TRIUMPH have been making really good motorcycles lately. In my mind, at the heart of their rise are the gems of triple engines that they produce.
The twins are also nice and all, but the raspy triples have tremendous amounts of both power and character in their numerically odd configurations.
Before I go into the details, let’s take a bit of a jog down memory lane.
The triple was born in the 1960s with the pushrod Triumph Trident, but the modern DOHC inline triples can trace their lineage to the Triumph Motorcycle Company Hinckley, Leicestershire, factory in the 1990s.
Anyone who has ever ridden one of the triples will know of the sheer deliciousness of the mill, but the uber qualities of the engine was only recently immortalised when Triumph became the official engine for Moto 2.
As the motive heart of the Tiger, the combination is offbeat, if not outright odd.
The triple has a raw edginess to it with a rasp that is more suited for a focused supersports. Coupled with the rugged and tall looks of the Explorer, the combination is nothing short of interesting.
The 800cc triple that exists in the Tiger’s frame produces 95hp at 9,250rpm and 79Nm of torque at 7,850rpm.
This is in itself nothing revolutionary, but the nature of the triple lends a character to the Tiger that you won’t get on any other of the bikes in this category. It feels alive and raucous in a way that none of the competitors in its class come close to.
It doesn't chug about like a typical adventurer would, but instead howls with a feral ferocity that does justice to its name.
Then there is Tiger's chassis, which can be described as nothing short of brilliant.
The road-biased XR models are fitted with Showa suspension. The front suspension is a 43mm anodised black Showa USD fork while in the rear is a preload adjustable Showa mono-shock.
The XC models, on the other hand, are equipped with WP suspension. The WP 43mm USD fork, with rebound and compression damping, can be easily adjusted by using the dedicated clickers on the fork tops. On the XC, the rear suspension unit is a WP mono shock adjustable for preload and rebound damping.
The result is an adventure motorcycle that handles like it was conceived in the paddocks of the Sepang International Circuit. At high speeds, the chassis is predictable and neutral, but when presented with curves, is shockingly sharp and responsive.
It is not a matter of if but when that you will grind the footrests of this tall adventurer.
We tested both the XCx and the XRx. Both Tigers are basically derivatives of the same species. Where they differ markedly is in wheel size. Their wheel size determines their natural habitat.
In this case, the Tiger XCx is an urban cat, a creature of the tarmac, while the XRx’s forays include both tarmac and the occasional off-road trek into the wilderness.
The XCx rides on a 21-inch spoked wheel up front and 17-inch spoked wheel in the rear. The XRx is equipped with 19-inch aluminium sports rims up front and 17-inch ones on the rear.
Perhaps counter-intuitively, it is the off-road biased XCx with its ungainly 21-inch front wheel that I found to be the better handler of the two on the road. But both exist on a handling plane that is much higher than the typical adventure bike.
Equipment-wise, both the XCx and XRx come with the usual electronic nannies, including changeable riding modes — Road, Off-Road and Custom — as well as switchable ABS and traction control.
Cruise control and a centre stand (which is necessary if your really want to have adventures) come standard.
Other features include a TFT-LCD colour instrument panel that is pretty fancy, controlled by a rather simple toggle stick on the left of the handlebar.
Journalists often take pride in their ability to bring a measure of knowledge and experience to their reviews, which would usually mean that we would balance all this unabashed praise with some critical points. So this is where I should criticise the bike a bit, you know, for the sake of balance.
Unfortunately, I can't find fault with this bike right now. Maybe in hindsight or a few years down the line, I'll have something to diss about the bike, but then that’s a story for another day.