Any vehicle that claims to be all things to all people and all roads sounds like a compromise machine, but not the Triumph Tiger 800 XCx that comes pretty close to satisfying on all counts.
Last year the Tiger 800 range received a major upgrade with LED lighting, lighter weight, better ergos, six riding modes, updated cruise control, full-colour instruments, back-lit controls, Brembo front brakes switchable ABS and traction control, and improved off-road ability.
The road-touring models are the XRx ($18,550) and XRt ($20,700), while the adventure models are XCx ($19,650) and XCa ($21,300). All prices are retail and do not include on-road costs.
Michael Oliver of Oliver’s Motorcycles in Moorooka says the Tiger 800 represents good value with a host of standard extras.
As I take the keys to the off-road oriented XCx, Michael points out the host of standard hardware such as bash plate, engine guards, USB charging socket, rear rack and handguards, stuff you pay extra for on most adventure tourers.
However, it was the standard tech that left me gob-smacked.
For a start, there are six rider modes, each of which can be customised to suit your personal riding style.
You can also choose the layout, colours and style of the full-colour TFT instruments while the cruise control has logically been shifted from the right switch block to the left.
Riders can choose to have the normal low-beam lights or the bright LED daytime running lights. I chose the LEDs because they seem to attract more attention.
There is even the option to switch between automatic indicators “Basic” and “Advanced” or off, although why anyone would turn off this most basic of safety features baffles me.
In Basic, it holds the indicator a few seconds after turning a corner, but Advanced switches off straight away.
I’m glad I selected Advanced, because I took the first exit at a roundabout and immediately after a car at a left-turn street was about to drive out in front of me but stopped when the indicator switched off.
Now that’s good primary safety tech.
There is also traction control and ABS for both road and off-road use, or you can switch it off.
I tried emergency stops in all the variations on both tar and ball-bearing gravel and was amazed at the results.
I thought I was good at emergency braking, but I could not beat any of the ABS settings, especially on gravel.
The dual Bembo front discs on the XCx may seem overkill on the gravel, but they work well albeit with a fair bit of fork dive.
Traction control is also a must as the 800cc triple brings on the power with a bit of a snap which can make it fishtail wildly on the dirt with traction switched off.
I found it quite difficult to control, but with the of-road traction switched on, it allowed some slide without losing control.
When I first headed out into traffic I reached out and pushed the high windscreen of the XCx forward and down to the bottom position.
It features a simple spring-and-rubber washer that just works.
Michael says he was worried it would rattle with age, but says it hasn’t on other models with the same adjustable screen.
Out on the highway, I reach out and pull it up. Simple and effective.
The contoured seat cossets my rear and the controls all fall easily to hand and foot. This is the sort of bike you could easily use to do a lap of Australia and it wouldn’t matter if the road turned to gravel or you wanted to explore some national parks.
It’s also well suited to traffic with a light clutch, foolproof gears and a commanding position to view over traffic, although you easily adjust the seat down.
I’m 183cm tall and my heels touch the ground with the seat in the low 840mm position. That sounds high, but the narrow seat makes it easy to set foot on the ground.
That narrow waist also makes it very comfortable to ride standing up on gravel roads without feeling like you are riding a horse.
I wouldn’t need bar risers in this position, either. Just roll the bars forward and let the natural bar bend lift them up into your hands.
The foot pegs are also nice and wide and provide a comfortably long reach.
Pillions will enjoy the wide and flat perch, long reach to the pegs and generous grab handles on each side.
What I didn’t enjoy is the heat coming up over my knees from the engine. I found myself riding with my knees out in the breeze in traffic, although I tucked them in on the highway.
The XCx mirrors are stylish and are set high and wide for plenty of rearward vision. However, at highway speeds, the right mirror vibrates and blurs the vision.
I think that’s because the gearing is set too low.
It provides good off-road ability, especially for slow-speed gnarly tracks.
But it makes the grips tingle a little at highway speed where it runs at 45000rpm in sixth. That’s about 500 revs too much, yet it still returns 3.5L/100km at that speed.
After a day’s riding with some high-spirited twisting roads, some gravel tracks and even a bit of trials riding on some rock shelves, the XCx returned a commendable 4.2L/100km.
I found I could quickly snick the gears through to fifth or sixth around town and the bike will still pull well from 3000 revs at 60km/h in fifth.
Despite all the tech and extras, the biggest attraction for me is the ride and handling of the XCx.
Thanks to WP forks and shock, the Tiger 800 XCx seems perfectly balanced in all situations from highway cruising to twisting tar and corrugated dirt roads.
However, if you are riding less than 80% road and more than 20% dirt, you might want more aggressive rubber than the all-round Bridgestone Battlewing tyres.
Triumph Tiger 800 XCx tech specs
|ENGINE & TRANSMISSION|
|Type||Liquid-cooled, 12 valve, DOHC, in-line 3-cylinder|
|Max Power EC||70kW (94bhp) @ 9500rpm|
|Max Torque EC||79Nm @ 8050rpm|
|System||Multipoint sequential electronic fuel injection|
|Exhaust||Stainless steel 3 into 1 header system, side mounted stainless steel silencer|
|Final Drive||O-ring chain|
|Frame||Tubular steel trellis frame|
|Swingarm||Twinsided, cast aluminium alloy|
|Front Wheel||Spoked, 21 x 2.15 in|
|Rear Wheel||Spoked, 17 x 4.25 in|
|Rear Tyre||150/70 R17|
|Front Suspension||WP 43mm upside down forks, with adjustable rebound and compression damping, 220mm travel|
|Rear Suspension||WP monoshock with remote oil reservoir, hydraulically adjustable preload, 215mm rear wheel travel|
|Front Brakes||Twin 305mm floating discs, Brembo 2piston sliding calipers, Switchable ABS|
|Rear Brakes||Single 255mm disc, Nissin single piston sliding caliper, Switchable ABS|
|Instrument Display and Functions||TFT multifunctional instrument pack with digital speedometer, trip computer, digital tachometer, gear position indicator, fuel gauge, service indicator, ambient temperature, clock and five rider modes (Road/Offroad/Off-Road Pro/Sport/Track)|
|DIMENSIONS & WEIGHTS|
|Height Without Mirror||1390mm|
|Seat Height||840 – 860mm|