2011 Triumph Tiger 800 (XC) | First Ride

2011 Tiger 800 (XC)

We have had an opportunity to ride the new 2011 Triumph Tiger 800 and 800 XC in Spain’s Pyrenees mountains, both on- and off-road.

Triumph has positioned the standard Tiger 800 to be an easy-to-ride motorcycle intended to compete with the Suzuki V-Strom 650, while the Tiger 800 XC goes head to head against the BMW F 800 GS.

On the street, the Triumph Tiger 800 a smooth power delivery, so high-tech wizardry such as traction control or engine mapping is unnecessary. Simply ride a gear high and you still have plenty of torque from the new three-cylinder engine to pull through out of corners.

When you choose to be aggressive, it is quick revving and ready to go. The transmission is precise with the ratios spaced perfectly, so the motor can be effectively exploited.

The Triumph Tiger 800 handles precisely, with the 19-inch front wheel leading the way. It’s easy to transition the bike through chicanes, and turns can be initiated at the last moment so you can and fall-in to apex perfectly.

The Tiger’s riding position is very comfortable, with a nice grip/seat/foot peg triangle. The seat can be easily adjustable from low to standard position, but all but the shortest legged riders will prefer the standard seating position.

The Nissin front brakes fully adequate with good feel and progression, though the performance does not equal that available from Brembo Monoblocs. The rear brake is very strong–perhaps too strong. Backing the rear in with the rear brake is easy, and precise inputs are rewarded.

The Pirelli Scorpions on the standard Tiger 800 worked well on the street, even in slick conditions, and there was plenty of warning when front tire would start to go.

The off-road ready Triumph Tiger 800 XC has great overall handling, coming in 473 pounds. This allows for a much lighter feel than most multi-cylinder adventure bikes, so you can turn with the front or the rear off-road. It’s nimble and riding it is similar to riding an actual enduro bike.

This is nothing like a BMW R 1200 GS. On-road the XC’s 21-inch front wheel means you have to turn in earlier than on the standard 800, and lock in your lean angle. The XC cannot hang with the standard Tiger 800 in fast, repeating paved switchbacks.

The 800cc triple has plenty of torque, so you will want to short shift it to retain traction. Rev it out and you’ll quickly need to learn the fine art of power sliding. Fortunately, the XC is a willing and predictable slider.

Off-road, the motor can be used to keep the front end light, and as you roll off the throttle, the weight moves forward for effective braking. When riding below 1500 rpm, you’ll need to cover the clutch and be ready to slip in, particularly when executing tight U-turns.

In the dirt, the Triumph Tiger 800 XC is as willing to loft its front tire as its street only brother. This helps avoid trail obstacles that appear unexpectedly.

With the 21-inch front knobby tires, sand is no problem–something that can’t often be said about large adventure bikes. In loose rocky terrain, the 21-incher has a stable feel and good rollover capability.

Even with loose rocks filling the ruts of the fast line off-road, it was no problem to take the fast line instead of gingerly skirting around the obstacles like you may do with a 19-inch front. The 21-inch front wheel also comes to the rescue in ruts, though it’s not much of an advantage if your ride hard-pack exclusively.

Although not adjustable, the front fork feel was good–Triumph’s engineers got it right out of the box. The rear felt great, with no packing up or bouncing in the rougher stuff.

The rebound and compression were perfect. Large G-outs are soaked up with controlled unloading and the bike doesn’t bounce the rider. Most importantly, the Triumph Tiger 800XC suspension is balanced front to back. IT is definitely class-leading suspension.

Triumph designed the Tiger 800 and Tiger 800 XC to be do-it-all bikes that could be both successful commuters and circumnavigators. Rather than work with an existing motor, Triumph developed an all-new powerplant specifically for this bike.

Manufacturers don’t always talk about sales numbers, but Triumph has upped its initial estimate of 5,000 units sold in 2011 to a sales target of 7,500 bikes. When word gets out about how capable both of these Triumph Tiger 800 motorcycles are, those numbers may not be considered optimistic.


Helmet: Icon Variant Speedmetal
Jacket: Klim Inversion
Gloves: Klim PowerXross
Pants: Klim Traverse
Boots: Sidi Adventure

Armor: Alpinestars Bionic S2 Jacket
Jersey: Klim Revolt Jersey
Under jersey: Klim Agressor Shirt
Under pants: Klim Agressor Pant

Rider: Jess McKinley


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