Triumph Tiger Explorer 1200
2012 - present. 1215cc, OHV, DOHC, liquid-cooled, in-line triple, adventure bike review
Explorer 1200: The good stuff...
ABS and traction control: Ideal for control freaks.
Looks: We think Triumph got it right. Distinct. Modern. Cool.
Power: 135hp (Triumph numbers).
Shaft drive: Reliable, so unchain yourself.
Single-sided swinging arm: Easy wheel changes.
Suspension: No complaints. As smooth as Tony Blair's lies.
Presence: It gets noticed. You're king of the road on this.
Luggage: Optional extra, but well worth the extra.
Economy: 45-55mpg. But it's hard to keep the speed down.
Equipment: This is an adventure in itself. All you can eat.
Comfort: Great for the rider. Pillion gets a decent seat too.
Service intervals: Major work at 10,000 miles. Beat that.
Alternator: 950W. Power to the people, huh?
Heated grips: Standard and essential for serious touring.
Heated seat: Optional, and keeps the fundaments cosy.
and the not so good stuff...
Price: Over £11,000 when launched. £12,500 by 2015.
Weight: It ain't fat, but it's heavy. Not for wimps.
Scratching: Only your rear end after a day in the saddle.
Saddle height: The higher you climb, the further you fall.
Livery: Not very adventurous.
Extras: Nice touring toys available, but at a price.
Design: Too angular? Not to everyone's taste.
Power: It's just too much for many. Try the Tiger 800.
Servicing costs: Around £500 for the full treatment.
Electrics: Like many modern bikes, the wiring is complex.
Looks: We like it. But we can see why other's howl.
▲ The metallic green (Khaki Green) livery on this 1200 XC variant took a little while to get used to. But we persevered, and now we like it. Mostly. The wire wheels, thanks to a cunning spoke arrangement on the central flange, will run tubeless tyres. Meanwhile, the 21-inch front wheel is less "quick" than the 19-incher as used on the standard bike. But the increased diameter of the of 21-inch wheel is a little better at shrugging off potholes. Suspension on both bikes is excellent.
▲ Triumph Explorer 1200 for 2012. This is the road-oriented version with no off-road pretensions. The biggest visual differences are the cast wheels (as opposed to wire wheels on the XC, and the colour scheme. Switchable traction control and switchable ABS comes as standard. There's cruise control too if you can find a use for it.
▲ Remember the 1944 western Tall in the Saddle starring John Wayne and Ward Bond? Well this is a John Wayne kind of bike, and long legs ain't optional. They're essential. Triumph has simply made a sales/height equation and accepted the result. Heated seats for rider and passenger are optional at around £200 each. Plus VAT.
▲ The imposing business end of the Triumph Explorer 1200 for 2012. You can get it wet and muddy, but this motorcycle has very limited off-road capability. Then again, who cares? Not us. The halogen spotlights, fitted as standard on the XC, are very useful, however.
▲ Comprehensive instrument display with excellent functionality ... and a comprehensive luggage option for those occasional intergalactic excursions. Triumph tell us that you can fit a full faced lid in the left side pannier (£450 a pair at 2015 prices). But wait, ain't the boxes supposed to be for your shirts and socks and paperbacks and stuff? Still, in the absence of any other meaningful ruler...
▲ Another amazingly compact engine from Triumph offering stunning performance with a class-leading 10,000 mile service interval. Vibration is negligible. Mechanical noise is worryingly minimal. This engine also drives a massive 950W alternator. It's enough to run the lights, accessory lamps, horn, indicators, heated vests and heated grips at once.
▲ The standard 2015 1200 Triumph Explorer, but with wire wheels instead of cast wheels. Triumph dealers, and even Hinckley Triumph, insist on calling these wheels "spoked". But they're all spoked, just differently. We'd opt for the cast wheels. They're maintenance free, and with a bike like this, we'd want to ride, not fix. Sizes are 19-inch front, and 18-inch rear.
▲ Triumph Tiger Explorer 1200 XC for 2015. Essentially the same machine with minor upgrades. The colour is Graphite.
▲ 2015 Triumph Tiger Explorer 1200 XC on a roll. We like this motorcycle more than we like the BMW's GS, both in terms of looks and feel. But we have to admit a certain marque bias. Nevertheless, if you're a GS rider, you'd be well advised to check out this bike. It's arguably got more character and has oodles of mid-range grunt and torque and better balance—and it doesn't hurt Britain's balance of payments. And yes, that really is a factory when it comes to pretty much anything. Buy British whenever you can.
Instruments: Speedo. Rev counter. Air temperature. Charging indicator. Engine temperature. Oil pressure.
▲ Looking for a lighter, sportier Tiger? Launched in 2010, this is the Tiger 800 for 2011. Very similar to the 1200 model, this smaller cat has a 799cc Liquid-cooled triple engine pumping out a claimed 93 - 95hp (as opposed to 135hp for the 1200 Explorer) and chain drive (as opposed to shaft). The 800 is a revvier bike than the 1200 and, due to its lighter weight, offers better (i.e. less ponderous) handling. Many riders complain about the screen, and more than a few riders have chopped the screen down or removed it completely. Beyond that, it's a terrific bike that will get you anywhere at 80 - 90mph two-up, luggage-laden cruising with great back road performance. The cast wheels and lack of a front "beak" tells you that this is the standard road model. [Read more on the Triumph Tiger 800...]
Triumph Tiger 1200 review & road test
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