RideApart Review: Triumph Tiger 800 XC

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Category: Reviews

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

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