The moment Triumph’s test riding brothers shocked the rally world by successfully completing the gruelling PanAfrica showdown, tongues started wagging.
The whispers were silenced at EICMA as the new Tiger 800 XC and XR bikes, cousins of the prototype Tiger Tramontana hero of the Sahara, were unveiled. The new generation, with their bloodline originating from the gold medal winning Tigers of the 1936 International Six Days Trial, have been transformed to be better on the road… and incredible off it.
Capability is the watchword on both the XC off road and XR road models, with more than 200 chassis and engine upgrades, world-class off-road improvements alongside on-road enhancements all with technology, comfort and style to the fore.
Tiger owner Preetam Bora, Editor of Indian-based Car and Bike, says: “It’s definitely a big step up as far as genuine off road riding is concerned. The Tiger’s history has always been as a touring road bike but this has really upped the game for when the road ends.
“Any bike built to the same chassis and engine design of a bike that did so well in a desert rally demands respect. This will change the adventure biker landscape, not just because of details like the bar-mounted switchcubes with backlit buttons, LED lighting and updated cruise control, but also the way it rides in extreme conditions.”
He adds: “The Tramontana Tiger was second in its class at the PanAfrica so there was a lot of talk about whether the spec might feature in Triumph’s next adventure proposition. This takes adventure riding to a whole new level.”
I can see this being THE off road bike to own
Better in every way – say Triumph – these new lighter, most technologically advanced Tigers yet are designed to keep the adventure going from the city to the suburbs and then the track beyond.
A more responsive new generation triple engine, shorter ratio 1st gear and six-options of Off Road Pro riding modes on the XC, are all designed to boost traction, low speed manoeuvrability and instant, thrilling acceleration out of the deepest of desert dunes.
Brembo front brakes, optimised suspension configurations add to the transformation, while that mass-optimised 800cc Triple engine delivers immediate power delivery and a surge in the peak output.
“I can see this being THE off road bike to own because people looking for off road adventure will know it’s been put to the test in the harshest of environments before then being finessed again,” says Bart Verhoeven, from Dutch motorcycle magazine Motome.nl.
“The big test will be the result of the 200 engine and chassis changes, so I can’t wait to actually get out there on it. When you look at the new 800 you can see its stance has changed slightly but I think the big difference will be felt when we actually ride it.”
A lot of thought has gone into ease of use, whether that’s off or on-road. Things like the multi-position screen and full colour instrument panel will make life that little bit easier when there’s other stuff like the terrain to be thinking about.”
Despite the chassis and engine work, the XC and XR models – each with spec variations – are lighter than ever to give them the agility and responsiveness that helped the Tramontana and Felipe Lopez conquer the African desert.
A bike straining at the leash – Charley Boorman
Global adventure rider Charley Boorman rode the new 800 and 1200 through Africa in August and says Triumph continues to “punch well above its weight” with the game changing 2018 adventure bikes.
”Once again they’ve stuck to the things that separated the Tiger from the rest like ABS, traction control, heated seats and so on, but made small but hugely effective changes to take the bikes onto a whole new level. The shorter ration first gear changes everything when you need to be careful in a fix,” he says.
“Moving the handlebars back and being able to roll them to suit the rider gives you a better, more commanding and balanced riding position which I loved. This is a range that breeds confidence and gives you that one-ness with the machine the second you get going.”
He adds: “They look a lot more agile and now have an even more dynamic stance that suggests they’re straining at the leash. Once they’re free I found the five position spring-loaded screen an absolute godsend.”
A new lighter, freer flowing exhaust improves the unmistakable signature sound while premium bodywork, high quality badging, detailing and a selection of three contemporary colours point to the highest-ever level of finish and detailing on a Tiger yet.
Both the XC and XR (above) continue to showcase the benefits of switchable traction control, ride-by-wire, USB and 12v power sockets, with enhanced comfort on the XRx and XRT right down to the new seat compound, higher specification Brembo front brakes and Showa adjustable suspension.
“The 800 looks like a bike that lives on dirt, dust and sand. It’s got a real Desert Sled feel about it and is a bike I can see people having a lot of fun customising,”says Distinguished Gentleman’s Ride founder Mark Hawwa, visiting EICMA from Sydney, Australia.
“Triumph don’t seem to have missed anything, but then we keep saying that and every time they add a few little extras to each new model to always stay ahead of the field.”
Disclaimer: Featured motorcycles (Tiger 800 and 1200) were part of a global reveal and their availability will vary from market to market. For more information please visit your country specific website.