Triumph tames the Tiger: Two revamped British tourers tested
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Triumph New Zealand’s new 2019 Tiger 800 and 1200 model range of big cats is a step up from previous offerings.
The 2019 Tigers — with the exception of the Tiger Sport that remains the same, for now — feature a host of upgrades over the 2018 model range, not in the least the addition of Triumph’s brilliant TFT interface that debuted on the Street Triple 765, and is now standard equipment on all New Zealand models.
The new range starts at $23,490 with the Tiger 800 XRX which, as the base road-biased offering, features alloy wheels and the sublime 70kW 800cc inline triple, that is shared across the entire Tiger 800 range. Forks for the base bike are non-adjustable 43mm USD Showa units with a Showa monoshock and a hydraulically adjustable preload, also shared across the range.
Triumph 800 XCA. Photo / Bike Rider Magazine
The road-biased Tiger 800 range tops out with the $26,590 Tiger XRT. This swaps out the non-adjustable Showa forks for units that are adjustable for rebound and compression damping and includes more features to the TFT user interface and full LED lighting — including extra rider modes and daytime running lights.
The more adventure-capable XC models — starting with the XCX at $24,690 and topping out with the XCA at $26,990 — swap out the alloy wheels for spoked units, with the front wheel, increased in size from 19 to 21in, while the rear wheel remains at 17in diameter.
The XCA features even more off-road goodies, including billet aluminium pegs and radiator protection over the already impressive list of added off-road equipment featured on the XCX.
Triumph Tiger 1200 XRT. Photo / Bike Rider Magazine
The Tiger 1200 range enters our market with the XR as its base and is priced from $24,990.
The new Tiger 1200 — incidentally, the Tiger Explorer nameplate has been dropped for the 2019 model year — is lighter than the previous models, with the XR models shedding 2kg while the XC models drop a whopping 10kg.
The base 1200 however, sheds more than just weight compared to its stablemates and foregoes plenty of the updated features that make the Tiger 1200 the must-have big cat, such as Triumph’s TSAS electronic suspension system or keyless ignition, both of which enter the range with the XRX model.
The TSAS electronically adjustable suspension system uses 48mm WP forks and a WP monoshock and is linked in and controlled by the gorgeous TFT dash unit.
The up-specced Tigers also benefit from cornering ABS and TCS thanks to an IMU, and keyless ignition, that adds to the sense of control the new Tigers have over the old.
Riding the base Tiger 800 — the XRX — on the road at the launch, it was nice to see that despite the bike being a base model, it is still handsomely equipped.
After setting the rider mode to the sportiest setting, I headed out to the backroads of Kumeu and promptly found myself lost. The Tigers all feature an auxiliary power socket for charging phones and GPS units, and I was cursing at myself for not bringing my phone charger.
Thankfully, I found my way back to base, albeit rather red-faced, in time to book two top-of-the-range bikes to bring back home for some quality time on more familiar roads.
With a Tiger 1200 XRT and a Tiger 800 XCA to play with on the lower Coromandel, it was clear that despite their similar names, the two bikes are hunting for different demographics of rider.
The Tiger 1200 XRT brings to the table enough technology to make you wince, including Corning LED lights and a quickshifter for the 6-speed gearbox. Out on the road it gobbles up the kilometres with ease and offers a serious challenge to the dominance of the
BMW R 1200 GS as a comfortable two-up tourer — with even the pillion benefiting from a heated seat and generous grab rails. Add to this the joyful 3-cylinder engine that produces 103.7kW, and you’re not likely to get left behind by your riding companions.
The 800 XCA goes for a much more practical angle, with its lightweight chassis and nimble handling courtesy of high-quality WP suspension and off-road capable wheels. This Tiger has the teeth to handle anything you throw at it. It may be smaller, but it is no
less a machine. I would reach for the key of the 800 over the remote key fob of the 1200.
For me, the more adventure-ready image set forth by the 800 made the final difference between the two models as the alloy bash plate and aggressive footpegs scream “I’m ready for adventure”.
Regardless of which takes your fancy, the new Tiger range from Triumph has the teeth needed to shine in the heavily competitive adventure motorcycling market.
Triumph Tiger 800 XCA
Engine: 800cc DOHC inline 3-cylinder
Pro: Agile, fully loaded with useful tech
Con: 3-cylinder motor spins up quickly, that can be problematic in off-road pro mode
Triumph Tiger 1200 XRT
Engine: 1200cc DOHC inline 3-cylinder
Pro: Great 2-up platform, plenty of tech, lighter and easier to ride than the previous model
Con: Suspension feels best in NZ when set to soft