Is the Triumph Tiger 800 worth the hype?

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Wes hasn’t been too impressed with either the quality or the intensity of Triumph’s hype campaign for the new Tiger 800. You know why they did it: the only sales that might be harmed by fueling anticipation of Triumph’s first ever genuinely dual purpose bike (Hinckley Triumph’s anyway) are those of the opposition. There’s nothing in the Brit bike manufacturer’s range that should suffer for knowing a middleweight adventurer is on the way, but potential customers might be persuaded to put off a purchase of a BMW F800GS. Well I’ve just ridden the new Tiger, was Wes wrong to criticize its marketing?

Triumph in the USA has unduly been upset by what is merely cynicism at their own cynical marketing, but Wes also has some surprising supporters… What we coyly call insiders at Triumph UK have been quietly agreeing, and thinking they were a bit too intense with this, worrying that it leaves wide open the possibility that even a good bike might not live up to the expectations this kind of thing can generate. Then it’ll look like a bad bike, and all the engineers’ work will be undone — a phone call to Honda would confirm that.

When the hype’s gone and forgotten the bike will still be here, so are its standalone merits up to being stood on, alone? On the whole, yes, though ironically our own expectations as observers, customers and bike riders generally might cloud the conclusion. The engine after all is a glorious 675 triple with more cubes and more torque, so it must, surely, be more fun? Except it isn’t: another 44lb weight, 20 per cent taller gearing and as one engineer pointed out on the Spanish press launch, significantly heavier wheels which offer more resistance to being accelerated and braked, all add up to a dulling of the Street Triple’s famous sparkle and zest.

Expect a punchy supermoto then and you might well be disappointed, but as a credible and capable middleweight adventure tourer, the Tiger 800 fares much better. It could do with more thrust at low revs, otherwise it’s economical, smooth and makes all the right Triumph triple noises – whistles, growls and snarls, while the suspension is best in class, just like that. The Triumph Tiger 800 XC is more dirt-biased with its 21-inch wheel and longer, softer suspension, and it does find grip in the loose stuff with the optional Metzeler Karoos remarkably well.

But for the distance riding most will want, the stock 800 is a better bet with its lower seat and more natural handling. It’s pretty agile and outstandingly stable, while the screen is neither too noisy nor turbulent and the bike should see you to 200 miles and more before the tank dries up. The seat is flat and firm but good for two hours before intruding even when brand new, and not dauntingly far from the ground either, while passenger facilities are spacious and well thought through.

It won’t kill GS sales dead of course, but it should make a noticeable dent in them, and it deserves too. More fun would be good but long term ownership satisfaction will be high.

Maybe not worth the hype but definitely worth buying.

You can read Kev’s full review at Ash On Bikes.

No official US prices yet, but in the UK, both the 800 and XC undercut the BMW, costing £7149 and £7749 respectively.

  • Pete

    This seems like a pretty reasonable point of view to me. I tend to agree that overhyping a bike is a bad idea in general, but the bike should be given an even shake. As a current Triumph owner I am clearly biased, but I find their products to be well made, a good value, and exciting. I will definitely be giving the 800 XC a look, despite my inane hate of having two of the same brand of bikes in the garage at the same time.

  • Darren

    Man, overkill or not, the last 3 or so months of teases has really made me jones for an AT bike. Since I don’t buy new, I guess it’ll be a bimmer ;-)

  • markbvt

    The hype generator was perhaps overused, but then again, it did make some people — myself included — wait to see what Triumph would introduce before going out and buying this type of bike. I was about ready to pull the trigger on a used KTM 950 Super Enduro when I began hearing credible confirmation that the Tiger 800 was on the way, so I decided to wait. The Super Enduro would have been fun, but has a lot of drawbacks — excessive fuel consumption and maintenance needs topping the list. So it made sense for me to wait and see what would become available, and so far, I like what Triumph has come up with (although I do wish they’d given the XC fully adjustable suspension). I don’t care that it looks similar to the F800GS — I would have strongly considered buying the Beemer if it didn’t have all sorts of quality control problems and weren’t so expensive.

    It remains to be seen how much Triumph is going to charge in the US for the XC, but I’m pretty confident it’s going to be a much better value than the F800GS. That alone makes it compelling.

    If people were expecting much more than that, they weren’t being realistic.

  • Ben W

    Even the Triumph UK people are falling for the poisonous Siler!

    While I didn’t doubt this would be a good bike, I hoped for more than a “me too” offering. I don’t know if I should blame my disappointment on the hype or Triumph’s track record in other segments. At least they didn’t completely pull a Honda.

  • Glenngineer

    Nothing is worth the hype Triumph laid on this thing – but it seems to be a fine bike. Not perfect, but none of them are. I’d like to ride one.

  • dux

    Gahhh! I’m just not interested anymore – I’m still in my Tiger 800 refractory period.

  • Jeremy

    waiting to find out myself, i was looking into the f800gs

  • Johndo

    The marketing campaign also made people look at other models from other brands that were already available. I myself was sure I was going to buy the Tiger 800, now I’m equally considering the Z1000sx. I prefer being surprised by a bike launch then waiting for it for 5 months and then being frustrated/dissapointed about every little thing that isnt as I wished…when you don’t built up so much hype you just look at the bike for what it is. Their strategy was very risky, and surprising after the VFR incident…let’s hope they learned a lesson.

  • solidaridad

    change out the sprocket and add lighter wheels to the XC, and I bet you’ll see some of that street triple punch again. I can’t wait to ride one, but now I want a Triumph Tiger 1200 XC–seems we’re never satisfied.

    • Johndo

      Good idea, but having shopped for high quality spoked wheels before, they ain’t cheap… Then change sprocket, add panniers, and you end up at a price that the bike can’t justify.

  • Cajun58

    If Wes is poisonous Mr Ash is surely a welcome dose of anti-venom. I wonder how many will buy the little Tiger not realizing that it isn’t a GS800. And some sort of punchy supermoto Trumpet would I think be an excellent addition to the range.

    • Johndo

      I’m a bit disappointed in some aspects of the bike (based on reviews…) but have no doubt it will be better and cheaper then the GS800. And on top of that it sounds like a proper bike should sound.

  • FiveG

    I’m assuming it’s now been out for a bit? For use that’s mostly on pavement (of various qualities), but includes the periodic dirt road (whether intentional or not) but not hard-core mountain goat riding, would the 800 or 800XC be better as a companion to my Feejer?