• Triumph Tiger 1200 first ride review

Triumph’s all-new flagship adventure touring motorcycle is a sea change over its predecessor

As I landed in Chandigarh to head up to Shimla for riding the new Triumph Tiger 1200, an interesting thought occurred. This press ride was going to be more special than many others I have been on in the recent past. It isn’t very often that we get to ride new generation flagship adventure touring motorcycles! They’re special, and given the amount of electronics and technology they pack in they’re the equivalent of litre-class superbikes! Also, Triumph had organised the ride in Shimla in Himachal Pradesh, the adventure touring capital of our country. The Royal Enfield Himalayan ring any bells?

That’s not all, the route planner and lead rider was Vijay Parmar. I really don’t need to introduce him now, do I? And days before we rode it, Parmar was part of the ensemble cast that had conquered Kaza on the new Tiger 1200! My first sight of the bike was of the Rally Pro version, parked on its main stand. Walking up to it I realised that with the stand on the handlebar was at my chest level! I’m 5 feet, 11 inches tall and getting onto a motorcycle that tall (seat height is at 875mm at its lowest and 895mm at its highest!) was intimidating!

Triumph also claims the new bike is over 25kg lighter. I’ve always liked the Tiger 1200 for its refinement, tech, comfort and touring ability but I’ve not been particularly fond of its heft. I still remember dropping the Tiger 1200 Explorer into a water crossing near Kaza in 2017 (with luggage!) and was able to pick it up only with help from three other bikers! The kerb weight of the new Rally Pro with the 21-inch front wheel, is certainly good news at 249kg then. I was also glad to notice the bike is a lot slimmer in the right places and gripping it with the insides of knees easier.

The new Tiger 1200 has also lost lots of visual mass. It looks sleeker and reminds of the Tiger 900. The headlamp is a single, wide unit with an LED strip slashing across horizontally while the main beams are two separate lights at the far ends. The windscreen is sleeker looking, with little extensions on either side. The tank slims down where it meets the seat, which is a stepped unit now. The rear end is slimmer too and I also like the sleeker exhaust. The instrument cluster is a crisp, 7-inch TFT display controlled by Triumph’s trademark five-way joystick and switchgear overall is the usual Triumph affair with excellent fit-finish and quality.

Not riding full-sized ADVs regularly also means we journalists could be a little out of practice when it comes to handling these big machines off-tarmac. I’ve not had seat time on one in a while and adding to my concerns was the fact that we had rains and hailstorms the previous day, meaning we would also encounter slush! As we started off, I was impressed with the bike’s lightness. The engine refinement and slick shifts from the bi-directional quickshifter all helped but more importantly the bike was feeling very nimble. The engine puts out 150PS now, up 9PS, while peak torque produced is now 130Nm, up by 8Nm. The engine also uses a T-plane crank now with an uneven firing order, thus sounding gruffer, but personally I like this one more.

Off tarmac, the new Tiger 1200 was no less than a revelation and helped conquer the demons of my experiences with the older bike. It feels very easier to manoeuvre thanks to the new suspension, revised chassis and overall demeanour. It’s a different animal altogether and one that’s far easier to ride hard. So gravel, slush or rocks, I was able to tackle it all confidently, despite being a little rusty. The strong bottom end grunt makes slow speeds a cinch, though did I wish the first gear was shorter. Going faster off tarmac is a very confident affair, thanks to the smooth throttle responses.

Also making a big difference to the handling is the suspension setup. The new 1200 uses semi active, electronically controlled suspension and I particularly liked what the Showa forks at the front offer. Like before, the tubeless wire-spoked wheels do their job well, while the 21-inch front wheel digs into slush with ease and makes for a very confident feel. And once your front end is secure, you never mind the rear end slithering around without any traction. The new Tiger 1200 is thus a sea change over its predecessor off tarmac and a bike that didn’t intimidate me at all. And despite being off-road spec, the 1200 Rally Pro was also very impressive on tarmac too, helping us cover distances quickly. Of course, a lot of it was thanks to the bike’s electronics silently letting me feel like a pro, while doing all the hard work. Triumph really has gone all guns blazing this time and the new Tiger 1200 Rally Pro is certainly a very potent machine off tarmac.

Post lunch, it was time to swing a leg over the Tiger 1200 GT Pro, the road-biased version with a smaller, 19-inch front end, different suspension with lesser travel and a focus on mile munching. Admittedly, it felt a lot easier and hence a little boring if I may add! After the morning session on the Rally Pro, tarmac, a favourite playground for me, felt a little too easy suddenly. But that’s also thanks to the new bike, as the 1200 GT Pro is easy to throw into corners, accelerate hard, especially in Sport mode and thus a great machine to cover distances quickly. It’s also very comfortable thanks to the revised seating and comfier seat, besides which the suspension does a very good job of ironing out undulations on the road. We had a longer ride back to our hotel on the GT Pro and interestingly the route was all about smooth tarmac and fast, sweeping corners that let us put the bike through its paces and it impressed with its handling.

The next morning I woke up feeling a little sore but couldn’t help but think of how important the full- sized ADV segment is becoming in our country, with more and more bikers taking to adventure tourer motorcycles. The Tiger 1200 has been Triumph’s flagship ADV for long and while we always liked the bike for its comfort and touring abilities, it felt a little too heavy and unwieldy off tarmac. The new bike promises to chuck every such notion you may have about it out of the window though as it feels very friendly, very capable and very accessible. Prices begin from Rs 19.19 lakh ex-showroom for the GT Pro while the Rally Pro retails at Rs 20.19 lakh. Add Rs 1.5 lakh for their respective Explorer versions, with 30-litre fuel tanks. Effectively the Tiger 1200 undercuts its arch rivals like the BMW R 1250 GS and Ducati Multistrada V4S, which really brings Triumph back in the full size adventure touring game. It should be interesting to see how buyers respond to the new motorcycle, because it really is a very capable adventure tourer now.

 

Bikes First rides

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