It has always my dream job to go on a world tour riding an ADV motorcycle and this is one of the rarest things I would happily trade my current profession with. What is it about traveling on a motorcycle that feels so intriguing? For me, it’s one of the purest feelings that connect me to myself. It’s a feeling of freedom which keeps my inner flame on. One of the very few things left which fill joy in my adult life.
If you remember I got a chance to ride the Triumph Tiger 800 XCx a few days back and with it came an opportunity I simply couldn’t let go. It was a long weekend I remember, and thus made a plan for a 3 days road trip to the mountains astride a Tiger.
I had already packed all the necessary stuff at night because I didn’t want to miss out on the first sunshine and started early at around 5 AM from Gurgaon, and to my surprise, the weather was way too chilly for an October morning which gave me a chance to test Tiger’s heating grips. This feature can be operated on the go while using a small button added on to the left side of the handlebar. The grips took a while to heat up but the luxury of such grips is simply satisfying, to say the least. Also, these grips can be used in triple head mode depending upon the outside temperature. Few minutes into my journey and I was already enjoying the company of the mighty Tiger.
It was just a matter of a few hours and I had already crossed the famous Sukhdev Dhaba, cruising on the highway going towards Chandigarh, sharing space with behemoths.
The NH1 has been currently going on under heavy construction, especially when you’ve just stepped out of the city and kissed the highway. There are some unbearable deviations and potholes of the size of craters, if that was not all, what truly made this experience worse was when I was chickening out to change lanes because the road had monstrous cracks in it. But it was just an 80-90kms stretch and the highway got better as I progressed towards my destination.
Also, Tiger’s front 220 mm and 215 mm rear wheel travel devoured all the undulations the road has to throw at it. And at times I found myself getting off from the seat and standing on the foot pegs just to see that it is extremely friendly to ride it in that stance. Also, it feels stable like a rock while doing triple-digit speeds and it’s simply easy to maintain those speeds for long hours. The buttery smooth delivery from its 800cc liquid-cooled, in-line 3-cylinder engine kept me high and smiling even on the road as boring and flat as the NH1. And if you want more you can always play around with its cruise control which can be turned on with a single tap, and speeds can be adjusted on the go.
After 250kms of the straight and boring highway, Himalayan Expressway brought a wide smile to my face, because it is the end of the straight roads. It is also the beginning of mountains and temperature starts to decline as you move up higher. Till the time, I had already spent good 6 hours on the road and to my surprise, I wasn’t tried a bit. The new Tiger features seats with foam technology known as ‘’3D net’’. And these seats adjust as per the rider’s dimensions and take shape of rider’s bottom allowing for extended comfort even on long highway rides. Also, what made the ride more comfortable was its two-way hand adjustable windscreen, which is the real deal when it comes to wind deflection, although some of it does manage to shake your helmet with a strong wind buffeting at higher speeds. But if you position yourself well and tuck in a little, all that disappears instantly.
It is always recommended to ride at slower speeds in the mountains because you never know what’s lurking on the next turn. Also, changing altitude brings discomfort to the ears, and that might be distracting while riding a motorcycle.
The Tiger handles even the sharpest twists and turns with confidence and it manages to hide its weight very well once on the move. Its ride height might be a bit of a concern at the beginning but when you learn to master the art of riding a Tiger, the rewards are high. Also, the bike is available in a lower ride height variant (790 - 810 mm) which should be very interesting to ride.
After 4.5 hours of mountain ride, I finally touched down Kufri, which is at 1-hour distance from Shimla. The head was buzzing from full day highway ride, and the body was bit tired but was I ever uncomfortable during the ride? No!
I knew where I wanted to be after reaching Kufri, so after a day rest, I set ‘Hatu peak’ on my destination in Google Maps, which is at around 11,500 Feet height from the sea level. The road that slips through the main highway to ‘Hatu Mandir’ is one of the most adventurous patches I have ever been to. It is narrow even for a single car, and the way it escalates to the top is challenging. But Tiger’s low-end torque and smooth fuelling kept me in control all the time, especially on the slow speed U-turns. Then after a 30-minutes ride on the slip road, I made it to the top!
The bike caught a lot of attention everywhere I went, and some people were even simply amused by the fact that it is named ‘Tiger’. Some clicked selfies, and others made videos, and there I was admiring the curiosity it sparked with its presence.
Tiger has been designed to make even the most challenging rides easy. And riding it all the way to Kufri in Himachal Pradesh was truly one of the most satisfying experiences I have ever had on a motorcycle.