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2018 Triumph Tiger 1200 Launch Ride Review

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Vikrant Singh

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Introduction

This is the new 2018 Triumph Tiger 1200. It will be launched in India in February next year and it will replace the recently launched Explorer 1200 XCX. The latter was updated internationally in 2016, but it made its way to India only a few months ago. But, Triumph says that all 20 Explorers that were imported are now sold out.

The new 1200 will continue to come in via the CBU route. But, the similarities don’t end there. For starters, the new 1200 looks almost identical to the Explorer. Even though Triumph claims there are over 100 changes made to the new bike that justify dropping the Explorer name altogether, it’s still very difficult to tell the two apart in terms of styling.

The styling

The new 1200 gets different looking head lamps – these are all LED units now; a taller screen; new tank extensions; different mirrors; new bark busters; and a bold but well executed 1200 graphic on the fuel tank. The wheels are new too, and if you look closer, you’d find the top of the range 1200 now gets an Arrow exhaust as standard.

The bigger changes, meanwhile, are around the engine, chassis and electronics. And the new Tiger 1200 also borrows the full-colour, high-resolution TFT screen from the Street Triple RS. We like the way it looks and operates on the RS, and that stands true for the 1200 as well. 

Operated via a five-way joystick and one standalone ‘Menu’ button, the screen’s graphics are good, the UI is intuitive and the operability tactile. There’s an array of information in there as well. Apart from seven permanent readouts for speed, engine rpm, riding mode, gear indication, fuel level, time and ambient temperature, there are over 10 other things one can read off the TFT.

The mechanicals

Now to the oily bits. 

The brief for the new 1200, says Triumph, was to get more usable performance from its three-cylinder engine, add agility, make it more rider friendly, and take the motorcycle’s overall quality co-efficient a few notches higher. 

To do that, the new Tiger 1200 – which comes in both the road going XR and the more off-road focused XC versions – has been made lighter and more ergonomically sound. Also, due to the revisions made to the existing 1215cc engine, it now has more accessible drive.

The new bike is up to 11 kilograms lighter. It has a different riding triangle with a closer set handlebar. And the engine, even though it makes only about 2 horsepower more, prides itself in being lighter, easier revving, and flatter in its torque delivery.

Specific to the XCA version, Triumph has added a sixth mode to the 1200’s already elaborate riding mode buffet called the Off-Road Pro. It is meant for serious off-roading enthusiasts. Compared to the normal Off-Road mode, the Pro switches off ABS and traction control altogether and sets the TSAS to a sportier setting. 

TSAS or Triumph Semi-Active Suspension is, of course, carried over from the Explorer. As is the IMU or Inertial Measurement Unit that measures the motorcycle’s pitch, yaw and roll, and allows the 1200 to have cornering ABS and a non-intrusive and handy traction control system. 

But on the new 1200, the IMU also helps give this adventure tourer an added edge with headlamps that have adaptive cornering function. The cornering lamps are a pair of four LEDs that come on progressively with increase in lean angle. 

Other rider aids on the Tiger 1200 include cruise control, a hill hold function, and a windscreen that’s electrically adjustable even on the move. The motorcycle also gets an integrated braking system that automatically applies some rear brake every time the front is called upon for added stability.

The ride

We rode both the XRT and XCA versions of the new Tiger 1200. These are top spec trims of the XR and XC range respectively. In terms of equipment, these are near identical with the XCA getting wire spoke wheels and the option to go for more off-road focused Pirelli rubber. 

On the road, the XRT does a fine job of masking its near 250kg kerb weight. While on the move, the steering feels light, the balance is more centralised, and with the seat adjusted to its lowest setting of 820mm, it’s easy to put both feet firmly on the ground. And I am not even very tall. 

It also has a light clutch pull, roomy and comfy seats, and a relaxed but well dialed in seating position. It’s also good to stand up and ride with the right handlebar height, well-shaped knee recesses, and wide and well-positioned footpegs.

Surprisingly, it feels quite at home around the tight and twisty stuff as well; this is a big and tall bike, after all. It leans into corners at the lightest prod of the handlebar, holds its line with barely a hint of wallowiness, and the ride-by-wire throttle – not to mention the usable torque spread – allows for seamless and predictable corner exits. It can feel a little long around really tight hairpins or when tackling mid-corner bumps, but nothing too alarming that should upset your riding rhythm.

Brakes are powerful with well-judged progression and when the roads open up, the Tiger 1200 is also quite happy to sit at 130kmph or thereabouts in top gear all day long. Now this is a big three-cylinder engine. And, it makes its presence felt every time the throttle is opened hard and wide. It never fails to charge ahead with fervour no matter how low the rpm.

And it sounds good doing it too! 

But we do wish it had lesser vibes, particularly in the 3,000-6,000rpm range. We would have also liked the new Triumph Shift Assist on the 1200 to be more seamless in its operation. It makes easy work of full-throttle clutchless up and down shifts, but it’s not quick as some of the other systems in the market.

And lest we forget, the XCA with the off-road focused Pirelli tyres, was quite good on the dirt too. We didn’t do anything very challenging, just some loose trails. But with the Off-road mode allowing safe angles of slides, it did make us look like heroes in the pictures. Again, the standing up riding position as well as the bike’s weight balance makes the Tiger 1200 quite manageable on the loose stuff.

The India plan

And come February, anyone with around Rs 20 lakhs to spare should be able to indulge in similar motorcycling fun. Triumph will only bring in the XC version of the Tiger 1200 to India – just like it did with the Explorer – giving it a distinct niche in the company of bikes like the upcoming Ducati Multistrada 1260.  

Now we will reserve our comment on how it might be on Indian roads and in our hot and humid environs. But you can rest assured that the new Tiger 1200 is a lot easier to ride and live with than its size and weight suggests. And with that comfy seat, ample wind protection, the smart suspension and electronics, and surprisingly good road manners, the 1200 should also make for a wonderful long distance touring companion. 

Gallery

2018 Triumph Tiger 1200 Launch Ride Review
2018 Triumph Tiger 1200 Launch Ride Review
2018 Triumph Tiger 1200 Launch Ride Review
2018 Triumph Tiger 1200 Launch Ride Review
2018 Triumph Tiger 1200 Launch Ride Review
2018 Triumph Tiger 1200 Launch Ride Review
2018 Triumph Tiger 1200 Launch Ride Review
2018 Triumph Tiger 1200 Launch Ride Review
2018 Triumph Tiger 1200 Launch Ride Review
2018 Triumph Tiger 1200 Launch Ride Review

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