February 22, 2018

Triumph Tiger XRT 1200 – Road Test

Confessions of a Born Again Biker - Triumph XRT 1200 Test Ride

Triumph released the Mk3 version of the Tiger XRT 1200 back in November and the esteemed Brother Roland, IAM National Observer and motorcyclist of this Parish, managed to get his hands on one for a few hours, recently, for a test ride.

Confessions of a Born Again Biker - Webbs of LincolnThose generous people at Webbs Triumph in Lincoln are too kind.

As it is winter and with Lincolnshire being in England, the weather naturally played its part and threw a little of everything at him.

Under my request for information on weather conditions, Brother Roland’s Report reads “Yes – lots, but not much sign of the forecast sunshine”. In its place came rain, sleet, mud on the roads and gusty winds.

Rather than experiencing the Tiger by riding a polished test route somewhere warm and sunny, as would be the norm on a press launch day, the intrepid Bother Roland put the Tiger 1200 XRT, through an afternoon’s real-world motorcycling across the wilds of Lincolnshire. As anyone who has ridden with Bother Roland will confirm, the consumption of cake was involved, this time at the Lincolnshire Aviation Heritage “NAAFI” (Cafe to you and me) in East Kirkby. Very exotic.

Brother Roland’s Ride Report

As I’m 6 feet and 1 inch tall, I find the new Tiger XRT a joy for my slightly longer than standard issue legs. The Mk3 fits my frame in the same reassuring way that my Mk2 does. There is no mistaking the Mk3 though, all I need to do is look down, and the colour TFT display looks back at me.

Considering that most of the instruments on a motorcycle have been electronic for some years, the progression to a TFT display is a natural one and opens up so many other possibilities for information display. There is no doubt which suspension setting or engine map you have selected on the Mk3, and the marginally overstated three-digit speedo leaves you in no doubt as to your current velocity.

Confessions of a Born Again Biker - Triumph XRT 1200 TFT DisplayThe TFT display may be a nightmare to photograph without including my reflection, but when riding, it is sharp and easy to read.

Despite having shaved 10Kgs from the weight through changes to the engine, chassis and the exhaust – an Arrow exhaust is now standard from the factory –  the XRT 1200 doesn’t feel lighter.

Not that this is a bad thing. The sure-footed and wonderfully balanced Tiger is still very much present and a joy to ride. “Progressing” across the Lincolnshire backroads in search of cake, the involuntary grin I get when pushing the Mk2, appeared just as readily riding the Mk3.

The changes to the Mk3 are far from purely weight related. Under the covers, the Triumph technicians have very busy tinkering. The cruise control, for example, now located on the left, disengages with much less of a jolt than the previous incarnation, and the factory-fitted quick shifter is excellent, even if in need of a little coaxing to make smooth changes.

Rolling off the throttle just enough to take the load off the drive train, before asking the quick-shifter for the next cog, takes the rough edges out of up-shifts. A bit of an oxymoron I’ll grant you. The whole idea behind a quick shifter is to, well … shift quickly. If you want smooth, there is nothing better than the way riders have been doing it for years. The quick shifter is there if you wanted it, but its use isn’t compulsory.

Coming down through the gearbox, silky smooth changes are found when the throttle is fully closed. Brake and change down in a straight line, picking up to throttle just before rolling into the corner – as the good book tells us to* – and the quick shifter is perfect. Hussle into a corner, trail braking and fishing for the right gear, produces, not unexpectedly, a few unwanted lumps and bumps.

As a complete package, the changes Triumph have made have resulted in a keener, more urgent Tiger. Acceleration is quicker and more immediate. The suspension and handling are as sharp as always. It is easy to push-on and just as rewarding to chomp through miles in a relaxed and comfortable manner.

Confessions of a Born Again Biker - Triumph Tiger XRT 1200 LED HeadlightTo appreciate the changes in lighting – the headlamps are now LED, and the switchgear is illuminated – requires that I keep the Tiger overnight. As generous as Webbs of Lincoln is, not taking the Tiger back until tomorrow would be taking things a little too far.

Having consumed my cake and gathered my thoughts on what to tell the Father Confessor when he asks, it was time to head back to Lincoln.

As I stroll towards the Tiger, habit has me fumbling through my pockets looking for the keys, which I don’t need to do as the Mk3 has keyless ignition. It is a convenient luxury and works flawlessly, if perhaps slightly unnecessary.

When you stop to fill up, you still need to fumble through your pockets for the keys to open the filler cap and the luggage is going to come with locks, which typically requires keys. The same logic applies to a disk lock and most other physical security devices.

All of which are very sensible reasons for not having it, whereas keyless ignition is cool.

At a list price of £16,150 for the XRT, there are many alternatives in the same adventure motorcycle bracket for the money.

Pannier frames and crash bars are now an extra on the XRT, although the spot lamps come as standard. All of that considered, however, even the grand increase in the in the price over the Mk2, feels worth it.

Bottom line:

The Mk3 Triumph Tiger XRT is a highly capable all-rounder. An easy to ride, sure-footed mile muncher, with an impressive turn of speed when you need it.

(*Motorcycle Roadcraft – otherwise known as “the good book”)

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