If you’re on the hunt for a performance motorcycle between Rs 10-15 lakh, you will be spoilt for choice. The purchase part is, however, only a small part of the big-bike experience, as the real joy is in riding these machines. The quickest and fastest options are supersport motorcycles, their performance can knock your socks off, but they are also the least practical motorcycles you can buy.
Next up are the cruisers, which remain among the most aspirational genre for big-bike owners. They have visual appeal, and the low seat height makes them accessible for wider audience. However, they aren’t the most agile of motorcycles and riding them in the city can be tedious. This is where street bikes make a strong case for themselves, as they are amongst the most versatile and usable performance bikes you can buy.
However, none of the above motorcycles can match the go-anywhere nature and comfort offered by an adventure tourer. And when it comes to ADVs in India, the Triumph Tiger is the undisputed king of the segment. Earlier this year, Rishaad had ridden the 2018 Tiger range in Morocco, and he came back impressed. Now, it was my chance to ride and test the new Tiger 800 XRx. As Mumbai drowned (again) after heavy rains lashed the city, I set out on the new Tiger 800 XRx on a ride to Lavasa.
Same yet different
Triumph says it has made over 200 changes on the new Tiger 800. Yet, when you see the 800 XRx at a glance, you’d be hard-pressed to find the differences between the old and the new. However, look closely and the subtle differences emerge – it gets LED DRLs, redesigned body panels and aero deflectors. In fact, apart from the fuel tank, all the panels have been reworked to make the new Tiger 800 look more compact. The Tiger 800 XRx also features a TFT all-digital console, replacing the semi-digital unit as seen on its predecessor. It displays tonnes of information and adjusting the various parameters is an easy affair with the five-way joystick. The new windscreen is also manually adjustable, and like the Multistrada 950, it can be adjusted on the go. Standard seat height is 830mm, but the seat can be adjusted to drop by 20mm.
Power figures from the 800cc, liquid-cooled motor remain identical, as the triple-cylinder mill churns out 93.7hp at 9,500rpm and 79Nm of torque at 8,050rpm. However, Triumph has worked hard to improve smoothness and refinement (which are excellent) and the engine does feel a little more free-revving now. Triumph engineers have also shortened the first-gear and added a new crankshaft. To top it off, the stock exhaust system is lighter and more compact than the older model, but our bike was breathing through an optional and sweet-sounding Arrow exhaust that will set you back by Rs 42,167 (excluding taxes).
On the go
Throttle response from the ride-by-wire system is crisp and precise. Having ridden the older Tiger 800, the new engine felt even more tractable and a bit smoother too. Making my way out of the city and through the typical traffic snarls, the tractability of the engine helped, but a slip and assist clutch would have been welcome.
Once on the highway, the Tiger 800 XRx felt more comfortable as it was munching miles at a brisk pace. Cruising speeds lie between 5,000 and 6,000rpm in sixth gear, and overtakes require just a slight opening of the throttle. The new Tiger 800 is a quick motorcycle, but the linear power delivery and the electronic aids mean that inexperienced riders won’t sweat riding it, and it's not warp-speed quick like the Tiger 1200 that we rode in the last issue.
The upright riding posture is almost perfect, and adding to the comfort quotient is the generous and well-padded saddle. I was cruising down the highway, soaking in the beautiful vistas when suddenly the rain gods came down in full fury. The Tiger 800 XRx’s riding modes came in handy here and it gets four of them – road, sport, off-road and rain. With slippery road conditions, I switched to rain mode. You still get full power, but throttle response is mellower and the traction control is at its highest setting. Even with strong crosswinds and under heavy downpour, the Tiger 800 XRx was rock-solid. Cruise control now comes standard, as do heated grips, which added to the comfort quotient.
The road surface continued to deteriorate and soon reached lunar levels of ridiculousness. But the Tiger wasn’t bothered in the least and you just need to stand and roll on the throttle as the ADV wafts its way over bumps, potholes, undulations and what not! Helping its cause are the Showa USD fork and monoshock unit, with 180mm and 170mm of travel, respectively. Since the XRx is a mid-spec variant, there’s minimal adjustability and you can only change the preload of the monoshock.
The Tiger 800 XRx gets a 19-inch front wheel and a 17-inch rear one, running tubeless Metzeler Tourance tyres. This makes it more fun to ride around corners than its off-road focused sibling XCx – but this is still no sport bike. The front end doesn’t feel very connected and when you do amp up the corner speeds you’ll find that the foot pegs meet the tarmac quite quickly. The dual discs perform decently, but the brakes have been tuned for low initial bite and fork dive is also quite prominent. . Still, rather than being a hardcore off-roader, this bike is magnificent at crossing massive distances, no matter the road conditions, and that's why you see no off-road shots here. But the XRx can take on a fair share of no-road riding when you need it to.
In the end
Priced at Rs 13.30 lakh (ex-showroom, Delhi), the new Tiger 800 XRx carries a premium of slightly above Rs 1 lakh over its predecessor. This is quite a steep price hike, but we mustn’t forget that taxes for CKD motorcycles were hiked recently. The updates have also made the new 800 XRx motorcycle an improved product and its touring abilities are among the best.
But it should be noted that this bike is in the middle of the road – the Tiger XCx and the Africa Twin are more capable off-road and the Multistrada 950 is more rewarding as a sporty ADV to attack the corners with. But, sometimes, a lack of focus is a good thing, and when it comes to usability, touring ability and effortless performance over rough roads, the Tiger 800 XRx is a clever buy.
2018 Triumph Tiger 1200 XCx review, test ride
2018 Triumph Tiger 800 XCx long term review, second report
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