Triumph Tiger 800 XRx
If you can find a path with no obstacles it probably doesn’t lead anywhere,” Bear Grylls says in the brochure for Triumph’s new Tiger 800 range, and us two-wheeled adventurers can’t get enough of the dream.
The inspirational quote doesn’t actually come from the British adventurer but from American politician and well-known racist, Frank Clark (1860-1936).
This brings us to the new generation of Triumph’s popular Tiger 800s, whose designations are better segregated to denote their intent, including the off-road biased XC, or ‘Cross Country’, and the XR ‘Cross Roads’ sampled here. The XR is the two-wheeled embodiment of Clark’s worst nightmare by celebrating the intermarriage of on-road dynamics and off-road ability.
As sales of adventure, or dual-sport, bikes boom around the world, so too do the offerings that range in on- and off-road prowess, performance and price. We’re seeing further diversification by the manufacturers, just as the four-wheeled world witnessed with the split of traditional, rugged 4WDs and suburban SUVs. It’s all about options and better matching the right bike to you. This explains Triumph’s expanded line-up that now includes several higher-spec offerings for an unprecedented total of six Tiger 800s to choose from.
The Tiger XR is Triumph’s soft-roader, with the comfy ergonomics of a roomy adventure bike but with a sharper road-going focus that happily carves corners and devours distances as it does weaving the cut and thrust of your daily commute. But don’t think it’s gone soft because it also offers a decent dose of off-road ability, should you choose to take that intriguing dirt track off the main road.
“The XC and XR are very different bikes for very different customers,” Triumph marketing manager Mark Berger says. “We could have built just one [model] bike, but there’s been a lot of development for each. The XR is a much more versatile bike for 90 per cent of the riding population. It’s the bike most people will do most of their riding configured to.”
Triumph is so confident of the XR’s take up that it expects a more even sales split between the bikes than the traditional 2:1 ratio, thanks to a host of improvements and an extensive standard equipment list. That, and its off-road ability, will help lure buyers from the likes of BMW’s F700 and 800GS, Honda’s VFR800X CrossRunner and Yamaha’s road-specific MT-09 Tracer.
PRICES AND SPECS
Pricing for the XR kicks off from $15,090 (plus on-road costs) for the entry-level XR, $16,590 for the mid-spec XRx and $17,890 for the XRT range-topper, on sale in June.
If you’re planning on venturing further off the beaten track, then the wire-wheeled XC range is Triumph’s answer from $16,590, $17,690 and $19,390 for the XC, XCx and XCA respectively, the latter of which also arrives for winter and is loaded to the gunwales.
Mid-spec ‘x’ models come equipped with cruise control, switchable ABS and traction control systems as well as handy items some rivals typically charge for including premium seats, an adjustable screen, a centrestand, handguards, sump guard, self-cancelling indicators and two 12-volt sockets for accessories, to name a few.
But before we delve into the differences between each, let’s get into what’s changed from the bike’s popular predecessor. In short, more than 42 changes, says Triumph.
Headline attractions include an overhauled 800cc inline three-cylinder engine that’s said to be significantly smoother and much more efficient, and the introduction more advanced electronics on all but entry-level offerings. These include multi-level traction control and ABS systems which work in unison with a ride-by-wire throttle for improved engine control via four presets including Rain, Road, Sport and Off-Road.
Triumph says going from a cable to an electronic throttle plays a big part in reducing fuel use by 17 per cent. A 320-kilometre range is easily achieved from its 19-litre tank, even with a red right hand as we discovered during the bike’s national launch.
There are also three preset riding modes to toggle between while on the move including Road, Off-Road, which configure ABS, traction and throttle sensitivity accordingly, plus a customisable Rider mode to tailor to your needs. The button, which curiously looks like the MasterChef logo, isn’t a thumb stretch away on the left switchblock but at an arm’s reach alongside the legible dash. It isn’t ideal but fine given the infrequency with which you’ll be reaching for it.
FIRST IMPRESSIONS LAST
The first things that strike you about the XRx is just how comfortable, easy and enjoyable it is to ride straight out of the gate.
Levers are light as is the throttle, particularly in Sport mode, but it’s easy to get used to, certainly not choppy, and the bike’s fuelling is fantastic anyway.
The ergonomics and standard comfort-spec seat provide long-haul pleasure that beckons you to take the long way home. The seat also features a simple yet nifty solution to raise or lower without tools, likewise the screen. The tap-like knob of BMW’s latest R1200GS remains the benchmark for effective simplicity, however, by being easily adjusted while on the move.
Only a back-to-back comparison reveals the ergonomic differences between the XR and XC. The off-road-biased bike features higher and wider ’bars and a higher seat (840-860mm). It also offers more ground clearance, a longer wheelbase and slower steering from its dune-parting 21-inch wire-spoke front wheel. Other than the wheels (tubed for the XC and tubeless for the XR), the XC’s biggest differentiator is its fully adjustable WP suspension comprising a 43mm fork with 220mm travel and 215mm to play with at the rear.
The XR, meanwhile, offers a sharper ride experience by bringing the rider closer to the road with lower, narrower ’bars, a lower seat (810-830mm), reduced ground clearance and a five-kilogram weight saving (216kg versus 221kg). Importantly, too, is a more aggressive rake and trail and more direct steering from its 19-inch front cast-alloy item. Its Showa suspension (180mm and 170mm travel front and rear) might be more modest in the interest of keeps costs down, but its performs admirably nonetheless with confidence-inspiring control and much less dive under brakes than the XC.
Fact is, both are equally as comfortable, but the everyday difference being you can ride the XR harder when the road gets interesting. And against gridlock traffic, the XR wins the weave every time. It’s easy grind its ’pegs, too.
The XR is comfortable enough for stand-up riding on the dirt, but the XC’s taller ergonomics do come to the fore for taller folk (nothing ’bar risers can’t fix). Pushing through open, well-groomed fire trails is a cinch, but pushing through a small section of loose sand probably pushed the limits of its 19-inch front wheel and road-oriented Pirelli Scorpion Trail tyres.
The other commonality is the whistling triple, which provides silky, effortless performance from pretty much the entire rev range thanks to that linear power and torque delivery. Peak outputs are 70kW (95hp) at 9250rpm and 79Nm at 7850rpm.
In this second-generation guise, Triumph engineers have revised the radiator shrouds to improve cooling efficiency while further changes include new throttle bodies (with ride-by-wire control), new fuel injectors, redesigned cylinder heads with reshaped ports and new cam profiles, a cam chain tensioner from the king-kong Tiger Explorer 1200 and valve springs from the Daytona 675. The sportsbike also donates some internals from its six-speed gearbox for smoother and more precision gear changes – not that you’ll be busy swapping cogs with an engine this flexible.
Other notable changes include a larger air intake, dust-proofing the throttle bodies, grime-proofing the suspension clickers and lengthening the chain guard. That’s of course in addition to sharper, more imposing styling.
So is there anything to dislike? Err, not really. It’s a damn good thing and a massive technological leap over its popular but basic predecessor. Triumph has made the good great while well and truly picking up where the old model left off.
If we had to nitpick, the XRx is probably missing heated grips (a $225 option), and when you start comparing the value within the range, you have to overcome your inner tight-ass to stretch $1500 past the entry-level XR for the XRx.
Triumph knows the Marketing-101 ploy and uses the $15,000 opening price to bait punters into the showroom where you’re greeted by imagery of Bear Grylls and the real obstacles: a range-topping Tiger XRT or XCA, which come with the kitchen sink.
Would sir and madam also like heated seats and grips, an uprated 650W alternator to run more accessories, foglights, a third 12-volt socket, aluminium panniers ready for Triumph’s Expedition panniers, a GPS mounting kit, a tyre-pressure monitoring system, a CNC-machined rider footrests reservoir and aluminium radiator guard?
All that for a measly $1300 more than the XRx, sir. Damn you, Triumph salesman. Where do I sign?
Triumph Tiger 800XRx
Type: Liquid-cooled, DOHC 12-valve, inline three-cylinder
Bore & stroke: 74.05 x 61.94mm
Compression ratio: 12.0:1
Fuel system: EFI
Power: 70kW (95hp) at 9250rpm
Torque: 79Nm at 7850rpm
Final drive: Chain
CHASSIS & RUNNING GEAR:
Frame type: Tubular steel trellis
Front supsension: 43mm USD Showa forks, 180mm travel
Rear suspension: Showa monoshock with preload adjustment, 170mm travel
Front brakes: Twin 308mm discs with Nissin four-piston calipers, ABS
Rear brake: 255mm disc with Nissin twin-piston caliper, ABS
WHEELS & TYRES:
Wheels: Cast-aluminium rim, front 2.5 x 19-inch, rear 4.25 x 17-inch
Tyres: Pirelli Scorpion Trail, front 100/90-19, rear 150/70-17
DIMENSIONS & CAPACITIES:
Wet weight: 221kg
Seat height: 810/830mm (790/810mm with accessory low seat)
Tank capacity: 19L
Price: From $15,090 (XR), $16,590 (XRx) and $17,890 (XRT) plus on-road costs
Colours: Phantom Black, Crystal White or Caspian Blue
Warranty: 24 months, unlimited km
Bike supplied by: Triumph
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