The world’s longest-running adventure. The Triumph Tiger goes back 80 years, that’s even longer than the iconic Bonneville. It’s an adventure story richer and older than any other brand. Since the 1930s, the Tiger has been synonymous with genuine dual purpose off-road and on-road touring. Long before we were sporting peaked helmets, waterproof panniers and checking our GPS, Tigers were being used for the same sort of trips and tackling the same harsh terrain as the modern bikes do today. It really is the original ‘adventure bike’ and has an enviable lineage…
Tiger 70, 80 and 90
The Tigers, first produced in 1936, were single-cylinder workhorses. Although used for everything from racing to everyday transport, their association with the rough stuff came early on – all three were tested by Harold Perry, motorcycle trials rider. The early Tiger was also the bike of choice for many in the International Six Day Trial, winning in all three classes entered, first time out. As World War II hit, the Tiger became the rugged military 3HW model.
An ultra high-performance sports machine of the time (released in 1939), the 100 was an excellent all-rounder. It was also the motorcycle of choice for Ted Simon’s around the world trip in 1973. Bulletproof construction, by 1939’s standards, and a pretty impressive performance from the 498cc engine made it great for hauling gear and eating up the miles.
The 50s arrived and brought serious style. The T110 of 1954, was a good looker. Fitted with a 649cc twin – tested at the International Six Day Trial – the T110 was ready for anything. In 1954 this bike was reaching top speeds of 110mph, practically unheard of at the time. The Tiger continued until 1969, with off-road versions sold in the US with raised exhaust, after which it wouldn’t appear again until 1981.
Tiger TR7T/TR65T Trail
Triumph’s BMW beater. Knobbly tyres, raised exhaust and high front mudguard made the Trail a great performer off the beaten track. The Trail was made in response to French importers who requested a large-capacity, dual-purpose motorcycle. Based on the TR7V Tiger, this final Meriden-built Tiger was the last to be based on the parallel twin – a simple, stripped-back, lightweight bike aimed at competition. It was ridden by Tony Beaumont of the Federation of Police Motor Clubs in the Rallye des Pyrénées, who won the 750cc category against Japanese and German machinery.
Tiger 900 and 955i
After John Bloor revived Triumph he returned the Tiger name to a 900cc motorcycle to rival Honda’s Africa Twin and BMW’s R1100GS (released one year later). Drawing on the adventure-riding heritage of the original Tigers, and the raw power, the new Tiger was the most powerful on the market at the time with 84bhp. It was also able to hold 24 litres of fuel – great for those long trips. Sporting the popular triple 955cc engine from the Daytona, the later 955i Tiger was a fantastic touring machine. It didn’t have the off-road prowess of later models, but for light trail riding it ate up the miles with ease. Since the reintroduction, the Tiger has been in the Hinckley era line up from the start.
Tiger 1050 Sport
The Tiger got a facelift and a new engine, the 1050 triple, and became more recognisable as the bike we know today. A near-perfect touring machine, the 1050 had 125bhp and a refined chassis for a comfortable ride.
In 2010 the Tiger 800 was launched as a multipurpose, characterful and accessible all-rounder that’s become loved by communities all around the world and is one of Triumph’s bestselling bikes of all time. Something of an icon, the 800 is ridden by The Walking Dead star Norman Reedus.
Tiger Explorer 1200
Launched at the same time as the Tiger 800 in 2010, the Tiger Explorer 1200 is the ultimate bike of choice for long distance adventure. Packed full of rider focussed state of the art tech, the Explorer delivers superb performance, comfort and convenience. The Tiger 1200 is the bike of choice for Charley Boorman and his team.
Triumph has continued to develop and innovate with the Tiger. Take a look at the custom Tiger 800 Tramontana that recently competed in the PanAfrica Rally.