Triumph Tiger 800 XR, XC review, test ride
8th Dec 2014 3:00 pm
Triumph has reworked the Tiger 800 for 2015. It now gets an extensively revised engine and new electronics to make it a more able on- and off-road bike.
What is it?
This is Triumph’s mid-sized adventure bike that the engineers back at Hinckley have tinkered with a fair bit for 2015. An extensively revised engine and new suite of electronics are the headline grabbing changes here. That aside, there are cosmetic, ergonomic and suspension updates as well.
Tell me more..
With the update, Triumph has carried out a rebranding of the Tiger 800 line up. The Tiger 800 is now known as XR, and that ends up emphasising its road bias, while the XC is positioned as the more off-road-oriented motorcycle. Both models get a top of the line “x” variant (XRx, XCx) too, which is loaded with riding modes and an advanced trip computer amongst other features and conveniences – like an extra power socket.
More on the engine first!
When you look at the displacement, peak horsepower and torque figures, it’s hard to believe that the engine has been updated, after all they are all the same motors. However, from the air intake, to the exhaust and everything in between has been tweaked to improve refinement, efficiency and performance. It certainly felt that way as we swept up the Spanish mountains on the XRx. It was apparent that the bottom-end torque had jumped dramatically. Slowing down for traffic while climbing up a mountain road, it didn’t send me scurrying through the smooth-six speed gearbox. Instead, I could just leave it in the sixth even with the revs under 2,000rpm, and trot calmly along.
Swap cogs, and the Tiger will rocket ahead, its engine soaring with sportbike-like zest to its near 11,000rpm redline. It can be a complete hoot to ride hard when you are in the mood. On the refinement front, the engine felt quieter and smoother than before too.
The other advantage of the new engine is that the adoption of ride by wire has allowed the inclusion of an array of electronic aids. Traction control and ABS are offered as standard on all Tiger’s, and on the top-end XRx/XCx variants, you also get three rider modes to choose from. Road, off-road and User. The last is customisable – so apart from the traction control and ABS settings, you also get four throttle maps (Road, Off-Road, Sport & Rain) to choose from.
So XR or XC?
Despite being an adventure bike, the Tiger 800 has been a motorcycle with a slight fetish for tarmac. Staying on the black stuff was very rewarding and the XR, which will be coming to India for the very first time, is the more everyday adventure bike of the two. Firstly, at its lowest setting the 810mm seat height, makes the 216kgs of motorcycle easier to manage. Then the 19” front wheel also lightens the steering and sends it lunging into corners.
The XC, in keeping with its adventurous leanings uses a larger 21” front tyre and spoke wheels for off-road duties. At 840mm, the seat height is considerably higher than the XR as it packs plenty more suspension travel. While the suspension travel is unchanged from the earlier XC, the new bike uses hardware from off-road specialist WP. Yes, KTM’s sister concern. The little bit that we rode in the dirt showed that the XC has found a new suppleness and ease with which it can deal with sharp bumps that off-road journeys throw at you. The top of the line XCx gets engine guards and an aluminium bash plate as well.
On the road, the XC impresses further. Its corner entry is a bit more measured, but that only made it more enjoyable and, unlike the XR, the mid-corner bumps were shrugged off by the XC. The icing on the cake is that the new higher handlebar offers a far more upright seating position that won’t tire you even on long journeys.
Yes, the 3D comfort seat offered as standard on the XRx is exceptionally good, and it kept my day in the saddle completely free of aches. However, it is an option on the XCx. Opt for it. Also, Triumph offers an optional low seat, that drops the seat height by 20mm over the lowest seat setting. And that should make a world of a difference for shorter riders.
Yes, if you have been yearning for an adventure bike, you should. The Tiger feels like a sophisticated and up-to-date adventure bike now. The suite of electronics and a stronger motor will make it an easier motorcycle for all the riders to enjoy. We don’t expect the XC to be a GS trumping machine in the dirt , but it could, we just don’t know yet. Nonetheless, there’s no doubt that the Tiger has become a more complete and better thought out motorcycle to go hunting for an adventure on.