By Marissa Baecker
An unscheduled flu had invaded my body prior to the scheduled Triumph run. Needless to say, laptop research from the couch was conducted in the days leading up to the ride, Triumph threw out all their previous ideas and started fresh with the Tiger in 2011. Having never had the opportunity to previously ride a Triumph Tiger, there were no expectations or preconceived notions for the Tiger 800. There are two cats in its class – Tiger 800 – ‘designed to take you’ – and the Tiger 800XC (the more rugged of the two) – ‘designed to take it’. You can get the idea.
Trying to squeeze a congested, stuffed up, runny nosed, blood shot eyed ‘melon’ head into a helmet was unfathomable but inevitable. The dealership was closing up shop for the weekend, and when they inquired about the planned adventures of the Triumph test ride, my response was short and congested, “Straight home to redume my podition on da couch.”
The following day, I would join the staff of Bentley Motorrad in West Kelowna at the annual Salvation Army Toy Run where the Triumph would make its debut before a few hundred curious, commenting riders.
“This bike is so light. I bet it corners well,” were my initial thoughts two blocks past the dealership and the ride straight back to the couch took a slight detour.
The continuous stream of fresh air through the visor and into the nostrils cleared the nasal passages so well that some two hours later, I was sitting on top of a mountain peak watching the sun go down. Home? Who said anything about going home? The ease of operation of the bike was a whole lot better than nose blowing on the couch and randomly scrolling through the channels every fifteen minutes only to discover that there still was nothing on.
The XC is fully customizable to the rider. Adjustable seat height and handlebar degree provide a comfortable ride no matter who is operating the bike. Handlebar gauges include an LCD multi-functional display with speedometer, trip, tach, gear indicator, time, fuel gauge and optional ABS.
Weighing in at 473 lbs, all fluids in, the bike is light and with a 33.2 – 34 inch seat height range, the rider is perched on top of the bike giving it that dirt bike feel. However, with a silencer over the exhaust, and street tires – the bike becomes versatile and your adventures are limitless. When you gear down, the Tiger’s muffler has the sound of a Volkswagen 16 valve GTI, like a ping pong ball in a dryer, a slight backfire that adds that import flare. Ride the bike through the metropolis of downtown on your daily commute and then pack up for a weekend in the wilderness and go explore.
Winding its way uphill, the Tiger’s agility hugged the hairpins and easily flipped from side to side. The 799cc, liquid cooled, three cylinder in-line engine accompanied with a butter smooth six speed transmission, delivers plenty of low end torque and maintains consistency with changing elevation accompanied with switchback curves.
Riders will notice heat on the inner thighs coming from the engine which is a welcomed in the cooler Spring and Fall temperatures but as the mercury climbs in the Summer, this added bonus may not be as popular.
With the smoothness and handling of street operation, you will be surprised leaving the pavement for off-road terrain. You may expect a more rugged ride but with the inverted 45 mm front forks with 220mm of travel absorbing those added bumps, the bike maintains handling on those loose gravel roads. The only thing you have to change are your thoughts and remind yourself that you are now off-road. While the ABS brakes are a welcomed addition to the bike on the pavement, the option to turn them off when leaving the smooth terrain is a great feature and adds to the dirt bike handling experience.
The nineteen litre (5 gallon) fuel tank is slightly larger than the average 17 for adventure models and provides that little bit of extra travel off-road, 41 mpg fuel efficiency in the city and 63 mpg on the highway.
The Tiger has two full headlights providing a balanced look to oncoming traffic and wider light with a bit of additional distance for the rider after dark. To an unknowable driver, the unbalanced lighting that most sport bikes have, where one light is on for normal and two for high beams, gives the message that the oncoming bike is in need of head light maintenance. Not so with the Tiger.
Now for the price tag, MSRP – a surprisingly low 13,099 including ABS according to www.triumph-motorcycles.ca however, we have seen price tags as low as 11,999 so shop around.