Triumph Tiger 1200: SUV of the bike world

Gutsy and sturdy, lighter and more rider-friendly, this new-generation ride is gung-ho about everything its thrown into.

Triumph's new Tiger 1200 comes minus two things bikers have associated with the brand for long: It has shed the word Explorer from its name, and some weight. The new Tiger is 5kg lighter, faster, and a lot more rider-friendly, with a long list of electronic goodies thrown in to add to its appeal. Indeed, at Rs 17 lakh, it's costlier than the outgoing model.  

For starters, the six-model bike range can be split into two models:  Four road-focussed XR models, distinguishable by their cast wheels; and two XC models, suited for dirt riding. In India, though, we will only get the Tiger 1200 XCx variant: The most expensive bike in the Triumph line-up. 

But is it worth the price tag? The 1215cc bike, with its customary three-cylinders and the by-now-endearing growl, is improved, has lost a bit of weight and gained 2bhp (139bhp at its peak of 9350rpm). Triumph claims even greater improvements to low-end thrust. A new, lighter silencer helps cut the bike’s mass as well as freeing up some more performance.  The Tiger 1200 now gets a TFT instrument with changeable themes and styles (all of it controlled by a new 5-way joystick on the left bar), backlit bar controls, keyless ignition and full LED lighting. The array of options for the rider, from personalised modes to electronically adjustable screen and suspension firmness, is overwhelming. 

The home button on the right handlebar isn’t accessible on the move. However, the buttons on the left side can be used to toggle between ride modes, cruise control, heating seats and grips, and manage daytime running lights, among others. They are joined by controls for indicators and horn, and the 5-way joystick that manages the glitzy TFT screen for theme, style, contrast and trip details. It’s a very user-friendly system to see and scroll through. 

Though the new Tiger 1200 is lighter than its previous generations, it's still a mammoth, weighing in at 248kg. Triumph has done a fabulous job of distributing it by keeping the chassis balanced even when you are riding fast. The semi-active, electronically-adjustable suspension can be adjusted to an even more sporty setting should you require. Its sumptuous saddle, and riding position gave plenty of legroom even for a 6-footer like me thanks to the 855mm seat height (adjustable down to 835mm), and a set of handlebars 20mm closer to me than the older Explorer models, makes the new iteration a treat for every bike lover. The brakes, two 305mm discs with Brembo 4-piston callipers cope commendably with the weight of both bike and rider, and makes manoeuvring corners a piece of cake. 

At the corners, the Cornering ABS and Cornering Traction Control keep everything safe while the smooth impact of the ride-by-wire throttle gives the 139bhp (at 9,350rpm) and its accompanying urgency plenty of opportunities to march the rider on. The power curve is more like a power diagonal line until around the 8,000rpm mark as the brake-horses gallop away without any hassles, jolts or sudden jerks. The silky delivery of power is joined by the familiar audible warmth of a triple, but this time from the Arrow exhaust, attached to top spec models, enhances the tone. 

Between the 5000 and 7,000rpm comes a tidy power band increasing from 85 to 120bhp, and that for me, is the sweet spot of the 1215cc engine, offering a graceful surge before a quick flick with the left boot and into another gear. It’s very charming, satisfying and comforting without being too punchy and obnoxious, like a long-time garaged 2-stroke starting on the first kick instead of the ferocious and ankle-threatening pumping you were expecting. 

Surprisingly, the fuel tank capacity is at 20 litres, about 30-40 per cent lesser than the competition. When quizzed about the 20-litre tank size, Triumph simply says that a bigger tank means more weight and that’s not on the cards. Well, more time to sip on that tea... 

The bike's hill hold is a neat gadget. When stopped on an incline or decline, a quick squeeze of the front brake lever will actually engage the rear brake to stop you rolling until you introduce a little power. The rear view mirrors are easy to adjust, vibe-free (until 110kmph) and large enough to detect some squids tailing you. Keyless ignition is one of those more common introductions that doesn’t bother me much — it becomes a faff when you arrive at the petrol station and forget which pocket you’ve put it in…if you’ve remembered the key at all. There is an electronically operated steering lock, too. 

The Tiger 1200 will interest those who intend to carry both pillion and luggage. Triumph offers an Expedition Pack with panniers, a top box, backrest pad and tank pad among its 50 other accessories while the higher, separated pillion seat is not only wide and moulded to fit snugly under each of your passengers’ legs, but it’s also heated. 

A taller Touring screen is standard and is electronically operated with the joystick, with ease. Even though it is at eye level even at its highest setting, the mirror doesn't deflect as much wind as I’d expected. Overall, I am happy with the fact that I had an adjustable screen: It's better than not having one at all. 

You are good to go with just a flick of the mode button to find either the Off Road or the new Off Road Pro option. Off-Road Pro removes ABS and traction control, leaving the rider/throttle connection to decide how much spin the rear was awarded. 

I preferred the more secure feeling of Off Road which acted as a safety blanket — it looks after you as the throttle blip spins the rear out when combined with a little steering input with the movement of weight on the pegs. However, it doesn’t allow the rear wheel to spin enough to lose control, so you feel like a rock star despite only being able to strum a couple of chords. 

The Tiger stayed sturdy swallowing up the lumps and bumps, was a proper giggle to ride on the dusty and gravel tracks.


The Tiger’s feet are neat. Thanks to some serious investment and R&D, the Tiger 1200 is a thoroughbred when it comes to rideability and enjoyment. Obvious comparisons to other adventure bikes don’t necessarily work in its favour if it was just about weight, fuel tank range or the price. However, the Tiger 1200 is a competent touring bike with a set of adventure clothes on. An array of easy-to-use electronics and safety equipment add to the expressive and smooth engine; it’s a super package. 


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