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Tech Brief: 2012 Triumph Tiger Explorer

Last month, Triumph leaked some tantalizing details and a few photos of its all-new Tiger Explorer, but it left us with many questions. Luckily, Tiger released more information at the Milan motorcycle show to help us fill in the gaps.

The first thing we all want to know about is that motor. Just how big is it, anyway? It displaces 1215cc, with oversquare 85mm by 71.4mm bore and stroke numbers–the same stroke as the Sprint, Tiger 1050 and Speed Triple. That means a similar peak horsepower figure of 135 at 9300 rpm, with an extra helping of torque–89 ft.-lbs. at 7850 rpm. It’s the most power in its class (and should mean around 110 hp at the wheel after subtracting the 15-20 percent the driveshaft will rob) and uses a new ride-by-wire throttle system. That enables the use of switchable traction control, ABS and even standard-fitment cruise control–something we usually just see on the big full-boat baggers and tourers.

The chassis gets lots of nice features, too. An inverted long-travel 46mm front fork is adjustable (the release doesn’t say for what), as is the linkage-mounted rear shock, which is equipped with a remote preload adjuster. The front brakes are four-piston Nissin calipers (not radial, sadly), and cast wheels sport Metzler Tourance radials, a 110/80-19 in front and a 150/70-17 in back. The tube-steel frame allows a reasonable 31.6 to 33.7-inch range of seat heights. And to keep long-distance riders happy, there’s a 5.3-gallon fuel tank and a real-live centerstand to help you with those mid-Mongolia flat repairs. Gassed up and ready to go, Triumph claims the bike weighs in at 539 pounds–not too bad for this genre.

And those aren’t the only touring-friendly features. The instrumentation includes an ambient temperature gauge (because we all like to know how miserable we are) with a freeze warning, and there’s a pizza-oven capable 950-watt alternator, adjustable windscreen and handlebars, as well as a power outlet next to the ignition lock. Accessories include enough hard luggage for 25 gallons of storage capacity, heated grips and seats, and fog lamps.

Just looking at the spec sheet, it looks like Triumph brought a serious contender into the escalating adventure-bike wars. And if (as Dirck and I think) Triumph is working on a luxury sport-tourer or tourer built around this motor and driveshaft, BMW may have something new to worry about. Triumph’s model line, which not long ago was just a few machines, is now starting to look pretty well-rounded (just lacking a fun, lightweight, entry-level Single or Twin, something like a 21st-Century Tiger Cub). Colors for the new Explorer will be blue, graphite and black, but we still don’t have pricing and availability for USA customers.


  1. Mike-in-GA says:

    Looks like a shot over the bow of the SMS BMW. Judging by the sales of the smaller Tiger 800, the Explorer will be a hit. Label them Adventure bikes if you must but bikes with comfortable ergos, extended fuel range, torquey power, and rough road capable suspension are winners in my book. It’s not about fulfilling a need. People don’t buy what they need, they buy what they want….they buy with their hearts and justify with their minds. The allure of this genre is the capability it represents. The idea that you could load up and take off for some remote destination is intoxicating. I think I’m going to have a hangover.

  2. RussellP says:

    After looking at it closer, from what I can see.
    The radiator is in the front, and probably will cause
    some heat issues on the riders legs, and at stops in town riding.

    The Yamaha super tenere, has it on the left side. With the air going out and
    around the riders leg. The Yamaha also has a 6 gallon tank.
    I only wish the Yamaha had Cruise, and a choice of cast wheels.

    • Matt says:

      The Yamaha ST is a good bike but the motor will not even come close to the Tiger. My 2001 955i is stonger than the Super T. Your thinking on the radiator location is interesting. If it is hot, it is hot. One of the great things about adventure bikes is that the engins is open and heat will not be trapped. I don’t ride my Tiger thinking “man I wish I had side radiators”. The triple wil get better MPG so you don’t need as much fuel!

    • Ratlanta says:

      Side mounted radiators, like the Super Tenre, Superhawk, and RC51, are worse at slower speeds than front mounted ones; a big issue in stop and go traffic. If there is very little air flowing over the surface, it won’t cool well.

      The first generarion Mille/Tuono’s split and angled radiators had two benefits. First, the front header pipe went between them allowing the engine to be as far forward as possible. Secondly, the angled radiators and the two cooling fans, pushed the hot air away from the rider’s legs.

  3. Pieter says:

    B———s. Empty bank account AGAIN.

  4. Jim says:

    Triumph is out to put a hurtin’ on my savings account.

  5. ziggy says:

    Didn’t that thing use to be Megatron???

  6. Justin says:

    Nice enough, but I’ve got to ask…why isn’t the rear subframe detachable? Far more likely to get banged up on something like this than on most sportbikes.

  7. mudnducs says:

    I want to see what one looks like with a header, clipons, rear sets, fork gaiters, and a round headlight!
    GIMME THAT MOTOR in a Speed Triple!

  8. RussellP says:

    Check out the specs. on the Triumph web site.
    They list it at 539kg, 570Lbs.
    I love everything about the bike, except the
    lack of dealers, only 13 listed in Florida.
    Versus, 63 Yamaha dealers. Might have to go with
    the Super Tenere.

    • Roadrash1 says:

      If you really like the bike, I wouldn’t let the fact that there are “only 13 dealers” in your State dictate what you buy. There are “zero” dealers in my State (SD). My dealer is 180 miles south of my house in Omaha.

      Since I’ve had zero problems in 10,000 miles with the bike, it just isn’t that big a deal.

    • forsenik says:

      When looking at the support available for a bike, we all too often look at quantity of dealers in a State or Province only. We never look at where they are in relationship to where we ride and even more rarely do we ask about what support they provide for the bike we buy.

      I am now on my third Triumph since 2001 (still own 2)and I have put a lot of long distance miles on them, averaging about 20,000KM per year. None of the bikes have ever required servicing when I am away from home due to mechanical failures. I did, however, require service in Ohio on my 2001 Sprint after a collision with a vehicle that failed to stop for a stop sign. Had no problem finding a dealer and had no problem getting the bike up and running in short order.

      On the other hand, the guys a ride with ride a variety of bikes, mostly big name Japanese bikes. Here is the surprise, two of the bikes broke down on the side of the road and needed dealer support. Both bikes were Hondas, a VFR and a Gold Wing. Surprise, dealers were abundant bout no parts for over a week at each. In fact the VFR had to have all the parts sourced from a Canadian dealer and shipped to Pennsylvania to repair the bike. In the VFR’s case, the old 08 ST was loaded up with all the riding gear from the Honda and riding 2 up for 900 KM we drove home in one day and all the way returning 64 MPG imperial or about 53 MPG US.

      In WV we needed a set of sport touring tires (17×120 and 17X185)…..Surprise, none of the Honda dealers stocked such rare items!

  9. Vroooom says:

    Sure would like to see 30 lbs taken off that and as others have said at least another 1/2 gallon of fuel. Unless it gets better than 50 mpg that tank will limit you from some of the great adventure roads in N. America (North Canol, Dempster, etc). The V-Strom is 523 wet, and that always seems a bit heavy to me when the going gets rough or the gravel turns to 2-track. Undoubtedly that quoted weight is sans luggage mounting points, a skid plate and decent crash bars as well.

  10. sean says:

    FYI-Honda has made some minor udates to the VFR including larger gas tank, improved tranny software, more comfy seat, etc. New color too which is important when you only offer 1 color choice. Anyway specs and photos are up on Honda’s website.

    • Fred M. says:

      The article is about the new Triumph adventure bike, so why are you spamming your Honda sport touring bike ad here?

      Who cares what color the Honda is? It’s an eyesore-ugly bike. The only way paint could make it look better would be if it was camo and you parked it in the woods.

      • sean says:

        Readers check this site for updates and since there was none given (until now coincidentally) I was just letting the readers know. I’m sorry if I offended you and the Explorer by doing so but this is not a triumph explorer site. It’s a site for motorcycle enthusiasts. PS no one cares what you think about the VFR.

        • Fred M. says:

          You are a spammer.

          It’s not your place to decide what news is posted on this site. If you think that the site should run a story, send an e-mail to Get the hint: Editor. That’s not you.

          You are wrong: Many people care what I think about the VFR. And many agree; just look at the harsh tone of most of the comments about the 613 pound porker VFR.

          You don’t see the Triumph guys spamming the VFR comments section, do you? You don’t see people putting up spam about new Royal Enfields, Suzukis, Urals, or Ducatis there, do you? Learn some manners.

  11. MGNorge says:

    I think bikes of this ilk represent the equivalent of the SUV in the auto world. Most may not go off-road very often, some hardly ever, but you sure do look the part!
    But on a practical note, the ergos of these can favor the taller of us and give the upright riding position many want for comfort and vision. Can’t fault people for that. These bike too quite often offer increased suspension travel which some find nice to have just dodging potholes in the urban jungle. To each their own.

    • Kjazz says:

      MG, I agree with you (actually as I read your post, I thougtht I was reading one of mine…). The sit up stance is IMO a very safe position. Really permits you to move (swivel) both the head and the overall upper torso in order to stay fully alert.

      The longer suspension (most of my experience has been on the BMW GS) is great for making “nothing” out of a bump, pot hole or expansion joint that would have a guy on a full sport bike bouncing outa the saddle, or worse….. which in the end can make the guy on the Moto-SUV less tired from focusing on bumps etc. and allows more time to focus on the real killer obstacles that roll around on four wheels……another safety enchancement!

    • Fred M. says:

      I am with you on the ergonomics. But the long-travel suspension also serves to degrade handling. You get far more front-end dive under hard braking. You get more fork flex. You get slower handling, as the bike spends more time and power squatting the suspension down rather than rapidly changing direction or accelerating.

      It’s all trade-offs and I’ve got a dual sport that exhibits all of the handling woes cited above, so I’m not trying to damn the bike — just point out the other side of the coin.

      • Kjazz says:

        Fred, my experience with these bikes is almost exclusively with the late model BMW GSs. I find that particular front end (although different feeling at first) to be the best anti-dive, sweetest feeling, and very plush front end I’ve experienced. It doesn’t feel “late to the party” on turns or any other situation IMO. I’ve been curious to know whether the Triumph, the Moto Guzzi, the Ducati or any others with conventional telescopes are as “good” as the BMW Telelever.

        Anybody with lotsa experience with Telelever and the conventional long travels on one of the newer Adv bikes please chime in.

  12. paul246 says:

    I’ll stick with my big bore thumper. Air cooled, miles of suspension travel and thirteen inches of ground clearance. That’s how you can go places most others cannot.
    aka Honda XR650L.

  13. Gham says:

    Knowing Triumph the larger tank will come out as an acc.item.This is going to be a good year for comparo’s on the big trailies and hope to read one soon with the Tenre,Versys,Explorer and Honda Crosstourer.Toss in the GS,the Stelvio and the Ducati and if you need an extra rider…call me!!!!!!

  14. RedFZ1 says:

    I guess it’s just me but I don’t get the “dirt bike” thing. Gimme a big bore mega torque Sprint and now we’re talking!!

  15. RandysVoice says:

    I’m lovin’ the new Triumph Tiger Explorer. Guess I bought my Triumph Scrambler 900 a little too soon. The Scrambler isn’t really that off-roadable anyway. But I love it for it’s retro styling, sound and drop-dead reliable parallel twin engine. Could be a trade-up coming in the near future.

  16. Mike says:

    We used our Adv Tour mostly as our two up bike. We see more and more people doing this so I would like see more information related to the passenger seating area:

    a. Total seat length and width. Rider and passenger seat length and widths

    b. passenger footpeg to seat distance vertically. Basically, will this distance be great enough for passengers to have a comfortable foot position over a long day of touring.

    c. with top case, what is the relationship with the front if it and the passenger seating area. Is it far enough back, but not too far so the passenger can use the front of the top case for a backrest. One Adv Tour bike we tested a few years ago had the top case too far forward and effectively taking 1.5″ off the passenger seating area.

  17. mark says:

    Doesn’t seem to have much on my Tiger 1050: Neither are for off road, heavier (but with more torque), downgraded brakes/chassis, shaft (I prefer light weight chain drive), same size tank, did I mention heavier. I guess it would do better on gravel roads…. but it sure won’t do better on paved ones!

  18. ben says:

    My visual first impression says very bulky, very heavy

  19. Lloyd G says:

    I want one!

  20. Brian says:

    Hmmm….. i wonder if speed triple front suspension/wheel/brake setup is swapable? speed triple with shaft drive……. no chain to have to mess (get messed up) with….

  21. Curt says:

    This might be a good replacement for my 2005 GS, but I suspect the new water cooled GS will be spectacular. Triumph will need to undercut BMW significantly in price to.

    • Fred M. says:

      I fail to see why Triumph has to significantly undercut BMW in price. They are both perceived as premium brands for discerning riders. Having one more cylinder and about ten more horsepower does not seem to be a reason for the Triumph to have to be a lot less expensive in order to sell.

  22. Zuki says:

    Looks awesome and beefy! This and the Moto Guzzi Stelvio win my vote for most desirable adventure bikes. Hmmmm, which one? I really like the styling of both which are well beyong the BMW GS, with its hideous asymetrical styling. Ideally I’ll have both this and a Stelvio in my stable one day… Suzuki ought to bring the DL1000 up to this level, and while they’re at it, bring out a new SV.

  23. sirslarti says:

    Great looking bike which I will be test riding as an upgrade to my 08 GS. Things I see as possible deal breakers…
    1. Weight – 539lbs compared to the GS at 504 – both figures are fully fueled ready to ride. Will be interesting to see if it “feels” heavy. The GS tends to hide its bulk unless you have to pick it up!!! You can look at it this way – 539lbs compared to over 600 for the Honda Crosstourer sounds a feather weight.
    2. Alloy wheels!! IMO mags and adventure don’t mix (been there done that).
    3. 5.3 gallons – Lets hope Triumph gives some thought to a GSA competitor – 5.3 gallons is way too small on the GS (I live in Australia and usually carry extra fuel). The GSA has a nice 8.3 gal tank.

    We need a Triumph Tiger Explorer Adventure – 135hp, 539lbs with 8.3gals of fuel.

    • Jerrylee says:

      i agree on all points. I also have a GS as well as a 1050 Speed Trip. I test drove the 800 Tiger and it just wasn’t the knock it out of the park experience I expected. Mostly I couldn’t get past the bland feel and major whine from the motor. I really like the triples but Triumph should be setting their targets above the GS models not directly on them. i will also test drive for final evaluation. glad to see a new meatier triple motor in the line at the least. Maybe something between GS and Multistrada and that might not be bad.

  24. Gary says:

    This bike looks like a Big Phat Winner. I can’t imagine buying a GS until more details are known about this new Tiger. I am especially impressed by the integrated cruise control … a must-have for those of us afflicted with hand numbness.

  25. Rocky V says:

    89FPT Thats what i’m talking about —

    thats what makes a bike fun on the street

  26. Roadrash1 says:

    I wonder if that is fitted with a series style regulator? They upgraded the shunt style on my Street Triple R to a nice MOSFET unit, but I think my stator only puts out a more typical 400 watts. (Which is still enough for me to run heated grips & heated jacket liner.)

    I think Triumph has really stepped-up it’s game. Awesome bikes, good build quality & decent pricing! What’s not to like?

  27. Bruce says:

    How much do you guys think this will cost fully fitted with all options including luggage?

  28. Gabe says:

    Ooo! I forgot to mention–the Explorer also has a 10,000-mile maintenance interval. I’m guessing that means oil change and valve check.

    • sliphorn says:

      Gabe, valve checks on Triumphs is every 12,000 miles, so maybe this new motor only needs them checked every 20,000 miles. That’d be nice.

      • sliphorn says:

        I should have mentioned that T’s service intervals are every 6k with the valves checked every other service. That’s how I came up with the 20k valve service for the new motor.

  29. Mickey says:

    Triumph has been building some wonderful bikes lately. Credit should be given to John Bloor who single handedly resurected the marque. The “old” Meridian Triumph would never have been bold enough to come up with the new and exciting models that the “new” Hinckley Triumph has.

    Shoot, that muffler isn’t nearly as big as the one on my ten year old Yamaha FZ-1 which sticks out a good 6″ past the back wheel. As mufflers go, the Explorer muffler looks pretty good IMO.

    • blackcayman says:

      Mickey – right on… HD needs to hire a new CEO and build bikes they should have been building for the last 30 years…Theres more to the market than heavy cruisers…

  30. Richard says:

    My Tiger 1050 is great, but this looks even better. In addition to the obvious advantages, it has better lights, the screen is closer to the rider, less bodywork, easier access to the head, and I’m stoked about the rear wheel lug nuts.

  31. John says:

    I like it. Bigger than I’d want, but it seems like it will be a great machine. I miss shaft drive mightily.

    I have been pushing, however, since the first announcement of the 800 for a “Tiger Trail 530” dual purpose bike (Kaw 650 competitor) and “Tiger Cub 530” twin commuter bike. That would be the stuff.

    But the rumor that Triumph will build a 350cc single is also really welcome.

  32. Tim says:

    So far, I’m liking all of the specs they’ve released – especially that alternator output – except the 5.3 gallon fuel tank. Another gallon and a half would have been nice. I’m probably in the minority on this, though.

    Oh, and, +1 on the single or twin “Tiger Cub” but it wouldn’t HAVE to be entry level, would it?

    • Gabe says:

      It wouldn’t have to be, but it would seem logical that a model using that name would have a smaller displacement and be priced very aggressively, and thus be appealing to entry-level buyers, no? But like any lightweight Single or Twin, it would be fun to ride and fun for enthusiasts, too.

    • Goose says:

      +1 on the bigger tank. Still looks very appealing.


  33. stever says:

    I hope the drivetrain ends up in a revised Sprint GT and not some 650 pound “gunboat”
    The r1200rt should be the target. I don’t think that it should be more than $1200 more than the current GT. For me, 550# is the end of the sport touring class. There seems to be so many adventure bikes now that I worry that there is enough customers. Maybe I’m dense but I haven’t really figured what they are useful for. 550 pound dirt bikes????-trips to Mongolia?? get real. That said, I really like the Triumph line up—I demo a Rocket 3 every chance I get-what a blast. Thanks for the forum
    Bandit 1250

  34. Tom says:

    Looks to be extremely comfortable and powerful for my trip to Alaska and then on to Key West. Do exhaust cans need to be so huge? I’m sure they are useful and efficient, but there should be prize money for any designer who can totally redesign and rethink mufflers on bikes.

    • Superhawk says:

      Yeah, it would be nice for sure… Mufflers today are simply a result of the EPA requirements… Now, only if the bumbling / stumbling Rick Perry was our president, that would be one of the 3 agencies he would shut down… of course, only if he could remember which one it was. 🙂

    • Mr. Mike says:

      Yeah, maybe someone will figure out how to route exhaust gasses through the motorcycle frames so there’s no need for an external muffler at all.

      • Tom says:

        maybe electronic noise-canceling devices, like in the fancy Bose headsets. One more thing to add costs and break, however

    • Fred M. says:

      I agree with you about exhaust canisters, but do remember that a 1.2 liter bike is going to need a lot larger can than some 500cc bike from the 1980s. I think that a lot of people are not remembering that our bike displacement has grown dramatically and that mufflers do have to track displacement in order to not strangle performance.

      Erik Buell did rethink mufflers on bikes and put the silencer underneath the engine, concentrating the mass down low and centered. It is sure visually a lot more appealing, plus he made it strong enough to be used to support the bike, so it doubles as a skid-plate on the Ulysses adventure bike.