Triumph has decided to enter the increasingly popular middleweight enduro market with both a street and a dirt oriented version of the Tiger 800. The Street version gets a 19 inch front wheel, while the off-road/dual sport version gets a 21 inch, spoked front wheel and increased suspension travel. Our friends at SoloMoto recently attended the press launch for both versions and offer this report.The off-road 800XC represents something new for Hinckley. It is delivered not only with the 21 inch front wheel, but aggressive dual-sport tires, and is far more dirt-ready than any previous Triumph. The XC version is a genuine dual-purpose bike.
The idea of the Tiger 800 was developed back in 2007. 800cc was considered the ideal displacement, and the idea was to develop an engine with a smoother, broader and, more friendly power band than the aggressive one found in the 675cc sport bike. We can tell you that Triumph has definitely hit the mark here. Our testing of the road oriented version immediately revealed the quality of this new engine, which is exemplary in terms of smoothness and breadth of power.
The new Tiger 800 models find several competitors already in the market, including two BMWs that will compete directly with the cross-country version, the F 800 GS and the F650 GS. To some extent, in Europe this bike will also compete with the Yamaha XTZ 600 and the Honda Transalp. On the Street side, the standard Tiger 800 competes with all-around bikes, such as Honda’s CBF models and the Yamaha Fazer 800.
Triumph is confident that these bikes will not only meet the competition head on, but generally succeed when it comes to a comparison of engine and chassis performance. After testing both models, we can understand Triumph’s feeling of confidence. We can’t wait to conduct our own comparison tests.
The Triumph lineage can be seen in the twin headlights and the tubular frame of each new Tiger. Each bike has a fuel tank capacity of 5 gallons for decent range, and that rugged frame that features a welded-on subframe and Showa suspension. The Tiger 800 has a nonadjustable, upside-down 43 mm fork, and a rear shock that offers only spring preload adjustment. The Nissin disc brakes are both powerful and offer good feel. The seat is easily adjustable by 20mm in height by moving an anchor pivot under the seat. Our 5’10” tall test rider was able to place both feet flat on the ground with the seat in the higher position.
The 799cc engine shares its bore dimension with the Street Triple and Daytona 675, but the stroke has been substantially increased. The crankshaft, camshaft, balance shaft, generator and side covers have also been redesigned. A revised cylinder head yields a much lower compression ratio, and the gear change drum has been redesigned, as well, to improve shift quality.
Triumph aimed for a motorcycle that was easy to ride and easy to control. The same engine was intended to work well in the dirt, and it is super smooth on the street. 94 peak horsepower and 58 pound feet of torque is nothing to write home about, but 70% of that peak torque is available below 4000 RPM. On the road, the bike offered plenty of acceleration, and a great connection between the throttle and the rear wheel. That wonderful Triumph three- cylinder sound, now a trademark, was also appreciated.
Navigating some of the famous twisty mountain passes in Europe during our test, we came to appreciate that Triumph has built a bike that is very easy to ride and will appeal to a broad range of riders. The engine is remarkably flexible, and is able to pull from 2000 RPM in sixth gear, for instance. Although power begins to step up at 4000 RPM, from there until redline it is extraordinarily linear. This allows you to pull out of corners without worrying too much about the gear you are in, similar to a big twin, but with less engine braking when you enter the next corner.
Triumph claims a top speed of roughly 130 mph, and roughly 40 miles per gallon fuel economy in mixed (city and highway) riding. In practice, you should easily exceed 150 miles before having to look for a gas station.
The riding position and general ergonomics are excellent. The distance between the seat and pegs allows your legs to relax, even with the seat in the lower position. The downside is that the pegs touch down in corners rather easily on the street version, although this is partly due to the confidence the Tiger offered while carving through the mountain passes.
Wind protection on the highway is reasonable, although taller riders, particularly with the seat in the higher position, will be exposed to quite a bit of wind with the stock windshield.
The suspension settings set by the factory are relatively soft, but well-balanced. The bike is extremely stable, but still provided plenty of confidence in the corners, largely due to the excellent feedback offered by the front end.
The instrument panel is well-placed, and offers a generous dose of information. Buttons on the panel can be used even with winter gloves.
We next tested the cross-country version, both on-road and off. That 21 inch front wheel, and the increased suspension travel (40 mm) make a significant difference when combined with dirt-worthy rubber.
The cross-country version is identified not just by the front wheel and longer suspension, but also by its unique front fender. The rear shock is adjustable for rebound, unlike the standard Tiger, as well as preload. The front fork is a beefier 45 mm in diameter, and that longer travel provides a slightly longer wheelbase despite a steeper steering- head angle. The XC also comes with hand guards, and special protection for the radiator and the engine. While the standard 800 weighs in at a claimed 462 pounds wet, the XC is 11 pounds heavier.The riding position is different on the cross-country, because the handlebar is wider and the ground clearance is higher. Shorter riders will find a longer reach here.
That super smooth motor comes in handy off-road, and we found the handling quite good for a bike of this size and weight. For a large, multi-cyclinder enduro, it seems quite capable in the dirt.
Frankly, after our first outings aboard the new Triumph Tiger 800 and 800XC, we have to give Triumph plenty of credit for the development of these new bikes. Both bikes work extremely well. The road oriented version will be a comfortable, versatile bike useful for touring and commuting, while the 800XC adds a significant dose of off-road capability for the true adventure rider. Pricing for the US versions of these bikes has been set at $9,999 for the standard Tiger 800, and $10,999 for the Tiger 800XC. ABS braking is available on both models for an additional $800. The bikes should be in US dealerships in April, 2011. For additional details and specifications check out our Industry Links page to visit Triumph’s website.