New Triumph Tigers for 2018
7th November 2017
New colours | Low seat option | New tech toys
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▲ 2018 Triumph Tiger 1200 XRT. It's red (see below for an explanation of this unbridled cynicism).
There are twelve new Tigers on the loose for 2018. Six of them are 800s, and you can figure out for yourself how many are 1200s. There's also more ongoing confusion than in a Donald Trump White House address, and as you read on you'll understand why. But first the models and variants:
Tiger 800 XCX
Tiger 800 XCA
Tiger 800 XR
Tiger 800 XRX
Tiger 800 XRT
Tiger 800 XRX low
Tiger 1200 XCX
Tiger 1200 XCA
Tiger 1200 XR
Tiger 1200 XRX
Tiger 1200 XRT
Tiger 1200 XRX Low
Triumph Tiger 800
Triumph reckons that the 94bhp (70kW) @ 9,500rpm 2018 Tiger 800 has had over 200 modifications and now benefits from a full colour 5-inch TFT dash. There are also ("up to") six riding modes which include Off-Road Pro. Meanwhile, the switchgear is backlit; LED lighting is standard; the first gear ratio is shorter to increase traction across the more tricky obstacles (cigarette papers/shadows) and make better use of the available torque, of which there's plenty; the exhaust, we're told, benefits from improved flowing; and naturally, the cosmetics have been re-applied to keep the design active.
There are also heated seats, a little joystick gizmo for controlling the wotsits and some other stuff on offer. But to tell the truth, we've got confused with all this marketing crap and model specific features. Triumph has so many bits and bobs and designations and initials and caviats applicable to this variant, but not to that one, that you need a private tutor to come down from the factory and guide you through it.
Twelve models, for Christ's sake with more Xs than a ballot box.
We spoke to a couple of Triumph dealers about all this, and both expressed dismay and dissatisfaction at the model confusion. More specifically, neither dealer knew anything about the new 2018 bikes and couldn't provide any kind of simple method of working out what's what, or how to get an overall grip on the range, or point us at a suitable algorithm. Apparently, you just have to (a) struggle, or (b) get a mind transplant like Joe 90.
One dealer said, "Triumph, as usual, has told us almost nothing." The other was silent for a long time, then said (softly) that he'd put us through to the service department...
The bottom line is that the new range is coming soon (no prices yet), and you'll want to take a day or two off work and lock yourself in a quiet room with a brochure. It is figurable. Apparently. But just when you think you've got it figured, it starts to unravel, not least because you not only have to work out what's what, but you have to be careful about figuring out what's really new, and what's just re-hashed and/or dredged up from the last revision.
▲ 2018 Triumph Tiger 800 XCA. Hinckley has been pretty mean with publicity shots. Or maybe a more imaginative photographer is called for.
▲ 2018 Triumph Tiger 800 XCX. Not quite the same as other models in the range, but can you spot the differences, children?
Moving on, the XRX "Low" model has been fitted with a seat that racks down to 760mm (29.9-inches), and racks all the way up to 780mm (30.7-inches). Seat height has been one of the persistent criticisms of the Tigers (and it's been a criticism of most rival bikes). But Hinckley has clearly been listening and has obliged those of more economical proportions.
Overall, the 2018 Tiger 800 is visually leaner and just looks a little fresher. If this was plastic surgery (which it is really), you'd find it hard to figure out exactly where the scalpel has been at work. But you know that something's changed. In other words, it's the same but different—and in these struggling times with new bike sales plummeting, which manufacturer wants to stray too far from a tried and tested formula?
▲ The clue is the dirt. It's relatively flat, smooth and dry, and that's pretty much what these off road 1200 Tigers want. Forget airborne. And rule out rock-hopping. Just look for some not-too-tough flattish desert roads and enjoy the gadgets, which are an adventure in themselves. We like these 1200s, but like most bikes in this class, are they really just a solution looking for a problem?
Triumph Tiger 1200
For 2018, and presumably for the foreseeable future, Triumph Motorcycles has dropped the Explorer name on the 1200. Why? We don't know. Just reasons. Marketing think. Whimsy. Anything. But meanwhile, Hinckley has been thoughtfully tinkering with the 1200 Tiger formula and sticking more ingredients in the pot—which is either good or bad depending on your point of view and riding habits/needs.
The 139bhp (104kW) @ 9,350rpm, 1,215cc, inline, liquid-cooled triple now has more gadgets than James Bond's wristwatch. Turn a corner, check the inside bend and a convenient light pops on. Straighten up and the light winks out. There's a new Shift-Assist for 2018, and slightly increased low-down torque. There's keyless ignition, a new TFT dash, revised cruise control and freshened styling.
It's all welcome stuff, and Triumph has managed to warm up this cat just enough to keep it hot, whilst also keeping it price-competitive on the showroom floor. At least we hope so. But once again, the features are way too confusing (see the Tiger 800 stuff above) which is probably why most journos, unless they've got a real passion for these Tigers, tend to gloss over the features and write their copy in very ambiguous terms—and that's probably also why many other journos get the details wrong. Triumph has simply served up a very confusing menu.
Here at Sump, what we really want to see is the Triumph Tiger Zen model, which is One with Everything. But we ain't holding our breath. And neither should you. Hinckley gets so much so right. But it also gets so much so wrong.
▲ 2018 Triumph Tiger 1200 XCA. Adaptive cornering lights, semi-active electronic suspension, six-axis IMU (Inertial Measurement Unit) and cornering ABS are all established on this Tiger. But the new 2018 model, according to Hinckley, is 10kg (4.5lb) lighter and boasts 100 refinements. Treats include a new Arrow titanium silencer (on top spec models), a TFT dash, heated seats, and heated grips.
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