RideApart Review: Triumph Tiger 800 XC

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Equipped with an stroked version of the firm’s middleweight triple, the Triumph Tiger 800 XC promised to bring a welcome dose of sporting character to the mid-capacity ADV segment. Can it?

What’s New:
The Triumph Tiger 800 and Triumph Tiger 800 XC represent a two-pronged attack on the mid-capacity adventure touring segment. One’s a little more road-oriented, one’s a little taller and a little more ready for that round-the-world stuff.

The XC’s bars sit .7 inches forward of the 800’s and a third of an inch higher. More noticeably, at 34 inches, the XC’s are .6 inches wider and sweep back six degrees less. Hopping between the two bikes, you do notice that extra width, but it doesn’t become particularly relevant until you’re lane splitting, when the XC is just a tad unwieldy through very tight traffic. The XC’s standard bash guards make up for that though, you can fly between mirrors confident in the knowledge that they’ll break before hitting your brake. You can also get a noticeable extra bit of height out of the XC’s bars by rotating them forwards.

Both bikes feature an easily adustable rider seat. Two bars front and rear sit in either high or low notches and are secured by rubber straps. It takes about 30 seconds to switch between high and low. The 800 can go from a very accessible 31.9 inches to a more comfortable 32.7. The XC starts at 32.2 and goes up to 34 inches.

The 800 has 23.7 degrees of rake and 86.2mm of trail to the XC’s 23.1 degrees and 91.1mm. So the 800 is steeper and shorter. You can feel that too, its steering is perceptibly faster and more precise than the XC’s.

Both tigers use a 17-inch rear wheel, but the 800’s is a lighter alloy item to the XC’s stronger spoked setup. At the front, the 800 attempts to maintain some image of dirt capability with a 19-inch alloy while the XC goes the whole hog with a 21-inch Excel rim.

It’s this difference, together with the rake and trail, that delivers the most obvious difference between the two bikes. Not only does the XC steer a little slower but, at very high angles of lean, its front tire will walk wide and it’s skittish over bumps while leaning too.

The 800 uses a non-adjustable 43mm fork with 180mm of travel. The XC a larger diameter, non-adjustable 45mm fork with 220mm of travel. This is traditionally where we’d bitch about that lack of adjustment, but Triumph has nailed the settings on both bikes, we wouldn’t adjust them even if we could.

What’s Good:
One of the nicest things about it is how easily adjustable those ergonomics are. Two little bars live under the rider’s seat, held on by bungees. Spend 5 seconds swapping them to the lower position and the seat gets about an inch or so higher. Loosen two hex bolts on the bar clamp and the bars rotate nice and upright. One hex key on each side is all that’s required to reposition the levers, bark busters and mirrors. It took literally 60 seconds to do all that.

Ok, so when they stroked it out to 800cc, the triple lost some of its top end and urgency. From the Daytona 675, power is down from 124 to 94bhp, but torque is up from 53lb/ft at a sky high 11,700rpm to 58lb/ft at 7,850rpm. Weight is up from 407lbs (wet) on that sportsbike to 473lbs on the adventure bike.

The Tiger is sharp, urgent and confidence inspiring. That’s with a 21” front wheel. The chicken strips were totally gone after the first on ramp and I’ve been railing this thing through traffic in a manner totally belying the fact that it is a nearly 500lbs adventure tourer with unadjustable suspension.

The Bridgestone Battlewings help here too. They’re much better on the road than the Pirelli Scorpion Trails that come on the GS. They don’t seem to need any warm up time at all and deliver tons more feel than a bike wearing a 21” front has any right too. I’m more confident on the this than on the D204-shod R1 that’s been parked in the garage since I picked up the Tiger.

The engine is all sharp and angular to the steel tube frame’s soft curves. The body work is a total non-event, which isn’t a bad thing. It’s not over styled, it’s purposeful. I think that’s something it achieves through proportion rather than styling.

What’s Bad:
I’m a little worried about the passenger peg hangers if I drop it, they’re welded to the rear subframe, which could write it off if I manage to summersault the Triumph. The rest of the components are very well protected. Even the stock sump guard is impressively beefy and the radiator is pretty well protected by the stock plastics.

It’s not living up to its claimed 41mpg city/63mpg highway fuel mileage either. I’m getting an indicated 34mpg running around LA on a mix of surface streets and highways. The tank holds a reasonable 5.0 gallons, but the reserve light came on today at 140 miles. I ride quickly, but not over aggressively.

The Verdict:
There’s faster bikes out there, sure. There’s probably better bikes for venturing into the wilderness on too. But for a practical, everyday motorcycle that doesn’t call too much attention to itself and doesn’t limit itself to any one speciality, the Triumph Tiger 800 XC is damn close to being perfect. The XC model’s longer travel, higher-quality suspension and 21-inch front wheel help on-road as much as they do off, improving both handling and ride quality.

RideApart Rating: 9/10

  • http://www.zerobluetech.com/ Agnes Riley

    31.9 inches very accessible for whom, tall guys? Cause I’m 5’7″ and that’s not accessible for me. When will they make bikes that work for shorter guys and women?

    • http://RideApart.com/ Wes Siler
    • Speedo007

      Funny you’d say that, I’m 6’1″ long legs, and 90% of bikes are out of the question for me simply for lack of legroom…You can lower pretty much all bikes, but it’s much more work to make ergos good when you’re tall, on most bikes so don’t feel bad there’s tons of stock bikes out that that will fit you like a glove, I can’t say the same :P

      • Kevin

        If you’ve got a 32″ inseam then you are in the sweet spot for motorcycles I think. Less than that and things can get tippy. More than that and you’re probably cramped up on some models (especially sport bikes).

        • http://www.zerobluetech.com/ Agnes Riley

          I have a BMW F650 GS and I had to get a lower shock cause I was tiptoeing with the original shock. Now the bike doesn’t feel that great, but I can flatfoot it. But I have friends who are 5’1″ and 5’2″ women who want to ride. There are not a lot of choices out there, unless they want a Harley or a Japanese bike.

          • Kevin

            BMW’s the one manufacturer that offers factory-installed lowering kits along with a no-cost low seat option for a lot of its bikes. I can’t think of another. But speaking as somebody who was originally very uncomfortable with not being able to flat feet bikes, it is something that you can get more used to with time and experience. I hope your friends all find bikes that work for them!

            • Piglet2010

              Not being able to flat-foot a 300-pound dual-sport is one thing, on a 600-pound AT bike it is another – you really need to watch for sand, gravel, oil/Diesel slicks when you put a foot down at a stop.

    • Kevin

      I’m about the same height with a 29″ inseam, and seat height for practical purposes is +/- an inch or so depending upon the shape of the seat and the midsection of the bike. I can flat foot my VFR800 at 31.7″ and I am on my tip toes on my Multistrada 1200 at 32.125″ with the Sargent low seat. The Multi feels fatter around my thighs than the VFR, and that makes a difference. You just have to sit on a bike to really tell.

    • Martin

      As one of the short-legged, I hear you. Having said that, there’s no substitute for throwing a leg over. I’ve found that seat height measurements are best not viewed as a hard number. Maybe it’s just me, but different manufactures seem to take their seat height measurements at different points of their seats. Any seat with a scooped profile is going to measure differently depending on where in the profile to decide to take your measurement.

      Also, depending on the profile of the seat at the sides, as well as the width of the bike at the point between your thighs, a rider’s legs can be more, or less, spread out, and this effectively increases or decreases stand-over height. In some cases, a custom saddle can help, not just by decreasing height, but allowing you to bring your legs in a little.

    • dinoSnake

      Regretfully (and this is not a complaint about RideApart) the motorcycle media industry in general fails to acknowledge the true height of the American population.

      I’ve found most motorcycle reviewers are 6 foot and over, and they consider themselves “average”. They are NOT average – average American height, per today’s male population, is 5 foot 10. For the previous generation the statistical average height was 5 foot 8. So ‘average’ 31.x inch seat heights, once you factor in the seat width, are *over* the statistical average height of the American [male] population.

      Now, those quoted heights are unladen heights and suspension sack will add back some comfort room there. But, that only works if you are in the statistical American average weight for males – currently 194.7 pounds. It is said that American males WANT to weigh “only” 185 :p Therefore, for some riders, the insult of a too high seat is accentuated by the fact that you are out of the suspension’s adjustment range and therefore you won’t get enough sack to make any significant difference in seat height comfort.

      What this has led to is a stunning confusion in mainstream motorcycle writers as to the immense popularity of Harley Davidson and cruisers in the United States: more Americans who can afford the purchase price of a quality motorcycle can actual fit them. In other words, the largest demographic that has money can actually use the product comfortably.

      • http://RideApart.com/ Wes Siler

        Are you suggesting people in Europe or Japan, where most bikes originate, are taller than Americans?

        It’s more an issue that bikes have been developed, for the last 20 years or so, only to meet the demands of experienced riders. At tall seat height is easily overcome by experience and skill.

        That’s also why you see this new generation of accessible motorcycles — Honda CBR250R, the 500s, NC700X — coming with nice, low seats.

        • dinoSnake

          “Are you suggesting people in Europe or Japan, where most bikes originate, are taller than Americans?”

          For Europe, when the age demographic for actual buyers is added into the equation, I would probably say “Yes, they are taller”


          For Japan, I would say “No”.

          For Western countries, the average motorcyclist’s age isn’t getting any younger, it is getting older. And, *on average*, the older a generation the shorter they are. It was shockingly evident when I went to a (non-biker) memorial event 2 years ago: in a sea of older union and professional rescue workers, I was one of the tallest in the line (at 5 foot 8!)

          “At tall seat height is easily overcome by experience and skill.”

          That’s a comment that I’ve heard several times and I seriously doubt the reality of it, every time. When you on at tiptoes on a flat surface, the reality of real life, real world varying road surface can come to bite in you an INSTANT.

          Experience and skill I will acknowledge, but it only goes so far – it can never revoke the laws of physics. A too-tall seat will remain too-tall; you can adjust but that does not work under every condition.

          “That’s also why you see this new generation of accessible motorcycles —
          Honda CBR250R, the 500s, NC700X — coming with nice, low seats.”

          And how are they selling, hmmm? Not that well. Just because it has a low seat height does not make it desirable…for the experienced rider than you so conveniently mention. I see absolutely NO reason that I am consistently pushed upon 675 pound, 32 inch seat height, 160 HP “sport tourers”. This one-upsmanship in “bigger=better” has gotten completely out of hand, and the media has to be taken to task for some of it. Why does a smaller bike, less than 1100 cc, always get a condescending ‘beginner’ bike writeup from so many reviewers?

          I’m jumping off the bandwagon: my next bike will be SMALLER than my current 1600. “To add speed, add lightness”. I’m tired of being told by the reviewers that I must have the most powerful, largest option available – weight and size is the enemy, not a thing to seek out openly. It reduces the overall enjoyment as it become something you must be conscious of, every moment, rather than simply focus on the enjoyment of the ride. We have BMW producing a 1600cc inline-6, with a size and power output that some cars will kill for, and the top rated “sport tourers” aren’t far behind that mark.

          Yet the highest selling motorcycles, throughout the world, are NOT that – cruisers and the BMW GS, and people are starting to question if the power output (and size) of the latest GS series is really necessary.

          • http://RideApart.com/ Wes Siler

            Actually, those new Hondas are selling exceptionally well. The CBR250R is the first Honda in a long time to eclipse the Gold Wing’s sales. That success is going to mean that more manufacturers realize they can bring a new generation to their products, if they start making the right products.

        • http://www.zerobluetech.com/ Agnes Riley

          Clearly, Japanese people are not that tall. I have a friend in Japan and she rides, too, but most bikes are way too tall for her. I was talking about the German/English bikes that are made for German and English. I can easily ride a tall bike and the riding was a much-more pleasant experience. The problem wasn’t even stopping at a red light. Rather inching up towards the Lincoln Tunnel uphill in insane heat when you’d rather walk the bike then have the engine on cause you’re already cooking. And parking. I dropped it several times because I couldn’t touch the ground. Once I was backing out from my friends’ driveway and luckily realized that there was a dip and asked for help to get me to the road. If you have no chance to turn around you’ll have to back up. You need to be able to touch the ground with two feet. Not trying to be a pussy. I did lower my bike by swapping the shock out to a low shock and now I don’t like riding it as much, it bottoms out, etc, but at least I have not dropped it and can easily walk it. So it’s a compromise. But now they make them lowered, aka F700 factory low.

    • btao

      Just add some lowering links to the rear and slide the fork down an inch in the front, or have the dealer do it for you. Parts are $50 bucks and will let anyone get flat foot once your weight is on it. Don’t forget that, it has around 9″ of suspension travel and will compress as soon as you’re on it, so it’s not as bad as you think. Just watch your footing when you go to park for low spots.

    • btao

      Keep in mind, this gives the bike excellent ground clearance, and the best in class. Try sitting on a big dirt bike with a 38″ inseam! It’s a good compromise, and after getting used to it with the lower links on, I just moved them back up to stock now that I’m comfortable on it.

    • matt@stpetepowersports.com

      I lowered one for a woman 2″ and it fit her perfect, feet flat, at about 5’7.

  • JBXC

    I am very happy with mine so far, 8000 miles since February. My gas milage is much better than yours. I do have an Arrow pipe but not sure that is it. I average 48 mpg according to the computer with a good mix of traffic and highway miles. I will say the whole motorcycle was very tight for the first couple of thousand miles. Since then I am getting better mileage, the transmission is much smoother and the engine revs quicker and very smoothly. It just needed to settle in I guess.

    I had my eyes on the BMW F 800 GS but when I rode the Tiger it was no contest. More horsepower, less price and a lot more fun. I like the dealer much better too.

    I am an old dirt bike rider and I love the idea of the Tiger 800 XC. It is kind of like having a dirt bike with a sport bike engine and that makes for a lot of fun on the road and off.

  • http://www.skiilight.com/ Jonathan

    Perhaps not that related, I was trying the motorcycle comparison and I couldn’t get the Honda NC700X to show in a comparison of touring, sport touring or dual sport bikes. Shouldn’t it show in one of those categories?

    • http://RideApart.com/ Wes Siler

      Hmm, it should be in dual sport. I’ll look at the database and figure out what needs some fixing.

  • John

    Please make a 530XC Tiger Cub twin.

  • David Czarnecki

    As a former owner, the XC is one of the best all round bikes ever. Superb build quality. Confidence inspiring. Fun on and off road, but it won’t do real challenging off road quickly. The mpg mileage goes up over time quite a bit – I think it’s a computer thing when they are new.

  • Piglet2010

    When will someone put a seat on a motorcycle that can be adjusted while riding? Down when stopping or riding in urban areas, and up when on the highway. This would address the tradeoff between seat height, leg room, and ground clearance when everything is fixed in position.

    • Stuki

      On electric bikes that can be made very simple, since all mechanicals are concentrated down low, and there’s plenty of power to run the motors doing the adjustment. And, the people building them are “electric motor people.”

      I heard some rumor BMW was toying with the idea for the GS Adventure, alongside a handlebar that would auto adjust from sitting to standing comfort. Supposedly to appeal to shorter riders in the “Chinese Market.” But rumor is definitely the operative word there.

  • JP

    Why the do you give this bike a 9/10 when you don’t even give it a nod in the 8 best adv bikes article? If you don’t trust the bike as an adv bike there why recommend it here?

    • http://RideApart.com/ Wes Siler

      Like other so called “Adventure” bikes, the Tiger is an excellent all-rounder. It’s fast and nimble and comfortable and practical, all in a single package. The vast majority of riders won’t ever take one beyond a fire road.

      • btao

        That was the intent of the difference between the 800 and 800 XC. The XC was designed to be off road capable, and it most certainly is! The only thing that holds it back is me. I’m not strong enough to muscle the thing through the gnarly stuff for any length of time, but the bike has no problem going there. There’s a pair of XC’s that completed the Berkshire Triple dual sport ride on stuff that had some of the enduro riders shaking their heads. One of them was me :) Any questions, youtube “Icon Portland to Dakar”

        That video should be enough fodder to convince anyone on the fence to buy one. NOW.

  • Lance Drolet

    Had my 800 (Roadie) for a year now… gotta agree with the review. It’s about the perfect every day bike. Comfy enough for distances, nimble enough in town, and a COMPLETE blast in the twisties. Only tips I’d give are to forgo the Triumph bags and hand-guards. Aftermarket are more expensive, but better quality. As far as height, I’m 5’9″ with a 30″ inseam, and I can flatfoot it with no problem.

  • drumrider

    The author writes; “The Tiger is sharp, urgent and confidence inspiring. That’s with a 21” front wheel. The Bridgestone Battlewings help here too. They’re much better on the
    road than the Pirelli Scorpion Trails that come on the GS.” I just picked up my 2014 XC and Triumph is now shipping them with the Pirelli’s. These tires are anything but confidence inspiring. As a matter fact, they zap my confidence every time I’m in a turn and the road isn’t perfectly smooth. They’ll be gone when I take it in for my 500 mile service.