Triumph thought it was time to update the Tiger 800 models and include some high-tech items at the same time. The company messed with a good thing and made it even better.
Story by Lawrence Hacking
Photos by Triumph
As I reflected on the past few days I had just spent with the Tiger 800 XCx, Triumph’s newest incarnation in its adventure bike line-up, I was reminded how enjoyable and versatile adventure bikes really are. The whirlwind, two-day media launch of the Tiger took us from Los Angeles to San Diego and back on a variety of roads including mountain twisties, freeways and inner-city boulevards. I spent some additional days in the South Bay area of Los Angeles and realized that adventure bikes are an ideal means of getting around town; they offer comfort, wind protection, high-performance manoeuvrability and style – the last being of obvious importance in the City of Angels.
It was February and the weather was 24 degrees C warmer than in Ontario. As I write, it’s very hard to focus on the task at hand and evaluate the Tiger when it is so nice outside and the Tiger is sitting idle.
The new Triumph Tiger 800 XCx shares its name with a long succession of exciting motorcycles. Originally, the Tiger name was used in 1939. After a number of variations, Triumph brought the Tiger name back in 1993 with the 900 and, more recently, the 1050, which was launched in 2007. It is still one of the best long-distance upright-seated touring bikes around. The “baby Tiger,” or 800, was announced in late 2010 as a cast-wheel street motorcycle. When the Tiger 800 XC hit the market in 2011, the bike’s scope of use became nearly limitless.
To qualify myself, I have spent more than my share of time riding adventure bikes of all types, including many kilometres on the previous version of the Tiger 800 XC. I like midsize adventure bikes such as the Tiger or BMW’s 800 GS – they fit me well and are capable enough for the type of riding I like to do: exploring the backcountry, riding gravel and dirt roads and staying off the big, crowded highways as much as possible. In my world, venturing onto dirt trails may be on the dance card as well.
For our first experience on the bikes, two other journos and I followed Triumph Canada’s head honcho, Chris Ellis, as we tore down the gigantic concrete slab of the I-5 freeway at 135 km/h in the HOV lane until things slowed down as we approached Oceanside. SoCal freeway riding is an experience, to say the least – the incredible volume of traffic and the speeds of the status quo are impressive. Par for the course in California, once traffic stopped, we started splitting lanes. The three-hour ride demonstrated how highway capable the 800 really is. Squirting past traffic is easy in sixth gear, and the roll-on performance at higher speeds left me happy with the new 800’s ability to accelerate past lines of cars.
When we first hit the freeway, I immediately noticed what I assumed was a significant increase in the bike’s power, especially from 5500 rpm up to redline. The raspy triple feels as if the engine received a boost in displacement, or the engineers slipped a turbo-charger onto the inline-triple when no one was looking. The difference is that significant. That said, it should be noted that Triumph does not claim any increase in horsepower over the previous model, but simply states that power is spread over a much broader range of rpm.
New Tech for the XCx
Triumph’s engineering department accomplished this change by adding a ride-by-wire electronic fuel injection system that also allows for traction control, engine mode and cruise control. The actual throttle response is now ultra-quick, and the throttle has a lighter touch to it. All the adjustments to traction control, engine mode and ABS can be made via the new right and left handlebar switches.
Some of the benefits of the new fuel injection system are…