Following a knee injury that doesn't let me ride out and out sports
bikes at the moment I had to consider other options if I wanted
to stay riding this year. After doing the test ride on the Tiger
I took the plunge and bought an Orange 1050 SE, this comes with
ABS, colour matched panniers in Blazing Orange, handguards and a
Gel touring seat - so potentially ideal for what I need and all
for a good price when no Japanese Yen or European Euro is getting
in the way of our toytown £.
So a quick running-in before a very short-notice break in France
to really test it out. This trip was with a BMW S1000RR and a Honda
Fireblade, so the competition was tough and completely unfair, but
that's the type of bikes my friends still ride ... for now. So that
is what the Tiger was up against. The area of France we ended up
in was the Vosges mountains of the Alsace, probably one of the best
parts of France to take a bike.
Where do I start? Well, the Tiger got me there and back in total
comfort. This was a big plus, but the trip also showed the Tiger's
limitations for battling with sports bikes - in short, don't be
lazy when riding the Tiger and you will find it quite rewarding.
But no matter how enthusiastically you ride, even Supermoto style
with toes on pegs and weight as forward as possible, it's never
going to be a sports bike. Bit obvious really, but I thought I'd
make the point.
A lot is to do with the suspension. From the outset it seemed fairly
good, especially on slower backroads. The Triumph owners' manual
tells you to wind everything up to max if riding with passenger
and luggage, but it's best to wind up everything regardless, leaving
a few clicks back from max on rear preload to allow a bit of sag
and leave the preload on the forks at standard (my weight in leathers
I tried dropping the yokes by about 10mm to speed up the steering,
but the improvement was marginal. The forks also started to make
a strange clonking noise when braking hard which is rather unnerving
at times. Not sure what this noise is, but the demo we tested was
exactly the same. The rear shock is fairly well sprung, (has to
be for carrying those panniers and the Mrs!) but the damping was
not up to enthusiastic cornering.
However, no matter what suspension settings I tried I couldn't
really get the bike to turn how I wanted. The bike's real weakness
is long fastish bends, where the front is vague and the rear pogos
about too much to instil any confidence. I believe a pair of decent
sports tyres would help - the oem Michelin Pilot Road S (where is
the HIT after the S??) tyres are bloody awful!! They offer no feedback
as such, pick up every surface change, feel like they will let go
at any moment in the wet and are probably more suited to a car,
as the profile is very flat which does not aid steering and turning
The nice wide shiny chrome handlebars give a comfortable riding
position but do not aid the bike when starting to hustle it around
on the finest Alsace sweepers and hairpins. The bars need to be
an inch or two lower and about the same further forward. It would
help if they weren't rubber mounted! That takes away some 'feel'
from the front end.
No matter what article you read about the 1050 triple and no matter
which model Triumph have put it in, everyone raves about the motor.
It is a nice engine, don't get me wrong, but the Tiger 1050 version
is left wanting and would be much better if it had Speed Triple
power. In essence another 20 ponies is needed. It does pull well
though and from 7000 revs it sounds brilliant. It may be a bit slow
top end but it was fine climbing out of hairpins and powering out
of corners; more grip front and rear would allow you to get on the
power earlier, but you'd need more than investment in tyres alone
to make this a safe bet on roads you don't know. Flat out was an
indicated 130 mph - it would probably be good for 135-140 with no
luggage and no headwind.
I have Nissin anti-lock brakes on the 1050. I've always pooh poohed
the idea of ABS on a bike before, but I am now converted!! The brakes
on the Tiger are phenomenal, they make the front brakes on my 2010
Fireblade look complete rubbish. They offer loads of feel and the
ABS is amazing, allowing you to even steer (a bit), when braking
hard. But you could get into trouble with them without the safety
fence of anti-lock.
now to the panniers. A good idea for most, but certainly not for
me. They are too wide, each one sticks out about 4 to 5 inches further
than the widest point of the mirrors and you have to remember this
at all times when dealing with other traffic and general overtakes.
The panniers are waterproof though and do look the part when you
look at the bike from the side, but when following they look ridiculous.
They also impede your fuel consumption. However once removed riding
the bike is much improved. I did have about 10 kgs (what was I thinking??),
of weight in each pannier, so I guess it's understandable. The panniers
don't help fuel consumption but compared to the BMW and the Honda
it was pretty much the same; over a round trip of 1600 miles the
Tiger returned 37.1 mpg.
The overall finish is good and on par with a Honda, but Triumph
do let themselves down a little when it comes to attention to detail.
We found the lower engine mounting bolts to have about 35mm of completely
unnecessary threaded bolt left over and there are couple of other
bolts under the seat that look like they should be on a meccano
model. Come on Triumph!!
There are some nice touches. Triumph have thought about the Tiger
quite a lot and looked at the competition too. They offer a universal
GPS wiring option; this is 12V though and all USB inputs run at
5V, so be careful if you want to avoid smoking your Tomtom. They
also offer a 12v socket for various powering options, but the female
socket provided is of no use to me as I have never seen a male connector
as small as is required to fit the one Triumph provide, very odd
indeed. There is plenty of room under the seat for puncture kits,
chunky kitkat, small tin of chain lube and a couple of maps. There
are even extra luggage lugs under the seat too and the tool kit
is located in the under side of the seat, but add a couple of extra
Allen keys for dropping your yokes and an 8mm socket and ratchet
for adjusting the headlights, (excellent lights by the way).
Handling? Well, what can I compare the Tiger to? The KTM990SMT
and the Ducati Multistrada spring to mind as I have tested both.
What struck me most about the Triumph and this is where it wins
over the KTM and Ducati for me, was the fact that when you are hard
on the front brakes into a bend, the bike is relatively stable and
it does not feel like the back end is going to come round on you,
on both the KTM and the Ducati, this was most definitely the case,
so for me the Triumph is a far better road bike to hustle around.
It has nice 17 inch wheels too, so you can fit any rubber you like.
Instrumentation. The dash is basic, but gives you enough info.
What I did notice, more than once, was after filling up it can take
up to 5 or 6 miles of riding before the digital fuel gauge resets.
There are 2 trip meters, giving actual MPG, average MPG, time riding,
miles left in tank and average speed.
Mirrors are brilliant, you can see much more than just your elbows,
however they do go a little blurry when above 5k revs, but it's
Overall, do I like it? Well, yes, in fact I do and it is likely
to stay, but I'm not sure how much I will spend on it making it
better. If I sort the suspension, I'll be wanting more power etc.
etc. so the list could be endless and I'm uncertain if the Tiger
is really worth it - maybe a fork job and new tyres and leave it
Some times laters ...
Triumph exhaust can is on - can't think why it has 'Not for road
use' stamped on it, it's still quieter than my expectations, but
it does growl a bit more and is a little sharper than before on
pick up. New fuel map next week may make it a little better still
- here's hoping. End can looks the same, except a bit bigger outlet,
and also weighs the same: bloody heavy!!
Lowering brackets for the rear suspension arrived this morning
and these are fitted. With the bike on the sidestand, measuring
from ground to highest point above rear light it seems that the
back end has now dropped by 2 cms (give or take a mm or two), so
my feet are much firmer and flatter on the deck when seated on the
bike. This also makes the bike feel more manageable when pushing
it about as the high-up rear end weight is now a little bit lower.
It may not sound like it's lowered by much, but you'd be surprised
the difference it makes. The lowering of the rear end doesn't seem
to have affected the steering at all, but that was already dropped
by 16mm with about 15 to 20 mm to go before the horn becomes perilously
close to the front mudguard and brake lines under very heavy braking.
With the lowering brackets fitted, I had to slacken the chain off
about half a turn of the adjuster on each side, so the overall length
is about 1.5 mm shorter, but that won't make a difference: the chain
needs links removed and the rear wheel pushed as forward as possible
to make any difference there - another mod for another day perhaps.
Metzeler Interact M5s are nicely scrubbed in now and the bike is
feeling altogether better than before.
Generally, each little mod is making a big difference. There is
a good bike in there somewhere and now it is starting to show itself.
However, it does still have the horrible clonking noise from the
front under braking, but Triumph can sort this out, not me. I hope?
A few more miles and problems are already surfacing ... the
steering head bearings started clonking early on, and adjustment
stopped it, for a while. Now the clonk is back after a couple
of thousand more miles. Add to that the anti-lock light is
on and no anti-lock brakes. I think it's a sensor issue.
And now it's started missing 4th gear on quick upchanges,
dumping me back in third on hard acceleration. Not good!
Final problem so far, the motor sometimes cuts out when coming
to a halt.
Time for the Tiger to go?