TRIUMPH TIGER SPORT WORLD FIRST TEST ‘ This versatile allrounder just keeps on improving’
he Tiger Sport has always nestled in the shadows of Triumph’s huge 38-model range, earning a reputation as an all-rounder rather than a showstopper – a more dependable defender than star striker. But in the highly competitive field of 17in front-wheel adventure-styled bikes, the Sport was starting to look and feel a little basic and dated, especially against considerably more expensive bikes like Ducati’s DVT Multistrada.
So for 2016 Triumph have given the Tiger a new lease of life. The chassis remains pretty much as it was but they’ve heavily revised the already torquey three-cylinder engine with a claimed 104 changes plus a new exhaust, airbox and fuel mapping. Peak torque and power have only increased a fraction but the spread has changed significantly; there’s four per cent increase in torque at 5250rpm and a four to six per cent increase in power between 5 and 7000rpm.
The old Tiger was lacking spec and rider aids, but Triumph have addressed this issue by adding traction control as standard, which is changeable via three modes: Rain, Road and Sport. Cruise control (and ABS) also comes as standard; there’s a new 12v power socket and a USB socket under the seat for charging your phone. An adjustable, tinted flip screen makes its debut, though it’s manually not electronically adjustable. There are new clocks while handguards come factory-fitted, as do wind deflectors either side of the new screen. There are new graphics, a new seat with an embossed logo, and new, grippier pegs. Oh, and the clutch is now a claimed 48% lighter.
It’s evident the Triumph team have been busy. However, I’ve saved the most exciting news until last, and that’s the price. At £10,300 the Tiger Sport is nearly £3000 cheaper than the Ducati Multistrada and over £2000 cheaper than BMW’S S1000XR.
TOn the road
Triumph claim the Tiger Sport is designed to ‘excel at every aspect of motorcycling from scratching to touring and more’. Luckily I was the first person outside Triumph to ride the new Tiger Sport and initially it felt like the old Tiger Sport, which is no bad thing. But then I noticed the neat new switchgear and clocks, which are informative and easy to navigate. There’s a pleasing Triumph logo on the fuel cap, while those handguards took the morning chill away from my summer gloves and the screen seemed wider and taller.
Despite being Euro4 compliant there’s a lovely three-cylinder bark from the Hinckley motor’s new exhaust. The clutch is two finger-light and at low speeds the fuelling feels perfect. As we negotiated small French towns the big Tiger Sport felt less mechanical, more refined and in some ways softer than I remember.
Once away from the tiny cobbled streets and heading towards the Alps it was time to let the Tiger Sport out of its cage to see if it lives up to its ‘sport’ title. Its fully adjustable Showa suspension is identical to the old bike’s while the new Tiger Sport has gained just 2kg despite all of its new toys, and I couldn’t detect any difference in the way it handles.
The suspension is controlled and the ride is sporty: the forks don’t dive excessively when you apply the Nissin Abs-assisted brakes, which are now stronger than before due to a new ratio at the lever, nor does the rear sit when you apply the power. Unlike the old bike you now have traction control to complement the handling. It isn’t lean angle sensitive, nor does it measure pitch or yaw, but simply measures the differences in wheel speed, while monitoring gear and throttle position along with engine speed and acts accordingly. It’s a rather simple system but it works smoothly and has antiwheelie built in. You can certainly make the Tiger Sport hustle, ground
‘There’s a lovely three-cylinder bark from the Hinckley motor’s new exhaust’
Suspension settings are the same as the previous model, even the same springs and weight. This means you have a fully adjustable Showa 43mm upside-down fork up front, and on the rear is a single Showa rear shock adjustable for preload and rebound damping. Triumph claim 104 internal changes to the engine and gearbox, which include a new cylinder head with new inlet ports and piston design. There are new injectors, a new exhaust design and silencer, ECU and the introduction of rideby-wire. The ride-by-wire system allows cruise control, traction control, anti-wheelie and the use of three throttle maps, Rain, Road and Sport. Each mode changes the throttle response, engine output (rain mode) and alters the level of traction control intervention. The Tiger’s screen is now adjustable and can be done on the move with one hand. There’s additional ‘Aero Diffusers’ either side of the screen to deflect the wind blast further. Hand guards also come as standard and are great at keeping the chilly breeze off your pinkies.
The traction control is changeable on the move via the modes, but there are only two options. You can de-activate the TC but only at a standstill, and you can’t reset the TC once on the move if you’ve opted to disengage it. The TC will reset to active every time the bike is turned on. The new Tiger gets redesigned badges and graphics, while Triumph have improved the overall level of detailing. Wheel spindles have a billet aluminium finish and the mirrors get an embossed logo. There are two colour choices available: black with neon, or silver with red. There are 38 official Triumph accessories for this model, from performance-enhancing items like an Arrow exhaust, to comfort-improving extras like heated grips. And of course there’s lots of luggage; box panniers, tail packs, tank bags and more. clearance is impressive for this type of bike and would only become an issue on track or when fully loaded two up.
The ergonomics – bars, footpegs and seat position – are as per the old bike: upright and comfortable, while the fuel tank stays at 20 litres. Triumph claim the revised motor is eight per cent more frugal and good for 54mpg. I managed to average 49mpg but was making the most of smooth motor up the stunning Alpine roads.
The three engine maps are changeable from the mode button on the dash. Once you’ve chosen your specific mode you simply close the throttle and pull the clutch in to activate it. It’s an idiotproof system but I’d prefer to have the mode button on the bar not on the clock, like the new Triumph Explorer, especially as it’s a little awkward reaching over the bars to the dash.
Once you’ve switched the mode there’s a noticeable change in power and engine characteristics. I spent most of the day in the standard Road mode, but if you want that extra dollop of power then opt for the sports mode, which gives the Tiger Sport a kick up the arse without disturbing its smooth fuelling. Switching between the modes changes the traction control’s intervention level automatically, most noticeably in Rain mode (which also limits peak power to 100bhp).
The revised motor is even smoother than before, and during our long ride in southern France I never felt the need for more power. I initially used the gearbox and revs far too much but quickly learnt to exploit the triple’s excellent spread of torque instead. Once you click with the Tiger Sport’s character, using its great handling to carry momentum and playing in the engine’s midrange, you can really start to have fun, cutting up mountain roads without riding or acting like a hooligan.
Usually the end of a long test ride leaves me tired and looking forward to the hotel bar, but after a full-on blast on the Tiger Sport I could have easily taken on more. I would have happily taken on the test route through the stunning French Alps again or plonked a pillion on the back and taken a trip down the coast to Monaco for an evening meal. I could have even ridden home to the UK if Triumph hadn’t needed the bike back. From the south of France to the Triumph factory in Hinckley in two days? No problem. Not many bikes are so versatile, especially those you can secure for just over £10,000.