‘It was the first time I’d sat on a bike that ac­tu­ally fit­ted me’

Motorcycle News (UK) - - Feature -

Some­times, from un­likely ori­gins, great bikes are born. The Gold Wing, for ex­am­ple, was ac­tu­ally launched in 1975 as a su­per­bike. While BMW’S first GS, the R80G/S of 1980, orig­i­nally drew more than its fair share of ridicule and con­fu­sion.

And while not quite in the same league as those two, Tri­umph’s ‘ju­nior’ Tiger, the 800, which be­came the first three-cylin­der, mid­dleweight ‘ad­ven­ture’ bike when spawned from the 675 Street Triple in 2010, is still hugely sig­nif­i­cant. Ver­sa­tile, af­ford­able, long-legged and char­ac­ter­ful, the Tiger 800 is not just ef­fec­tive and use­ful, its sales suc­cess has made it a main­stay of Tri­umph’s range, in­spired a host of spin-offs and gar­nered a le­gion of loyal fol­low­ers.

Reader Matt Hub­bard is one of them. “I owned a Street Triple for three years and fan­cied a change,” he told MCN. “Then I sat on a Tiger 800 at Mo­tor­cy­cle Live and it fit­ted me perfectly. I haven’t looked back. I com­mute 100 miles a day and ab­so­lutely love it. ”

Tri­umph’s mas­ter­stroke was in tak­ing the al­ready bril­liant 675cc three-cylin­der en­gine from the Street Triple and beef­ing it up with a longer stroke to both take ca­pac­ity up to 799cc but more im­por­tantly bol­ster its low and mid­dle reaches to cre­ate a flex­i­ble, seam­less, id­iot-proof gem of a mo­tor.

That, com­bined with a typ­i­cally fine-han­dling Tri­umph chas­sis, great pro­por­tions and all-day com­fort­able er­gonomics plus ‘on-trend’ ad­ven­ture bike looks, all added up to some­thing of a ‘no-brainer’ of a mo­tor­cy­cle. The cherry on top was, if you ac­tu­ally wanted cred­i­ble off-road abil­ity from your Tri­umph 800, you could have that, too, via an ‘XC’ (for ‘Cross­Coun­try’) ver­sion with off-road wire wheels, longer travel sus­pen­sion and more. In short, with the Tiger 800, you re­ally could have your cake and eat it.

It’s per­haps no won­der, then, that Tri­umph’s first 800 had such wide ap­peal and was such a huge suc­cess. The road (‘XR’) ver­sion was af­ford­able, a dod­dle to ride and ver­sa­tile. The XC was a cred­i­ble, off-road ca­pa­ble ad­ven­ture bike but not as ex­pen­sive nor cum­ber­some as many 1000cc+ ri­vals. Whether you were fairly in­ex­pe­ri­enced and wanted a ‘first big bike’, needed a more man­age­able ad­ven­ture ma­chine or sim­ply an all-rounder with the bonus of that crack­ing three-cylin­der en­gine, the Tiger 800 could be the bike for you.

Per­haps even more im­pres­sive, though, is how the Tiger 800 has re­mained vir­tu­ally un­chal­lenged ever since. BMW’S F800 twin can’t match the thrill of the Tri­umph triple; oth­ers, such as the Kawasaki Ver­sys and Suzuki V-strom, while great bikes, are also dis­tinctly more ba­sic.

To help keep the Tiger on top, Tri­umph com­pre­hen­sively up­dated it in 2015 with the ad­di­tion of not only a new elec­tron­ics pack­age in­clud­ing rid­ing modes and trac­tion con­trol but also a more fuel ef­fi­cient en­gine, en­hanced er­gonomics and yet more equip­ment and op­tions.

In fact there are now so many op­tions, through an al­pha­bet soup of six dif­fer­ent road and off-road ori­en­tated vari­ants, this is, to­day, the only real crit­i­cism of the Tiger 800: it’s now more dif­fi­cult than ever to ex­plain to non-own­ers ex­actly which model is which.

But that’s nit-pick­ing. The 800 re­mains one of the best all-round bikes you can buy as reader Marc Ryan who bought one just six months

ago is an­other of them says: “I used to ride bikes through the 80s but got tor­pe­doed by med­i­cal prob­lems. It was 21 years be­fore I got on a bike again then went to a bike shop for some­thing and sat on a Tiger 800. It was the first time I'd ever sat on a bike that ac­tu­ally fit­ted me.

“I didn't want to get off. It took me five years but I now have my Tiger. Am­bi­tion achieved. I haven't been on any huge trips yet, but that's the plan for next sum­mer.”

The Tiger 800 has that ef­fect on peo­ple. Lots of them.

‘I ab­so­lutely love it. No other bike would be bet­ter’ MATT HUB­BARD, MCN READER AND TRI­UMPH TIGER 800 OWNER

Grab lug­gage and take on the world

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