Words by Abhishek Wairagade
What do you do with a product that is almost perfect? Ask Triumph Motorcycles. Instead of changing the formula, the British bike maker has simply added to the finesse of one of its most popular models by providing it new upgrades. 200. That’s the number of changes (!).
One of the most popular middle weight adventure motorcycles in the world with over 68,000 examples sold till date, the Tiger deserves no introduction. In fact, it’s the most popular premium adventure tourer in the India as well (look around yourself). In its third generation now and 8 years old, the Triumph is known for its dual nature (without taking anything away from the Multistrada), with slightly more emphasis on the off road prowess, unlike the Multistrada. In fact, Triumph doesn’t consider the Ducati as its rival at all! But then what does it go up against? Yes, you guessed it right; the recently launched BMW F 850 GS. Would it be able to hold up to the BMW in our conditions? We do not know the answer because we have not ridden the bikes back to back, but we have ridden the Tiger XC and XR in Morocco and have come impressed with it. Find out why.
Majority of the changes are made to the drivetrain. With almost 40 new parts including the removal of backlash gears, crankshaft optimisation and better cooling components the Tiger has gotten more refined, claims Triumph. The 800cc, liquid cooled, in-like triple engine still makes 94bhp and 79Nm of torque. However, the peak power comes in at 9500rpm as compared to 9250rpm as compared to predecessor while the maximum torque is developed at 8050rpm, 200 revs higher. The torque curve is flatter (from 2300rpm all the way to the redline) as compared to the predecessor and is supplied at a much lower range. The first gear ratio is now shorter as well. The exhaust is now smaller and lighter too, for optimised weight balance and a better soundtrack.
Ergonomically too, the bike has been altered with more emphasis on relaxed touring as well as off road capabilities. The handlebar has been moved closer to the rider by 10mm, while the XC also gets 30mm additional height and wider bars. The seat is now more comfortable thanks to a new material and you also get heating as standard on the top of the line variants. Heated grips are also made available, which none of the bikes in this segment offer. The windscreen is manually adjustable in five ways.
For the first time ever, the XR also gets an adjustable suspension both at the front (compression and rebound) as well as at the rear (pre load and rebound). You also get new aero deflectors that not only look cool but also protect you from heavy wind blasts. Cosmetically, there’s not much to differentiate from the old bike with the exception of new decals and LED Headlamps. Fit and finish though has been significantly improved with the new bike feeling even more premium. Additionally, you get the same 5-inch TFT instrument cluster as well as the switch gear from the Street Triple RS. The major addition though is the option of five riding modes on the XR variant and an all new Off Road Pro variant on the XCa that shuts all assist systems, including TC and ABS.
How’s it to ride?
We rode both, the XCa and the XRt variants on the outskirts of Marrakech. First day consisted of a road ride that saw us through beautiful mountain passes and scenic country roads, while on the second day Triumph prepped the off-road specific XCa with Pirelli Scorpion Rally tyres and took us for hardcore off roading through mountains as tall as a dinosaur and terrain that reminisces of Mars!
Straight off, The XRt feels very refined with a silky smooth delivery, throughout the rev range. There’s no sudden surge of power and the bike shoots with great ferocity, throughout the power band. The engine map, TC and ABS modes are selected depending on the riding mode selected of which there are five to choose from – Road, Rain, Sport, Off Road and Rider. There’s no change in weight but with the reworked components, it feels even more nimble than earlier. The weight distribution is 50:50 so there’s excellent stability mid corner and even strict line stability is well taken care of. The sticky Metzler Tourance shod on 19-inch rims do their job well and scraping pegs is an easy task. It isn’t still as superbike-ish as the Multistrada but with the new updates, it definitely feels sportier and easier to ride.
The trump card here is the XCa though. We rode it with both on, on Road and off road tyres. The off road abilities are tremendous and the Tiger feels at home in this part of the country where the terrain consists of ruts, slush, gravel and even sand. We began the ride setting up the bike in Off Road mode that keeps ABS on at the front, while allowing for limited slip at the rear. The massive 21-inch wheels at the front are accompanied by WP forks, offering 220mm of travel. You cannot be pushing the bike on Tarmac like the XRt, but once off road, it feels special, to the extent of being magical. With the bike being as easy as to tame as a Himalayan (I’m not an off road nut), we were asked to try the Off Road Pro mode which shuts all the assists. But yes, we did not go all out and left the front ABS on and it got even better! So much so that I learned to slide the rear end in a span of 15 minutes.
Should I get one?
Yes. If you are someone whose life begins where the road ends, you ought to get the Tiger XCa. The launch is imminent in India and with BMW Motorrad pricing the F range so well, expect the prices to be in the range of 11-14 lakh. The game is on!