The Tiger brand becomes more accessible but is it as evocative though?
Coincidences are interesting. Exactly a year back we were here in Dehradun carving up the mountainside onboard the Triumph Trident 660. The entry-level Triumph roadster impressed journalists, Abhay's wheelies on it impressed everyone around. We are back here and plan to retrace the same route, this time with the Tiger Sport 660. It is the newest entrant to the Triumph's adventure touring family and the most accessible one too - both in terms of price and performance. Based on the Trident, the Tiger Sport 660 features a host of changes to stand out as a road-focused tourer.
While I don't plan to execute mad wheelies on the Tiger Sport 660, I do want to know if it is worthy of the Tiger badge. Triumph Tigers have impressed me greatly, having spent ample time with the early generation Tiger 800 which was a long-termer at my previous publication, to the current generation one which takes the game forward by several notches. Each generation of the Tiger has been more impressive than the last so the Tiger Sport 660 needs to have a lot of street cred to get into that elite club.
Out among the forest trails filled with tall deodar trees, the Tiger 660 cuts a rather handsome figure. The fairing consists of sharp lines and creases and blends nicely with the 17.2-litre fuel tank which is 3.2 litres larger than the Trident. We rode around 200km through the hills surrounding Dehradun with the fuel level dropping just below the halfway mark by the end of it. I reckon, on the plains, you can extract a range of around 350 kilometres.
The Tiger 660 looks larger than the Trident and while most of it is owing to the fairing and longer suspension, the rear subframe has a part to play in this too. It has been beefed up to accommodate the weight of pillion and luggage. I quite like the way it integrates the ports for the optional click-fit panniers. Quite an easy and seamless luggage solution no. Speaking of accessories, our test bike comes fitted with nicely integrated crash guards which are worth investing in if you are just stepping into the premium touring segment.
The baby Tiger gets a split digital instrument console that despite its compact size, is quite easy to read and comprehensive as well. A cool party trick is the optional Bluetooth connectivity that shows navigation arrows on the screen and allows you to control music and call alerts via the easy-to-use switch cube.
It seems Roshni is intrigued with the motorcycle and asks if she can trade the back seat of the Innova for the Tiger's pillion seat, something she has never done before. She seems happy with the seat comfort which gets extra cushioning. On paper, the 835mm rider seat height might seem unwieldy but I have no issues placing both feet on the ground owing to it being narrower at the front. It has the right amount of firmness allowing me to ride for extended distances without feeling the pinch. Roshni is also vocal about the useful split grab rails that are easy to hold onto.
If you have been to the hills up north, you will have encountered broken roads owing to landslides that are common in this region. The Tiger 660 gets a longer 150mm travel, Showa Separate Function Cartridge forks and Showa monoshock which soaks up most of the road imperfections and is more absorbent than the Trident. With Roshni as pillion, I bump up rear preload. It is a quick and easy affair thanks to the addition of a remote preload adjuster.
The added weight does not affect handling much either. Like the Trident, the Tiger 660 is a light and flickable motorcycle while also being more composed in bumpy corners. I reckon that's partly due to the extended swingarm that despite the Tiger 660 having a sharper steering geometry than the Trident, feels more forgiving while attacking corners. The Nissin sliding brake callipers offer good braking. I would have preferred more initial bite but reckon the current setup should work for novice riders. The riders will also appreciate the Michelin Road 5 tyres which besides offering fantastic all-weather grip, are known to offer a longer tyre life.
At 206kg, the Tiger 660 weighs 17 kilos more than the Trident but is the lightest in its class. The compact dimensions also make it easy to move the Tiger 660 around a parking lot.
While it is a road-focused tourer, the Tiger 660 does hold its own over light trails as I found out riding through narrow jungle paths. While its offroad ability is held back by the tyres, the lightweight nature and extra suspension travel help.
I am impressed at the ease with which the 660cc in-line triple motor pulls in higher gear even while ascending to the top with Roshni in tow. The motor delivers 81PS and 64 Nm of which a sizeable chunk of the torque is available throughout the rev range and delivered in a linear manner. This makes the motor extremely tractable. Its friendly nature means you can dawdle along in traffic in fifth gear with ease or just plop it into third and ride leisurely all day long which is what I did on the ride back.
And when you do need to shift gears, the slick gearbox and light clutch action make it effortless. Our motorcycle gets the optional quickshifter which works well at high speeds but can feel bothersome to downshift at low speeds.
As the sun begins to set behind the hills, Roshni gets to the warm confines of the Innova and I have the Tiger 660 all to myself and the time to gather my thoughts. The setting sun drops temperatures by a few degrees so to escape the windchill, I raise the adjustable windscreen. It does a good job of deflecting the cold air away from me but the pull-type adjustable handlebar means you can not safely adjust the screen on the move. I would have preferred a lever-type adjuster here.
As I navigate the twisty road back to the hotel, the twin LED headlamp setup does a good job of illuminating the road ahead with its bright and focused setup. That said, given that it does not turn with the handlebars in corners, I was often left wishing for a wider beam spread. If you ride a lot in the mountains, a pair of auxiliary lights is a must-have.
The Tiger Sport 660 is a properly quick motorcycle and feels leagues ahead of the competition in terms of outright acceleration. It feels engaging to ride thanks to a strong midrange while its linear power delivery makes it accessible to novice riders as well. This is accompanied by a distinctive three-cylinder growl reverberating through the hills. A true Tiger hallmark this.
But, at Rs 8.95 lakh (ex-showroom), it commands quite a premium over the competition. But then the Tiger Sport 660 offers more in terms of agility, performance and one extra cylinder even. Also being Rs three lakh more affordable than the Tiger 850 Sport, the Tiger Sport 660 is quite the affordable ticket into the Tiger family.
Back to answering my initial question. As far as Tigers go, this one ticks most of the right boxes. It is quick, easy to ride, packed with features and makes the right noises. Most importantly it is eye-catching, a prerequisite for a first-time big-bike buyer. All worthy of it earning the baby Tiger nickname.