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MD First Look: Triumph Explorer XC

One thing we took away from our double-test of the 2012 Triumph Explorer: it’s an outstanding long-distance mount that is strong competition for BMW’s GS series. However, it is more pavement-oriented than the Beemers, which is perhaps why Triumph will be offering a more dirt-worthy XC version alongside the standard Explorer for 2013.

The new Explorer XC has some extra features aimed at improving off-road usability. The cast wheels are now replaced with Triumph-designed steel-spoke tubeless wheels with aluminum rims, which should be a little more damage resistant while still offering the easier flat repair of a tubeless design. Wheel sizes remain 17 inches in back, 19 in front. The rest of the standard package for this new model can be found in the voluminous accessory catalog for the Explorer (over 50 items are available for purchase). The new XC will be delivered with heavy-duty crash bars, an aluminum bash plate, hand guards, and dual 55-watt fog lamps.

The package is wrapped up in a Khaki Green paint scheme that may or may not assist in those Third-World border crossings. All the other specs remain the same (although expect the crash bars and other bits to add to the original bike’s 577-pound claimed curb weight) Overall, you’re getting a package that offers even more macho looks than the standard Explorer, and though Triumph hasn’t released USA pricing, I’d expect it to be a pretty good deal, maybe $500-1000 over the standard model, as Triumph has a tendency to price accessory packages quite reasonably. The bike will be unveiled at the Intermot motorcycle show in Cologne, Germany on October 2, and should be in Triumph dealers in April, 2013.


  1. Joe Bogusheimer says:

    Styling exercise, as far as I’m concerned. Can you ride one of these (or a Yamaha Super Tenere, or BMW GS) off road? Sure, but you can ride just about anything off road if you’re highly skilled and/or some sort of masochist. You’re unlikely to enjoy it, and likely to break parts of either the bike our yourself if you attempt anything very challenging. Good touring bikes, though, especially for us lanky types.

  2. Les says:

    File this in the same place as the honda crosstourer and a bunch of other all dress up with no place to go bikes trying to take a bite of BMW’s pie.

  3. John Tuttle says:

    As before, there is a great deal of criticism piled on, because this bike, like other similar bikes, is not as capable off-road as compared to smaller, lighter, purposeful off-road bikes. Okay, but I have to make two comments. First, you aren’t saying anything that isn’t obvious to anyone who isn’t brain dead. Second, the question you are answering is the wrong question. The only question that makes any sense to consider is whether a bike of this type offers greater flexibility and practicality than a typical sport-tourer with wheels that are wider but smaller in diameter, and with ergonomics where you have more bend in your knees and probably greater reach to the handlebars. Why do so many people look to find a way to criticize rather than look to find advantages that are manifest. And why does this happen far more with this very practical type of bike than it does with cruiser-style bikes, which are mostly about style and little about function? I just don’t get it.

    • kjazz says:

      Maybe the folks that would post about the advantages are all out riding….instead of bitching about a bike they probably wouldn’t actually buy anyway no matter what was changed. I’m glad Triumph is buildng this machine, because somewhere, somebody is very exciting about it and will buy it and ride it and enjoy it. And that makes the motorcycle world go around! If I weren’t a GS owner already, I’d probably give it some serious consideration.

      No there things are perfect for off road, but some guys (with a LOT of talent) can ride them in very tough conditions. Where I think this Triumph and my GS excel….is on the very real crappy roads we have. IOW, you dont have to go OFF road to enjoy an OFF road oriented bike. Race tracks are pretty near perfect, so clip ons and hard saddles and tight seating positions aren’t that bad for short amount of time. But on the REAL roads of the world, something like this really is a much more comfortable and nimble mount. And there are riders out there that appreciate that.

  4. HalfBaked says:

    I wonder how many sport bikes actually get ridden in the manner in which they are intended. Why is their always the same discussion about how dirt worthy these adventure bikes are. They aren’t suitable in the dirt at all my 300lb XR600 is at the very edge of utility as an off-roader.

    • Les says:

      Possibly because this is how they advertise them. “Adventure” bikes. If your idea of adventure is riding to the coffee shop and drinking coffee while watching people walk by and look at your bike.

  5. Vrooom says:

    I think adventure tourer is a better term for a bike like that. I just rode my Strom 4K in 9 days including about 500 miles of dirt road. It’s not a trail bike, but does fine on 2-track or dirt roads.

  6. Eric says:

    Guys, do you really think someone that rides a lot of trails will be getting this bike? I think they might look more at a nice KLR, and keep a second ride for the street. A few have mentioned picking up ‘this behemoth’ on a trail.. I saw a poor guy picking up a big GS in a parking lot once – he did not fair so well either. He managed to get the rubber down before I could help him, but it kicked his butt.

    Let’s be realistic – this is a nice, big motorcycle for those that want long-distance comfort, in-town agility, and an alternative to what I call BMW-clutch-vaporization-paranoia. It might see the occasional dirt road, but (like my V-Strom) will probably be 95-100% on the tar/concrete. You can load it up with luggage, and go on a long trip, and probably jump the occasional curb when trying to avoid a Taxi in NYC (something not recommended on a Goldwing:-).

    • Vrooom says:

      You could probably do short very easy trails, as I do on my Strom, but it’s really designed for dirt roads and dirt highways.

  7. The look and feel of the new bike is very eye catchy and elegant even.

    Good bike.. Actaully good “off-road” bike. waiting for it..

  8. paul says:

    The term off-road is always thrown around talking about these so-called “adventure” bikes… but the proper term should be “some-sort-of-road” to more accurately describe their intended purpose.

    Do you need a purpose built bike to do this?

    Just ask the small Japanese guy who rode solo a Honda Valkyrie completely around the world, except for the ocean crossings, of course. The panniers on that thing were almost as big as he was.

  9. RS says:

    Dual Sport should be renamed to Dual Road for bikes of this size.

  10. Norsht Vinlkomen says:

    The new class of motorcycle: Heavy weight “Adventure” tourers. It’s always an adventure when you’re waiting on a deserted road in the middle of nowhere hoping that someone stops by to help you hoist the 650 pounds of loaded bike off it’s side. Shouldn’t be riding on anything but pavement with a pig like this.

    • HotDog says:

      Pig in a nice dress is still a pig. Jeez, what’s next a Adventure Gold Wing? “The Look” just doesn’t cut it on a dirt road in Dakota.

  11. John says:

    I’m not sure why people keep wanting “dual purpose” bikes that are bigger and heavier. With engines being so much better than in the past, we really don’t NEED bikes to be this gigantic. Is it going to pull a loaded trailer up the side of a mountain?

    I’d MUCH rather have an <400lb Tiger 530 XC than a 600lb one.

  12. sliphorn says:

    The service interval for the Explorer is every 10,000 miles with the major service (valve check/adjust) every 20,000 miles.
    Not bad.

  13. RBen says:

    So Kjazz and al banta how much was that last service or I mean oil change??? my last oil change or I mean service was $350 on my 2010 GSA that’s every 6000 miles plus BMW want’s to service the brake fluid every year for a great price of $180.(A 1/2 hour job )<-THIS CAME FROM A MECHANIC.I also heard that BMW is going to reacquire a T.A.C. every year to keep that warranty good.I bet it will be in the ballpark of $199.00 …….LOL.Triumph service will be a lot cheaper.I like the new Triumph's …HO yeah a TAC means TIRE AIR CHANGE..

    • kjazz says:

      Well, costs are different relative to each owner’s financial position. I (personally) wouldn’t enjoy motorcycling very much if I truly was concerned about every dollar spent for upkeep etc. Frankly I bust ass all week long to make enough income such that I dont have to sweat the costs. I focus on the aesthetics as well as the functional side of motorcycles I own or target, and to a small extent the dollar per pound of enjoyment, but I dont really give a damn about whether one machine is 15% or 25% cheaper to operate over the course of my ownership. Point being, I can afford either of them, and for me, the answer is still the GS.

    • Gary says:

      You are the first GS owner I know who does not do his/her own oil change/injector synch/valve adjust. It is dirt simple on a boxer.

      • RBen says:

        I do my own service. I just think BMW has gotten way out of hand in the service department. I also have 2012 Ducati Multistrada 1200 and 5000 mile service was $95.00. I just think BMW STEALERS ARE way out of line..And I just like having the Dealer do the fist service.

  14. al banta says:

    Overweight and under tired. The radiator looks like an easy mark from a flying rock or a buddies roost. I’m keeping my GS as well.

  15. kjazz says:

    REALLY nice! But, I’m keeping my R1200GS.

  16. Tim says:

    I wonder if this will be taller? What I like best about the Explorer is that with the seat in the lowest position, I can get most of my feet down (better than on my Versys) I’ve been seriously considering buying one sometime this year, but I would be more interested in this model if they didn’t change the height.

    • John says:

      For my short legs, the Versys is incredibly awkward and uncomfortable despite not being that tall and for what? It’s not remotely an off road bike.

      • Tim says:

        I use my Versys nearly all on road, and it’s a great bike for cross country travel, other than in strong wind gusts. It’s light and I’ve been tossed around pretty good. That’s one reason I’d like a heavier bike like the Explorer. I like the upright, tall bikes because of the riding position. Seven hundred miles is a pretty easy day on a Versys if you have it set up right (Air Hawk saddle pad, bar extenders and highway pegs.) I recently rode from Kansas City to California and back and didn’t feel fatigued the entire trip. I’ve taken several similar trips on it. It is a great budget bike, and probably the most fun bike I’ve been on in the twisties. With the wide bars it’s easy to toss into corners.

        But I’m tired of chain maintenance, and I would love electronic cruise control (probably the biggest single reason the Explorer appeals to me.)

        I have had he Versys on some pretty bad trails with deep soft dirt and ruts, and it is actually pretty servicable in those situations. You can stand up on it and ride it like a dirt bike, and it is relatively light. But I am definitely more interested in eating highway miles at this point in my life, and like the comfort of tall bikes.

        • paul says:


          Just curious as to why you are tired of chain maintenance, could you give me an idea of what it is you are doing.

          • mickey says:

            uhhh adjusting, lubing, replacing along with sprockets, cleaning the rear wheel ……. have you never had a chain?

            Just returned from a 2500 mile ride on my Honda ST 1300. Didn’t even have to think about the drive train. When I got home everything was spotless. If I had been on my FZ-1 I would have had to carry tools, a can of chain lube, would had to lube the chain 5 to 8 times, probably adjust it once, and when I got home the back wheel would have been a cruddy mess.

            After 10 such trips the Honda will still have had nothing done to the drive train other than 5.9 oz of rear end oil once a year, while the FZ will have gone thru several sets of chains and sprockets at $250 each and dozens of adjustments and hundreds of lubings, and another hundred wheel cleanings.

            For a pure street bike, the chain (even as good as the new x ring chains are) is still a labor intensive, expensive, antiquated way to power a motorcycle. Not nearly as good as a belt, and light years behind a shaft drive system.

          • Tim says:

            Just the usual, cleaning, adjusting, maintaining and replacing. The usual stuff. I just ride quite a bit and have 3 bikes, all with chains. I also hate the expense. I replace them myself, and even then it isn’t that cheap. I’d write a check, but I pretty much refuse to pay someone to do maintenance that I’m capable of doing. The Versys, in particular, has been pretty hard on them (I’ve seen other Versys owners make the same complaint.)

          • paul says:

            @Mickey… don’t forget to reburnish your hub splines with moly paste once in awhile or they will be buggered.. lots of people with shaft drive systems think all they have to do is change or top-up the fluid periodically. I know that from my Valkyrie days.

            @tim… don’t adjust your chain more than necessary or you will be going through chains all the time. I found that after the first 2 or 3 adjustments of a new chain to then let it run at full slack and just leave it alone. The chain will then last a long, long time after that, same with the sprockets. I just use a smear of 70% molypaste on the inside of the rollers for lube, leave the chain dry. Everything still runs and looks like new at over 20,000km.

  17. kawzies says:

    I wonder how many Adventure riders have guns put to their head in the third world? I would imagine a $15000 bike is a nice score in places where kids sniff glue to ease hunger pains……

  18. Motowarrior says:

    Recently rode around the Black Sea, nearly 4000 miles, a good bit off road or lousy road. We did one 35km pass that was all gravel and larger rocks, complete with a number of switchbacks. We passed almost all of the 4-wheel drive vehicles. We were all on BMW GS bikes, and the 1200s did quite well, even 2 up. This kind of motorcycles isn’t for the type of offroading we did as kids or in competition. They are perfect, however, for long haul touring where part of the road is either really bad or missing. The Triumph looks like a good addition to the breed, and competition for the BMWs. Once you understand how to use ’em, these type of motorcycles can really provide rewarding adventures.

  19. Bob says:

    I think this bike would be outstanding on a long trip adventure going to places that have dirt roads or other mountain passes that may not be paved. It is certainly not a dirt bike but I dont think anybody expects it go up some single track trail do you?

  20. TOm says:

    At a glance thought I was looking at Suzuki B-King, only heavier. Looks comfortable.

  21. happy says:

    1200cc bikes are simply too fat, too big, too heavy to go on the dirt. Period.
    If you want to go on dirt, keep the weight under 150kg dry.

    • iliketoeat says:

      Under 150kg dry is good if ALL you do is dirt. But if you’re sometimes riding on a paved road for a long time, a light off-road bike is a huge pain in the ass. Quite literally. These bikes look like a good compromise – they do well on the highway and well on dirt roads.

  22. Norm G. says:

    577 is a fair amount of “gross tonnage” to have on a category of bike with increased ride height, but outside of that, those hinckley boys certainly know how to crank out some bikes.

  23. Ham says:

    Wrong tires for this use…won’t work in any kind of gravel. Get it right before it gets here Triumph or at aleast add as a option.

    • Lynchenstein says:

      Anyone with an honest intention of off-roading will be getting a new set of hoops anyway, and some after-market heavy-duty aluminum bash plates and bars. I think Triumph knows full well that this bike won’t often be sold to someone with those intentions, so they’ve shod it with the appropriate rubber for 99% of the buyers of this bike.

      And I think Norm G. is dead on. The GS Adventure is quite a bit lighter than this beastie, and even that is a tarmac princess the vast majority of the time too.

  24. paul says:

    Ya, you’ll be looking really “macho” picking that monstrosity up after a dump along the trail. You will look even more “macho” when you are holding a basketful of little “bits” that came off during the dump.

  25. ABQ says:

    I sat on a slightly used explorer that an eccentric millionaire motorcyclist had traded in. It was very comfortable and lower than my GS. For my 30″ inseam I was able to stand flatfooted. It was like I was sitting on a standard. That passenger seat is stepped up a bit too high, however. Throwing my leg over triumph tigers with that rear seat at that elevation requires me to stretch my leg up like a ballerina stretching on a bar.

    • sliphorn says:

      You can always put your left foot on the peg and then swing your leg over. That’s what I do on my Sprint when it has the luggage attached. Or you can grab the end of your right pants leg and pull it up and over the seat. Both techniques work very well for my almost 60 year old body.

    • John says:

      It helps if you scream “waaaaaaaaaaaah!!!!” when you flip your leg over.

      I had the same thought with the Sprint 1050. Nice low seat, but, uh… still have to actually toss your leg over the pillion somehow.

      Whatever happened to the good old bench seat?

  26. sliphorn says:

    The wheels look to be the same as the Super Tenere. Nice!!