Allow me to start this report at the 16,000km mark (the bike is now closing in on 22,000km as I write this). I’d been adding numbers to the odometer in small increments and was feeling a dire need to be out on an open road. So, two trips were planned – a quick 1,100km round trip weekend to Bengaluru followed by a 2,200km round trip to Goa for a friend’s wedding. Two things stood out on these runs.
The first was that my friend who rode pillion for the Bengaluru-Goa run never complained of a numb bum. Either she had an iron butt or the Tiger’s pillion seat is really comfortable; I’d guess it’s the latter.
The second thing I noticed – and this is something that no one who has ever reviewed the bike has ever said – is that the Tiger’s sixth gear is too short. 120kph in the highest gear relates to near 6,000rpm on the engine (which is 60 percent up the rev band). As a result, the engine never settles down to a quiet cruise and you end up riding at slower speeds just to keep the engine calm. The upside of this is that even at these speeds, the engine is in its powerband and doesn’t require a couple of downshifts for overtaking.
However, this detail aside, the bike is a brilliant cross-country tourer – the seats are supremely comfortable, the windscreen is tall enough to protect my 5ft 7in frame from windblast, and with the rear suspension cranked up to compensate for the weight of the pillion and luggage, the bike is supremely stable.
It made a quick snack of big miles, was fun on the corners that run through the Mollem sanctuary and I was secure in the knowledge that if the roads disintegrated, the Tiger would dismiss them easily. All this running brought me up to the 20,000km service quite quickly and I was in for a double whammy. One, the Bridgestone Battlewings were down below the recommended tread depth (they grip like mad on the road, but lasted a mere 7,000km thanks to my heavy throttle use), and two, this service is a major one that includes opening up the engine head to reset valve shim clearance. The replacement for the former costs Rs 44,000 a set, and for the service, a cool Rs 25,000. I am not upset because I was expecting it, and, in fact, I was quite happy that my bike, which doesn’t have an easy life, needed resetting on only one of the twelve valve shims. As for the Bridgestones, I found a cheaper option that would last longer (according to YouTube research).
That’s how the Heidenau Scout K60s came into my life. These cross-ply tyres are hardy and their aggressive tread pattern is designed for 50/50 off-road/on-road use. They cost a fair bit less than the Bridgestones and since I do a lot of trail riding near my house in Kerala, I decided to go for them. I have also added a few accessories from a superb outfit called Powersports MotoUsher. I got a Hepco & Becker headlight grille that makes the Tiger look a bit Dakar, and I’ve fitted Baja Designs Squadron Pro auxiliary lamps for riding at night – they are insanely bright and turn night into day and, I’ve managed to get them fitted without splicing the original wiring harness. There is so much more to say but I don’t have the space for it in this report. I will talk about the tyres and the accessories in the next report many miles down the road.
2018 Triumph Tiger 800 review, test ride