After more than a decade of exhilarating street and dirt bike riding, Soldier Leigh Sullivan felt something was missing from his life.
“I’d had an itch that progressively got more and more out of control. I had a dream to have an adventure tour around Australia… and beyond,” he said.
So when the 29-year-old’s latest leave came up, he acted decisively and did something about it.
He ditched his Australian Army fatigues and flew from Darwin in Northern Territory to the other side of the country to Melbourne, Victoria.
After picking up a pre-ordered Tiger 800XC, he rode up the east coast of Oz back to where he started, clocking up just over 5,280 miles (8,500kms).
He said: “I’d ridden bikes long distances before, but always assumed that adventure touring was something for the older bloke. How wrong could I be?”
And although he’ll always be a big fan of the Speed Triple, Leigh – Sully to his mates – is now a powerful advocate for what he reckons is “the most comfortable and reliable bike I’ve ever owned”.
The native suicidal wildlife that try to meet you at 80mph (130kmph) on the highway were definitely the scariest thing about the trip,Leigh Sullivan
But it wasn’t all plain sailing, despite some cool luxury features on his bike that he said made the trip memorable for all the right reasons.
Stampeding pigs, curious wildlife and deadly poisonous snakes tested his endurance to the limit, but not so much that he’s not planning a future mammoth tour.
“Wherever you camped, the pigs were always curious of why you were on their patch. I had a few close calls near my camp. I ended up leaving my Bluetooth speaker on all night with some good music. Obviously it wasn’t to their liking because they didn’t visit again. “Being in remote, isolated areas, charging devices wouldn’t usually be possible, so the electric auxiliary ports on the 800XC are awesome, and were used daily.”
Perhaps the greatest reassurance for Sully was the 800XC’s digital fuel display with its distance to empty feature. “The fuel economy on the Tiger is great and it was also kitted out with the RotoPax jerry holders and 1 gallon jerries for fuel and water, but running out did play on my mind,” he admitted. “Sometimes you have around 280 to 310 miles (450 to 500km) between fuel stops, so running out in the middle of the desert in Central Australia on a 40 degree plus day would not be ideal.
“It’s poor form and embarrassing, but also quite possible to wait hours for someone to pass you on the longer stretches. The digital display set my mind at ease.” Luggage on board was Black Wolf waterproof soft bags, which sit over the jerries, a sleeping bag and a small daypack on the back. Up front he had a large Givi clip on a tank bag for his day-to-day kit – maps, cash and the all important pig-deterrent mobile.
Meeting other people out on their own adventures, some a few hundred kilometres from home and some half a world away, will stay with me foreverLeigh Sullivan
The joy at breathtaking scenery was heightened by Sully’s delight at the 800XC’s love of the open road: “It was exceptionally smooth. I’d imagined I’d be in pain at the end of every day because that was my experience with riding sports bikes on big trips. That wasn’t the case. The ergonomics of the bike are great and a pleasure on long-distance rides. The fitted Triumph crash bars and engine guard were also massively reassuring.”
Next on soldier Sully’s list is a trip from Darwin down the West Coast of Australia to Tasmania via Perth and Melbourne. He said: “Meeting other people out on their own adventures, some a few hundred kilometres from home and some half a world away, will stay with me forever. I’ve convinced a mate of mine to get an 800XC and join me next year to ride from Australia, via South East Asia all the way to mother England. We might swing by Triumph HQ and say g’day!”