PH2 Tested: Triumph Tiger 800/800XC
Welcome to our first two-wheeled road test of 2011. (Cars are so last year.)
By popular demand, PH2's first bike test had to be a Triumph
There's another snag with the GS and that's its weight and height off the ground. I'm only 5ft 10 and a bit of a wimp, so there's always the worry that a foot might be plonked accidentally into a pothole and the whole bike (which with me, luggage and full of fuel must weigh almost 300kg) will topple over. I've dropped GSs off road and they take a bit of picking up.
Triumph has been a player in the adventure bike market almost since it started building bikes in Leicestershire in 1990 but the new Tiger 800 is the company's first serious attempt at a bike that can actually go off road.
Two Tiger 800s are available: the (£7,149) 800, which is intended to spend its life on Tarmac, and the (£7,749) 800XC, which is the off-road version. Both are powered by a trademark three-cylinder engine, but it's not simply a larger version of the existing small three that's used in the Daytona sports bike and the Street Triple. The crankcases are the same but from the crankshaft up it's a bespoke motor with a longer stroke for more torque.
Triumph says that it expects that sales of the Tiger will be split 45/50 between 800 and 800XC respectively, but since even those who go for the more off-road focused version will be unlikely to get their boots dirty for more than a few miles a year we'll have a go on the roadie Tiger first. It's cold and damp, just the sort of weather in which it's easy to highside or lowside a superbike on tyres that haven't got any heat into them.
Since an adventure bike is essentially a touring bike under another name you'll probably want to go for the optional £600 abs (it's switchable for when you go off-road). The 800 is fitted with Pirelli Scorpions that feel perfect for the bike. Because the engine has so much character it's hard to resist riding the Tiger like a nutter - like a Street Triple in other words - and because the front end is so neutral and predictable. The Tiger 800 feels more like a street fighter-style bike that's been tweaked for longer distance riding than it does an adventure bike that's been given a shot of adrenaline.
Triumph is big into accessories and there are plenty of things to spend your money on for the Tiger. The bike is fitted with a powerful alternator so you can plug in heated kit for the winter. I averaged about mid 40s to the gallon on the trip computer, but with more sensible riding you could do an easy 200 miles to a tank. Nothing like as impressive as the BMW F800GS, which can manage 70mpg, but then the Triumph is a very different sort of bike. The BMW is a brilliant lightweight adventure bike but it doesn't have the character and fun of the new Triumph.
I would have thought the road would have had a few more plastic bits on to improve its looks. I'll probably get a test ride from one of these sooner or later just to see how different it is from the 675.
Still enjoying PH2 by the way, so its all looking positive so far!
Just a joke... I know they are much better than they used to be. I'd love a Triumph. Haveing said that they don't build anything I'd want to inflict winter rideing on, unlike my BMW, until now at anyway. I'll give it a few years to see how they hold up, but I would be tempted by the new tiger to replace my F650 when the time comes, if they will take the abuse. If not it fails as an adventure bike.
100% agree on the durability of these bikes being unproven and their previous track record of making a bike that 'lasts' in the crap weather doesn't stand up in my experience.
Having reidden the F800 a lot on and off road before buying one, its a great bike to copy, I'm just not sure Trumpet has the credibility to pull off a step in to the GENUINE adventure market. The one that doesn't involve Starwars actors and their trusty sidekicks.
I too am very possibly going to get another bike later this year.
I had intended to go British with the Triumph Bonneville, but this could get a look.
As Petrol goes up, I suspect more of us will turn back to bikes for commuting??
But 40 MPG from an 800 is very poor, my last BMW a K100RS did 55 ridden hard and that was made in 1990!
So I would have liked a short-shifting normal commuter run figure, just to see what can be obtained as my car does 43mpg AVG (A4 2.0 FSI) on the way into morning shift if I take it easy.
Anyway, great first effort I say!