Sunday, April 10, 2011

2011 Triumph Tiger 800XC

I received the honors of getting to ride a brand spanking new 2011 Triumph Tiger 800XC from Northern Ohio Ducati and Triumph this afternoon.  I'm a dirt rider and pretty much use the pavement to get to and from work and the dirt trails so my opinion of this bike has no comparisons to pure street bikes as the only pure street bike I have is an 1100 Honda Aero that handles like a boat full of bowling balls and is only a few inches shorter than my F-150.  The rest of the fleet are Dual Sports and Cross Country Off-road.

Unless it's some Kymquat made in Tiwang Chung, I don't care what kind of bike it is, I'll take it for a spin.  Ask me if I want to ride a sweet bike like the Tiger XC and there's a good chance you'll be waiting quite a while for me to return.  When I got a phone call telling me there was a new Triumph Tiger sitting in front of my house waiting for me to ride it, I couldn't get out of there fast enough to see if it what I had just heard was true.  Heck, it's not every day someone drops off a bike with only 40 miles on it on your door step!

The bike has a nice fit and feel even though the seat was set at the lowest of the two settings and the bars pulled back for a shorter person.  The seat can be raised by simply using the key to remove it and moving the attaching bar on the seat from one slot to the next.  The first thing I noticed was how quiet and smooth the 3 cylinder motor was as I looked through the crystal clear wind screen that gives you a good view of the road.  The second was how torquey that motor is when you let out the featherly light clutch lever.

The motor pulls nicely though the gears all the way to sixth and it was nice to see your gear selection printed out on the dash as well as the fuel level.  The motor has a 10k rpm redline and even when I took Turra with me on the 2nd loop, I never had the need to go over 4k rpm as we accelerated to cruising speed.  Right from the start, I felt comfortable with how the bike felt and handled both at low and highway speeds.  

I included a few bad roads with twists and turns just to see how the suspension felt and from a preliminary ride, it felt really good.  Being new, and my pocketbook not all the padded, I decided not to take it down the local abandoned rail bed I usually cruise down on my own bikes.  After almost looping a brand spanking new 350SX out over a double last fall, the last thing I wanted to do was return the bike beaten or broken.  When I hit the freeway to do all four loops of the clover leaf I spotted what appeared to be a dual sport bike with some big panniers on it so I chased it down.  It was a waste of time, it was just a Buell.

I found the front brake to be very strong when I did a panic stop to make a turn I missed.  When I did dive into the turn, I was glad the 21" front tire gripped the road very well.  BTW, I like 21" front wheels, there is a wider selection of true off-road tires available compared to other sizes.  I'm no knee dragger so I have no need for some fat squatty tire.

I only had time for a couple more miles to take the wife for a ride so she could see how the rear seat felt.  She found it to be comfortable and offered more real estate than the current crop of bikes we have.  In fact, the rear seat is separate from the front allowing you to remove it and replace it with a rack if you are riding solo and need it for your camping gear, don't have anyone who trusts you enough to ride with you, or just prefer to be by your self all the time.  Speaking of the seat(s), the front saddle covers the battery, relays and  the fuse box.  The rear covers the tool kit and leaves a little space to lock your wallet, spare gloves or any other small items you can fit into the small area.

The motor looks to be pretty much out in the open and easy to service for oil changes.  And, depending on how deep the spark plugs are into the head and valve covers, you may be able to replace them without removing the tank but I doubt it.

Would I buy one?  If I had the money and was in the market for a new bike, there'd be a good chance I would.  There wasn't anything about the bike I didn't like except the shifter felt notchy but it only had 40 miles on it so that isn't even really fair since it isn't broken in.

A big thank you to Carl and Carl at Northern Ohio Ducati and Triumph for the test ride.    Now I just need to wait for a chance to ride it all day, say maybe at the Cabin Fever Road Enduro next Sunday?

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