Triple treat

Old Bike Australasia - - SUITABLE PARTNERS - Ride im­pres­sions Jim Scaysbrook Pho­tos Sue Scaysbrook

Not that long ago BMW pretty much had the big bike Ad­ven­ture mar­ket to it­self, but not any more. These days, just as the likes of Maserati, Porsche and Jaguar have leapt into the SUV scene, so tra­di­tional mo­tor­cy­cle brands have em­braced the on/off road bracket, not least Tri­umph.

The Tiger 1200 XCA is a case in point. Firstly though, we need to clar­ify what’s on of­fer from the Bri­tish builder. The range in­cludes XR and XC mod­els, in both 800cc and 1200cc, all triples. The XR is more road-ori­ented, with cast wheels, whereas the XC has wire wheels and sus­pen­sion that is ca­pa­ble of tack­ling the rough(ish) stuff. So lets look at the top of the line 1200cc XCA, which will take you to Tim­buktu and back if nec­es­sary, and you won’t even have to ad­just the chain, be­cause there isn’t one. For a dual pur­pose bike, the XCA is a very ca­pa­ble mile gob­bler on the main road, and has man­aged to shed 10 kg on the model it re­places, which is more than handy off-road. It’s still no light­weight though, which makes tight city go­ing a bit of a chore. At the heart of the mat­ter is a fab­u­lous 1215cc three-cylin­der en­gine with masses of us­able torque, and with the stan­dard Ar­row ex­haust sys­tem, emits a won­der­ful growl so typical of a triple. I found the over­all gear­ing to be on the tall side, and fourth is about all you’ll man­age around town. There’s even a quick shifter, should you be in a hurry. The over­all stan­dard of fin­ish is ex­cel­lent, as good as any­thing on the mar­ket and bet­ter than most. The new full­colour dash­board is pretty im­pres­sive, fairly sim­ple to cy­cle through (and ad­just) the var­i­ous set­tings and checks once you’ve had a bit of prac­tice. If you’re into elec­tro set­tings, you’ll love the XCA; trac­tion con­trol, power de­liv­ery, sus­pen­sion, there’s lots to play with. Climb­ing aboard, the seat­ing po­si­tion (in the lower of the two heights avail­able) is very com­fort­able, al­though I found the re­la­tion­ship be­tween the left footrest and the gear lever not quite right for me. My long ride was Syd­ney to Goul­burn and re­turn, and the XCA was in its el­e­ment here, swal­low­ing the kilo­me­tres ef­fort­lessly. The screen is ad­justable on the run via the tog­gle switch on the left side, which must be an in­tri­cate jig­ger given the num­ber of func­tions it per­forms. One of these is the heated grips which came in very handy on that ride. There’s a heated seat too if that is called for. The screen it­self seems to do such a good job of dis­pers­ing the breeze that you are quite con­scious of the road noise com­ing from the front tyre, so much so that for the first time in ages I wore ear plugs. This of course wouldn’t be a prob­lem off road, but I scarcely went there. At a shade un­der thirty grand, the Tiger, like oth­ers of its ilk in the top cat­e­gory, is a con­sid­ered pur­chase. Lug­gage will fur­ther add to the all-up cost, and if you in­tend tour­ing any dis­tance, you’ll need pan­niers and maybe a top case.

LEFT The big triple is a joy to ride. ABOVE Ev­ery­thing hap­pens from here. ABOVE RIGHT The home en­ter­tain­ment sys­tem.

Yes, a shaft-drive Tri­umph.

Seat height may be a slight prob­lem for the shorter in stature, but it’s very com­fort­able.

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