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Old 25th November 2016, 20:49   #1
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Default Triumph Tiger 800 XR - 10,000 km Review

First Review of the Tiger after a grueling 10,000 kms! Why so long for a review?

Is it complete lack of excitement? Or is it more like the fuzzy warmth that only a lifelong friend can bring and you know for sure that feeling is here to stay?

Like the never ending solo in Ted Nugent's "Stranglehold", it is a long term love affair with the Tiger!

I've heard "Strangehold" a couple of hundred times before I realized that the song is immortal because it is a symphony of many forgetful pieces of guitar & drum solos and loose vocals, which may not be remarkable by themselves but come together to stitch up a masterpiece that one can never get tired of! Phew - don't know how I could come up with this nonsense…what was I smoking?!

Anyways, the Tiger 800 is much like that Ted Nugent gem - not the best in power, torque, handling, braking, looks or sound. But probably the best all-rounder big bike you can buy in India today, that can keep your face grinning for a long long time!

Why the tiger?

After my wild and crazy love affair with the Daytona; I had to rein in the adrenalin that had replaced blood in my system. It just was getting too fast and I needed to do something about it. A break it had to be! I stayed away from motorcycles for roughly a year!! I wasn’t actually sure I would be back on one anytime soon, that explains why I got rid of my Arai lid and other riding gear after she was gone.

But, biker friends are for life and one never gets away from it all. And we'd often catch up at our adda a.k.a Rebel Motors, the Triumph dealer in Hyderabad. I actually believed I would end up buying a Thruxton eventually, which seemed a reasonable and docile steed that augured well for my new found love of peaceful, slow-paced tomfoolery. Strangely enough, I never even looked at the pair of Tigers tucked away at one side of the showroom anytime I was in Rebel motors. Let's face it! I'm vertically challenged with a puny 5'3" frame and what business did I have even looking at a 6" tall bike? I never even bothered to clamber aboard one hoisted on a main stand, let alone ride that building!

I keep telling my friends; you are never ready for something crazy till you start losing sleep over it! That insomniac evening never came…and I remained Bikeless! One bike that looked exciting then was the new Yamaha MT09 (one cannot escape YouTube too!). MT09 seemed to be a very different approach to a Jap super naked and I did write to Yamaha India about this one. Their one liner email directing me to the local commuter showroom evaporated any excitement that I had painfully built up! Bikeless still!

Meanwhile my closest biker buddy was frantically trying out new machines, month on month! Harleys, Triumphs, KTMs and such; the desire to ride alongside him slowly germinated. One fine weekend, he told me that he had arranged a choice of bikes for me and I was excited. There was a street bob, a Thunderbird Storm and a Tiger to choose from. I know the first two, so I went for the third by default! The first few seconds of tippy-toed balancing act signaled the breaking of Ice!! I was free Again! I instantly felt at home on the Tiger XRX and was drunk on emotion! That weekend ride of 200 odd Kms opened up the thought of getting my next ride.

Tiger 800 was obviously a choice; but what did I actually want at this time? Something that sounds great, wasn’t too fast, was comfortable and maintenance friendly! Somehow cost, weight, looks were not part of the criteria.

Why not the explorer 1200? I was damn sure the sight of me riding an explorer would be hilarious! Like the proverbial chameleon on the highway milestone. Not Cool! ( Ironically I have indeed been riding Explorers lately and am genuinely floored by their insane supersports rivaling turn of speed!)

To cut the long story short! I bit the bullet and settled for a well-loved Tiger XR that had a few kms on the odo! Bikeless no more!

Triumph Tiger 800 XR - 10,000 km Review-tiger0.jpg

The Tiger Experience

Honestly, the excitement about this new buy was ZERO. I had seen my bike only in pictures and didn’t even bother to go down to the basement for a peek after my friend had dropped it off at home and handed me the keys! Well, must be a very special friend I guess!

Now what's an XR and how is it different from other Tigers?

XR - Plain Jane, bottom of the pack | road-oriented dual sport machine.

• 800 cc triple
• 97 BHP & 80 Nm of Torque
• Showa Upside down forks
• Twin front disc brakes with ABS
• Traction Control
• Alloy wheels and Metzeler Tourance dual purpose tyres
• 12V powerport
• 215 kgs

XRX - higher spec'd road-oriented dual sport machine

• Selectable Power modes
• Hand guards
• Adjustable windshields
• Center stand
• Comfort Seats
• Cruise Control
• Additional power port

XCX - off-road oriented dual sport machine

• White Power suspension
• Aluminium Sump guard
• Spoked wheels 21" front with tubed tyres
• Additional front fender at a higher level (Beak)
• Engine protection bars

Explorer 1200 - Fully spec'd Continent crosser

• 1200cc triple
• 135 bhp & 121 Nm torque
• Shaft drive
• Single sided swingarm
• Spoked wheels with tubeless rims and tyres

Extra Bits on my bike

• Barkbuster hand guards
• Aluminum sump guard
• Frame protectors
• Fork protectors
• Radiator guard
• Arrow exhaust
• Spools for a paddock stand
• Beak
• Engine protection bars
• Soft luggage

NOTE : Been trying some options with colors, for a possible makeover soon! Nothing finalised yet!

Triumph Tiger 800 XR - 10,000 km Review-image1.jpg

What's the riding experience like?

Let's get this out of the way first! Short riders can be perfectly fine on a Tiger. I know from experience that anyone above 5'3'' can be perfectly at home on the Tiger 800. Though the XCX is a bit taller; it still is manageable for shorties. Please don’t shy away intimidated!


The 800cc triple is an insane piece of kit. Torque is amazing on this thing. It does an easy 100 KMPH at its 10K rpm redline in first gear and adds an extra 20 kmph in every subsequent gear; topping off at about 210 kmph. What's significant is that it will just pull in any gear at almost any speed. It can do a remarkable lug from 35 kmph to top speed in 6th with absolutely no jerk or snatch from the engine. The gearbox is super sweet too. What gives the best joy from the engine is to rev the nuts of the engine by treating it like a supersport 600. It's quite rewarding and surprisingly peppy when ridden this way. If you try to ride sedately at say 80 kmph in 6th gear, the engine has a flat drone that can be boring! Sticking with the stock exhaust is a better choice if sedate pace is your thing. Go aftermarket only of u like a supersport like twist of the wrist.

Throttle is crisp and quite sharp; this being a ride-by-wire system. There is a very sharp transition at about the off position that can catch a newbie offguard! can result in either stalling or taking-off while the throttle is at almost closed position. But very predictable after a few twists! This isn't an issue at all, but worth knowing nevertheless.

Something about every Triumph bike in the line-up is that the engines are never boring. The Bonnie twins, the 1700cc parallel twin in the Thunderbird, the triples of the street/speed/daytona and the 2300cc mother of a Rocket3 engine - all have character in spades. You simply cannot be bored by any of these engines!

Almost missed this one! : The fuel tank capacity is just under 19 Liters and can do around 400 kms between refills, roughly 50 kms for each bar of the 8-bar fuel gauge.

Triumph Tiger 800 XR - 10,000 km Review-image4.jpg

Ride, Handling, Braking and Suspension:

Ride is planted, compliant and forgiving. Handling is not razor sharp like a Street triple or Daytona, but sharp nevertheless. Contrary to popular assumption, the off-road oriented XCX is also amazing fun on tight twisties. The XR can be ridden like a middleweight sportsbike and corner carving is a lot of fun.

Braking is adequate, but can be better. I feel that front stoppers do a good job, they have a progressive feel and decent bite; ABS works quite well and is predictable. The rear brake feels quite wooden though and doesn’t have much feel.

The superb suspension on the XR/XRX makes everyday riding a breeze. This is one bike you would never think twice about riding out, good weather or bad weather, fresh tarmac or potholed hell, rain or shine. Nothing stops a Tiger on-road.

Off-road? Well, here things get a little complicated. In stock settings the XR will kill the engine as the rear wheel begins to slip off-road as the Traction Control kicks in. One can turn the TC off and continue; a slight inconvenience. But on an XRX this is a breeze, select the driving mode for the terrain and off you go. But both XR and XRX have Showa suspension up front that has pretty bad damping which becomes evident when a jump is attempted; the kind you have when u blast through ruts on a public road. The suspension tends to bounce rather than dampen the descend as both wheels hit the ground. So I believe the XRs can do a reasonable amount of off-roading - actually Trail riding is what these bikes are good for off-road.

The XCX is a different beast altogether. 21" spoked wheels and Whitepower suspension is well damped and good enough to tear through tough terrain. But again, for a serious off-road pounding session once has to be a little more taller than people like me; I believe if one can flatfoot an XCX on pavement, then he or she is good to go off-road.

Triumph Tiger 800 XR - 10,000 km Review-image2.jpg

Tour Friendliness:

Tiger is an amazing touring machine. Can take plenty of luggage and cruise all day. Wind protection is adequate in stock form. There is hardly any vibration at the handle or pegs and seats are comfy. When touring without pillion, a surprisingly large amount of luggage can be bungied onto the space behind the rider's seat made up of pillion seat and the stock luggage rack. For more serious long rides, there are several pannier and top box options available. The Triumph hard luggage is a great but expensive option at around a Lakh of rupees. I chose the excellent SHAD semi hard luggage that can carry 48 liters each in them. I got a simple luggage frame custom fabricated for the SHADs using stainless steel square tubes locally. They fit well and haven't given me any problems yet.

Triumph Tiger 800 XR - 10,000 km Review-image3.jpg

Reliability and Maintenance:

I haven't had a single issue in the first 10,000 Kms. The only part that needed replacement for the 10k service were the rear disc pads.

Now, many Tiger owners have had to change their rear brake pads in as little as 3000 kms. I believe this has got to do with the owners using the rear brake for slowing down. Rear brakes are actually to be used only for stabilizing the bike at very low speeds and for coming to a complete halt. The fronts have to do all the slowing down work. Triumphs have built a reputation for being very reliable over the years and my experience has been no different.

Closing Thoughts:

Very few big bike riders in India actually keep their "upgrade" bikes for long. Many fall into the upgrade hype and end up spending very less time with their rides. I have been on this trip myself and have changed several bikes in the process. I "upgraded" from my H-D Sportster to a Dyna seemingly for ABS; which I later repented. The Daytona R was a supersports wet dream that was getting too silly; primarily due to the flawless nature of the bike that makes the owner be super confident doing insane stuff. The Roadking was a brief and unending lust that beckons a re-entry. I get asked often: What next? Honestly, I can't see a replacement for a Tiger among the bikes available in India today. What does one do after experiencing street bikes, cruisers, tourers, supersports and adventure bikes? Stick to the practical option? In fact that's where i am at the moment. I love the Tiger for its subtle nature, much like my best friend and that Ted Nugent single. Never boring and easy to live with. Ciao!


For a brief view of my big bike journey, here are some links on tBHP.

H-D Superlow - My first affair
: http://www.team-bhp.com/forum/superb...ce-bobber.html (Building a Poor Man's Harley Performance Bobber!)

H-D RoadKing that i used very briefly: http://www.team-bhp.com/forum/superb...-roadking.html (Living with a Harley Davidson RoadKing)

Triumph Daytona R that was the ultimate wet dream! : http://www.team-bhp.com/forum/superb...superbike.html (Triumph Daytona 675R. A true everyday Superbike!)

H-D Street Bob : Didn't find it exciting enough to review though i rode it for 5000 Kms. Pics and a brief review below:

Name:  streetbob_rear.jpg
Views: 9831
Size:  51.0 KB

Image : Bada$$
Engine : Stonking Torque and brutal acceleration
Noise : Just the best Vtwin heavy metal music - courtesy Rinehart 2-1 exhaust
Suspension : Nil
Brakes : Wooden
Handling : Scary as Hell

Last edited by josepeter : 25th November 2016 at 22:53. Reason: Assembly Line edits
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Old 26th November 2016, 09:28   #2
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Default Re: Triumph Tiger 800 XR - 10,000 km Review

Thread moved from the Assembly Line (The "Assembly Line" Forum section) to the Motorcycle Section. Thanks for sharing!
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Old 26th November 2016, 09:36   #3
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Default Re: Triumph Tiger 800 XR - 10,000 km Review

Welcome back to the forum Jose! And, let me be the first to congratulate you for the Tiger 800

I must have to confess that I admire your appetite to always be on the road and ride whenever you get the time.

Btw, Do you ride each day of the week?

Let's ride together one of these days along with your other tiger brother (Raj)

Till then keep sharing your experiences and ride pictures

Enjoy !!!

Last edited by mobike008 : 26th November 2016 at 09:37.
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Old 26th November 2016, 14:43   #4
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Default Re: Triumph Tiger 800 XR - 10,000 km Review

I believe that's the first review of the XR on Team-Bhp. Everyone else seem to be going for the XRx, which does have some good electronics to justify the price difference.

I was looking specifically for reviews on the XR just yesterday morning, since Triumph had a pretty good deal running on the XR. Sure had me tempted, a lot, only to realize later (post some calculations) that it's not going to work out for me even then.

My short test drives with all bikes in the price band from different genres made me feel that mild Adventure bikes are the best in the Indian context, given the off road'ish nature of our roads.
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Old 26th November 2016, 22:41   #5
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Default Re: Triumph Tiger 800 XR - 10,000 km Review

What a coincidence. I took a test ride of the XR today and was almost sold on it and then made the mistake of riding the street tripple. Now i'm really confused But reading your review gives me some more insights. Many more happy miles on your beauty
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