The 2020 Triumph Tiger 900 Rally and Rally Pro are the English marque’s brand-new off-road-focused adventure motorcycles. The pair are part of the all-new five-model Tiger 900 line that replaces the 10-year running Tiger 800 series.With a brand new, larger engine, upgraded suspension, and ride enhancing technology, the lighter, slimmer Tiger is more purpose-built for off-road adventures, while still being a comfortable mount on the pavement.I traveled to Morocco to test the flagship 2020 Triumph Tiger 900 Rally Pro on the unpredictable pavement and rugged natural desert terrain. Having ridden the Tiger 800 it replaces, the Rally Pro proved to be a muscular upgrade in a wide variety of ways.
1. Evocatively named, the Tiger 900 Rally and Rally Pro models succeed the Tiger 800 XCx and XCa models. Monikers that immediately call a picture to mind are easier to remember than alphanumeric nomenclature, and the Tiger 900 Rally elicits adventurous images that have you requesting “mental health” days at work.2. Multiple features separate the Tiger 900 Rally Pro from the standard Rally. On the Pro, you get two additional riding modes (Off-Road Pro and customizable Rider), an up/down quickshifter, engine protection bars, skid plate, a centerstand, LED fog lights, phone/motorcycle connectivity, and heated seats. More on all those later.3. The new 900cc engine has a unique 1-3-2 firing order. Dubbed the T-Plane Triple Crankshaft, Triumph uses an uneven firing order to help find traction off-road, with a short gap between the 1-3 sequence, and longer gaps between 3-2 and 2-1. Peak torque comes at 7250 rpm, 800 rpm sooner than on the Tiger 800, and there’s about 10 percent more torque all along that range.4. Non-stock Pirelli Scorpion Rally tires were installed on my 2020 Triumph Tiger 900 Rally Pro test-bike for off-roading. The Rally and Rally Pro come stock with street-oriented Bridgestone Battlax Adventure A41 rubber, but the majority of my time on the Rally Pro was off-road. Tires make a considerable difference when ditching the pavement, so the Rally Pro certainly benefited from the highly dirt-biased Pirelli rubber. As they are designed for desert racing, the Scorpion Rally tires worked impressively well on sand-scattered hardpack, rough and rutted dirt and gravel roads, sand washes, and on beach sand. They definitely helped showcase the Rally Pro at its best in the dirt.5. The Off-Road Pro power mode is why you buy the Rally Pro. Both the standard Rally and the Rally Pro have a standard Off-Road mode that has off-road versions of ABS, traction control, and power delivery. The Off-Road Pro mode disables ABS and TC, leaving you with the more manageable off-road throttle map. Because you can’t switch between the Off-Road modes on the fly—a major inconvenience—I stuck with the Off-Road Pro so I would be ready for the wide variety of tricky off-road conditions on the route. As a dirt bike rider, I’m comfortable with no ABS or TC in the dirt, and the Rally Pro felt just right. Certainly, on non-challenging dirt roads, the standard Off-Road mode is fine, with the Off-Road Pro essential for true dirt riding.6. Although a triple doesn’t seem ideal for an off-road application, Triumph has made it work. Most challenging for an inline-3 is working your way at slow speeds through technical terrain. The staggered power delivery makes it possible to apply the power in a manageable way, letting the Pirellis do their job. As speeds pick up, the triple smooths out nicely, making high-speed off-pavement runs predictable and enjoyable. When riding around casually, the motor never intrudes on the experience, as the throttle response is entirely intuitive.7. The slimmed and toned Tiger 900 Rally Pro tips the scales about 15 pounds less than the Tiger 800. While a three percent weight savings on a nearly 500-pound motorcycle (estimated, as Triumph doesn’t quote a curb weight) may not sound like much, the Tiger 900 Rally Pro carries its weight lower. There’s a new twin radiator set-up that allows the engine and now-forward-canted top end to be moved forward and lower. That translates to more than just a smaller number on the spec sheet. The Rally Pro handles lighter than it is, creating confidence in low-speed conditions.8. The Tiger 900 Rally Pro is lighter than the 800, and it has a narrower midsection. This helps compensate for a nominally taller seat. The seat can be run in two heights—33.5 or 34.3 inches. As always, the position of the seat also impacts the position of the pegs and grips relative to the saddle. With a 30.5-inch inseam, I’m comfortable with the lower seat height. Even though it makes the bars feel a bit taller, boot access to the ground is worth it, and I was able to get the balls of my feet on the ground. Standing on the Rally Pro has a natural, roomy feel, with wide footpegs providing a reassuring platform. Focusing on off-road performance, the foot and hand controls are most easily used when standing. Plus, keeping the chassis and seat narrow encourages standing when needed, while also making the transition easier.9. With over nine inches of travel at both ends, the Showa suspension brings gobs of confidence. Long travel suspension can make an ADV motorcycle precarious if the damping and springing aren’t spot-on. Triumph set-up the travel with that perfect combination of supple performance at lower speeds with enough damping to keep the chassis steady as velocity increases. It’s an important balance struck, as all the suspension adjustments are manual. That means there’s no quick switching of settings between street and off-road, high speeds or low speeds. Even with the spring-preload backed down to accommodate my 115-pound weight, the travel worked for me with a bit to spare. Those with specific demands have the adjustment opportunities they need, even if it’s not convenient electronically adjustable suspension.10. The 2020 Triumph Tiger 900 Rally Pro has an assist-and-slipper clutch. When in technical terrain, a light clutch can make the difference between smooth sailing and arm pump. Although the Tiger 900 doesn’t have an unusually light clutch, it isn’t cumbersome when slipping while negotiating slow, rocky roads, or when creeping through bustling rural villages on market day. Being in Morocco, I didn’t need the slipper clutch as I wasn’t pushing the pace as fully as I would back home, but it was there if I make a bad decision in the dirt (or on the street).11. Quickshifting is thought to be a sportbike feature, and it is, yet the Rally Pro has it. Off-road, this is a very useful tool in technical and shifting conditions. I can keep both hands fully on the grips while still having the ability to shift up or down. Occasionally, the transmission refused to move between gears without using the clutch, so there’s room for improvement here. Still, I was glad to have it. When I found a stretch of good pavement in the hills, it was a blast to click through the gears quickly without touching the clutch.12. Brembo Stylema monoblock brakes and a radial master cylinder deliver top-spec braking power. There is plenty of power to be found at the front lever with the new high-end Brembos, and it takes a judicious finger—one gets it done—in the ABS-free Off-Road Pro mode. The calipers are not exactly grabby on the larger 320mm twin discs, but the braking engages strongly and builds power progressively. The full force of the Brembo Stylema calipers are thoroughly convincing at a fast pace on pavement, and have cornering ABS to go along with the cornering traction control. This adds confidence to an already encouraging chassis.13. Once on the pavement, the Triumph Tiger 900 Rally Pro remains an enjoyable ride. Even with a 21-inch front wheel and the knobby Pirellis, the Rally Pro does nothing alarming on the pavement. The steering is light, yet there’s enough adhesion that the front end feels comfortable. The suspension that worked well in the dirt shines in its role as a street-going ADV motorcycle. It’s plush and comfortable, which is perfect for endurance. Electronic suspension adjustment would be great, though, as firmer would encourage pushing harder on twisting roads. Still, it’s fine adventure-touring suspension. If you’re looking for more street performance, trade away the off-road capabilities and get the Tiger 900 GT.14. Back on pavement, you won’t need the two Off-Road riding modes, but you still get four more choices. The typical Sport, Road, and Rain modes are all there, plus a customizable Rider mode that lets the finicky rider make his own brew of throttle response, traction control intervention, and ABS sensitivity—no suspension changes, obviously. Triumph makes setting up the Rider mode easy, using names rather than numbers to differentiate between settings. ABS can be in the Road or Off-Road setting, while traction control has a redundantly named array—Sport, Road, Rain, Off-Road, and off. It’s nice to be able to pick and choose.15. The Sport mode doesn’t make the throttle response overly aggressive. It is great for on-demand acceleration on the open road and in the twisties, and that made it my go-to mode for most pavement riding.16. In town, the Road mode is the way to go, and it also works for casual touring. Full power is there, but it is delivered in a leisurely manner. It cuts down on fatigue and is nice to have on a long day of travel, on- and/or off-road.17. It didn’t rain in Morocco, so the Rain mode didn’t get a fair workout. It is there should things get wet.18. I was happy with Sport and Road modes and switched between them as needed. Also note that you can switch between the four “street” modes on the fly, but you must stop to engage either Off-Road mode.19. The new seven-inch TFT screen is beautifully crisp, easy to read, but you may get lost initially. While the various menus can be navigated with an easy-to-use five-way joystick on the left handlebar, there are many layers of menus. It can be confusing until you lock into the logic of the programmer. Once in, there are four display set-up options, including your choice of color, plus a plethora of data, from fuel consumption, mileage logged, engine temperature, etc. You can scroll through most of the menus and make selections on the fly, though you won’t want to do that until you get comfortable with the contents. The positioning of the joystick is a bit close to the turn signal switch, so distinguishing between the two takes some time.20. Triumph’s integrated connectivity system delivers a host of amenities. By connecting your smartphone via Bluetooth to the My Triumph Connectivity System, you have access via Bluetooth to turn-by-turn navigation, control of your GoPro device, music, and phone calls. On the downside, the Triumph engineers and I were unable to pair my iPhone X to a Beta version of the software.21. Your cell phone can be plugged into a UBS power port under the passenger pillion. The small foam-lined compartment is not as convenient as dash storage, but you don’t need your cell phone while riding as you can access the apps via Bluetooth connection to the TFT—when you can pair it. There is also a 12-volt charging port next to the seat lock.22. Cruise control on the Tiger 900 gives your right hand a break as you click off miles on open highways. It’s easy to access on the left handlebar and works intuitively.23. Heated grips and seat take the edge off chilly riding. A soft push button switch on the left handlebar activates the three levels of heating. It takes a little practice to engage the small button when wearing cold weather gloves, but an indicator on the dash confirms when it’s engaged and shows the heat level. The heated seat is activated by a button on the front of the left handlebar, which sits next to the fog light switch. These are welcome features that expand your riding season, and even the passenger benefits from a separately controlled heated seat on the Rally Pro.24. The five-position windscreen on the 900 Rally is manually adjustable on the fly—sort of. I was able to move the windshield from its high position through the incremental stops to low, while riding, but was unable to accomplish the same adjustment from low to high. While it’s a simple movement to grasp the bar mounted on the inside of the screen, then push out and either pull up or shove down, it takes more muscle to execute than I had with my left arm. Really, it’s probably best to stop unless you can change the position without much effort. I was able to find the right setting to suit my height that prevented too much turbulence from reaching my peak-equipped Arai XD4.25. A larger fuel tank means you can venture farther off the beaten track. The new Tiger 900s have a 5.3-gallon fuel capacity, about a third of a gallon increase from the Tiger 800. You can see your current and average mileage, as well as the range left in your tank via the TFT display. With a claimed fuel consumption of 55 mpg, that gives you over 250 miles of range, theoretically. As the saying goes, your mileage may vary.26. Triumph makes a plethora of accessories for the Tiger 900 Rally and Rally Pro. There are over 65 accessory items for the Tiger 900s, as well as several Inspiration Kits to help you sort through the choices.27. The 2020 Triumph Tiger 900 Rally Pro is more than a worthy successor to the Tiger 800—it is absolutely inspiring to ride. The Tiger 800 was an immensely successful and popular model for Triumph, but after 10 years and mounting competition from its Austrian and German counterparts, it was time for an upgrade. From the overhauled engine, Showa suspension, Brembo brakes, targeted ergonomics, and safety-focused electronics, to the aggressive new bodywork, larger TFT dash brimming with options, and slimmer, lighter bike, the 2020 Triumph Tiger 900 Rally Pro shows that you don’t need to have a single or a twin to make an adventure motorcycle work off-road and on.Location photography by Gareth Harford and Chippy WoodRIDING STYLE
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