Tri­umph Tiger 800

Nar­row moun­tain roads wind­ing through a back­drop of snow-capped peaks, and a pair of Tri­umph’s new Tiger 800s to keep me com­pany


The new Tiger is a mas­sive im­prove­ment that rules the wild and even the con­crete jun­gle

Tri­umph have carved a suc­cess­ful space for them­selves in the mid-sized ad­ven­ture-tour­ing space with the Tiger 800 — a bike that, with its com­fort­able er­gos, for­giv­ing sus­pen­sion and flex­i­ble three-cylinder en­gine, seemed like the per­fect tool for those look­ing to cover long dis­tances on our un­pre­dictable in­dian high­ways. Since its in­tro­duc­tion to the in­dian mar­ket in 2014, the Tiger 800 has been the go-to ma­chine for mo­tor­cy­clists look­ing for big-bike power in a sturdy, tour­ing-in­clined pack­age and, with no com­pe­ti­tion in this niche, sales have flour­ished. Last year saw the in­tro­duc­tion of two new play­ers in the seg­ment: du­cati’s mul­ti­strada 950 and honda’s africa Twin. These bikes of­fer bet­ter equip­ment lev­els, in­clud­ing com­pre­hen­sive elec­tron­ics pack­ages, full TFT dis­plays and off-road-spe­cific rid­ing modes, mak­ing the Tiger sud­denly feel dated. The more re­cent launch of the BMW F 750 GS and F 850 GS has made it even more ap­par­ent that Tri­umph def­i­nitely needed to up their game to stay rel­e­vant in a sud­denly crowded space, and the Bri­tish mar­que has done just that with the in­tro­duc­tion of the 2018 Tiger 800. We re­cently trav­elled to morocco where i rode both ver­sions of this new mo­tor­cy­cle — the road-bi­ased Xrt as well as off-road-friendly Xca — to bring you this re­port.

i wouldn’t call this an all-new mo­tor­cy­cle; af­ter all, it shares its chas­sis and swingarm with the out­go­ing model, it con­tin­ues to be pow­ered by a liq­uid­cooled, 12-valve in­line triple that dis­places 800 cc, and it still sports the very recog­nis­able Tiger sil­hou­ette. Tri­umph have done the smart thing by let­ting the Tiger re­tain its iden­tity, while up­grad­ing sev­eral ar­eas to level the play­ing field with to­day’s com­pe­ti­tion. The twin head­lights, though sim­i­lar in lay­out to the older Tiger’s, are now full Led, more curvy than an­gu­lar, and are gar­nished by a pair of Led DRLS that cre­ate a men­ac­ing, slant-eyed sig­na­ture. above the head­lights is the new heigh­tad­justable screen that can eas­ily be set with one hand while on the move and is flanked by new aero de­flec­tors to fur­ther re­duce wind be­ing di­rected to­wards the rider. The 19-litre fuel tank

leads down to new side pan­els, while the tail sec­tion is de­void of any plas­tic bits, leav­ing the tubu­lar sub­frame ex­posed and re­tain­ing the tough, nonon­sense look of the old tiger. one of the im­por­tant new bits is the up­swept ex­haust, which is now freer-flow­ing, lighter and smaller than be­fore, and i am happy to re­port that it makes a strong, gruff sound­ing note, while the char­ac­ter­is­tic, high-pitched tri­umph triple whis­tle has been greatly re­duced.

tri­umph claim that there are over 200 changes to dif­fer­en­ti­ate this bike from its pre­de­ces­sor; how­ever, all of them are not vis­i­ble. the im­por­tant ones within the en­gine and driv­e­train in­clude a new crank­shaft, new clutch, and re­duced back­lash be­tween the gears to smoothen throt­tle re­sponse. We also get a shorter first gear to aid ac­cel­er­a­tion and im­prove tractabil­ity when crawl­ing through chal­leng­ing ter­rain, elim­i­nat­ing the need to feather the clutch to pre­vent stalling. an­other new bit is the seat, which tri­umph have re­worked with new foam com­pounds; it takes the rider’s form while still pro­vid­ing great sup­port with­out sag­ging, and i can at­test to the fact that it is supremely com­fort­able, even af­ter hours in the sad­dle. the han­dle­bar has also been moved 10 mil­lime­tres closer to the rider, so smaller riders won’t find them­selves hav­ing to reach for­ward to the con­trols.

We had two days to sam­ple these mo­tor­cy­cles in the hills about 50 kilo­me­tres from Mar­rakesh, and day one was ded­i­cated to see­ing what these ma­chines could do on tar­mac. i first got astride an Xrt, af­ter en­sur­ing that the seat was at the lower of it two set­tings, 810 rather than 830 mm, which was com­fort­able enough for 5’6” me to just about get both feet down.

as i turned the key in the ig­ni­tion, i was greeted by the su­perb five-inch colour TFT screen that hosts a plethora of in­for­ma­tion and can be cus­tomised to suit the rider’s pref­er­ences and rid­ing style. Per­ma­nent in­for­ma­tion in­cludes a speedome­ter, tachome­ter, gear indicator, clock, fuel level, am­bi­ent tem­per­a­ture, and the cur­rent rid­ing mode, while the strip along the bot­tom can be cus­tomised to in­clude trip me­ters, fuel con­sump­tion, coolant tem­per­a­ture, ser­vice in­for­ma­tion, dis­play style set­ting and more. the rid­ing modes avail­able on the Xrt are rain, road, off-road and sport, and

The Tiger is def­i­nitely a quick mo­tor­cy­cle and, with that free-revving en­gine, you can pull hard through the gears and be at se­ri­ously il­le­gal speeds in no time

each of these has its own pa­ram­e­ters for throt­tle map, trac­tion con­trol and ABS. rain mode is meant for low-trac­tion con­di­tions, and fea­tures the most con­ser­va­tive set­tings, with throt­tle re­sponse turned down and the elec­tronic nan­nies at their most in­tru­sive. power de­liv­ery gets pro­gres­sively more di­rect as you move to road and then Sport modes, with the ABS and trac­tion con­trol al­low­ing the rider more lib­er­ties. The Off-road mode turns down the trac­tion con­trol even fur­ther to al­low small slides be­fore cut­ting in, while shut­ting off ABS to the rear wheel.

Tri­umph have also pro­vided a cus­tomis­able ‘rider’ mode, which al­lows you to take full con­trol of all the pa­ram­e­ters, or com­pletely switch off the trac­tion con­trol or ABS. The of­froad-bi­ased Xca also fea­tures a sixth rider mode, called Off-road pro, es­pe­cially for ex­pe­ri­enced off-road riders, which switches off trac­tion con­trol and ABS com­pletely while smooth­ing throt­tle re­sponse for per­fect con­trol in the rough stuff.

crea­ture com­forts in­clude cruise con­trol, two charg­ing ports, heated grips and heated seats for rider and pil­lion; i was es­pe­cially grate­ful for the last two as it was be­low 10 de­grees cel­sius when we started the ride, and these un­der­stated fea­tures kept my hands and nether re­gion warm and toasty. all the func­tions, from dis­play op­tions to rider modes to heated grips, are con­trolled by the ex­cel­lent new switchgear which is easy to use, in­tu­itive and still re­tains per­fect er­gonomics for the horn, indicator and head­light but­tons.

We were soon tail­ing Tri­umph’s lead rider along nar­row roads that wound their way around the mas­sive ranges that sur­rounded us, breath­ing in the fresh moun­tain air and get­ting to know the new Tiger. as we started pick­ing up speed, i was truly amazed by how tame and man­age­able this large mo­tor­cy­cle felt once on the move, and we were soon rid­ing along at a de­cent clip on some very nice roads.

I was truly amazed by how tame and man­age­able this large mo­tor­cy­cle felt once on the move, and we were soon rid­ing along at a de­cent clip on some very nice roads

The stand­out fea­ture of this three­cylin­der en­gine is the wide spread of torque; peak torque is 79 Nm at 8,050 rpm, and over 85 per cent of this is avail­able from as low as 2,500 rpm, while peak power is 95 PS at 9,500 rpm. What this trans­lates into is us­able power in any gear all across the rev range, and speed can be piled on with a sim­ple twist of the wrist, with­out the need to down­shift; ideal char­ac­ter­is­tics when cov­er­ing long dis­tances.

The en­gine isn’t built for blis­ter­ing per­for­mance at high revs and, con­se­quently, feels some­what strained ap­proach­ing 9,000 rpm; it is hap­pi­est be­tween 4,000 and 6,000 rpm, al­though it has the punch to spin up all the way to the red­line with­out hes­i­ta­tion if you get greedy with the throt­tle. The ride-by-wire throt­tle is light, smooth and works ex­tremely well with the im­mac­u­late fu­elling to en­sure that rider in­puts are trans­mit­ted to the rear wheel in a smooth and lin­ear man­ner. even in Sport mode, with its ag­gres­sive throt­tle

map, on-off tran­si­tions are jerk-free and seam­less, and the only way to elicit a harsh re­sponse is by get­ting re­ally ham­fisted with the go-grip.

The Tiger is def­i­nitely a quick mo­tor­cy­cle and, with that free-revving en­gine, you can pull hard through the gears and be at se­ri­ously il­le­gal speeds in no time but, with the com­posed chas­sis and sus­pen­sion, and the rider shielded be­hind that tall screen, the bike never feels brutally fast or scary; it is only af­ter a glance at the speedome­ter do you think that, maybe, it’s time to slow down.

The Tiger Xrt han­dles curves with poise, and i soon got com­fort­able with throw­ing it into cor­ner af­ter cor­ner, the low foot-peg feel­ers oc­ca­sion­ally graz­ing the tar­mac. Of course, it doesn’t turn in with the quick­ness and cer­tainty of a sportier mo­tor­cy­cle, but the neu­tral-han­dling chas­sis is helped along by the ad­justable Showa sus­pen­sion at both ends, while the met­zeler Tourance tyres pro­vide loads of grip and con­fi­dence, even at full lean, and seem like an ideal com­pro­mise be­tween dura­bil­ity and per­for­mance for a tour­ing-in­clined rider. The 43-mm up­side-down Showa fork re­tains the same 180-mm travel as the old bike, is now ad­justable for com­pres­sion and re­bound damp­ing, and is no doubt re­spon­si­ble for the min­i­mal fork dive when the new Brembo front an­chors are en­gaged. The rear is en­dowed with the same Showa shock as be­fore, with ad­just­ments for preload and re­bound damp­ing, and 170 mm of travel; need­less to say, the mo­tor­cy­cle glides over bad roads, pot­holes and speed­break­ers with­out los­ing any com­po­sure. even when i spot­ted a bump just ahead of me at triple-digit speeds, all i had to do was lift my rear off the seat by a few inches, and the su­perb sus­pen­sion took care of the rest with­out los­ing com­po­sure.

This got me won­der­ing what the off-road-bi­ased Xca’s even longer-travel sus­pen­sion was ca­pa­ble of; a fully ad­justable 43-mm Wp up­side-down fork with 220 mm of travel does duty at the front, while a Wp shock with

Af­ter a day spent on a va­ri­ety of sur­faces, from sticky tar­mac to bro­ken roads and grav­elly trails, it was now time to go off-road!

preload and re­bound damp­ing ad­just­ments and 215 mm of travel does duty at the rear. These units, in con­junc­tion with the mas­sive 21-inch front wheel, raise the seat height of the Xca by 30 mm, mak­ing it ad­justable to ei­ther 840 or 860 mm. The Xca also comes with tougher Bridge­stone Bat­tlew­ing tyres that are bet­ter-suited than the met­zel­ers to the bike’s du­alpur­pose na­ture, and for the se­ri­ous of­froader who plans to see as lit­tle tar­mac as pos­si­ble, Tri­umph rec­om­mend the knobby pirelli Scor­pion rally tyres to take on harsh ter­rain.

i did spend some time aboard an Xca shod with the Bridge­stones dur­ing the on-road part of our ride, and al­though i could barely tip-toe from the 840-mm-high seat, i got com­fort­able with the higher perch in a few min­utes. The ride qual­ity was even more plush than that of the Xrt that i had been rid­ing all morn­ing, and i was soon fly­ing over sev­eral small bumps that i saw but never felt. push the Xca into a cor­ner and it is slower to steer than its road-go­ing cousin due to the longer-travel sus­pen­sion and the higher front wheel, but an ex­pe­ri­enced rider will be able to adapt this into his rid­ing style.

Both the Xrt and the Xca sport Brembo front and Nissin rear brakes, which do a great job of shed­ding speed; how­ever, the front brake lacks a sharp ini­tial bite, al­though brak­ing power builds strongly af­ter the ini­tial squeeze and the bike sheds speed ef­fi­ciently and with­out fuss. The strong bite was missed while rid­ing on well-sur­faced tar­mac, al­though on bro­ken or grav­elly sur­faces the pro­gres­sive na­ture of the brakes made more sense.

af­ter a day spent on a va­ri­ety of sur­faces, from sticky tar­mac to bro­ken roads and grav­elly trails, it was now time to go off-road! day two was spent rid­ing up and down dunes and across dry river-beds on the Tri­umph Tiger Xca, shod with the ag­gres­sive pirelli knob­bies. Not be­ing an avid of­froader, and barely able to reach the ground, i started out cau­tiously, but with some guid­ance from the highly ex­pe­ri­enced lead rider i soon built up the con­fi­dence to switch into the Xca’s Off-road pro mode, over­rid­ing the safety net of trac­tion con­trol and aBS. i was amazed by the amount of grip af­forded by the tyres, even in loose sand or gravel, and, with some prac­tice, was soon rid­ing hard up steep dunes with the rear wheel spin­ning away. The Tiger han­dles this ter­rain sur­pris­ing well for a mo­tor­cy­cle weigh­ing well over 200 kilo­grams wet, and changes in sur­face, sud­den dips and crests and just about any­thing else did lit­tle to un­set­tle it when on the move; in­dian roads shouldn’t be much of a chal­lenge!

Two days in the moun­tains with the Tiger twins and i am con­vinced that Tri­umph have ex­e­cuted a mas­sive im­prove­ment on the out­go­ing Tiger. The new bike feels up-to-date, smoother and sharper, is en­dowed with a mod­ern elec­tron­ics suite and that su­perb TFT rider in­ter­face, while re­tain­ing the top-notch build qual­ity that we have come to ex­pect from Tri­umph. This 2018 bike is ready to pick up where the old Tiger left off and take on the many chal­lengers in the mid-size ad­ven­ture-tour­ing seg­ment.

Pick the dash lay­out that works for you

LED DRLs give the Tiger an ag­gres­sive new face

USB charg­ing port un­der the seat

Tiger 800 XCA

Spoked wheels, long­travel WP sus­pen­sion and the pro­trud­ing beak iden­tify the XCa

Ex­haust is lighter and sounds bet­ter

XCa gets a sub­stan­tial bash-plate

New switchgear is in­tu­itive, and al­lows you to ac­cess all the modes and fea­tures with­out tak­ing your hands off the con­trols

Aero dif­fusers keep wind blast off the rider’s arms and chest for fa­tigue-free rid­ing

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