TRIUMPH TIGER 800XC REVIEW

August 14th 2011

To see our posts while we were on our trip look in the archives of  this blog for the date June 29th – August 11th 2011.  We did the BLOG live from the road while we were away.

By Cheryl & Leslie

After riding the Tigers that were loaned to us by Triumph Canada for 13673 KM or 8496 Miles we both feel confident that we have an informed opinion. We spent 44 days on the some of the harshest roads we have ever ridden on in BC, the Yukon and Alaska.

This bike was truly put through an average ADV rider’s trip. No magazines, no professional photographers, no back up team, we are not professional riders or reviewers. We are normal hard-working grrls who commute to work every day and try to get in one decent trip per year. We ride on the street a lot but also head into the back woods on forestry roads and some that would be considered ATV like.

Like we said in our first review we do not beat on our bikes. They are an investment and we try to take care not to dump them while definitely having a great time. This is why we ride dual sport bikes, we love getting off the main roads and find one’s that we can be by ourselves.

Let’s quickly talk about the obvious stalling issue we had throughout our trip. If you were following our ride than most are aware our bikes randomly stalled when the bikes got down to 1200 RPM’s. We still to this day cannot figure out the root cause so Cheryl learned that in order to finish our trip if she opened the throttle just a bit while tweaking the throttle cable and sort of tightening it the bikes would start and not stall for an unknown period of time. We also let the bikes completely reset before making any adjustments to the throttle cable. We tried while on the road disconnecting the batteries and doing a complete reset of the bikes which appeared to work for a few says but the bikes ended up stalling throughout the rest of the trip.

Both bikes had exactly the same problem just at different times. Triumph tried to get the bikes “fixed” while we were in Anchorage and we thank the Motorcycle Shop and Triumph for doing their best but it only lasted until we got to Skagway. To reiterate, we learn to live with this stalling and are not aware of a fix yet but we are confident Triumph is on top of this and should be rectified as soon as possible. Our thoughts are that the Throttle Position Sensor is involved and has nothing to do with the integrity of the triple engine.

Despite the stalling problems we think the world of this bike.

OK, so enough of the stalling issue.

The TIGER XC:

Cheryl LOVED the bike the moment she got on it. It took me about 2500 KM until I realized this was a very capable bike on the road. By the time we got to Dawson Creek from Maple Ridge we both agreed ergo’s and seat comfort (we had the Triumph gel seats) made this bike way more comfortable than our 2010 BMW F650 (798)GS. It is obvious the seat on the Tiger is wider and allows the rider a level of street comfort that surpasses the BMW well-known plank seat. BMW saddle is more narrow, almost dirt bike like and does not make for a comfortable street touring seat.

In reality Cheryl and I look for street comfort because we work 90% of the time. The Tiger, with the gel seats, rubber inserts out of the pegs creates a very nice riding position. Initially I thought I was riding a sport bike with my knees higher than I was used to, but it didn’t take long to realize that with the rubber inserts out, my seat adjusted on low we were both able to really appreciate the peg position, handle bar location and we eventually both fit nicely in the “cockpit” that never seemed to tire us.

The Tiger felt much bigger than our 650 at first but then began to feel lighter and easier to handle. We noticed the 21 inch front wheel right out of the gate. Both really like the feel the larger front tire give the bike on and off-road. Our Beemer’s have a 19 inch front tubeless tire compared to the Tiger’s 21 inch tube. The British have done something really well with the Tiger, although the width of the bike is greater than both the 800GS and 650GS, the tank is up top versus below the seat on the BMW’s, this bike in the end feels lighter and more balanced than our Beemer’s. Not sure how they did that but this Tiger never felt heavy. The Tiger is less nibble, but again street comfort and the eventual obvious off-road handling that we had to do up North makes this a very versatile DS mid size bike.

Style:

The Tiger looks very similar to the 800GS but when you see them side by side they do not look as similar as one would think. We like the idea that both headlights are on while lights are on low. Good visibility. We had the Triumph fog lights on our bikes. We ran them on all the time for more visibility and they did their job. We would love to see Triumph as an HID version of their fog lights. The Tiger looks beefier than the 800GS, wider and more substantial in looks. We like the looks of both bikes but because the Tiger is a little heavier and when sitting on the bike your butt is better supported on the seat, we favour the Tiger on road stability and comfort.

Engine:

The Triple engine is incredibly smooth at low RPM’s and high. The 94 HP engine cannot even compared to our 72 HP BMW. The Tiger to us feels most satisfied at about 6000-6500 RPM’s but having said that the fuel economy goes drastically down when riding this bike the way it really wants be ridden. We notice a drastic change in gas mileage when we had to slow down due to road conditions. We would try to keep the bike in and around 4500-5000 RPMS when we needed good gas mileage. Example: Speeds of over 110 KPH with RPM’s over 5000 we would sometime use over 6 litres of gas for every 100 KM. If we dropped the speed to below 110 and hovered the RPM below 5000 we could get at times 4.9 L per 100 KM. Such a HUGE difference. So, use the power on the Tiger you will pay the price at the pump. Not a deal breaker but this is something we never noticed on our Beemer’s.

The bikes low-end power is easy to handle riding off-road. The throttle is easy to control where as the Beemer’s we have the throttle is snatchier. You do get used the BMW’s touchy throttle though like anything else. High gear power is insane. Passing in 5th the bike easily powers through anything. Never once did we feel as though we needed to down shift to pass those bike rigs on the road. There is plenty of power in the higher gears.

When the bike decelerates the muffler makes a pinging noise. Cheryl and I have decided we love that little Triumph noise that others complain about. Does not bother us at all.

The engine is quiet, smooth and powerful.

Off Pavement:

Here is a list of some of the roads we did up north:

Robert Campbell Highway, Dempster Highway, Top of the World, Dalton Highway, Denali Highway, McCarthy Highway & Cassiar Highway. Those are the major dirt roads we got to experience in the rain and very rarely sun.

Between our tire choice the Heidenau K60 Scouts, the bikes and maybe the riders, the Tiger handled every road situation we got ourselves in famously. Well balance, easily controlled the Tiger won our confidence after the Dempster.

After that all other roads became almost routine and as our riding skills got better out of sheer survival because of all the rain we rode in the Tiger became our life line. No issues at all with the throttle control, power and even at slow speeds the Tiger is one hell of a bike to ride. The tires need some air time because there were many opportunities for the roads to slice, puncture and just wear the tread out. Our K60’s lasted the entire trip and we will still have tread life left on them.

Here they are on August 11th 2011 at the end of the trip

13673 KM.

Suspension:

Although we did not cross over river beds or hit too many “jumps”, the suspension was able to handle the rocks, craters, pot holes and frost heaves that we encountered. I think we both bottomed out our front forks maybe once after hitting what we call a crater in the middle of some road. The centre kickstand annoyed me as it would slap the under carriage on rough terrain. We even tried to use a bungee cord to help hold it in place but that did not work. Perhaps heavier duty springs could be used. The Tiger suspension with the pre load and dampening plug adjusted to meet the weight of our gear and luggage, smoothed out even the roughest roads. Quite impressive for stock suspension.

Overall Impression:

We LOVE the Tiger. It meets or even surpasses our riding needs and wants. The level of street comfort is huge since that is what we ride most of the time due to work. However, there is no doubt in our minds that the Tiger is indeed a true mid-weight DS bike that we think has created a class of its own. It is really hard to compare this bike with the 650 or the 800GS bikes because it just feels like a better rounded bike. The BMW’s lack that street comfort, even our 650GS which is supposed to be the street version of the GS family. Initially I thought the Tiger was just that, a beefed up street touring bike but as we stated in the above, this bike has been on more rough roads than we have ever been on before this Alaskan Adventure and shows off road competency and confidence which will impress most average, not hard core ADV riders.

We wish Triumph would add an on/off ABS button and make the dash more user-friendly by adding a toggle button like BMW. I really find the manual sequential button controls still annoying after all these KM’s and the lack of temperature gauge also bother me. I would add a nice CLOCK 4 Bikes gauge if I kept this bike. (Saw the in Anchorage while staying with Gary & Deb on their bikes)

The Accessories:

JESSE LUGGAGE

As Jesse’s reputation goes we stand by this luggage set. Top loading, great latches, waterproof and durable. The mount that Al Jesse has created for the Tiger is awesome. Have a look.

You have to add a muffler extender but this is easy to do as Jesse send the extension and clamp with the mounts. It just pulls the muffler further out so the mounts and bags can fit closer. The Jesse luggage is lean and tight to the bike. The design helps with any drag that can easily be felt by other brands of luggage.

No drag and if balanced you hardly even notice they are on the bikes. One thing we found out, you need to watch the weight on the top of the side cases and when we strapped our dry bags on top of the gas cans we had initially the latches came loose and would open up. We just changed the location of the cans and that put less stress on the brackets. We used Rok straps and you can really pull them tight.

Triumph Accessories:

Adjustable Touring Shield:

This is a great accessory and can be fitted to the rider and riding situation with ease and it works. We would like to see Triumph add an aluminum bracket to help stabilize the shield a bit more. Also, that bracket could be used to locate your GPS or SPOT. The shield shakes too much when off-road. We would keep this shield if we owned the bikes. Looks stock and does not look at of place. Great job there Triumph.

Sump guard:

We have read reviews worried about the lack of coverage for the oil filter. We were concerned about that too but throughout this trip our sump guards got whacked but who knows what so many times and still looks great. Our filter never got damaged. Could be luck but we would keep the guard too because it is a substantial piece of metal and seems to have decent coverage.

Engine guards:

Another decent Triumph accessory but we would like to see Triumph add a fairing protection too. When you have no luggage on the bike if dumped the fairing could easily get damaged as the engine guards would not help up top.

Gel Seats:

Awesome and the fact that Triumph allows the rider to choose between two height settings as well as a low or regular height seat makes this bike more appealing to shorter riders. We have heard that the gel seats will heat up to the point of burning your butt but we did not ride in too much heat to see if they would ever cool down. The bikes did sit in about 30 degree C for a few hours one day and when we got on with our KLIM pants on we did not feel they were overly hot. We would keep the gel seats. Never once if you read all our updates did we complain about butt pain.

Other accessories we added:

Touratech front fender riders, 20 mm handlebar risers for Leslie’s bike and Touratech kickstand extender/foot print.

ALL necessary and not expensive. We would keep them all!

Kriega front fork seal protectors:

Worth every little penny to protect such a vulnerable part of the bike up north. Nothing more to be said, they worked and are so easy to install and cheap.

Boots:

Triumph ADV boots. 100% waterproof, breathable, comfortable just one thing, when riding on the pegs for hours like we did on the Dempster the foot beds of these boots could be considered a little thin. As for everyday riding and not 1000’s of KM off-road requiring standing these are perfect for most riders.

Gerbing’s Heated Liner:  Could not have lived without this.  We both like to be comfortable on the bike and heated gear is how we ride all year-long in BC.  Worth every penny and if we had the Triumph heated grips would have been perfect.  The grips were not installed for us, they did not arrive in time.

Gloves:

We brought many pairs of gloves.

Gerbing’s Heated gloves – used them about 90% of the time. It was cold and wet. Although the outside of the gloves would get wet we never truly felt our hands get wet by the time we stopped for the day. I treated them with Nikwax leather stuff before we left. Cheryl’s right glove gave out by the end of the trip. These have a lifetime warranty so I will be sending her glove to Washington to get fixed. Overall, life saver for us as we did not have the Triumph heated grips to help out.

Triumph ADV gloves

Great for cool days, waterproof and comfortable.

KLIM ADV vented gloves

Not waterproof but gave us good ventilation on the days we could wear them

KLIM Powerxross glove

Waterproof, wind proof, little protection but comfortable and do what they are supposed to do, keep you dry and relatively warm.

SUITS:

KLIM Traverse – Perfect suit for this trip. We never ever got wet and were able to vent well when needed. This suit is really perfect for more of the dirt bike rider. Lack pockets and needs vents on the arm, not just under the pits. KLIM is coming out with the Badlands and Latitude suits this fall and they look like a home run for street/off-road riders. More pockets in the Jackets and more abrasion material. However, since we HATE water proof liners, KLIM is our gear of choice probably for as long as we continue to ride in tons of rain and in climate weather. Love the Gore Tex outer shell water proof protection.

Under wear:

We have been wearing LDComfort under gear and for 2 years now. The under gear keeps you warm and cool, easy to wash, comfortable, looks relatively new after all this wear and tear. Great stuff and again will be a part of our gear set up always. Great wicking ability too. Secret to this underwear is not to wear real underwear under it. Just a thought!

Intercom:

Cardo G4. Overall we are satisfied with this system. They survived huge amounts of pouring rain and they are not really considered to be completely water proof. The voice activation and at times trying to hear one another can be annoying as the mic has to be exactly in front of your mouth at all times. Voice activation is fickle but then again could be because we put these things through hell. Easy and quick to charge, long use time too. Highly recommend. You can also pick up local radio stations if you have it set to roam, listen to music via Bluetooth, answer your phone if necessary and pair with another 3 sets.

Sleeping bags:

Simple, we need warmer bags if we were to camp out again in the cold that we experienced up in the north.

Tent:

Mutha Hubba tent is a great three season tent. Kept us dry in pouring rain, easy set up and break down and still looks brand new. The foot print was used and appreciated.

Helmets:

Cheryl has the Arai Profile and Leslie has the Shoei Qwest.

Cheryl loves her Arai, light and airy. My Qwest is not that bad but a little heavier than I like, it is quiet but not as quiet as the Arai.

Inverter:

The inverter came in so handy when we had no power at a camp site. Never once did the Triumph battery seem to be negatively impacted by charging our camera, intercom, computer batteries. I would rotate bikes but would fully charge at least our intercom to make sure we were good to go on the road. Great little addition to long distance riding.

In the end, we LOVE the Tiger XC even with the stalling issues and all. The engine was sound the entire trip, the chains did stretch very fast, not completely sure why, but in the end many have asked….would you take the Tiger over our BMW and the answer is still YES!

36 thoughts on “TRIUMPH TIGER 800XC REVIEW

  1. Great write up Ladies, nicely impartial comments from people who have ridden both bikes rather than dyed in the wool Triumph owners like me.

    Interested to hear what you thought of the Rotopack fuel canisters. Tried to find them in the UK without much luck.

    • the containers worked out well…easy to use, stow and came in handy about 4 times on this trip. Nice to have the back up fuel. We traveled with 2 one gallon paks each but you can’t fill them up because they expand so in reality we had about 1.5 extra gallons.

  2. Thanks for the warts and all report and feedback.

    Anytime you ladies are in Singapore look me up and I’ll buy you a beer for that.

  3. Thank you, both, for a great review and for your blog of the whole trip. Glad you liked the bikes; but I am even more glad that you had the adventure of a life time. Thank you for sharing it with us.

    • no thank you. I am actually if this doesn’t sound too cocky enjoying our own blog. While on the trip I did not really have a chance to review it all and take it in. Enlarging the pictures has been a treat for me to actually see what we saw. So, I guess I am thankful we did this for us and as a bonus others get to enjoy it too!

    • your welcome. Hopefully you got the chance to take a look at some of the pics! What a beautiful part of the world we just rode in….just awesome even though the weather was not cooperating all the time. ;-)

  4. Advgrrls,
    I thoroughly enjoyed your Tiger review and adventure to Alaska. I just purchased a 2012 – Tiger 800xc and was in the process of checking out accessories when I found your blog so the equipment review was most helpful.
    If you haven’t heard by now the stalling issue is under a recall by Triumph and was related to a software problem. David

    • Glad the review could help. Yeah we are aware of the recall..we posted it here on August 23rd as soon as we were notified by Triumph and I also have complete details of the recall on our home page as a sticky. :-) A little late for us but great for all you owners out there…hope it works forever! Thanks for dropping by our Blog!

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  6. I’ve only ridden a motorcycle a few times, but what great places to ride!? The pictures of the road were particularly compelling… It made me want to go out into the world, and explore! Thanks!

  7. Thanks for all the fantastic reports and photos, very inspiring.
    Your trip report on advrider will be the reason I buy a Tiger XC, can’t wait to get it. Hope Triumph have kept you girls sweet for all the priceless publicity you have generated for them.

    Looking forward to your next adventure.

    John.

    • Hi John…glad you are excited about your buying the Tiger. We think you will love that bike. As for Triumph? We are independents and since we have gotten back from our trip and did not buy our bikes we took on the trip we have not heard from Triumph. Not such a bad thing, our trip with the Tiger’s was a once in a life time and now we just carry on as Cheryl and Leslie. Glad you are able to check our blog and hang out here with us. Thanks for the nice compliment about our reports and photos! We hope there are many more to come.

  8. Seasons Greetings

    I really enjoyed reading your blog, it reminds me of another two woman that rode from London to Cape Town in the 40′s.

    http://theselvedgeyard.wordpress.com/2010/11/02/the-rugged-road-an-ambitious-motorcycle-journey-for-the-ages/

    I have recently bought a Tiger after years of riding Yamaha Thumpers, and I first found “tigger” that’s her name, heavy, but she stole my heart and except for my right hand getting pins and needles, i love her to bits. I have not tried her on dirt as the tyres are Bridgestone Battlewings and came with the bike. so when they need replacing I will be getting more suitable tyres then I can explore.

    “tigger” just went in for her 10 000km service and I also mentioned to the dealer that she stalled intermittently, when i stopped hard, and she has come back ok… so far.

    I was kind of surprised after purchasing her that she did not have ABS and I am almost 99% sure the dealer where I bought her told me she did as this was one of the selling points he mentioned. I am thinking of trying to have it installed.

    I found that my rear right hand indicator is warping with the heat from the exhaust, the dealer where I purchased her, said he will log a warranty claim… still waiting.

    I also found that her petrol consumption climbs noticeably at high speeds, and I ride approximately 120 km’s per day to work and back, with my wife, but hey it’s still fun, although Johannesburg traffic is hair raising to say the least.

    I feel the exhaust could have been a bit smaller, or perhaps been a twin, one on either side, but Triumph obviously had there reasons for this design.

    She is a sexy beast and I think she is great. People always come up to me and ask what she is, except of course those who know what a Triumph is.

    regards
    Gary

    • WOW..great link and story about those women…awesome will have to add this to the blog one day as a real post. I am surprised your bike did not come with ABS when you thought it did. I wonder if you can add it? Let us know…what a shame if you wanted ABS…we love that feature.

      Interesting about the rear signal warping…it is things like this that Triumph needs to hear because that could be a design flaw…glad you like the bike…we loved it but I am still waiting for the Tiger 800 to come with handlebar controls and the on/off ABS switch. In the meantime we will just keep riding our Beemers. Thanks for the comment and link.

  9. Hi,
    I’m french so sorry for the mistakes on this message.

    Like you, I’m in love with this 800 XC. I bought a black XC on may 2011 (order’d in december) and what to say ? Simple, the best of all all around big trails. Not to big, not to small, just right on. Only two little mistakes, the center stand and the absence of the abs button. My stalling issus apear at 5000 km but was fixed easily.

    I have to chose some hard luggages and I see that you are using the Jesse’s. I like them and also the Trax from SW Motech are very nice looking. Did you had this kind of ”which one choose” and what was the reasons to choose the Jesse’s ?

    So if you want to practice your french, here’s something to read about the Tier XC

    dimanche 22 janvier 2012Moto de l’année – SWA
    Bike of the Year 2011 – Le résultat des votes – Infos

    Les principaux acteurs de la presse moto internationale qui sont regroupés auprès de la SWA « Supertest World Association » ont voté afin de décerner le titre de la meilleure moto de l’année 2011.
    Pour ce faire, chaque nation affiliée à la SWA doit attribuer des points aux trois motos qu’elle a choisi. Les points sont répartis comme suit : trois points sont attribués au premier choix, deux points pour le deuxième et un au troisième.

    Pour cette édition 2011, les européennes sont à l’honneur :
    - BMW K 1600 GT / GTL (16 points)
    - Ducati Diavel (14 points)
    - Triumph Tiger 800/XC (10 points)

  10. Welcome…we simple choose Jesse Luggage because he makes some of the best luggage out there and the bags do not go wider than the handlebars. Trax are nice but really make your bike wide. Touratech also make nice panniers and are not as wide as the Trax. Up to you what you want. I like to stay as close to the width of the bars as possible mainly because sometimes I use the luggage commuting and/or in traffic areas. Personal choice…good luck and let us know what we decide. Congrats on your Tiger!

    • Hi Adey no we did not end of keeping the bikes. Not such a bad thing though. At the end of the trip we both really wanted to be Tiger owners but I am sort of glad it did not work out. I am hoping future 800XC releases will include those handle bar controls I complained about…they do not have any. The new Triumph 1200 has what the 800 needs…the ability to switch the ABS on and off easily, have an ambient temperature gauge, see the odometer without having to stop and put the bike into neutral…things like that. Great bike though! It was a blast and we hope to be able to head out on another adventure with perhaps another company or just us this late summer.

  11. I enjoyed the rr on the Alaska trip and the information about the Triumph Tiger. I currently own a BMW F658 GS but , will pick up new a Tiger 800 tommorow. I told the the salesman he should split the commission with you ladies.

  12. Thanks so much for your incredible ride reports! I am very much looking forward to your next adventure! You have confirmed my desire for a Tiger, but I will probably start out with a KLR instead. Once my monetary woes are settled, the Triumph will undoubtedly grace my garage along side my Sportster. Soooo, since it sounds like you have looked at the Triumph Explorer, is it on your future upgrade list? My concern is the Ride-By-Wire throttle control. So far it sounds to be rather touchy and the biggest negative of the bike so far. (Other than the little rubber bumpers for the center stand falling off.) So by the time I can muster up the pesos for the Explorer, I’m sure the quirks will be sorted out. Thanks again for the RR’s and a great blog!
    - Dan

    • thanks Dan for your comments. We do love the bigger bikes, both Triumph and the BMW as well as even the KTM. But to be honest I think while we are still interested in going off road we will most likely stay within the 800cc range for the weight. I wish we could have one of every model but since we use our bikes to commute as well we are still very keen on having bikes that get great gas mileage.

      KLR is a tough bike and reliable. I hope you get the Triumph you want. Not sure if we will own the Tiger one day unless I see some of the issues that have bugged me about that bike fixed, like a simple way to get the ABS off and easier way to toggle through the informatics. Other than my pet peeves, that is one hell of a bike. For now we will remain BMW owners. WE have a wedding next year and we need to save for that too. Oh to be rich. Thanks for taking the time to comment and for stopping by. Leslie

  13. Hello from Portugal to both escelentes LDADVRider’s

    Thank you for escelente diagnosis for Tiger 800 XC :)
    My thanks also for escelente story about your trip to Alska; Continue to share your adventures and maybe one day we find we estardas or by one of those tracks that tear this world which is nothing more than our preferred PlayGround.

    And finally thank you for having awakened in me the ‘bug’ to Long Distance Adventure Riding :)

    I will soon post the route to accomplish what I set to be mine first LDADVRiding :)

    All the best for both,

    Carlos Santos

    aKa Silent Mobius

    Triumph Tiger 800 XC – The Best Adventure Motorcycle of 2011!!!

    My MotorCycle is neither better nor worse than the other. It’s different! ;)

  14. Pingback: Some are DISAPPOINTED in US! | Cheryl & Leslie's

  15. Greetings ladies from little old England (home of Triumph and …yep it rains a lot here too!). Loved your blog, stories and photos, thanks for sharing. I’m a Tiger owner too and love the bike. I have the road version (not many off road tracks here). Happy riding.

  16. Hey girls,

    Thanks for the review. Much appreciated. About the stalling issue…I read somewhere it happens to be the ”Idle stepper motor” which becomes dirty. It is situated right behind the head block under the seat. The protective cap doesn’t keep the grim out and hinders the stepper motor from doing it’s job. Some clean it out with WD40.

    BTW I’m getting my 800XC this spring.

    John

    • our stalling issue was the result of the throttle position sensor…after we got back from the trip 10 days to be exact, triumph released a world wide recall for a new MAP. Have a great time with the Tiger. We think you will be pleased. Watch that ABS on/off sequence. it’s tricky at first.

  17. How does the tiger stack up against the f800gs that you bought? I’m considering between the two and a real life opinion from real riders would be so useful. Thanks!!

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