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Triumph Tiger 1200 XCa | Bike Tests | Latest Tests

The past 12 months has seen electronic safety systems and super-smart riding aids take another leap forward. Items considered cutting edge in 2017 became accepted, and even expected in 2018. Features which were only found of high-end sportsbikes until recently, can be found on bikes carrying a mid-teens price tag.

This almost unstoppable march towards crash-proof and autonomous motorcycles may be impressive, but it has meant a new type of rider has emerged, one who is seeking to enjoy motorcycling in its purest non-digitised form. The result is a broader range of motorcycles than ever before are now available, and our roll call of 2018 Motorcycle of the Year finalists is a snapshot of the 2018 market and a glimpse ahead to 2019.

This year’s MoTY line-up covers the LAMS, mid-capacity naked, big-bore naked, sports touring, superbike, power cruiser, and adventure segments. No matter what kind of bike you’re into, someone has improved it or made a new one for 2018. Riders have never had it so good.

If the AMCN Motorcycle of The Year  was decided on comfort alone, the Tiger 1200 would win hands down. It may be big and a bit on the heavy side, but once you are on and moving you feel like you could ride to the other side of the globe.

“It’s a shame we couldn’t do more adventure riding for MoTY,” Matt O’Connell said. “When we had this bike on the adventure test earlier this year it was an absolute standout. It’s also just at home on the road, despite it rugged off-road styling. It’s as much a tourer as it is an adventure bike.”

On paper, the new Tiger 1200 is an upgraded version of last year’s Explorer model, but to the test team, it felt like an entirely new machine.

“This new Tiger 1200 feels completely different to the old Explorer, and that’s a very good thing,” Josh said. Watto agreed, saying he always struggled when riding the old Explorer in the dirt, and reported that the new Tiger 1200 felt much better at the front end.

“I think its a class leader in what you get for your money,” Josh continued. “It’s got heated seats, heated grips, an electric screen and it goes hard – that engine is superb. The quickshifter is beautifully matched to the engine, too.”

During our middleweight nakedbike test, the electronics package on the Street Triple 765 was a favourite with the team, and the Tiger received similar praise.

While the images depicting each riding mode polarised the group, we were all impressed by how easy it is the change the modes, electronic semi-active WP suspension and everything about the TFT dash.

Josh said that while almost all of the electronic settings can be adjusted on the fly, the need to come to a complete stop to change from the road to off-road modes was a bit of a negative. “In the off-road modes you can turn traction control and ABS off completely – but you need to stop to do it.”

One thing the team agreed on is the investment of $29,300 may be large, but the value for money is certainly there. “The overall package is great,” Alex said. “The XCa would certainly be my pick of the current adventure bike crop.”

The Triumph also stood out with its attention to details for the pillion, which includes a separate control for the seat warmer.

On the voting cards, the Tiger 1200 XCa scored well above the five-point sweet spot for build quality, performance and technology, and smashed everything out of the park with its marks for comfort. Despite representing excellent value for money, the team felt there were other bikes inching slightly ahead.

An adventure bike has walked away with the MoTY award in the past and has come extremely close on other accessions. Will 2018 see another long-legged dual-purpose machine take the gong?

Second opinion – Josh Evans

It’s fast with a brilliant roaring triple-cylinder engine. I giggled every time I used the flawless up-and-down quickshifter – it’s the best invention ever. It stops with one finger on the brake lever, and corners like an assassin hunting down sportsbikes. It may be a little slow on the change of direction, but that is a known tall-bike weakness.

Simple-to-use electronics and a dash that wipes clean without trapping dust. It’s super comfortable sitting down, especially in the cold and rainy conditions we found ourselves in – I actually think it is one of the most comfortable bikes I’ve ridden. I was surprised by the Tiger’s dirt capabilities, so much better than the Explorer it replaces. It’s hard to fault, but the rear shock felt a bit saggy like it needed a stiffer spring. No amount of electronic adjustment fixed it. The back didn’t match the close-to-perfect front end.

Traction control can’t be turned off in the road modes, annoying when cornering on rough roads when you don’t mind it sliding. Is it a BMW killer? It does raise the bar. Time for a shootout.

Read the Full Test review that appeared in AMCN magazine Vol 67 No 24

Vital Stats

PRICE

$29,300 (+ORC)

FUEL

Capacity 20L

Economy 5.89L/100km

Range 340km

WEIGHT

Front 132.95kg

Rear 129.75kg

Total 262.70kg (wet)

TYRES FITTED

Metzeler Tourance Next

TURNING CIRCLE

4370mm

Power 104kW (claimed)

Torque 122Nm (claimed)

Dimensions

A Seat height: 835mm

B Peg to seat: 560mm

C Peg to bar: 960mm

D Bar to seat: 660mm

The finalists!

One of these machines has been crowned the 2018 Motorcycle of the Year!

Benelli Leoncino         $7990 (+ORC)

Ducati Panigale V4 S  $37,490 (+ORC)

Harley-Davidson Fat Bob       $27,496 (ride away)

Honda CB1000R        $16,499 (+ORC)

Kawasaki Ninja SX SE            $30,940 (+ORC)

KTM 790 Duke            $15,495 (+ORC)

Triumph Tiger 1200 XCA        $29,300 (+ORC)

Yamaha Tracer GT     $16,990 (+ORC)

As appeared in AMCN Magazine Vol 68 No 12

Photography Josh Evans