26 February 2012

Tiger 800

While looking for a more light weight bike, I wanted to compare four different bikes:

  • Ducati Multistrada 1200
  • KTM SMT 990
  • Triumph Tiger 800
  • Triumph Tiger 1050
To evaluate these bikes I headed North to Concorde to ACE Motorsports as this is a combined dealer for Ducati, KTM, and Triumph. 

They didn't have an SMT on the floor, but as I knew this would be the least interesting for me, it wasn't a deal breaker. 

Heading up on my BMW reminded me again what a wonderful touring bike the GS is - as long as it isn't windy. The buffeting from the windshield was again hitting me as soon as there was a slight side wind and I had a headache when I came home after two hours straight highway riding. It isn't too bad, and normally I can deal with it, especially as my normal touring consists of roads that are closer to 60km/h (40 mph) max than to the 105mk/h (65mph) I rode most of the time yesterday.

Nevertheless, the GS is just an effortless tourer, power en masse, comfortable riding position, nice big presence in traffic, good wind protection, noise not too bad. 

At the dealer I was greeted right away by the sight of the three bikes I wanted to sit on again. The Multistrada was really just out of curiosity as I have ridden one and decided back then that this isn't the bike for me. It might shorten my life too drastically with it's super bike like power, 150HP in touring and sport mode, the hooligan inducing handling and so on. It's also right around 20k, so quite expensive.

The Tigers were right there, one next to the other, they had the 1050 in my favorite color, diablo red and I really, really like the looks. On the floor was also a custom painted matte black Tiger 800 which I really liked, and they had a white 800 Tiger Roadie for test rides.

After going back and forth between the Tigers and the Ducati a few things are clear:
  1. The seating position for me on the Ducati is the best. 
  2. Tiger 1050 (2012 model with slightly lower handle bars) and Tiger 800 are about the same. They are close to perfect, a set of handle bar risers would make them perfect.
  3. All three feel lighter when handling them while off the bike than my GS. This isn't all too surprising as the heaviest, the Tiger 1050, is still lighter than my GS and considerably smaller.
  4. The Ducati and the Tiger 800 felt the lightest, with the Ducati having a slight edge due its perfect ergonomics for me.
  5. The 800 feels quite a bit lighter than the 1050, which is probably because it is lower, has a narrower seat, is about 30kg lighter than the 1050 as it was on the floor.
  6. The 800 doesn't look or feel smaller than the 1050. It just feels lighter. 
  7. When sitting on the 800 the tank seems to go on forever, but when riding it, it's not noticeable for me.
I took the 800 out for a spin and was reminded again how much I like that engine when I test rode it last year. It's insanely smooth and also quite torquey for such a "small" engine. I accidentally pulled away from a stop light in second gear and only noticed when glancing down after the first upshift, seeing that I was in third by now. Ooops. Didn't even notice. Speaks for an easy to control clutch and for a strong, smooth engine.

Riding it around, two things became immediately apparent: the steering stops kick in really early, the bike has a turning radius that feels like twice that of my GS. Not a huge problem but would definitely take some getting used to. The next thing was that insanely smooth engine. Pulling away from the dealer, it was such a weird feeling - no vibrations, an easy spinning engine, that typical Triumph Triple noise, I loved it as much as on my first test ride.

The bike I rode was a white 800 Roadie, I like it quite a bit, but still think that the black one looks slightly better, what do you guys think (click for larger images)?

Black Tiger 800

White Tiger 800

It's certainly a very nice bike and would fit the downsizing idea I was rolling around lately. But there is that red Tiger 1050 spooking around, too:

Red Tiger 1050

A really beautiful bike. Especially in person. Here it looks a bit darker than in reality, but it's a good looking red and I always liked the looks of the Tiger 1050. This one doesn't fit the downsizing as well the 800s, but it still feels lighter than my GS, though it's a fairly old model by now, probably in its last model year.

So, any decisions? No, not really. Just that the downsizing idea isn't a bad one - when I rode the 800 it felt about half a ton lighter than my GS and that was an interesting experience again. It doesn't have the power of my 1200 and is also not even close to the rush of the 1050 engine when pushed, but it revs very linearly, has enough power for everything and just feels so light and easy - possibly also because the engine, even when pushed hard, is so silky smooth. It has less vibrations than the 1050, shifts much nicer than either the big Tiger or my GS, which of course isn't even close to the smoothness of either Triumph.

Certainly interesting bikes and gives me something to think about.


  1. It is always fun to try out new motorcycles. I like the 800, and find it looks great in all black.

    The only downside that I can find is the chain drive, otherwise it looks like the perfect downsize bike, if you want to stay in that specific model segment.

  2. I agree, I hate chain drive. Messy, has to be maintained and so on. But it is part of what makes the bike lighter and have less final drive reactions during opening / closing of the throttle. And to be honest: chains have come a long way since I had my bikes in the mid 90s.

    Overall, the upsides of less weight, more nimble handling, easier pushing around in the driveway / garage might outweigh the downsides of having a chain drive. I was never really worried about the chain on my F800GS.

  3. I prefer the black Tiger 800, but that red bike is gorgeous. Bigger than you wanted perhaps, but very pretty. Having gone from a large V-Star 1300 with a huge turning radius (that weighed a ton) to a much lighter F650GS that can easily do a U-turn in our garage, I'd opt for the shorter radius bike any day.

  4. Yeah, in the turning radius department there isn't much that is as good as the BMWs or KTMs. The Triumphs aren't there at all. It's okay though, just takes some time getting used to. I have not checked the Tiger 1050 in that regard but don't recall it being bad. I might not have tested it that way though.

  5. Guido:

    I too was looking at the new bikes but I am worried about all those BMW failed driveshaft threads. Like yourself, I wanted something lighter but the Tiger800 is higher than my 'Strom. Also the 1200 Adventure is a weight slug. The chain doesn't take much to maintain, it's just a bit messy. I think the GS is too large for me. There is no perfect bike. The Super Tenere feels good once you are on it, but I don't want a bike larger than what I already have.

    Riding the Wet Coast