's not much to complain about here. Triumph has crafted a very good motorcycle here, and is easily a four out of five proposition. And as mentioned earlier, the smaller touches come to the fore after you've figured out the motorcycle is seriously rapid on and off the road.
Though manually adjustable, the seat has two positions, 810mm and 830mm, the latter being perfect for my 6'1" frame. There's even a little switch for the headlight position, which has two settings (normal and blinding I call them) and other features that often go unnoticed, but come in very handy, include a powerful 645W alternator.
This is the biggest and most powerful alternator on the market, and was chosen to handle all the aftermarket equipment expected to be thrown at the Tiger 800, such as sat nav, heated handgrips, spotlights and so on. There's even and AUX power socket to make things easy.
Underneath the seat is 2.75 litres of storage space, under which are also grab handles for passengers and heaps of tie-down anchorages for day packs and what not.
Providing the rider will all the necessary travel data is a neat and tidy instrument cluster comprising a nicely presented analogue tachometer and digital speedo (the even-numbered tacho -- 2000, 4000, 6000 rpm etc -- offers a point of difference from most makes and models).
The digital trip computer has plenty of useful features to make your journey a little easier, such as time and distance ridden, a fuel gauge, temperature, average fuel economy and average speed, plus distance to empty.
Triumph has created an accomplished motorcycle in the form of the Triumph Tiger 800, one that will give BMW something to think about when it looks at developing its next generation F 650 GS.
When bikes like this are being built it's no wonder the adventure bike market is growing at a rapid rate. Whether you want to hack through the twisties at a brisk clip or explore fire trails out the back of Woop-woop, the Tiger will take your there. As one of the most tenacious omnivores in the motorcycle world, the Triumph Tiger 800 may not be king of the jungle, but it sure comes close.
Now, where's the big-bore Tiger 1200 adventure bike we keep hearing rumours about?
Tiger 800 in Bike Showroom
Tiger 800XC launch
GEAR WORN ON TEST
Triumph adventure jacket
Dainese enduro pants
SPECS: TRIUMPH TIGER 800XC
Type: Liquid-cooled, 12-valve in-line three-cylinder
Bore x stroke: 74.0mm x 61.9mm
Compression ratio: 12.0:1
Fuel system: Electronic fuel injection
Emissions: Euro 3
Final drive: Chain
CHASSIS AND RUNNING GEAR
Frame type: Tubular steel trellis
Front suspension: 43mm upside-down Showa forks, 180mm travel
Rear suspension: Showa monoshock with rebound and preload adjustment, 170mm travel
Front brakes: Dual 308mm discs with Nissin four-piston calipers (ABS model available)
Rear brake: 255mm disc petal with Nissin twin-piston caliper (ABS model available)
Wheels: Cast aluminium alloy, front 2.5 x 19, rear 4.25 x 17-inch
Tyres: Pirelli Scorpion, front 110/80-ZR19, rear 150/70-ZR17
DIMENSIONS AND CAPACITIES
Rake: 23.7 degrees
Claimed wet weight: 210kg
Seat height: 810/830mm
Ground clearance: Not given
Fuel capacity: 19 litres
Claimed maximum power: 95hp (70kW) at 9300rpm
Claimed maximum torque: 79Nm at 7850rpm
Price: $14,390 ($15,390 with ABS)
Bike supplied by: Triumph Australia
Warranty: 24 months, unlimited kilometres
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