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.