The BMW F 850 GS Adventure is the most premium mid-segment ADV but, the new Triumph Tiger 900 Rally Pro is a hoot to ride. Now that we finally got both the bikes to ride together, we can find out which one is right for you.
The new Triumph Tiger 900 Rally Pro is the perfect mid-segment Adventure motorcycle if you are looking to do some off-road as well as on-road riding. I know this because I rode the bike extensively in Morocco just before the world went into lockdown. However, the big daddy of the segment continues to be the BMW F 850 GS Adventure and that’s because the BMW name itself carries a lot of weight. Both these bikes are the top-of-the-line variants of their respective model range, and because they have Rally Pro and Adventure slapped on them, they are also the more off-road focused machines. Which one would you go for, if you had the money? These bikes are by no means affordable, so, if you are going to invest in one of them you need to make sure it’s right for you. Well, don’t worry! I did all the hard work for you.
Unlike the Tiger 900 GT, the Rally Pro gets different suspension setup, spoked wheels, metal bash plate, and a few other things to make it a more capable off-road machine. However, I have to say that I did like the design of the older Tiger 800 better. The 900 seems almost similar, but the plain graphics and decals really don’t make the bike stand out much. The 850 GS Adventure on the other hand looks really good and it’s also a whole lot bulkier. The Tiger 900 has become lighter and a little narrower now, which makes it seem much smaller than the girthy 850 GS Adventure. The Tiger weighs 220kgs now, which is pretty good for its size, but the BMW weighs 240kgs because of the massive 23-litre fuel tank and larger-than-life fairings. The 850 GS adventure could easily be mistaken for the larger 1250, that’s how big it looks. The Tiger also gets new lights all around but, again, I have to say I just love the headlight design of the GS bikes. Both bikes also get a very nice digital instrument display, and on the Tiger 900, you can choose from a wide variety of different layouts to suit your style. Both bikes also get a large 21-inch front wheel, but the Tiger gets larger discs. The Tiger 900 Rally Pro is not a bad looking motorcycle from any angle, it’s just that the 850 GS Adventure really stands out when you put both bikes together.
All big ADVs are essential touring machines that can occasionally take on some rough terrain. They aren’t really hardcore off-road machines. And when it comes to on-road touring the BMW F 850 GS Adventure really rides like a dream. On long straight roads, the ride quality is absolutely beautiful and no other bike in the segment really offers such a plush experience. The 853cc parallel-twin is as refined as a twin could be and feels outstanding. For India, the engine is tuned to churn out 90bhp and 86Nm of torque. That’s more than enough power for you to cruise comfortably on any highway. The comfort seat that comes standard is also a little higher than the Tiger, and the seating position also offers more room. The Tiger 900 gets a new 888cc in-line 3-cylinder engine and it's tuned for fantastic mid-range delivery. It pumps out more power at 94bhp and 87Nm of torque. The new engine is brilliant but somehow, even though it’s a triple, it still feels a little harsher than the BMW. The engine on the Tiger gets a new firing system, which makes it feel like a twin. Although, it’s not as smooth as the BMW, the engine is a masterpiece when it comes to performance. The mid-range is the sweet spot for the Tiger and you can ride a lot more aggressively. The seating position is also a bit more aggressive compared to the BMW. Another absolute gem on the Tiger is Triumph’s ride-by-wire system, which I personally am a big fan of. The engine on the Tiger is also a lot more versatile as it gets six different riding modes compared to the four riding modes on the GS. The Tiger 900 GT gets electronic suspension but in the Rally Pro, it can only be adjusted manually. The 850 GS Adventure though, gets electronic suspension but, only for the rear. How the bikes perform on the highway really depends on your riding style. If you are looking for a more comfortable and plush experience then the BMW wins hands down. If you are looking for a sportier riding experience the Triumph handles brilliantly and is a bit more exciting and manageable in Indian road conditions.
Now, let’s get to the good stuff. Taking the road less travelled is what ADV biking is all about. Those roads are not paved very well though, and sometimes not at all. That’s when you will need the off-road capabilities of the bike to shine. The most important thing about riding off-road on a big ADV is that you have to feel confident and comfortable. If you are a pro or an intermediate level rider, then both these bikes perform pretty well on all conditions but, if you are a beginner, then it’s the Tiger 900 which is a lot more forgiving. Firstly, it’s lighter and the seat height is adjustable. This makes the Tiger much more approachable. It’s also important to adjust the suspension to your liking and the Tiger allows you to do that on the front forks and the rear shock as well. Once you have everything set up to your liking then you will feel a lot better on the bike. Even though I rode the bike in stock setup the Tiger really rides better when off-road. It’s got more suspension travel as well and the option of having an Off-Road and Off-Road Pro mode allows you to decide how hard you want to ride. The bike has a better feel from the front-end and you can stand up better on the Tiger 900 as well because it is narrower. The 850 GS Adventure is a very wide machine and it’s not as easy to handle on the rough stuff as the Tiger 900 Rally Pro. The throttle inputs also need to be monitored more accurately. The added weight also makes it a little more intimidating to ride. Sure, it can go on the same trails as the Tiger can but you will be a lot more worn out, and you better be able to lift 240kgs if you fall. I do think that if you ride the BMW F 850 GS Adventure for a long enough time you will eventually get used to it. I rode both the bikes with their stock Bridgestone dual-purpose tyres and they seemed to do a pretty good job on the trails I was riding. Mostly loose dirt, a few rocky paths and some sandy patches were ridden absolutely fine. Hardcore off-road ADV enthusiasts will definitely want to upgrade the tires for better grip. Even though both bikes ride very well I still think that beginners, as well as pros, will prefer the Tiger 900. It’s just a lot more fun to ride in the dirt.
Which one is for you?
The Tiger 900 Rally Pro is a brand-new model and, so, it also gets some better technology and rider aids as well as more riding modes for more versatile riding experience. You can connect your phone and even your GoPro to the motorcycle. Heated grips and seats also come as standard and you can also store your phone securely. The Tiger 900 definitely has got a lot more kit. The F 850 GS Adventure also gets some pretty good rider aids but, it doesn’t have the same level of technology features as the Tiger 900 Rally Pro. You can connect your phone and it does have USB charging. The Tiger is a more all-round motorcycle as it rides wonderfully on the highway and it handles better. ON the rough stiff is makes you feel a whole lot more confident and that beautifully chassis is just so forgiving. You can throw the bike into any situation and it will come out of it shining. The F 850 GS Adventure on the other hand is a much better highway tourer and if you are looking to just do some long-distance riding on tarmac, then, it’s the better choice. When it comes to riding pleasure it really depends on what kind of touring or adventure riding you're planning on doing. On Indian road conditions though, I do feel the Tiger 900 will perform a whole lot better. However, I have spoken to many riders and it turns out the BMW badge on a motorcycle really pulls the strings of people’s emotions. Because it’s a more premium brand, owners of BMWs claim to connect more with their motorcycle. You might say it’s just their egos getting a nice massage but, I have to agree with the fact that there is something magnificent about riding a big GS. While I think a lot of older riders might prefer the BMW F 850 GS Adventure, I also think that younger riders might prefer performance over comfort and go for the Triumph Tiger 900 Rally Pro. Both bikes are priced the same and they both will offer you wonderful experiences and awesome adventures.