Going, going, gone
The picture on this page should give you an inkling of how comfortable I have become on the Tiger. Four months ago, I was rather intimidated by this tall, adventure motorcycle but now, it is a pussycat. 8700km is time enough to get to know it well and in that time, the only thing I find I dislike about the Tiger – and I suspect most adventure motorcycles with long travel shocks have this characteristic – is that it is hard to tell when the front wheel is about to wash out. Especially when you are on loose surfaces. It has caught me by surprise a couple of times and I have found that, luckily, my reflexes are quick enough to take corrective action before the whole shebang (me included) goes up in a ball of dust. I think that day at the Tiger Academy a couple of months ago did help my riding subconsciously.
Anyway, it’s been four months of having it at my disposal. Four months of refusing to take home the usual selection of BMWs, Mercs, Audis and even the Thar because I enjoyed every moment in the saddle – even when the engine was heat branding my legs. I found myself doing the usual Tiger owner things – the other day, I downloaded the owner’s manual and figured out that the factory setting for the suspension is four anti-clockwise clicks on the front fork compression and rebound for sport riding, and eight clicks in the same direction for comfort. I set it at six and found that to be a good compromise. Setting the rear suspension is trickier. For one, the preload adjustment is via an Allen key slot that sits next to the exhaust pipe. What that means is that I have to set it, go for a test ride and be very careful when making further adjustments because it is very easy to toast my hand on the hot exhaust pipe. The rebound setting for the rear shock is also in a funny place and you need a small screwdriver to adjust that.
I’ve also figured out that the chain needs to be adjusted every 600km (all chain-driven adventure motorcycles need this because of the long travel suspension) and that after every trail ride, Yamalube chain cleaner and lube worked best to protect it.
In those four months, I also had a puncture and here’s one ridiculous thing about the Tiger XCA in particular. It has a tube-type tyre (the XRx and Explorer are tubeless) and that means you need to remove the wheel to x punctures. The tool you need to remove that rim isn’t in the tool kit and at the time I had the puncture, it was the puncture guy’s jugaad using a tool to open a Maruti alternator that finally got the wheel off. I had initially called the Triumph helpline and they offered to send a truck to take it to the workshop. A visit to the dealership to fix a puncture on an adventure motorcycle! That’s quite silly isn’t it? So, to all XCA owners, I suggest you buy the front wheel removal tool and add it to your toolkit.
Otherwise, everything has been perfect with the bike. The reason it has covered so much ground in such a short time is because I’ve always needed the smallest of excuses to go riding. I made it a point to go trail riding on the weekends and if that wasn’t happening, a quick blast to Mumbai on Saturday night and back to Pune on Monday morning. It was that kind of bike – I never thought twice about hopping on it and going riding – sometimes in the wee hours of the morning.
I liked that it wasn’t too expensive to run – riding hard would see fuel consumption drop to around 16kmpl and an easier hand on the highway would see that figure go as high as 25kmpl. Not bad at all for an 800cc motor.
Other things I loved about the bike? Its engine note – I love the sporty snarl the triple has as you wind it out – L-twins, V-twins and parallel twins – the choice of motor for most adventure touring motorcycles simply don’t have that. I love that it was so responsive and easy enough to use every day and I love that I had to learn to ride it. It is not a hop-on-and-go-climbing-hills kind of bike. It works better when you ride it, figure out its nuances and get your rewards as you learn along the way. I think that is why I like the Tiger so much. I learnt a lot riding it and it made me a better rider without scaring the daylights out of me. By the time this article goes to print, the Tiger will be back with Triumph and I would be lying if I said that I am not more than a bit gutted. Taming a Tiger is fun. It will be missed.
Date acquired: March 2016
Duration of test: 5 months
Total mileage: 8,702km
Mileage this month: 1207km
Overall kmpl: 20.5kmpl
Costs this month: Nil