Ride Review: Triumph Tiger 800

There is something utterly intoxicating and addictive about the sonorous wail of a Triumph triple at full chat. When that triple is housed in the latest, WP suspended chassis of the 800 XCx, it really, really rocks!

Ride-by-wire enables switchable ABS braking. “On”, “Off” or “Off-road” are all available at the push of a button. In “Off-road” mode, the ABS is disabled to the rear wheel allowing “backing-it-in” with the rear wheel locked, whilst a degree of front wheel slip is also dialled in – more on this later.

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Traction control is also standard and this is programmable to “On” or “Off-Road”. Four different throttle maps are also available – rain, road, sport and off-road. Each mode optimizes power and torque delivery for the appropriate road conditions.

A really neat feature is the programmable rider mode; this allows you to pick and choose what works best for you. The ECU then stores this in its memory allowing you to set the electronics up to your performance – SUPERB!

Cruise control is also a standard feature as well as a trip computer with features such as travel time, average speed, fuel economy, range to empty as well as current consumption.

Last, but definitely not least, is that WP suspension is standard on the XC models. South Africa will only get the top of the range XCx, which sports the full electronics package as well as a sump guard manufactured from aircraft grade aluminium, hand guards, engine guards and a centre stand, all as standard. The WP forks on the XCx have adjustable rebound and compression damping whilst the rear shock adjusts for preload and rebound damping. The XR model keeps up-rated and refined Showa suspension. The front forks are not adjustable and the rear shock is preload adjustable only.

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Wheel sizes remain unchanged on both models, with 17-inch rear and 19-inch front for the XR’s cast wheels, whilst the XC rides on spoked 18 inch rear and 21 inch front better suited to off-road conditions.

Hooray!! – Both bikes have self-cancelling indicators.

I am really itching to let you know how all these changes and improvements relate to riding experience!!

The launch day proceeded with military precision and as promised we mounted the bikes around 11:00am with the plan to ride tar and dirt on both variants, swapping amongst the journo’s to get saddle time on each. Triumph emphasizes their focus on technology to optimize the ride, on and off-road. Boy-oh-Boy they really got it spot on.

My first ride was on a XRx. Caspian Blue is Triumph’s name for a blue metallic paint, perhaps a shade lighter than that familiar to Subaru fans – beautiful!! The XRx sits lower due to its slightly shorter suspension and 19-inch front wheel, although the seat height is adjustable (on both models).

Arnold led us out on a blisteringly hot summers day. We rode the familiar Hekpoort pass at a brisk clip, the XRx handled impeccably. The adjustable screen and comfortable seat, coupled with good ergonomics, make the Triumph a wonderful place to be. The long sweeps of the Bekker Schools road were strafed at speed with the muted wail of the Triumphs music to the ears. The 800’s have always had good gearboxes, albeit with a heavy-ish shift action. The aforementioned mods have rectified that – now it is positive and perfectly weighted. Nice!

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Regrouping to ride some dirt, we pressed the mode button to switch to “off-road”, and then off we went. Spaced out at 1-minute intervals we could enjoy the ride without chewing dust. I was really impressed by the competence of the XRx on dirt. The firm suspension is supple enough to soak up rocky lurkers and the rain ruts without fuss. Fact is, the XRx makes a competent adventure bike, breakfast runs, commuting, touring “on” or “off-road” one up or two, the XR does it all. The bike is stable and totally happy on dirt even when ridden with gusto. The only time I experienced mild headshake was when slowing over a washboard rain rutted surface. Get on the gas, transfer the weight rearwards and it is instantly composed. At the end of this section of dirt we regrouped for a welcome ice water to compare war stories. We also used this opportunity to swap bikes.

The XCx – Oh, Lordy, what a bike!! As good as the XRx is and it is good, the XCx is simply better.

What I haven’t mentioned yet is the improved heat management. The bigger radiator now vents through larger and reshaped vents. Even on this +36’ day, the engine heat was never overly apparent or bothersome, which is a significant improvement over the old model. Both models share a similar electronics package, however the real advantages over the XRx are the different wheel sizes and the WP longer travel suspension.

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Fact is, as Katoom owners know and keep telling us, “WP suspension is proper”! The biggest difference compared to the previous Showa shocks is the finesse of the WP’s. The Showa’s tend to top-out over minor irregularities on the road, felt through the bars. With the WP suspension, you have sweet controlled damping everywhere, couple this to excellent off-road electronics and you very simply have a new middleweight champ. Back it into corners on the back brake then jump on the main jet (or fuel injected equivalent) and the XCx power slides in a perfectly controlled manner, and at no stage do you perceive electronic intervention. It makes you think you are really talented.

Perfectly linear power delivery from the turbine-like triple finds, and maintains, traction even on loose surfaces. The bike is composed at all speeds; even silly speeds feel safe on the dirt on this bike. Bloody Hell – I’m gushing aren’t I?

Back on the tar on the satellite road and still on the XCx, I give the bike its head. Road blemishes disappear thanks to the WP’s and the bike is plush and accurate with not a wobble or wallow despite speeds just shy of the double ton. WOW!!

Don’t just take my word for it… RIDE the XCx and see for yourself!!

 

My name is Dave Cilliers. I consider cars as four wheeled shopping baskets and only worth using as a last resort! For years bikes have been my primary transport. Racing, touring, commuting or just kicking up dust on African tracks, I have owned over 270 motorcycles and ridden millions of kilometres. I am happiest when sharing my passion for motorcycles with like minded people whilst traversing Africa in search of adventure.