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2018 Triumph Tiger 1200 & 800 range | Bike Tests | Latest Tests

When it comes to adventure bikes, Triumph has been left in its European rivals’ dust in recent years. But with the new 2018 range, that’s all about to change

The adventure bike market has evolved and grown exponentially during the last decade, so it’s serious business for the brands involved. They’re the dual-cab utes of the motorcycle world; one on every corner and nearly every manufacturer is trying to out-bling the competition to lure would-be owners into its dealerships. And the options are pretty much endless.

No longer a high-end product, a swathe of brands new to adventure circles have come to the market with basic offerings at competitive prices in recent years.

And while the range-topping BMWs and KTMs have ruled the roost over the last couple of years, Triumph is well and truly fighting back with its heavily updated triple-cylinder 800cc and 1200cc ranges.

Multiple variants across two platforms can get confusing, so before we get into it, let me explain what’s on offer.

Essentially the XR and XC families are very similar. The XR nomenclature points to a road-biased bike with mag wheels – the type of bike you could take off-road if you wanted to, but it’s extremely suited to a blast on the tarmac; a soft-roader, if you will.

The XC variants are Triumph’s true off-road offerings, sporting wire-spoked wheels and more off-road-focused suspension. But these bikes are still more than capable of ripping up the kilometres on the road.

Each variant is available in either 800cc or 1200cc capacities and, depending on how much dough you want to spend, they go from well-equipped base models to burgers with the lot.

I’m going to cover the top-spec XRT and XCA variants for this test, as those are the bikes I spent my time on.

The new 1200 range sticks with the long-haul king theme. It has always been one of the best when it comes to long days in the saddle, and its shaft final drive reduces day-to-day maintenance.

The criticism of the last generation, dubbed the Explorer, was its considerable weight compared to its rivals, and Triumph has succeeded in streamlining the new range.

The 800s have a cult following and capture your heart with their feel and triple-cylinder grunt. Being lighter than the bigger-bore machines gives you confidence in tricky situations, especially off-road where the power is easier to manage and the lighter weight means you can delve deeper into the bush.

I spent 12 months with Triumph’s now superseded 800 XCA and, while it had its quirks (like unintuitive switchgear), I loved every minute of it. But, having ridden almost every adventure bike on the planet, and with the market developing and advancing at such a rapid rate, it was clear the British offerings were getting a bit long in the tooth.

Now, from a brand that has released more all-new or updated motorcycles in the last few years than I care to recall, comes a new and improved range of adventure-ready machines. There’s actually nine in total and between them the range caters to a good percentage of the lucrative adventure bike segment.

Read the full story in the current issue of AMCN (Vol 67 No 24) on sale now

By Steve Martin

PHOTOGRAPHY IKapture & Danny Wilkinson