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Thursday 13th January 2011

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
By popular demand, PH2's first bike test had to be a Triumph
Last summer I toured Europe on a BMW R1200GS, and so did everyone else. Or at least it seemed that way. Every café car park, scenic view, lay-by and service area had about 20 GSs in it. The GS is a mighty good bike and not just because Ewan and Charley rode them all over the telly, but I felt a bit like a sheep.

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.

The Tiger 800 in road trim...
The Tiger 800 in road trim...
BMW's smaller F800GS is much more manageable and is the bike I'd choose for a trip to Morocco or anywhere else windswept and interesting. But now I'm not so sure, because I've just ridden Triumph's new Tiger 800 and it's a bit good.

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.

...and the more adventurous look
...and the more adventurous look
You can spot the difference between the normal Tiger and the XC from 100 metres because the XC has wire wheels instead of the normal bike's alloys. The XC also has a 21in front wheel to the road version's 19-incher. Sit on the XC and you'll immediately notice a few other differences like higher and wider handlebars and a higher seat height. The wider 'bars are to increase leverage and reduce steering effort off-road and can be adjusted by removing the alloy mounts and turning them around to move the 'bars backwards or forwards.

Suitable for goats, not sheep?
Suitable for goats, not sheep?
The XC has 40mm extra suspension travel at the front and 45mm at the back and its rear shock has a remote reservoir and is adjustable for preload (the 800 has a more basic unit without the reservoir). The seat height is 35mm taller on the XC at 865mm but you can remove the seat, flip a bar up the other way and lose 20mm in seconds. If you still can't get both feet on the ground then you can buy the optional short arse seat that drops the height down to 825mm. That's the dynamic differences between 800 and 800XC; the other changes are more aesthetic. The XC gets a double front mudguard (like the GS's 'beak'), handlebar lever protectors and adjustable headlamps.

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.

And please don't adjust your sets...
And please don't adjust your sets...
First thing you'll want to do when you've written the cheque for the Tiger 800 is write another one for a decent pipe. Like all the Triumph threes, the Tiger's engine sounds great and has stacks of character. The fuelling on the engine is spot-on and there's only a slight lurch as you shut the throttle fully. Within a mile or so you'll have built-up loads of confidence in this bike. The engine feels more torquey than the 675 motor and the Tiger has longer gearing than the Street Triple, so the power delivery feels softer and less manic. The triple will still zap to almost 10,000rpm but it doesn't have the top-end rush of the smaller engine.

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.

...we'll get nice colour pics next time!
...we'll get nice colour pics next time!
Which is why the 800XC feels a little bit disappointing after the 800. It still feels surefooted despite its higher centre of gravity, larger front wheel and more off-road biased Bridgestone Battlewings (pukka Metzeler Karoo off-road tyres are an option), but there's a vagueness from the lighter steering that takes away some of the fun. Unless you really are going to the Sahara or doing proper trail riding, I'd stick to the straight Tiger 800. You can spec-up this bike with XC kit like the lever guards, fog lamp and mudguard anyway, so you can get the hairy-chested look without losing the standard bike's sharper steering and more fun character.

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.



Yonah
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Author Discussion

MarJay

Original Poster:

1,865 posts

61 months

[news] 
Wednesday 12th January 2011 quote quote all
have Triumph lost 5% of their allocation of 800 Tigers already then?

sprinter1050

11,302 posts

113 months

[news] 
Wednesday 12th January 2011 quote quote all
Bloody hell !!

Anybody else want to start a PH2 Tiger 800 thread then ??

I suggest somebody deletes at least 2... smile

pozi

1,127 posts

73 months

[news] 
Wednesday 12th January 2011 quote quote all
MarJay said:
have Triumph lost 5% of their allocation of 800 Tigers already then?
Perhaps the other 5% is a Tigress aimed at women riders, it comes in pink and for one week of every month it will have an oil leak and won't run properly....


bob1179

13,734 posts

95 months

[news] 
Wednesday 12th January 2011 quote quote all
I'm confused, which thread is this?

hehe

But seriously, it's a cracking looking bike and I'll definitely be taking a test ride when I get home again.

smile

Dontlift

9,396 posts

144 months

[news] 
Wednesday 12th January 2011 quote quote all
pozi said:
MarJay said:
have Triumph lost 5% of their allocation of 800 Tigers already then?
Perhaps the other 5% is a Tigress aimed at women riders, it comes in pink and for one week of every month it will have an oil leak and won't run properly....
rofl
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Oddball RS

1,430 posts

104 months

[news] 
Wednesday 12th January 2011 quote quote all
Nice to see PH have moved into boats and now bikes, lets just make sure they are limited to two tests a year please!

bob1179

13,734 posts

95 months

[news] 
Wednesday 12th January 2011 quote quote all
Oddball RS said:
Nice to see PH have moved into boats and now bikes, lets just make sure they are limited to two tests a year please!
Thems fightin' words!

hehe


davepreston50

26 posts

92 months

[news] 
Wednesday 12th January 2011 quote quote all
I have to disagree about the preferred bike. I've ridden both and have opted for the XC (ex abs). Nice to see the first bike test was something British - even if Triumph have three factories in Asia as opposed to only two in the UK!!

LongLiveTazio

2,653 posts

83 months

[news] 
Wednesday 12th January 2011 quote quote all
As someone who owns cars but likes bikes I'd just like to say that was a really informative and entertaining read. More, please.

Davel

7,644 posts

144 months

[news] 
Wednesday 12th January 2011 quote quote all
Having owned 4 GSs over the years, I must say that a test ride is on the cards.

Just don't tell the wife because I 'supposedly' gave up bikes to buy the Tuscan!

B10

771 posts

153 months

[news] 
Wednesday 12th January 2011 quote quote all
davepreston50 said:
I have to disagree about the preferred bike. I've ridden both and have opted for the XC (ex abs). Nice to see the first bike test was something British - even if Triumph have three factories in Asia as opposed to only two in the UK!!
Other successful motor manufacturers have factories all over the world. The important point is that they are British owned, pay UK corporation tax, UK engineering, UK developed IP. More strength to them I say. It shows how the UK is still a major player in manufacturing. Believe it or not the UK is 6th in the world for manufacturing.

rog007

3,479 posts

110 months

[news] 
Wednesday 12th January 2011 quote quote all
Davel said:
Having owned 4 GSs over the years, I must say that a test ride is on the cards.

Just don't tell the wife because I 'supposedly' gave up bikes to buy the Tuscan!
Not that old chestnut! It's amazing how they fall for it each and every time (thank goodness!) smokin

Rob13

3,907 posts

110 months

[news] 
Thursday 13th January 2011 quote quote all
I waited and waited for the release of the Tiger after testing the Street Triple and then owning the Versys. It was only when I saw the photos was I disappointed. To me, although they have shoved a set of twin lamps on there which look a little Triumph, the rest reeks of Bavarian copy. I know that to beat BMW, they probably had to emulate and improve on what they were putting out, but if you took the stickers off the sides of them and removed the headlights, to the untrained eye I probably couldnt tell you which one was which.

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!

PaulMoor

1,599 posts

49 months

[news] 
Thursday 13th January 2011 quote quote all
MarJay said:
Perhaps the other 5% is a Tigress aimed at women riders, it comes in pink and for one week of every month it will have an oil leak and won't run properly....
Impressive. Triumph must have realy upped ther build quality for those 5% then to get them to only run badly any leak one week a month.




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.

Dontlift

9,396 posts

144 months

[news] 
Thursday 13th January 2011 quote quote all
B10 said:
davepreston50 said:
I have to disagree about the preferred bike. I've ridden both and have opted for the XC (ex abs). Nice to see the first bike test was something British - even if Triumph have three factories in Asia as opposed to only two in the UK!!
Other successful motor manufacturers have factories all over the world. The important point is that they are British owned, pay UK corporation tax, UK engineering, UK developed IP. More strength to them I say. It shows how the UK is still a major player in manufacturing. Believe it or not the UK is 6th in the world for manufacturing.
I thought engines were made in far east and only final assembly took place at the hinckley factory

jp-speed-triple

1,504 posts

73 months

[news] 
Thursday 13th January 2011 quote quote all
Rob13 said:
I waited and waited for the release of the Tiger after testing the Street Triple and then owning the Versys. It was only when I saw the photos was I disappointed. To me, although they have shoved a set of twin lamps on there which look a little Triumph, the rest reeks of Bavarian copy. I know that to beat BMW, they probably had to emulate and improve on what they were putting out, but if you took the stickers off the sides of them and removed the headlights, to the untrained eye I probably couldnt tell you which one was which.
Its not just the looks they have err, gained inspiration from...have a look at the 'weights and measures' on both bikes.

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.

hornetrider

48,981 posts

91 months

[news] 
Thursday 13th January 2011 quote quote all
I like it? Any GS-alike metal luggage options?!

VPower

3,501 posts

80 months

[news] 
Thursday 13th January 2011 quote quote all
Great to see a dedicated Biker in the Office testing the bikes.

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!

Driller

5,852 posts

164 months

[news] 
Thursday 13th January 2011 quote quote all
I'm on my third Tiger, a 1050 from last year. No mention of how the 800 motor compares to this?

G Man

4,000 posts

146 months

[news] 
Thursday 13th January 2011 quote quote all
hornetrider said:
I like it? Any GS-alike metal luggage options?!
It has some metallic plastic luggage ..
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