I have had a long love affair with ADVs since I saw adventures of Charlie Boorman and Ewan McGregor crossing countries on these motorcycles. It was that very moment I was hit by the curiosity, what makes these bikes fit to conquer everything put forward to them? Years later motorcycle culture in India took a flight, and we saw manufacturers like Triumph Motorcycles entering the scene and with this came the real opportunity for Indian motorheads to explore the world famous Triumph Tiger range.
Recently, all my stars aligned and I was astride on a Triumph Tiger 800 XCx and was I excited? I’ll just simply say my heart was beating out of the chest because taming the Tiger is itself an adventure.
The new 2018 Tiger 800 XCx takes forward its iconic twin-eyed design with a beak which looks like an 'Angry Bird' game character to me. It gets the same mid-mounted LED light design and misses out on the new horizontal strip LEDs only available in the Tiger 1200 range and the top-spec Tiger 800 XCA and XRT models which are not available for the Indian market. The bike also sports new graphics, a 3D emblem logo on the tank shroud and a new adjustable larger windscreen, while rest of the design feels almost similar to the last year’s model as not necessarily everything needs an update.
The bike also gets a new 5-inch colour LCD instrument panel which comes loaded with 3 different display format options. The panel displays all the information in a highly readable format thanks to its bigger fonts and auto contrast feature. Also, the screen angle is so set that it is well readable even when the rider is standing tall on the bike. Apart from the screen, Triumph has also updated the switchgear on the bike which gets more buttons, making it easier to browse between the information thanks to the 5-way joystick located on the left side of the handle-bar.
What makes the Tiger so intriguing to look at is simply its silhouette which looks dominating, and well-proportioned from all angles. The XCx being the more off-road focused model also gets spoke wheels which along with its exposed frame only highlight its raw instincts.
Engine and Performance –
As the name says, the bike derives power from the same 800 cc Liquid-cooled, 12 valve, DOHC, in-line 3-cylinder engine which also powers the rest of Tiger 800 line-up. The engine is good enough to push out close to 94 bhp at 9,500 rpm of maximum power and 79Nm of peak torque hits at 8,050rpm. It is married to a 6-speed transmission which is slick and precise to use.
The gear ratios are so set that it allows the motorcycle to accelerate fiercely in its initial gear which isn’t kept very long intentionally. First three or occasional fourth gear is all you need for daily city riding, and it’s only when you take the highways that you find yourself using the top gear. Strangely, the bike misses out on the slipper-clutch assist and the stock clutch isn’t the lightest to use, leaving your fist soar after full day ride.
The throttle response is quick, and the bike rides on a torque of wave which keeps the rider entertained, especially higher up the rev range. And even when the throttle is moderately open in the top gear, and you are cruising at about 130kmph, the engine spins in a relative low rpm band, maintaining composure and comfort.
The bike features 5 riding modes including Road/Offroad/Off-Road Pro/Sport/Track which can be easily selected using the ‘Mode’ button on the handlebar. Each mode allows the bike to be more compatible with a different kind of terrain, but I ended up using only two modes very often – Road and Off-Road Pro. The former as you can guess helps keeping the machine upright in all conditions providing maximum support from the electronics while the latter simply disengages everything, and you end up popping wheelies and sliding the rear end.
Ride and Handling–
The ADVs are genuinely designed to do everything you can throw at these machines and Tiger 800 XCx only does it better. Though its seat height of 840 - 860 mm might be way too aggressive for some but at the same time, the dominance its riding stance provide demands respect.
Out of all the Tiger variants present in India, the XCx gets the most adventure packed kit. Talking of which it sports spoke wheels with Bridgestone Battlewing tyres, spiked off-road footpegs, engine protection bars, an aluminium belly ban protector, radiator guards, an extra ‘Off-Road’ Pro mode and not to forget the high travel WP suspension setup at both the ends.
Compared to the earlier model, the new Tiger has gone through some mechanical ride adjustments such as handlebar is closer to the rider, the steering angle is sharper at 23.4 degrees and the trail has been reduced from 95.3mm to 93.5mm. The revised geometry has resulted in a quick handling motorcycle which steers like a street bike on the road, and handles off-road duties like a pro. Splitting lanes is like slicing butter with a hot knife, as Tiger manages to hide its weight very well even in bumper to bumper riding conditions.
That aside, take it to off-road trails and if you have the courage to push it even a bit, you’ll be glad to find out Tiger is designed to be at home in the wildlands. Its 21” front wheel allows for tremendous front feedback in the dirt. Its WP 43 mm upside down front fork sports 220mm of travel which is far longer when compared to anything else in the segment. All this travel helps the bike to ride with composure even in the most demanding off-road trails, while the rear WP monoshock enjoys 215 mm rear wheel travel.
The brakes have been updated from earlier Nissin to now Brembo 2piston sliding calipers biting on the twin 305 mm floating discs upfront, which brings the bike to halt with a smooth progressive braking force.
The revised riding geometry aids upright position. The handlebar is near to the rider and footpegs are pulled slightly backward, making for a highly comfortable riding position. The bike also gets new revised comfort seats with foam technology known as ‘’3D net’’. 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, the comfort is taken to the next level by the aid of features such as two way adjustable windscreen, three-step heated grips, and a cruise control (all of which I used throughout on my way to Kufri, Himachal Pradesh. Stay tuned for a more detailed take on these features.)
My only concern was its weight which troubles a bit when taking sharp U-turns or pulling it in or out of tight parking spaces. Some might say that ADVs are perfect daily bikes to ride, but I beg to differ. Maybe they haven’t tried parking it in tight spaces, because it surely needs an extra hand to pull it out of the squeeze.
The Final Word –
Sometimes my colleagues want to ride the bike I bring to the office, but none of them dared to even ask for the Tiger. Most of them were afraid due to Tiger’s ride height, others simply found themselves unworthy (I think because of its extreme appeal).
Well whatever it may be, you cannot deny the fact that it is the real Tiger of the urban jungle we live in. It’s built like an Army tank, which cannot be stopped no matter what. And shares a road presence so dominating that even SUVs will give you a pass out there on the highways. It is a motorcycle I find near perfect for making my version of ‘Long Way Round’ dream come true!
Photography - Mohd. Nasir