– Motorcycle News, Editorials, Product Reviews and Bike Reviews

Motorcycle News, Editorials, Product Reviews and Bike Reviews

2012 Triumph Tiger Explorer: MD First Ride

It is no longer news to anyone that follows motorcycling that the big enduro/adventure bikes are all the rage. Britain has a great heritage of exploration (Dr. Livingstone, I presume?), and with its new Tiger Explorer, which follows on the recent success of the Tiger 800, Triumph joins the battle against the big bore class leading BMW R 1200 GS. In a category that now includes new models from the likes of Honda and Kawasaki, after just a single ride it is clear that Triumph has built a bike with all the necessary ingredients to be successful.

You can look at our tech brief for the Tiger Explorer to get all the details, but the highlights include the new 1215 cc triple that puts out a claimed 135 hp and 89 foot-pounds of torque through shaft drive to the rear wheel. Carrying 5.3 gallons of fuel, and featuring a 950 W alternator, the new Tiger Explorer promises to be a touring rider’s handy tool. The ergonomics are comfortable and upright, and the seat height is adjustable over a relatively broad range.

The claimed wet weight of 539 pounds seems pretty decent for a bike in this displacement category, but the BMW is a full 65 pounds lighter thanks to extensive efforts to trim weight by the German manufacturer.

Naturally, Triumph is dead serious about being successful in this niche, and the bike will be made available with ready access to dozens of accessories, including large saddlebags and top box (together, offering nearly 100 liters of storage space), as well as heated grips, heated seats and a taller windscreen, among others.

Although the Tiger Explorer is a big bike, the seat height adjustment and narrow chassis allow relatively short riders to find a comforting reach to the ground with their feet. Something missing from many competitors in this category.

The Tiger Explorer is not without its electronic gadgets.  Standard ABS and traction control are accompanied by cruise control, all of which are easily manipulated from the handlebars. Traction control offers three positions, including the most intrusive (allowing essentially zero wheel spin), slightly less intrusive and an “off” position.

After adjusting the seat height, as well as the windscreen position, we hit the starter button for the first time and that new triple with class leading power burbles to life. The new ride-by-wire throttle provides instant response from the big motor. The familiar, pleasing sound and smooth vibes immediately recall your last ride on a Hinckley triple (in my case, the Tiger 800). We begin to roll through the land of Granada, surrounded by olive groves and tranquility. Everything is smooth, highlighted by that throttle response that so precisely transmits to the rear wheel.

Traveling through an urban environment, the big Tiger is surprisingly nimble feeling and easily fits between lanes with the high handlebars clearing the mirrors of the adjacent cars. The ergonomics are immediately appreciated, with my hands in a comfortable position and the adjustable seat providing just the right amount of support.

Escaping to the faster highways, it becomes apparent to me that cruise control could be very useful on longer trips. Many motorcyclists scoff at cruise control, largely because they are unfamiliar with it. Trust me, this feature, which is so seamlessly integrated on the new Tiger Explorer, could be a godsend on boring drones across the super slab.

Like many of Hinckley’s recent triples, the motor runs like silk with no intrusive vibration whatsoever. Together with the couch-like ergonomics, I can tell this is going to be a relaxing ride with very little physical effort. Comfortable cruising on the highway can get boring, however, so I steer the Tiger Explorer to the twisty back roads.

It is on the flowing twisty back roads of Grenada where the magic happens. This big machine changes directions so easily that the weight beneath me virtually disappears. In fact, I decide that the fluid handling of the big Tiger Explorer is a great complement to that hugely powerful, smooth power plant motivating the mass. If you are a motorcycle enthusiast and haven’t experienced a Hinckley triple, you simply must do so.

That instantaneous throttle response is very controllable … nothing unexpected happens as you open and close the grip. Together with all the leverage provided by that wide handlebar, this big bike creates a big grin under my helmet.

Traction control and long travel suspension only add to the pleasure. No need to worry about opening the throttle aggressively despite dicey traction here and there, and the extra suspension travel soaks up the bumps and undulations without diving excessively on the brakes.

The only fly in the ointment is, in a way, a complement to the Tiger Explorer. The bike generates so much confidence that you find yourself entering corners as aggressively as you might on a much lighter sport bike, revealing the extra mass beneath you. Having survived the overly aggressive corner entry, however, the bike quickly soothes you with that tremendous sound emanating from the engine, particularly above 6,000 rpm.

Finally, we take the machine off-road to assess its true adventure potential. Granted, machines in this category are not motocross bikes, and they certainly do not handle like such lightweight, nimble off-roaders. Respecting its size and weight, and being careful not to drop it (you don’t want to try to pick this bike up), it acquits itself surprisingly well. Both ABS and traction control can be turned off, which you would typically want to do on dirt or gravel.

Triumph is on a roll. It is carefully selecting the right categories to pursue, and producing quality machines priced as good value. The Tiger Explorer is no different. In the highly competitive mega-enduro class, this machine offers the most power and the only three-cylinder configuration. Together with a well sorted chassis and the available accessories expected in this class of motorcycle, Triumph appears to have produced another hit. We hope to get a test unit for further evaluation, but at this point we can already recommend the new Tiger Explorer. U.S. MSRP is $15,699. Visit Triumph’s website for additional details and specifications.


  1. Mr. Mike says:

    Back in 1975 when I was a kid into dirt bikes and the first Gold Wing (GL1000) came out my dad and I joked about how funny it would be to try to take a bike that big and heavy off road. I wish he were still around today. I’m sure we’d have a good laugh together.

  2. casatomasa says:

    The true “Adventure bike” has yet to arrive. This machine and the others of this genre are nice looking standard street bikes posing as a fantasy for the great unknown, at over 500lbs I call ’em “Moon Pigs”. I should know I own a V-Strom 1000 and honestly a Prius will do as well off-road as these boats. Anything more than a graded dirt road is asking for trouble. I’m also a very passionate dirt bike rider/racer and ride a KTM 525 that loves to explore the true “Adventure” of Arizona, New Mexico, and Sonora. The problem comes with stiching those great trails with miles and miles of highway. Why the manufactures don’t produce a bike that weighs 350ish lbs, 650/700cc twin, ajustable suspention, ruggid repairable frame, enuff highway wind protection, cappable of accesories, do both off-road and cruise 75mph for 200+ miles is beyond me. Think Jeep Cherokee of bikes, not a rock crawler CJ (full on motocross), nor Tahoe SUV (GS1200/Triumph Tiger/V-strom) something very cappable in all worlds. The first one to come out with that one wins!

  3. T. Rollie says:

    I suggest they start calling these bikes “standup road bikes” or “comfort bikes.” Because that’s what they are – bikes we can stand up on when a pot hole is coming at us or when we’re slipping a bit on some dirt roads. Since most of us have bad backs due to old age, misspent youths, excess body weight and lack of exercise, we want a comfort bike that, again, lets us stand up once in a while to take the weight off our poor aching spine. It’s good marketing to use the sexy title of “Enduro/Adventure,” but that label is basically a euphemism for “old guy’s comfort bike.” Anyway, I want one.

  4. John says:

    I have spent the last 15 years riding a cruiser. Loved all 4 of them. I’m turning 57, my wife and I both have tricky backs. My wife likes to join me on trips and she likes to take stuff… (All of us married guys know this to be true). The Explorer just may be perfect. The roads here in L.A. are really bad and we don’t even get the weather of Illinois. The constant comparisons to lighter bikes for dirt is valid but come on people… Does your car do everything perfect? Does your Boss pay you what your worth? Does the Boss still write great songs? I’m buying the Triumph. My check book will cry but I will be all smiles.

  5. Reinhart says:

    Think of this category bike as the “Leatherman Tool” of the biking world. True, there are bikes that are better at touring, off-roading, corner scratching etc… but these bikes tend to do it all. That’s why they sell well. If you’re only going to own one bike then this type of machine begins to make sense. I own a bike for every type of riding I enjoy, but if I was down to one machine it would be the Triumph Tiger 800XC, without a doubt. Lighter, cheaper, better off-road on than the Explorere and still able to cover distances in relative comfort.

  6. Tom Shields says:

    Frankly, I never have gotten the “adventure” part of adventure/tourers. Every review I have read of these bikes prefaces the token off-road portion of the test with a disclaimer such as, “…granted, these are not motocross bikes…” You could say the same about any street bike, and most of them would do as well on an average dirt road.

    Having said that, I do like the “tourer” part and the Triumph looks well suited for it.

    • Gary says:

      Tom … I totally agree. An SV650 will go down a dirt road as well as a v-strom. An R1200R will traverse gravel as well as an R1200GS. But the fasteners and subsystems of the adventure bike has been somewhat “ruggedized,” and will likely be more durable in general use. That, plus the added fuel and luggage capacity, along with juiced-up alternator make them great sport-touring bikes. That and cruise control (in the case of the Triumph).

    • paul246 says:

      Adventure Bike = 2 wheeled version of a cute-ute, primarily aimed at the poser market, which is comprised of people trying to look outdoorsey and “adventurous”. But what the heck, it will sell, because it has before.

      • steve says:

        maybe but that big ktm can cruise a dirt road at a comfy 75 mph and some of those cute utes can do similar things whether the owner uses it for this or not

    • John Tuttle says:

      .. and every time that one of these bikes gets a good review, someone makes this same comment, and then someone says that people who buy them are posers.

      Genuineness seems to be at issue, so let’s start by asking a question that is genuine: do bikes of this sort have real advantages as compared to other types? To answer this question would amount to stating the obvious. Call them whatever you want, and draw attention to the downside if you want, e.g., heavier than bikes that weigh less, costlier than bikes that cost less, taller than bikes that are less tall, and for the sort of riding that little trail bikes are better at, less suitable than little trail bikes. In the end, the thing that distinguishes this class of bike is its general-purpose nature. These bikes are not a fad. People who buy them are not doing so because it is a fad. They buy them because they have decided that they want something more practical than the last bike that they owned, and because this type of bike is ideally suited to their purposes.

      • paul246 says:

        Still, its all about the look, isn’t it? That IS what motivated thousands of SUV buyers in the past. Those SUVs sold in droves not because of function or ability, but rather the image the owner wanted to project.

        People are buying “adventure” bikes, and riding them on blacktop for the most part, as expected. Nothing wrong with that if all you were looking for was a slightly better view ahead and a standard riding position.

        IMO, the “adventure” category is a marketing tactic that was taken from the truly adventurous riders that built up true “adventure” motorcycles that were derived from the better off-road or enduro machines available to them. These builder/riders are the real thing.

        • team222 says:

          The look is part of it……just ask 99% of Jeep owners that the only off road they go on is one tires slips off the driveway and into the grass once a year, but Adv Tour bikes offer much more for many buyers.

          Back in 2003, my wifes lower back issues had us looking for a bike that was good over bad road surfaces, large and long comfy seats and two up touring, above average luggage carrying capacity for long trips, comfort on these long trips and weighing somewhat less than an RV…….and……..VIP and…….solo for me with the top and side bags off could keep pace on sport rides. An adventure tour bike was our choice, Aprilia Caponord the bike…and it all turned out great.

        • JB says:

          I’ve only been semi-interested in an adventure-touring type bike because I am 6’1″ with long legs, so most bike feel cramped and make certain areas hurt. These types of bikes tend to have more room than your SV650S’s (I used to have a 2003 SV650S). They tend to be sportier/better-handling/lighter than your full dress bikes, but more comfortable than sportbikes or “standards” like that same SV650S — a good middleground. Also, if you have roads as crappily maintained and as destroyed from weather extremes as here in Illinois, the extra travel from the suspension helps smooth them out and prevent pothole-induced destruction! I also want to be able to commute to work without dying, LOL! It has NOTHING to do with “looks”, as all these types of bikes are fugly as hell to me. I just like their overall all-around competence for my height, my area and my intent of use.

          That said, I still think a near-perfect bike would be an 800 Sprint, or maybe an R version of the 800 Tiger with the engine tuned much sportier and more powerful. Or some sorta middleground cross of the 2.

    • Tom says:

      true, I took my GS750 off road often when trying different things. No problem. Just keep it out of the air and out of the creeks.

    • Fuzzyson says:

      I totally agree! A 1200cc, 600#+ bike with road tires is hardly and “adventure” anywhere but on the road. Although this bike on a narrow, loose gravel mountainous fire road would definitely be an adventure to ride! Just not a good one! Unfortunately, it’s not much of a touring bike either with no protection from the elements or storage. These type bikes might better be called the “new standard” or multipurpose bikes. With some extra equipment they can become a weekend tourer, weekday communter and all round general ride. They’ll never be a Goldwing or a Ninja or a DR400 Enduro. But they’re probably a good CB or KZ or GS.

      • paul246 says:

        …”But they’re probably a good CB or KZ or GS.”

        I agree, that is really what it comes down to.

  7. randy says:

    Anybody notice the “wet weight” stated in the review is way off? Triumph states dry weight at 570 pounds. I would think the weight weight is about 50 pounds more or 620 pounds. The R1200GS with 8+ gallons is probably 560-570 pounds (dry 491 pounds).

    In any case just too heavy for me.

    • randy says:

      oops! I made a mistake – Triumph states WET WEIGHT as 570 pounds. So that means the Explorer and the R1200GS are not that far apart. So where does MD get their numbers?

  8. Tom says:

    The bike, like all the adventure bikes, makes perfect sense only to someone who a) has lots of money, b) likes a comfortable ride, c) carries some luggage, and d) could ride to Alaska or South America if he wanted to, but probably won’t. Wish that were me.

  9. Russell says:

    I still think there will be HEAT issues to deal with, from a front mount radiator. Maybe in some parts of the country its not an issue. But here in Florida when its 85 plus and humid, and your at a stop light, and the radiator fan kicks on. It is unbearable! Yamaha did the right thing and put a side mounted radiator on the Super Tenere.BMW is still air cooled and the heat is not and issue while stopped.
    Maybe if Triumph makes a Sport Tour version, they will address the issue, with faring’s to take the heat away from the rider. Like the FJR, and Concours, did.

  10. John Tuttle says:

    I just have to say that I think that Triumph has really hit a home run with this bike. There is a whole lot to like, and the dislikes mostly come down to personal quibbles. The in-line triple engine may well be the best sort of engine for this sort of bike. Most riders who put lots of miles on a bike eventually get tired of constant chain adjustment. And there are all sorts of details that Triumph paid attention to. For example, gear position indicator, air temp display and frost warning, and tire pressure monitoring. These things are all useful, and of course that big powerful generator is going to come in handy. It even comes with real cruise control, the real sort where you set your speed rather than just lock the throttle position.

    It is always easy to gripe about the price, but in the end you have to compare the price with other similar bikes. You have to compare prices with other models that have ABS and traction control. The most direct competitor to this bike is probably the Honda Crosstourer, or would be, except that it isn’t available in the USA. In the good old USA, the Explorer splits the difference between the Yamaha Super Tenere and the R1200GS, being about $1200 more expensive than the Yamaha and about $1200 less expensive than the BMW. (Assuming that the MSRP for the Yamaha for this year is $14,500, as indicated on Yamaha’s web site.) Personally, I think that you give up a lot with Yamaha’s parallel twin engine, but that’s just my personal opinion. Even if the Crosstourer arrives here next year, it probably will not be less expensive than the Explorer, and besides, if you want this type of motorcycle, are you going to wait another whole year to find out whether Honda is even going to sell the Crosstourer in the USA?

    • x-planer says:

      “Personally, I think that you give up a lot with Yamaha’s parallel twin engine, but that’s just my personal opinion.”

      And that would be a very uniformed opinion. The Yam’s engine is great off road and on.

      • Jake says:

        Re: Super Tenere…
        Just about all the testers say: “It’s down on power.”
        Vis a vis its competition…

  11. Charlie says:

    i’d rather have Moto Guzzi Stelvio…

    • Scott in the UK says:

      I’m a Guzzi man these last 8 years and I’d like something like an uprated NTX750 using the modern 750 drivetrain.

      But its a free country and I won’t pour scorn on people who like them, just like I won’t ridicule cruiser riders, or coffe bar cowboys on superbikes.

      Each to thier own and live and let live.

      • Reinhart says:

        Heh, heh, heh….”Coffee Bar Cowboys”. That term covers sportbike and cruiser/hasrley riders. Ride, sip, ride, repeat! My local hangout packs em’ all in one place.

  12. Chris says:

    I agree. Foreclosures. Unemployment. Single parent homes. Who is making all this money? WHY ARE WE NOT MARKETING SMALL AFFORDABLE BIKES? “No one buys them.” Yeah, because we market the hell out of boat anchor cruisers and sport bikes that go a million miles an hour over the speed limit in every gear. I literally idled an ’04 ZX10 down the street at the speed limit and only needed third gear at most on the highway at 75 mph. I need a ladder to get on these adventure bikes. The touring Harleys are almost impossible to even get off the side stand. – It’s a nice machine, but we cannot afford it.

    • Chris2 says:

      My ’04 ZX-10R would idle @ 9mph in first gear. Too much fun in stop & go traffic.

      These bikes are not all that tall, bearing their intended purpose in mind. The seats are narrow at the front, allowing legs a more forgiving reach to the ground. If one feels the need to touch ground with both feet, perhaps a bike with more chrome would be more appropriate.

      And with today’s financing rates, how can anyone not afford a new ride? It’s like FREE money!

      With regard to the Explorer, it’s just this >< much too biased toward pavement (higher CofG, cast wheels) for me to embrace it for consideration as an ADV bike, vs. the Super Tenere or GS.

    • blackcayman says:

      Chris, keep reading…Triumph, Ducati & BMW are growing their marekt share in 2010 & 2011. They don’t make small affordable bikes.

      Thats why you & the bulk of the rest of the posters don’t run motorcycle companies.

      Buy a 1-3 year old motorcycle that some goof bought and barely road for 40% off. Maybe you can’t afford it today but if its a priority and you are careful you can pick up your perfect bike.

      • Chris says:

        Good point among the Triumph, BMW, Ducati demographic who happen to be more educated and better paid and more towards the top ten percent of earners, I would guess. Maybe Harley and the Japanese need to look at what the Europeans are doing. I actually looked at a 2001 R1 Champions Edition this week that is mint, a CBR250R that someone traded in for a VFR and an 06 Bonneville with carb, air filter, pipe and suspension work that is quite nice. The CBR will save the most in gas, insurance and car use, so it gets the lean in that direction and I test rode it. Nice little machine and legally fast as well! I have many aqaintances in the new Euro bike crowd. They really are still a small fraction of the overall U.S. market. But who knows? Harley is still selling Willie’s old 1970s stuff. We shall see.

  13. kawzies says:

    I’m so happy for the rich f*%ks (what?!!?! I meant folks!) who can afford this bike and every other new model that comes out lately.

  14. andy1300 says:

    You left out the Yamaha adventure bike.

  15. Reinhart says:

    It’ll be a popular bike as it offers a lot of what make motorcycling fun. I wish the price was a little lower, but many riders will find it a great alternative to a BMW GS.

  16. Ziggy says:

    Well, that sounds like the best all-around bike ever made.

    Now I have to buy one.

  17. kjazz says:

    I’m buying an oilhead GS this week. Sorry, I do love my Triumphs, but for this niche…. the GS is still the gold standard.

  18. Yoyodyne says:

    An adventure bike “you don’t want to try to pick up” is like a boat you don’t want to get wet.

    • Gary says:

      If you say so, Yoyo … personally, I prefer to stay upright! I gave up on crashing when I hung up my leathers for the last time … many, many years ago.

      My opinion: you can have fun on a bike without crashing, but it’s pretty tough to enjoy boating without getting wet.

      On the other hand: it is mighty fun to sit on a boat in a drydock while making motor noises and chugging Guinness. Don’t ask me how I know.

    • Dean says:

      Nobody WANTS to pick up their bike, but shite happens… I dropped my Vstrom1000 a couple times (low speed parking lot goof, thank goodness) and one person can pick up a 500lb. bike flat on its side. You might have to get good and MAD first, but you can lift with your legs, or put your lower back into it and lever it up. Plus, now it has a few scratches, and a goofy turn signal to make it look MEAN!

      Hint… If the side stand is up in the air, put it “down” so when you do get the bike up, you can set it on the stand and not just flip it on the other side! I heard that can be very dissapointing!

  19. Dave says:

    This bike is too light weight, and too highly styled for me. If they’d priced it at around $22k I might be more receptive, but all I see when I look at it is too much power and comfort, and not enough seat height.

    If it made about 40hp and had 16″ wheels front and rear I’d consider one, but nope…yet another manufacturer has failed to build a bike for iEveryman. Maybe if we all yell loudly enough one of the OEMs will make something more closely aligned with the eReal World, so that we can not buy one of those either.

  20. S Calwell says:

    What improvement does the Explorer have over a 1200 GS or Tenere? I can’t find a single thing to recommend this bike. There are so many better choices for off road capable dual sports(F800 GS, Tiger 800XC to name two). Those of us not wishing to make a fashion statement want a all day comfortable (dual-sport ergos), light weight (400 to 450 lbs wet), powerful enough (750 to 800cc), touring capable, decently suspended, wide torque range bike.
    No need to build them heavy for the 5% (maybe) who will take it off road occasionally. I don’t want to struggle just pushing the bike away from a parking spot or lose the flickablity that makes twisties fun. The technology is here now. All we need is a mfg who can recognize a market. What do I think comes close to my ideal bike?
    KTM SMT (If they could solve the abrupt off-on throttle jerk, I would buy one)
    Tiger 800 (A little heavy, not quite enough power)
    Dorsoduro 750 (A little heavy, not quite enough power)

    • Gary says:

      Cruise control.

    • Dave says:

      Let’s see…the motor isn’t 8 feet wide unlike the BMW, it’s way faster than the Yamaha, it comes with many features and accessories stock that I don’t get on either of the others, it’s got one of motorcycling’s all-time exciting and fun motors (all of the Triumph twins fit this category), it doesn’t sound like a lawn mower unlike the BMW, it has sophisticated technology that adds to the safety and reduces maintenance, It doesn’t share a heritage of puking final drive parts all over the place every 50 miles…should I go on?

    • Tim says:

      Top of the list is the Triumph triple motor. The BMW doesn’t come close. If you’ve never ridden a modern Triumph triple, I wouldn’t expect you to understand, but this is the best motor configuration in motorcycling. Don’t forget the giant alternator to power all of the electrical gadgets you could dream up. Cruise control would be great. I’ve you’ve ever ridden hundreds of interstate miles in a day, you can really appreciate that feature.

      My only complaint is the price. I was hoping it might come in more in the neighborhood of $13,000 to $14,000. It’s getting too close to the BMW price at this MSRP. I’ve always wanted a GS but refuse to pay that king of money for a motorcycle. I really like the Tiger 800’s, but I am sick of chain maintenance.

      The local dealer has a Super Tenare for around $13,500. I’d much prefer the Triumph triple, but the Yamaha is probably a slightly better value.

  21. Scorpio says:

    I hope it sells at least as well as the Super Tenere, if not more. Then perhaps Hinckley will consider a rally edition next year with tubeless spoked wheels and a sub-500 pound curb (berm?) weight!

    • Bob Krzeszkiewiz says:

      Tubeless spoked wheels, to me, are a must in this segment, as is the shaft. I didn’t not give consideration to the 800XC for these reasons as much as I liked it. But a rally or “adventure/adventure” edition would be nice with more travel and more fuel capacity like BMW does with it’s adventure models. If they go this direction, I’ll put the Ninja 1000 up for sale.

  22. John says:

    If want looks you buy an MV or Ducati or any Harley. If function is your primary reason for buying a road bike then looks become secondary. As every enthusiast knows, the BMW GS is clearly a winning formula and are loved by their owners. The Explorer is clearly a good value in comparison and I think at least it’s as attractive (sort of.) The Yamaha Super Tenere is probably the best value but to my eye the front looks like a duck (like Donald).

  23. Denny says:

    Good to see the shaft-drive, that makes it so much more fitting for off-road duty. As for Triumph efforts and its model policy, they are great. All the best in future!

  24. Patrick Connelly says:

    For years now big adv bikes have been slowly but surely gaining popularity, and for many of us oldr guys especially,the long range and “survivable” ergos have endeared them to us… most everyone is taking a crack at the niche…any wonder that BMW has a water cooled 130+ update on the horizen? This is going to be fun!!!!!!

  25. Tim says:

    Obviously it doesn’t appeal to everyone and I’m not attracted to it either. I’ll stick with my Tiger 1050 or go to the Tiger 800 for more off-pavement riding.
    This thing is just too heavy.
    I’m waiting for a Tiger 800R roadie with fully adjustable suspension. I guess that would be the road version with the XC suspension. And some heat management improvements.

  26. Brian says:

    how come, on a bike that obviously will see almost NO off-roading, do they saddle it with a 19″ front hoop? with 17″ you can get some sport-touring rubber. ah well, everyone has an issue with any production bike since they all are a collection of compromises, abeit some more towards one’s own ideal than others. Even when the mfgrs actually build the no compromise bike, complete at 250 lbs, 5000 hp, unobtainium alloy, maintanence free everything, suspension capable of walking on water, etc. we complain we can’t afford it. I wish triumph well on this model, but I for one would be challenged with the weight and CG in any kind of off road situation. others are probably much more competent than I.

  27. Crazy Shamus says:

    From a performance standpoint it sounds like it holds it own. But this thing is downright ugly! No styling whatsoever. It probably will be easily forgotten.

    • Ken says:

      How can styling be called ugly if it has “no styling whatsoever”?
      For me: it’s too heavy, but I do like its styling, Triumph’s triple, and shaft drive.

  28. John says:

    I would actually like a Tiger 800 with shaft drive and some extra features. 800ccs is just plenty of engine these days. Don’t need the extra weight and the extra power is just for burning gasoline.

    • Goose says:


      Well, they would sell two 800 tigers with drive shafts (one for you and one for me) but most riders seems to be brain washed against shaft drives except for huge bikes like the Tiger.

      Hey, I’m easy. I’d be happy with a shaft, a belt or an enclosed chain. I’ve owned all three and find ll three to be better then exposed chains, even the modern O-ring variety.

      Back to the bike, it looks like a winner, I wish Triumph well. We even have a Triumph dealer in my very rural neighborhood now but the 800 (chain drive and all) is more to my taste.

      Too bad many BMW owners will not consider it because it lacks a blue and white “roundel” on the tank.


      • Jake says:

        Goose says: “…most riders seems to be brain washed against shaft drives…”

        And rightly so. Shaft-drive feels weird, affects smooth shifting, affects suspension operation, and (in many / most cases) interferes with pleasant m/c operation. Yes, it works and you can go down the road — but, (all around) motorcycling can be much more pleasant without it.

        • Goose says:


          As a favor to me could you list the shaft drive bikes you’ve ridden? Which ones have you owned? What is your total miles ridden on shaft drive bikes?

          I’m just asking because about half of the more than 2 dozen bikes I’ve owned have been shaft drive and your description is about 180 degrees from what I’ve experienced in over 200,000 miles on shaft driven bikes.

          All drive systems have pluses and minus, unless you’ve lived with a drive system for some time (lets say 10 to 20k miles) you really don’t understand the advantages and disadvantages. I wouldn’t chose a shafty for road racing (I’ve done that too) but I find they work really well on street bikes.


          • Jake says:

            Goose says:
            “…list the shaft drive bikes you’ve ridden…your total miles ridden?”
            “…2 dozen bikes I’ve owned…in over 200,000 miles.”
            “…you really don’t understand the advantages and disadvantages.”
            “…I wouldn’t chose a shafty for road racing.”

            No need for you to try to impress me with anecdotal experience (nor necessity for me to explain to you…) — but, suffice to say, my stats exceed those ten times over.
            I understand, full well, shaft-driven motorcycles’ disadvantages — as stated.
            There have been World Champion shaft-driven road-racing motorcycles — but, it probably wasn’t pleasant or fun.
            If you’re satisfied riding something-like a two-wheeled car, fine — all is well. If, on the other hand, one chooses to experience all the fine sensations offered by a good sporting M/C — well, choose chain drive.

        • mickey says:

          Jake I don’t think you have ridden a modern shaft driven motorcycle. As one who has both chain drive and shaft driven motorcycles in their garage, I can tell you when riding their is no difference in feel. In the old days (mid 70’s) much of the symptoms you decribed were true. Shafties felt wierd to drive.Thier “shaft jacking” was hard on suspensions, and affected handling when accelerating or decellerating mid turn. Today they have eliminated all those ills.

          The advantages of a chain drive system today are less weight, the ability to easily alter final drive gearing (important off road or on the race track, but of very little importance to those riding on road or not racing).Plus it’s cheaper for the manufacturer leading to a slightly lower price at market. The advantages of the shaft are lack of maintenance, cleanliness, and durability, far more important to those that primarily ride on the road. However it’s hard to argue with their off road ability as well considering BMW’s record in Paris-Dakar, the ISDT and other grueling off road events. Plus few who choose to ride to the most un-inhabitied parts of this planet choose anything but a shaft driven BMW …or someday perhaps a shaft driven Yamaha Tenere’ or shaft driven Triumph Explorer.

          Of 4 of my bikes, 3 of them have about 30,000 miles on them now. the 2 chain driven models have both had to have replacement chains and sprockets, plus numerous oilings and adjustments. The shafty in the stable has only needed 8 oz of fluid drained and replaced once. The belt drive bike has needed nothing so far, but only has 5000 miles on it. Will report back in another 25,000 to see how it compares to the chain and shaft.

          • Goose says:

            Thanks Mickey, good overview. Wow, Jake says he has 3,000,000 miles of riding (my 200,000 on shafties plus about 100,000 on non-shafties times 10). Yet he has never ridden a shaft drive bike. No Goldwings, no BMWs (until recently) yet a lot of miles, amazing guy. He must be in all the records books. He also must have changed a lot of chains.We should defiantly listen to him.

            Maybe if we are very nice Jake’ll explain how chain pull effects a motorcycles handling, not the same as a shaft does but most definitely significant. Chain pull would be why some very high performance pavement bikes (and many dirt trackers) have adjustable swingarm pivots. To make my point plain, ANY system that passes power to the rear wheel will have an effect on the rear suspension; it is just a mater of physics and geometry as to how.

            By the way, my two belt driven bikes a little 40K between them, have the same maintenance history as your bike, zero. Belt drive is now my favorite system but I’m open to them all, I sold my last chain drive bikes (a couple of dual sports) a few years ago but I wouldn’t call chain drive a deal breaker on a future bike, just a negative. Once I found out about Teflon spray as chain lube my objection to chain drive about halved.


  29. mickey says:

    Awesome looking bike for riding cross country. Hell, it’s 200 pounds lighter than my ST 1300 and has a ton of features my Honda doesn’t have. I wish I were taller, but being stubby legged even with the low seat it’s going to be way too tall for me. Here’s one for those that are always complaining about manufacturers building short bikes.

    • Dave says:

      Don’t look now, but this guy gets it!

      Sorry, please continue with the parade of the eCurmudgeons!

  30. johnny ro says:

    Looks nice. I wish Triumph well. Its out of my $4000 price range which fetched a clean used low mile DL650. I do wish I were not so $ limited.

    Not exactly a trail bike though.

  31. mark444 says:

    With gas prices soaring, maybe bike manufacturer’s should be building “smaller” Adventure bikes??? Make the unchanged Vstrom 1000 an 800cc bike……but lighter?? Yami 660 Tenere?? A new (serious) Honda Adventure bike?? How about a new Victory Adventure Bike??!!!! Update the Versys 650?? Or how about an “entry-level” 500 Twin ADV Bike for the wifey??

  32. Olivier says:

    The biggets problem of the “adventure ” Triumphs is that they are butt ugly

    • poorBob says:

      I’ve had Triumphs for years and love the triple but this is one ugly machine. Moto Guzzi Stelvio!

  33. T. Rollie says:

    These adventure bikes are getting so huge that Harley could make one from their parts bin and join the club. Call it the Desert Dyna.

  34. Desmolicious says:

    “The 20-12 doesn’t do anything the 2005 doesn’t do. A few farkles, but that’s it.”

    You could say that about any bike – sport, cruiser, standard – comparing new vs old.

  35. T. Rollie says:

    Can’t think of anything nicer to ride to Sturgis and on to Alaska. Better than the Yamaha Tenere?

  36. Cyclemotorist says:

    With regard to adventure bikes I subscribe to the “less is more” philosophy. Not that I don’t like the huge 1200s -the BMWs, Yamahas and now this Triumph, I do. But, in low speed handling and fuel use I would prefer something like the 800 Tiger, DL650 or DR650.

  37. HalfBaked says:

    Doesn’t do anything a good XR650L, KL650, DR650 blah blah blah…

    • Gary says:

      Hah! Talk to me after an 800-mile day. If your mandible is still attached to your maxilla.

      • ES says:

        If you really needed an adventure bike, that is for riding gravel roads or no road, you wouldn’t be doing no 800 miles a day. Whatever, if I was only highway riding I would take one of these over a cruiser tourer.

        • Gary says:

          That’s true. But on the other hand, if you really need an off-road bike, a 350 or even a 250 is a better choice. 🙂

  38. Gary says:

    This is a very cool bike. And my carpal tunnel LOVES cruise control. Nice review. If the aftermarket embraces it, the bike will be a huge success. Of course, one normally follows from the other. BMW better watch out.

  39. JB says:

    All I know is, I sat on the Explorer at the Chicago Motorcycle Show, and it felt simply MASSIVE!!! In size AND weight… It felt like I was sitting IN the thing, not ON it! I was disappointed… Oh well… The engine DOES sound perfect for the next big Daytona that you just KNOW it will be in (when tuned right, that is).

    Still waiting on that baby Sprint 800, though!

    • Steve says:

      I’m also waiting for the Sprint 800 and expect a lot of others are as well.

      • 80-watt Hamster says:

        Definitely. However, with the upcoming Trophy 1200, if a Sprint 800 shows up, what’s going to happen with the 1050 motor? The Tiger and Sprint 1050s will be largely redundant and potentially discontinued, leaving the Speed Triple as the only application, which would be a shame.

    • sliphorn says:

      Right you are. I thought my 1050 Sprint was top heavy, but this new Explorer is REALLY top heavy.

      I’m another one that wants to see an 800 Sprint.

  40. Jamo says:

    The 20-12 doesn’t do anything the 2005 doesn’t do. A few farkles, but that’s it.