2012 Triumph Tiger 1050: 29 percent stiffer

Dailies -



Our two biggest criticisms of the base Triumph Tiger 800 (not the XC) were limited ground clearance and a 19-inch front wheel chosen for its dirt-style at the expense of road capability. When we reviewed it this summer, the conclusion was that it’s a great light tourer and commuter, but its ability at both is compromised especially by that front wheel and the difficult tire choices it presents. But, the thing is, there’s already an adventure-style all rounder in the Triumph family. The 2012 Triumph Tiger 1050 doesn’t share its little brother’s limitations, leaving it free be sort of a Speed Triple tourer. It’s just received upgraded suspension too.

For 2012, the big Tiger gets increased damping ability in both the front forks and rear shock. That shock is also upgraded with a 29 percent stiffer spring, a change which should increase control in corners and limit squat under acceleration. Combined with 20mm lower handlebars, that should make the Speed Triple tourer a little less wheelie prone.

Fitted with a 17-inch front wheel, as always, the owners of the big Tiger are free to fit real rubber. Touring, sport riding or commuting, they can optimize the bike to their needs. That makes the bike relatively unique among adventure tourers, shedding the dirt pretense of funny front wheel sizes to exist purely as a tall, capable, do-it-all motorcycle.

New graphics modeled after those of the Street Triple and red, white or matte black/matte grey paint round out the updates. A minor revision, but all this should help make an underrated, oft-forgotten bike that much better.

  • The other Joe

    Nice bike, I love the sound of a triple!

  • bpjester

    An uprated suspension is great if you want to ride on the track, but my ’08 Tiger’s ability to soak up bad roads is what I like best.

  • Gene

    That looks really nice, in both colors. 2cm lower bars is bad, though, when I have to pay bucks for an extender and deal with too-short cables to get it back.

  • HammSammich

    I’ve ridden with a few guys that own both the current 1050 Tiger as well as the previous 955. Both feature ungainly styling that belies their speed and handling abilities. Seems like Triumph is trying to shed off even more of the off-road styling, which might be a good thing given the existence of the 800XC…Might as well drop the base Tiger 800, though…

    A side note, what’s the deal with that vestigial looking bellypan-thing?

    • http://hellforleathermagazine.com Wes Siler

      Just a looks thing. Trying to shift some of the visual bulk of the fairing/tank down lower to make it look a little less ungainly.

      • HammSammich

        I see what you mean now that you mention the shifting of visual bulk…it makes the bike seem thicker, but less top heavy.

  • Beale

    These bikes have always felt too top heavy to me. They need to figure out how to lower the cg.

    • Kevin

      Very true. I’ve toured with a couple of guys that own this bike, and you want to have a long inseam, probably 32″+, to manage this bike. The guy with the shorter inseam probably dropped it 4 or 5 times in two tours.

      • CG

        Seriously, this is not a bike for short people, i.e. me, under 5’9″. Given that the difference between this and the Sprint for 98% of riders is negligible, the shorter folk who like Triumphs, find an older Sprint.

        • http://rider49er.blogspot.com Mark D

          Good point about the Sprint. I like the “do everything” attitude of the Tiger, but it just looks so…dorky. The sprint has always looked good to me.

      • jonoabq

        I’ve owned an 06′ and ridden the 07′ & 08′ a fair bit and though they are very different there are some things they share. They are both tall and with a 6.4 gallon tank (the 06′, the 07′ and up is a tad smaller) they are top heavy on long legs which makes parking lot speeds and tight turns opportunities for minor disasters…though the trade off is fantastic range. While they both are a bit goofy going slow, where they really shine is at big sweepers and sport touring speeds.
        The big bitch I have about the 07′ model onward is the redesigned luggage which got smaller, small enough to no longer fit a helmet. Great commuter, great at lightweight/relatively fast sport touring, bulletproof motor, great all day ergos, but not something you can throw around in the tight stuff. As almost everyone that has owned a Tiger will tell you..”you will drop it sooner or later”.

        • Lou

          I am an owner of the bike, having ridden it for 25,000 miles. I am 5’9″ with a 30 inseam. I ride the bike everyday through Manhattan traffic as my commuter, take it to my house upstate and on long trips as well. Fantastic handling bike, with great comfort and the 1050 triple speaks for itself. Gas mileage for a liter bike is great. It is not, at all, “Goofy” going slow. Quite the contrary. That’s a matter of proper training. I had the bike lowered front/back an inch and a half and have the OEM low seat, which is excellent. Loads of fun and quite underappreciated but was one of the bikes that kicked off this whole ‘Tall-Rounder’ craze. For good reason. Like the upgrades except for the lower bars. Love the bar position as its super comfortable and gives ya that King O’the road kinda feeling. Can you tell, I love my Tiger?

  • Scott-jay

    Ahhh, 29% stiffer.
    I remember it well.

  • Deep6Dive

    Wes once I get my viagra prescription and the Speed Triple is too much for me I’ll get one of these!! Glad to see you’re doing a great job covering the Triumphs, reassures me this is a real motorcyclist internet magazine.

  • dux

    Should we call this the W-Strom, perhaps?

    • HammSammich

      I suppose you could call it a “Three-Strom” but since the Hinckley Tiger pre-dates the Suzuki by almost a decade, I’m not sure that makes sense…

  • Jay

    Triumph, Aprilia, Moto Guzzi, Vespa, Derbi, Ducati, KTM, Kawasaki, Suzuki, Yamaha, MV Agusta and Husaberg all have one, revenue-damaging element in common: none has a finance unit. In other words, buyers must use a third-party finance source such as Freedom Road or Sheffield Or Go To the local bank or credit union.
    The primary reason that BMW, Harley & Honda can continue to sell overpriced, heavier-than-their-competitors’ bikes while producing some of the most flukey and least reliable motorides Is Financing. I paid off two Honda, one BMW and one Harley loan since January 2010. I did want a DRZ400SM enough to finesse my credit union when Sheffield Financial turned me down; however, that long list of moto marques above means usorious (spelling) loans from HSBC and others with UK room temp interest rates! Great Scoots, Cash Only!

    • dux

      Usury is the term you’re looking for. And I totally agree – that’s why I pay cash and buy used.

    • http://www.xenophya.com Xenophya

      And the reason BMW, Honda and HD can continue to offer finance?- They’re huge companies in comparison to Triumph, Ducati etc etc…

      HD are hardly a shining example of selling on finance:

      • dux

        Hey, bailouts are standard business practice these days!

  • Lou

    I’m surprised to see that Triumph is not, indeed, discontinuing this bike, as was previously thought, and all dealers reported. This means there will be a very full Tiger range; 2 800s, the tweaked 1050, and, at some point, the shaft-driven 1200.

    • http://hellforleathermagazine.com Wes Siler

      The 1200 will likely replace this towards the end of next year.

  • markbvt

    Going with the sport-sized front wheel is exactly what PREVENTS the Tiger 1050 from being a capable do-it-all motorcycle.

    Not saying it’s not a great bike, just that “do-it-all” implies to some of us that it ought to be able to be shod with some decent dirt rubber for the occasional off-pavement adventure. There are plenty of capable tires for a variety of purposes available in the 19″ front on the T800; not so for the 1050 (and that wide rear rim designed for a 180-section tire just makes matters worse). That leaves the big Tiger firmly in the upright-sportbike class.

    I’d love to have one for pavement-only touring, but I don’t really need it because my T800XC does great for that purpose itself. AND I can put a set of real knobbies on it. THAT’s what I call a capable do-it-all motorcycle.

    Just saying. :)

    • http://hellforleathermagazine.com Wes Siler


      The Tiger 800′s ability on the road is drastically compromised by its 19″ front wheel and the poor tire choice it brings. Can I choose something sticky? Nope. Can I at least fit some decent sport touring rubber that’ll heat up quickly and work well on the road? Nope. Can I fit real knobbies? Nope.

      So equipped, it’s only as good off road as any UJM with flat bars would be. It could be better at a chosen application if it chose to skew itself in that direction. It doesn’t, it’s a bad compromise.

      • markbvt

        I get what you’re saying, Wes, but a lot of very happy T800 owners would disagree with you. It was never intended to be a sportbike, yet it corners amazingly well (even my XC does, as my lack of chicken strips will attest), and there is a decent selection of tires available (including a surprising amount of decidedly non-DS rubber). Maybe not Brand X homologated race tire, but definitely plenty of tires fully capable of serious lean angles.

        My main point, though, was that I simply don’t think the words “do-it-all” pertain to a motorcycle that is intended solely for street use.

        In the end, let’s face it — there’s no such thing as a do-it-all machine of any kind that’s the best it could be at all of those things. There have to be compromises somewhere. People who don’t want any compromises will just buy an S1000RR or a Husaberg FE570. :)

        • BMW11GS

          This! We don’t all need 47 degrees of lean angle.

      • wwalkersd

        I’ve little experience of real sportbike rubber, but I find the Tourances on my V-Strom stick pretty damn well on pavement, as well as the Pilot Road 2s on my BMW (yeah, I’m old, get over it). Also, I dunno if they’re still available, but at one point Michelin offered Pilot Roads in 19″ fronts.

  • http://bloodfalcons.blogspot.com motoguru

    The dark paint on the wheels makes it look a helluva lot meaner.

  • Tommy

    I love the matte black, and I have always loved tigers. Wish I could afford this