The Triumph Tiger 800 is a special adventure tourer in the Indian motorcycle history book. As the most off-road friendly and affordable motorcycle in the class by most measures, it sells well and most owners get away with all sort of shenanigans on it. An update to something of that stature, naturally, is a big deal. Abhay came back from this first ride in Morocco rather happy about how Triumph has evolved the new Tiger 800.
I found an appropriately wet day to get a taste of the new 2018 Triumph Tiger XRx around Mumbai. The XRx, of course, is the road model, with a 19-inch alloy wheel up front and a 17-inch alloy wheel at the back. There is the base XR below this, of course, which receives less equipment. The XRx gets that fancy colour display, four riding modes and preload adjustable rear suspension.
With 180 and 170mm of travel, front and rear, there is enough travel for fairly serious off-roading but the tyres and the wheel sizes mark the XRx as the more road-ready of the 800 range. The engine, updated in many ways, is a 95PS 800cc inline triple we know so well. Our bike was also wearing the Arrow exhaust which you have pay Rs 57,000 extra for.
On the road, the Tiger 800 XRx is a pleasant motorcycle. The Arrow makes more sound than I like, especially when you’re revving it up – it sounds like more show than go – but the Tiger is a phenomenal city bike. It’s skinny but more importantly, it is tall so you can see over traffic easily and it makes navigating moderate to light traffic very easy indeed.
Out on the highway, the triple is smooth and works well at highway speed. Just like the old one then but there are two things you will notice.
First, the engine is distinctly smoother in feel. The second is that Triumph’s traction control has far better manners than the last time. It’s understood how to be polite and while it’s far from the smooth and near invisible nature of the Ducati, BMW or Suzuki systems, it’s a dramatic improvement for sure.
Triumph also seems to have spread their riding modes farther apart in feel so there is a distinct change when you go from rain to touring to sport modes in the engine response as well as traction control. On our ride, I was forced to stick to rain mode for the most part because out XRx was on squared-off tyres and that made riding in the rain, especially in the corners a little closer to the edge than usual.
But the quality that really stood out for me was how the Tiger dealt with the conditions. The XRx feels unbreakable. To me, that’s a very important quality for riders who are going to venture farther than their weekend coffee place. To be able to trust the motorcycle to keep it together despite the terrain. And that’s a quality of the XRx and its Showa suspension that absolutely thrilled me. The highway stretch was dented with small but deep potholes at irregular intervals. And the Tiger went through them like they were nothing. No sense of strain, no sense of a big hit ever arrived at the bars or the seat to upset my rhythm.
Slightly sad that both models that get the new LED slash-cut DRLs aren’t on sale in India
On the flip side, I’m surprised that the XRx didn’t boast the new headlamp with the slashcut LED DRL motif. The tank panels are new and the while I’ve never thought of the Tiger as a design classic, the new one does look striking. I do think that Triumph could stand to work more on the rear-end of the motorcycle where the exposed subframe and matte black claddings look more like the XCA’s cup of tea than the XRx.
When I returned the keys to Triumph, I realised two things. First, the smoother, better equipped Tiger does everything that the outgoing one did well, most of them slightly better. Second, Triumph has smoothed out more of the edges to turn an accomplished adv into an even more useful, personable and efficient machine.