With the competition mid-size adventure motorcycle segment hotting up, it was time that Triumph moved on from the aging Tiger 800 line. It’s not that the Tiger 800 was a bad motorcycle—I very much enjoyed touring Wales on it a couple of years ago—but it was due for replacement after three generations.If nothing else, Triumph needed to sort out its naming of the Tiger line. You had to be a true Triumphile to know the difference between the XCx, XCa, XRt, and XRr—a confusing recipe for alphabet soup. That brings me to the 2020 Triumph Tiger 900 GT Pro and the roads of central Morocco.With the Triumph Tiger 900 Rally Pro and Rally taking care of dirt-oriented adventurists, the Tiger 900 GT Pro, GT, and plain vanilla Tiger 900 serve street-going adventourers. Thankfully, the names are self-explanatory, and this makes it easy to daydream about the right motorcycle. For the well-worn paved backroads between centrally located Marrakesh and the coastal town of Essaouira, there is hardly a better choice than the 2020 Triumph Tiger 900 GT Pro. Let me tell you why.
1. The new 888cc triple is a fantastic touring powerplant. With the right balance of smoothness and character, the inline-3 rewards a twist of the throttle without demanding it. It’s a short-stroke design, though the 900’s power increase over the 800 does not come at the top end. There is more torque everywhere in the powerband, compared to the outgoing 800, with over 55 ft-lbs of torque on tap from 3000 to 8750 rpm—peaking at 64 ft-lbs at 7250 rpm. Twist the throttle, and the Tiger 900 moves out. At that same 8750 rpm, the 95-horsepower peak is reached—again, power is increased significantly over the same range as the torque. While the motor will spin up to 10k, there is simply no reason to not click up a gear instead. This powerplant is used across the five-motorcycle Tiger 900 range.2. Moving up from the 900 GT to membership in the GT Pro club has its benefits. The GT Pro gets five riding modes (four on the GT), electronically adjustable shock damping, an up/down quickshifter, smartphone/TFT-display connectivity via the My Triumph app, LED fog lights, heated seats, illuminated switches, tire pressure monitoring, and a centerstand. Significant differences between the GTs and the off-roading Rallys includes a 19-inch cast-aluminum front wheel (21-inch wire-spoked on the Rally models), Marzocchi suspension (Showa on the Rallys), and shorter suspension travel (2.4 inches at each end). Also, the GT Pro doesn’t get the motor crash protection that the Rally Pro enjoys, and the Rally Pro has six riding modes. With these distinctive feature sets, Triumph has made it easy to differentiate between the models.3. Triumph made the Tiger 900 lighter and narrower than the 800, along with having a lower center of gravity. With a 30.5-inch inseam and weighing 115 pounds, I appreciate an easier-to-handle chassis. It’s not that the Tiger 800 was a handful, but the 900 is even better. Triumph tilted the triple forward almost seven degrees, for more weight on the front end, and lowered the motor 1.6 inches.4. There are two seat heights—both of them work. The seat is quickly adjustable between two heights—31.9 and 32.7 inches. I liked the flat-footed access the lower setting gave me—but on longer rides, the taller position affords a bit more legroom. With the seat lower, my legs did feel in more of a sporting position, though the grips are relatively higher. It’s nice to have a choice, and which one I go with will be determined by the ride ahead—lower in the twisties, and higher on the highway.5. Metzeler Tourance Next tires tip the hand of Triumph’s intentions for the Tiger 900 GT. Although they’re touted as Enduro Street tries by Metzeler, the dual-compound Tourance Next is much more of a high-mileage all-weather sport-touring tire that happens to come in a 19-inch size for the front wheel. For the purely upright touring-friendly ergonomics of the Tiger 900 GT, the Metzelers provided more than enough confidence and performance on Moroccan backroads. The long lateral sipes that displace water also help on the dirty twisting roads. I never felt any uneasiness at the front end, and the rear tire didn’t noticeably trip the traction control, even as I got the triple spinning on the iffy pavement.6. Four preset and one customizable riding mode makes the 2020 Triumph Tiger 900 GT Pro a versatile performer. The three expected modes are on the GT Pro—Sport, Road, and Rain—plus an Off-Road mode, along with a Rider mode ready for your personalized requirements. The three street-going modes all have the same IMU-assisted Cornering ABS setting, with Off-Road dealing with ABS more gingerly. Traction control intrusion is dialed differently for all four modes, and can be shut off via the TFT screen and the left handlebar joystick.7. Triumph’s four preset riding modes will satisfy almost everyone. Sport mode is very usable, as it doesn’t suffer from abrupt throttle response. Instead, Sport is agreeably lively, and that makes it my choice for everywhere but in town. Inside the city limits, I switched to the relatively leisurely throttle response in the Road mode. I tried the Rain mode, and it’s tamped down enough that you truly only want it when the roads are wet. Unfortunately, I didn’t have a chance to take the GT Pro off the pavement, so the Off-Road mode remains to be tested.8. While some will be happy to fuss with the Rider mode and produce a unique arrangement, I found the three street-going presets to be fully satisfactory for the job at hand. Whether tearing down a rugged back road, or zipping through traffic, there was never a moment where the Cornering ABS or traction control felt like a hindrance or unwelcome intruder. Triumph engineers—software and hardware—got it right with Sport and Road for my tastes. Again, if you’re persnickety, the customizable Rider mode is there to accommodate you.9. The Triumph Tiger 900 GT Pro has an up/down quickshifter for convenient clutch-free shifting. Do you really need a quickshifter on an adventure motorcycle? Probably not, but the Triumph Tiger 900 has one. It’s not surprising how fun it is to use when riding aggressively, but I also found myself using it as we churned in and out of villages at languid speeds. If the rpm drops too low, the quickshifter does occasionally balk, so don’t lose your clutching skills just yet.10. 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.11. The 2020 Triumph Tiger 900 GT Pro gets Marzocchi suspension, and they are good units. Triumph didn’t go all the way with semi-active suspension, or even fully electronically adjusted suspension. The shock’s spring-preload and rebound damping are electronically adjustable, while the front requires manual adjustment of the compression and rebound damping, with the fork’s spring-preload fixed. The shock has four damping presets that mirror the riding modes, along with four preload settings. The GT Pro allows you to select any of nine damping adjustments, with 1 being softest and 9 hardest. Triumph selected 8 for Sport, 5 for Normal (Road), and 2 for Comfort (Rain). If you’re not satisfied with the default setting tied to the riding modes, you can adjust the damping on the fly.12. The different electronically adjustable suspension modes are welcome and make a difference. The Sport damping was perfect for active riding, and I slipped it down to the Road mode for comfort on rougher roads that had to be taken more carefully. The Comfort mode is genuinely soft, and will appeal to a rider who wants plenty of plushness. For me, the Normal damping was excellent for city riding. If 8, 5, or 2 aren’t quite right for you, you can pick any other number between 1 and 9 to suit you. The best part is being able to make the adjustments while underway, and I took frequent advantage of this as conditions were constantly changing. The only disappointment being the lack of electronic access to the fork settings.13. The Triumph Tiger 900 gets up-spec Brembo Stylema brakes for 2020. Not only are the larger front discs (320mm vs. 305 on the Tiger 800) being grasped by four-piston monoblock calipers instead of two-piston sliding calipers, the radial master cylinder provides a firm, precise feel at the lever. A steady squeeze on the progressive brakes delivers confidence-inspiring power. There’s also a Brembo (instead of a Nissin) working the rear disc now. As someone who uses the rear brake quite a bit, not only to finesse slower speed situations, but as a supplement to the front, I was delighted with the feel.14. The windscreen is five-way, manually adjustable to suit your size and riding conditions. High-speed drones on the highway felt best with the windshield in the highest position (over a two-inch range). When riding through the bustling and dusty, harder-to-read pavement conditions in Marrakech, I was happy to push the screen out and down to the lowest position so as not to be looking through it. While the screen can be moved on the fly, I was only able to safely slide it down, not up. It’s simple enough to accomplish at a stop.15. The fuel tank is larger but slimmer. The touring range of the Tiger 900 been extended a bit as the capacity bumps up to 5.2 gallons, a quart more than the 800. The tank is redesigned so that the additional volume does not add to its waistline. As a result, the 900 is slimmer than the 800, and this contributes to how manageable the bike feels, particularly at slow speeds.16. The TFT screen on the Triumph Tiger 900 has a plethora of information and options. The basic info that you’ve come to expect—speedo, tach, gear indicator, fuel gauge, clock, trip meters—is all there, and there are various screen displays to choose from. The tach readout is a bit disappointing; all four layouts have tiny increments between the numbers, making it hard to accurately discern the engine speed. The menus are extensive, as this is where you choose riding modes, adjust suspension, and utilize the MyTriumph app for GPS, multimedia, and GoPro connectivity. You will need to spend time before you’re on the road to get familiar with how to navigate the system, though it is decently intuitive.17. Secure, dedicated storage and USB charging are available for your smartphone under the Tiger 900’s seat. You can functionally access it via the MyTriumph app.18. With more than 65 new accessories available for the 2020 Triumph Tiger 900s, you’re sure to find a way to personalize your Tiger. From luggage/storage options to protection, and comfort to performance, you can tweak the Tiger 900 to fit your riding style. Triumph put together a couple of targeted kits—the Trekker Kit for touring, and the Expedition Kit for off-road enthusiasts (or just someone who likes the off-road ADV look).19. The 2020 Triumph Tiger 900 family is an excellent update to the well-respected Tiger 800 line. With a new, higher power motor, chassis update, upgraded suspension, new brakes, and larger full connectivity TFT screen, there’s everything to like about the 2020 Triumph Tiger 900 GT Pro—including the name. The entire package is lighter and easier to handle, as well as ready for long-distance touring and light off-road duty. Maybe it’s time for me to go back to Wales.Location photography by Gareth Harford and Chippy WoodRIDING STYLE
Ducati DesertX + Dale Wagler and his BMW 1250 GS Adventure (Owner Review)
byMotos and Friends by Ultimate Motorcycle
In this week’s first segment, Senior Editor Nic de Sena take a look at the Ducati DesertX ADV bike. Powered by the same liquid-cooled V-twin motor as several other models in the Ducati range, the DesertX is another entry into the upper-middleweight class of ADV machines. The big question of course, is can the DesertX make its mark and differentiate itself from a growing field of competitors?
The second segment is the premiere of our new series of ‘Owner Reviews’. These are real-world opinions of machines owned by everyman riders. For this first one, I chat with my friend Dale Wagler. Dale is a former Marine and hard-core street- and dirt-bike rider. Dale recently acquired a new BMW 1250 GS Adventure, and he gives us his thoughts on the bike’s positives—and a few negatives too.
If you’d like to be considered for a future Owner Reviews segment on an episode of Motos & Friends, please email us at email@example.com and tell us briefly about your bike. We’d love to hear from you!
So, from all of us here at Motos & Friends… we hope you enjoy this episode!