Triumph have launched the 2015 Triumph Tiger 800, so there was only one logical thing to do – take it to Spain and ride on some of the most sensational roads on the planet, and way off them as well.
I still remember the day when Triumph launched the Tiger 800 back in 2010. As I read through the press release and scanned its capabilities I fell in love with the bike instantly, and of course its brash and purpose-built looks made me fall for it even more. Fast forward to 2014 and the legendary British bike maker has just completed one year in India. Last month, Shahwar was fortunate enough to take the Triumph Tiger 800 XC to the Himalayan Kingdom – the politically correct name is Bhutan – and he came back with plenty to say about the bike. But even though I have ridden every Triumphmotorcycle available in the market, the Tiger was the only one I hadn’t had the privilege to ride up until now.
he original Tiger was hailed by many to be the best handling and most capable machine in its class, and even raised its fists up to bigger capacity machines when it came to off-road performance, so the excitement was killing me as I began the long 24 hour journey to the southern coastal town of Marbella in Spain. Once I arrived we were introduced to the new Tiger 800 XCx and the XRx – the top variants of the XC and XR models, bringing the total variants available for the Tiger 800 to four. The main difference between the two is that the XCx is better equipped for hardcore off-roading and so it gets features like an aluminium sump guard and engine protection bars, slightly lower adjustable seat, WP suspension for a softer setup when off-road, shark-teeth foot pegs so your feet don’t slip and a slimmer but taller front tyre for better grip. Other than that both models are exactly the same and come stocked with some very impressive technology including standard features such as three riding modes, ride-by-wire technology, Cruise control, ABS and traction control.
Visually, the new Tiger 800 has also gone under the knife and now gets a new radiator shroud and tank side panels that have sharp lines and taut surfaces, and the frame gets a new titanium powder coat to appear more rugged, while the engine gets a semi-matt finish. There is also better ergonomics as the seat allows for more leg room and a slightly higher handle bar position reduces weight on the rider’s wrists. The XRx and XCx also get much more instrument functionality with more read outs when compared to the XR and XC, which includes tyre pressure monitoring system and distance to empty amongst others.
At the heart of the machine is the legendary liquid-cooled in-line three-cylinder 800cc engine that has been re-engineered to be more refined and more efficient. The engine has gotten some new adjustments made to it including some technology and components borrowed over from the awe-inspiring Daytona. The engine has received better fuel metering with new fuel injectors and also gets Daytona valve springs as well as a larger air intake. This means that fuel efficiency has now been raised by 17 percent, and the fuel tank capacity is 19 litres, which allows you to travel much longer distances with a full tank. The engine is simply remarkable, and without a doubt it is one of the smoothest mid-capacity engines I have ever felt. The engine doesn’t rev very high, but thanks to the ride-by-wire technology it doesn’t need to be revved hard at all if you want power.
On the first day we rode the XRx on some outstanding roads and the engine really amazed me. It almost felt as if I was riding a motorbike with an automatic transmission because I didn’t need to change gears at all. The bike uses a 6-speed transmission, but even when I was in sixth gear and if I needed to slow down, to let’s say around 40km/h, even at just 1800rpm the torque delivery is astonishingly quick and the bike accelerates very quickly back up to 100km/h before you know it – all this without downshifting. There were certain stretches of twisty roads in the hills where I was only locked in 5th gear and my speeds ranged from 35km/h to 140km/h and power delivery was almost always instantaneous. With 94bhp and 79Nm of torque you don’t really get spine crushing power, but it’s certainly enough to feel an exciting adrenaline rush – and the exhaust note is a joyous sound too. The engine is without a doubt a gem and the low-end and mid-range torque is simply brilliant, something that will be highly beneficial on Indian roads.
The Tiger 800 XRx also handled brilliantly, and thanks to its phenomenal chassis the weight distribution is perfect and makes the bike feel incredibly nimble around smooth flowing corners and tight bends alike. The XRx is fitted with Showa suspension that has been setup to ensure excellent handling on any road surface. Even at lower speeds, negotiating turns is effortless, but for some shorter riders it might be a bit of a nuisance to make U-turns or turn the bike when at a standstill because of the high rider seat – which is adjustable by 20mm. The XCx on the other hand gets WP suspension, which is more oriented towards off-road riding, but in my personal opinion the XCx with is softer suspension setup and slimmer front tyre was more enjoyable to ride on tarmac than the XRx, and it even handled better and provided better feedback. You can lean the bike close to the ground when tackling curves at high speeds, and you can quickly, and smoothly, roll your body to the other side when you want to change direction – it actually handled better than some super sport-mid segment bikes I have ridden.
Getting to the off-road bit, the Tiger 800 was quite incredible, and thanks to the various riding modes, the rider can choose between 4 different throttle maps. When in Off-road mode the throttle is less responsive and hence doesn’t react very quickly to the twist of your wrist as it would when engaged in On-road mode, or Rider Mode (Sport Mode). The different modes also adjust the ABS and Traction control, so if you choose to be in Off-road mode the ABS in the rear wheel is deactivated. You can also choose to have both, traction control and ABS, disengaged when off-road. Switching between the modes is as easy as pressing a button and can be changed even when in motion, but if you choose to ride without traction control and ABS, then you will have to come to a complete stop and make the necessary changes. However, the stock tyres on the XCx , or the XRx for that matter, are not the best for serious off-roading, and in the seemingly unlimited list of additional triumph accessories you can opt for better grip tyres. Other accessories include heated grips, fog lights, and light weight, all weather-proof panniers.
If the Tiger 800 was already one of the best bikes in the world in its class, then it has probably become the ultimate mid-range Adventure bike for 2015. It’s hard to imagine how the engine and handling can become any better than it already is. It’s got all the technology to suit anyone’s needs, and with the four different variants there is now a Tiger for everyone. The bike won’t be launched for a couple of months in the global market and we don’t expect to see it in India until the middle of 2015, but if you want my advice, the new Tiger 800 is one of the most enjoyable, fun, and highly capable bikes I have ridden in a very long time, and though it might not look the part, it certainly is designed to be the ultimate high-performance bike for Indian road conditions and can literally, take you anywhere.
- Triumph Tiger 800
Engine: 800cc Liquid-cooled / 12 Valve / DOHC / in-line 3-cylinder
Transmission: 6-speed manual
Power: 94bhp @ 9,250rpm
Torque: 79Nm @ 7,850rpm