Adventure motorcycles have taken over the motorcycle industry, like SUVs have taken over the car industry. It seems logical since they’re more versatile, can comfortably travel longer kilometres and carry more luggage while at it. However, right at the top of this class lies the upper echelon of this segment, where most manufacturers feature their crème de la crème and throw the kitchen sink at them in terms of equipment and technology. Currently, the undisputed segment leader is the BMW R 1250 GS, and it’s seen as the benchmark by most manufacturers to beat and rightfully so, given its mass appeal and high sales figures. What better manufacturer to step up to this task than Triumph? Especially since they’ve revised their flagship Tiger 1200 from the ground up and shed up to 25 kilos!
Which doesn’t seem like a lot until you consider the cap at carrying luggage on a flight is usually 15 kgs, and Triumph has clearly worked hard to give the Tiger that extra spit and polish it would need to go up against such a behemoth. So with that said, Triumph flew us up to the beautiful and rugged state of Himachal Pradesh, where the hills, valleys and trails were to serve as the ultimate proving ground for their flagship.
Triumph, as a manufacturer, is known for its tenacity and an excellent product portfolio that caters to both the hearts and minds of youngsters and veterans alike, so if anyone could take the fight to the German giant, it may as well be the Brits. Triumph made sure to mention precisely how well their motorcycle performed over the GS and made points of how it undercut or outdid the BMW in all the right aspects, and I agree. On paper, the Triumph Tiger 1200 looks like it’s got class-leading credentials and has a variant for each type of buyer in this segment. Gone are the old confusing variants, and in with the new simplified segregation between road and offroad variants. Triumph has only brought 4 variants named GT PRO, Rally PRO, GT Explorer and Rally Explorer. We didn’t get our hands on the Explorer models, but the critical difference between them is the larger 30-litre fuel tank and the addition of an all-new radar mounted blind spot monitoring system.
Anyway, without further adieu, let’s talk about the Tiger 1200 GT PRO, the more road-biased version with spoked wheels and slightly lesser suspension travel over its more offroad oriented sibling.
Fire the 1160cc motor up, and it sounds like a parallel twin, which can take you by surprise but grows on you eventually and sounds more butch and like a workhorse at lower RPMs. This motor now shares the T-Plane crank like its younger sibling and produces a healthier 150 bhp of power and 130 Nm of torque.
The TFT display can be a little sloppy to react and takes its own sweet time with its animations and inputs. I’m not a massive fan of this TFT and found it quite annoying as my ride progressed because of how inconsistent its responsiveness was, and it led me to be a lot more distracted from my riding than I would have preferred. Sure this is a couple of software updates away from being more refined, and I’d hope Triumph makes those changes because the TFTs on their other motorcycles work a lot more seamlessly than this.
The ride quality on the Tiger 1200 is excellent, and the bike remains unphased by most undulations or uneven surfaces. In fact, it’s pretty nimble on its feet and encourages you to throw it around corners with more vigour. The problem is that it’s pretty easy to scrape your feet or footpegs around corners, which can be discouraging, especially when you know the Tiger can handle twisty roads. The motorcycle has some vibrations lower down the rev range, but I didn’t find it all that bothersome since I was too occupied enjoying the rough soundtrack of this motor.
This engine could definitely do with more refinement; some may argue its crude nature is part of its character, but I’d beg to differ. Especially when you consider the sort of refinement its European and Japanese rivals have on offer while still possessing their own unique character and identities.
The gruffness could be a dealbreaker for some, but if you can look past that, you’ve got a well-performing motor that’s more than eager to put down the power. It was pretty unfortunate that the selected route for our ride didn’t allow us to exceed the 5k rpm mark all that often, let alone go above the third gear. This limited our experience and didn’t give this motor a fair chance to showcase its potency, so more on that once we get our hands on this motorcycle back home.
The quickshifter on the Tiger 1200 is a breeze to use and swaps gears effortlessly, and I think Triumph really knows a thing or two about making quick shifters because they’re always the best, which remains unchanged in the Tiger 1200.
The brakes work phenomenally well, and Triumph has equipped this motorcycle with top-shelf Brembos that stop this motorcycle on a dime. The suspension, too, works well in tandem with the brakes. It does its best to reduce brake dive as it actively makes changes via electronically controlled valves that react within milliseconds.
After a two-hour journey through some beautiful twisty roads, we came to a brief halt. I finally had the chance to admire the Tiger 1200 in its natural habitat, and boy has the Tiger evolved into one handsome looking motorcycle. It’s pretty recognisably Triumph, and the new design does a good job modernising the overall look of the Tiger 1200. I had noticed it parked next to a Tiger 900 earlier, and the proportions looked remarkably similar. This only shows the amount of engineering that has made this bike as compact as possible, unlike its hefty competition.
It still manages to carry forth that industrial appeal, and it looks purposeful and robust. The seat height for this GT Pro model can vary from 850 mm at the lowest to 870 mm at the tallest and makes flat-footing this motorcycle easy enough. Ergonomically the Tiger 1200 is comfortable and puts you in an easy-going upright stance that makes covering longer miles a breeze. Unfortunately, we didn’t go fast enough to test the true extent of its wind protection, but I’d reckon it would do a fairly decent job and shouldn’t need any aftermarket add-ons.
It features a striking new headlamp design and a continuous DRL running from one end to the other, giving its face quite an imposing appearance. They also feature lean-sensitive adaptive cornering and auxiliary lights, which is quite a boon. I am not a massive fan of the new taillamp design and preferred the unique vertical setup instead of the more commonly seen horizontal setup but to each their own.
Another aesthetic and mechanical change Triumph has incorporated is the elimination of the single-sided swingarm for a more conventional dual-sided swingarm. I could care less about that aspect aesthetically, but this setup is more robust and lighter mechanically, so it’s a win for me.
It was time I moved on to the more offroad capable Tiger 1200 Rally PRO, which had 20mm more suspension travel and larger tubeless spoked wheels that were wrapped in dual-sport rubber. I found it much easier to corner the Rally PRO, and despite its larger wheel, it still felt equally confident around corners, minus the fear of scrapping my footpegs, thanks to the higher ground clearance. The handlebars had been adjusted for a standing position because our ride was primarily set to be more dirt-oriented. After a good chunk of tarmac where the Tiger 1200 Rally PRO was a peach to ride, we finally hit some dirt, and boy did it stay peachy. The weight loss and redistribution made riding this now balanced motorcycle quite effortless.
Additionally, Triumph also provided both the Rally PRO and Explorer models with an Offroad Pro riding mode that would turn off traction control and ABS, which allowed you to push this motorcycle a lot better.
Riding over some fast dirt sections and even some tight ones revealed just how easy it was to get comfortable on the Tiger 1200, and the suspension worked like a charm at absorbing everything we threw at it. It seemed unphased by large rocks and managed to keep the rear wheel planted, so I rarely ever broke traction.
The only fly in the ointment was that the Tiger 1200 tended to stall a little too much for my taste, and that can be pretty tricky around tight uphill hairpins, as I discovered later that day. The brakes performed well and delivered good feedback and bite both on and offroad. By the end of our beautiful ride, I was in love with the Tiger 1200 Rally PRO, and if I had to pick one between the two, the Rally PRO would be my pick since it managed an outstanding balance between both road and off-road riding.
Coming to the pricing, Triumph has done a stellar job undercutting most of its competitors, be it by a short margin. The Tiger 1200 GT PRO starts at Rs. 19.19 lakh (ex-showroom India), and you can have the Rally PRO for a lakh more. If you want more and this doesn’t suffice, then for an additional lakh and a half, you can have the Explorer variants of both these models, which lets you have a variant for every type of rider.
Triumph has also revised the service interval and now offers a higher 16,000 km or 12 months which is commendable. They’ve also increased the warranty to 3 years, unlimited mileage, and a two-year add-on, making owning the Tiger 1200 easier for buyers. The Tiger 1200 is one solid motorcycle with a few minor shortcomings. Still, if you can look past those, this is one top tier motorcycle and can easily hold its own against the competition and just as easily give them a run for their money. That being said, is this better than its arch-nemesis? Well, that’s a story for a different day, and I eagerly await to get my hands on this motorcycle for a more real-world test.
Riding Gears By Rynox India