As I watch the car in front of me doing 360s on the highway at 60 mph, I quickly realize that my two-wheeled vehicle is no match for the ice-covered road. It’s 2017, and I am aboard my new 2017 Triumph Tiger 1200 Explorer. Packed up heavy, I’m running from an early winter storm on the back roads of Nevada. Up until this point, things had gone okay—just cold temps and rain. But as I crested the pass, the rain turned to hail, and the road became an ice rink.Okay, Motorcycling 101: Pull in the clutch, don’t touch the brakes, no sudden movements or steering input, and pray. As I safely glide by the completely astonished woman spinning down the road—I can still see her eyes looking at me like I was an unexplainable aberration as she slowed to a stop—I realize I am in love with this motorcycle!
I spent three years and 27,000 miles with the ’17 Explorer, mainly on-road, and it was a terrific touring companion. I loved the smooth and powerful engine, its linear torque, and rock-solid stability. However, the motorcycle suffered two fatal flaws: it ran hot—like a glowing gas tank between your legs hot—and it carried its weight high. This was not a big issue unloaded or even loaded on the road, but not great loaded for touring on loose gravel or sandy roads. Eventually, I traded it in for the class leader from Germany, but I never lost the love for the sweet triple engine.Fast-forwarding to today, Triumph has revamped its adventure bikes, leading with a very successful launch of the Tiger 900 line a few years ago. Now, Triumph has turned its attention to the Tiger 1200. I have been sent to Portugal to see how the Hinckley-based concern has done—the things I have to endure for our readers. Let’s see how they did with the more road-oriented 2022 Triumph Tiger 1200 GT Pro.
The 2022 Triumph Tiger 1200 GT Pro looks great in Lucerne Blue, as well as Snowdonia White and Sapphire Black. It has a muscular yet proportional stance, without looking too massive, even in the Explorer model with its nearly eight-gallon fuel tank. The front-end LED lighting and DRLs look aggressive and clean.
Ergonomics are spot-on for my six-foot frame. Seating position comfortable with just the right reach to the bars. The seat has two height settings 0.7 inches apart. I rode most of the day in the high setting, which translated to me comfortably resting on the balls of my feet at stops. Brake and clutch levers, grip reach, footpegs, and windscreen height are all adjustable. The windscreen slides easily up and down, though I found it less effective than previous iterations.
The engine, unaltered across the entire Tiger 1200 lineup, is a ripper! While still a triple, the 1160cc, 148-horsepower powerplant feels entirely different from past iterations. The motor spins up much quicker with strong, linearly delivered power that just seems to keep going and going.
The T-plane crank engine is designed to have more character and low-speed tractability. Most noticeable is the soundtrack—rev it up, and the triple howls beautifully.
The 2022 Triumph Tiger 1200 GT Pro has five ride modes—one of them user-configurable. The present modes are Sport, Road, Off-Road, and rain. Each ride mode changes the throttle response, ABS, traction control, and suspension action. Continental’s traction control and ABS are cornering aware.
The quick revving and powerful engine works great in all modes—almost. Roll on the throttle quickly in the Sport mode, and you experience some unwelcome abruptness unless you are gentle with the wrist—creating something of an oxymoron. This is most noticeable when riding fast through curves and changing speeds. I rode most of the day in Road mode, which had the best balance of power and smoothness. Rain mode delivers the smoothest throttle roll-on while still providing plenty of power. Off-Road mode disengages rear ABS, reduces front ABS intervention, and lowers traction control, significantly improving off-pavement performance. Defeating traction control is required for steep climbs on loose gravel.
The quickshifter operates flawlessly. I’m a bit old school and typically don’t use quickshifters. However, during aggressive riding through the beautiful rolling countryside, I found I was using it much more without even thinking about it. That’s a testament to how smooth and accurate it is.
Getting all that power to the road via a revised linkage swingarm and lighter-weight shaft drive. On the pavement, the drivetrain functioned flawlessly, delivering power to the rear without snatching over various road conditions.
Did someone swap in a Speed Triple? Tall and heavy large adventure bikes are not usually the best for tight-cornered mountain roads, and the previous Tiger 1200 was no exception. The new Tiger dropped 55 pounds, and Triumph moved the engine and rider forward. The combination of reduced weight, more aggressive positioning, the 19-inch front wheel, and a rev-happy engine lets you quickly forget you are riding an adventure bike. I was surprised when the footpeg kicked up some sparks through a few turns. The 2022 Triumph Tiger 1200 is far more maneuverable than in the past.
I searched in vain for the bike’s road limits, sacrificing the pegs along the way. The street-oriented Metzler Tourance tires are up to the demands of the big ADV chassis and powerful inline-3, even during very spirited mountain road riding. Although the 2020 Triumph Tiger 1200 GT Pro does not have a 17-inch front (or rear) tire, the front end provides all the assurance I need to push it like a sportbike.
New Showa semi-active suspension contributes to the sportiness of the ride. Damping automatically adjusts to demand and can be more or less aggressive through nine different levels dialed in easily on the TFT display. You don’t have to worry about ride height, as the shock’s spring preload setting is part of the semi-active package. The overall effect is a smooth and composed ride over a variety of good, and not-so-good, road conditions. Entering and exiting tight corners is predictable and accurate, though hard front braking creates unwanted front-end dive. This encourages more rear brake use to keep the chassis neutral through the turns.
Speaking of braking, the Brembo Stylema M4.30 calipers and 320mm discs haul the 550-pound Triumph Tiger 1200 GT to a stop quickly and smoothly. Front brakes are linked to the back, which is always comforting. The rear brake is powerful enough to rely more heavily upon in the turns to avoid the front brake nose dive. ABS comes on when you would expect it to without much of a jolt.
Unlike previous open-class Tigers, the new 1200 manages heat much better. The new dual radiator design is tucked into the bodywork more cleanly than on the 900 and works very well. I’ve yet to test it in the summer, but when thrashing the bike hard for miles, I felt no excessive heat coming off the engine.
The 2022 Triumph Tiger 1200 GT Pro’s cockpit is well-designed and user-friendly with lighted switches and a clear and bright seven-inch TFT Display. A well-designed joystick, as well as Mode and Home buttons, allow for easy display usage. Smartphone, GPS navigation, and GoPro connectivity are available through Triumph Connectivity. There are two screen format choices, though neither had all the data I typically like to have in front of me while riding. This required me to hunt through menus to find the information I like to have on-screen. Hopefully, more customization of the display content will be available in the future.
The nice-looking luggage is also functional. The GT has available plastic hard cases, designed by Givi. Unlike some of the main competitors in the segment, the luggage mounts are not integrated—a bolt-on mounting bracket is required. The downside of this is a cluttered look with the luggage off. On the upside, the brackets are useful for mounting soft adventure tour luggage.
The 2022 Triumph Tiger 1200 GT has an impressive list of standard features. Features I haven’t touched on that are integral parts of the experience include handguards, centerstand, heated grips, cruise control (though not radar-assisted), and hill-hold. All function as-intended.
For the budget-conscious, the standard GT model has the basics, but fewer bells and whistles. You still get the ripping engine, Showa semi-active suspension, and great Brembos, so its though so not a bad deal at $19,100.
Pushing the 2022 Triumph Tiger 1200 GT Pro to its limits, I was thoroughly impressed with the whole package. Triumph makes no secret that its goal is to unseat the BMW R 1250 GS, a feat many have tried throughout the years. The sporty street-going nature of this motorcycle and its credible off-road capabilities give the Germans a run for their money.
Photography by Stuart Collins and Chippy WoodRIDING STYLE
Hello everyone and welcome once again to Ultimate Motorcycling’s weekly Podcast—Motos and Friends.
My name is Arthur Coldwells.
This week’s Podcast is brought to you by Yamaha motorcycles. Discover how the YZF-R7 provides the perfect balance of rider comfort and true supersport performance by checking it out at YamahaMotorsports.com, or see it for yourself at your local dealer.
This week’s episode features Senior Editor Nic de Sena’s impressions of the beautiful new Harley-Davidson Low Rider ST that is loosely based around the original FXRT Sport Glide from the 1980s. Hailing from The Golden State, these cult-status performance machines became known as West Coast style, with sportier suspension, increased horsepower, and niceties including creature comforts such as a tidy fairing and sporty luggage.
In past episodes you might have heard us mention my best friend, Daniel Schoenewald, and in the second segment I chat with him about some of the really special machines in his 170 or so—and growing—motorcycle collection. He’s always said to me that he doesn’t consider himself the owner, merely the curator of the motorcycles for the next generation.
Yet Daniel is not just a collector, but I can attest a really skilled rider. His bikes are not trailer queens, they’re ridden, and they’re ridden pretty hard. Actually, we have had many, many memorable rides on pretty much all of the machines in the collection at one time or another.
From all of us here at Ultimate Motorcycling, we hope you enjoy this episode!