Throwing your leg over a bike for the first time and tentatively reaching for the ground can be a moment when your heart is in your mouth – especially when you are five foot six and a half and weighing in at eight stone nine pounds! Instead of hoping and praying the ground will be somewhere my right foot met it effortlessly. First big tick for the new factory lowered Tiger 800 XC!
I quickly felt at home on the brand new Tiger. There had been no tweaks to the suspension. It felt firm but didn’t skip and didn’t wallow. It had been a while since I’d ridden on Metzeler Tourances and I had confidence in the tyres straight away. Even though they hadn’t been scrubbed in, they really did stick to the road.
So, the riding thrills continued as I rode the A470 Crimea Pass between Blaenau Ffestiniog and Dolwyddelan, then on to Betws-y-Coed - perfect for stretching the Tigers road legs. Through the fast downhill S bend the engine was responsive and smooth delivering usable power through the gears. I grinned. It was fun and the Tiger reminded me of my sports bikes.
Apart from getting giddy with the thrills of the ride, let me share just how easy both the Tiger XC and XR are to manoeuvre - they turned on a sixpence and easily allowed me to obey the photographers wishes of “just 6 inches closer to the next bike please” giving him the perfect photo every time! Slow speed maneuvering was truly effortless and I haul some big bikes around, but the Tiger just seemed to follow me where ever I looked.
Although the adventure style bike market has been steadily growing, it has been a market more readily accessible to longer legged people. Triumph has opened up the market with two superb bikes. Both the XR and XC are 50 mm lower than the standard bikes, so that means they are even lower than the Street Triple. This has been achieved by revised forks and a revised rear suspension unit. The low comfort accessory seat also comes as standard. The spoked wheel XC is the taller of the two low Tigers, measuring, on the low seat setting 790 mm, whilst the XR’s lowest seat position is 760 mm. I was comfortably able to have both feet flat on the ground, which would give me great confidence on off camber roads.
So, what is the compromise of the low version? No centre stand.
However, there’s no compromise on the array of technological gizmos and gadgets. What I liked most and was easily able to test was the Traction Control which has three settings for road use, off road riding and also has the ability to disable the traction control. The braking was positive and progressive whilst the bike remained totally stable under heavy braking – all thanks to the switchable ABS. I was so impressed with the stability I had to do the test again, just to make sure it wasn’t a fluke – it wasn’t.
Odd thoughts pass through my mind when I’m riding and connected to a bike and as I headed back to the car park to reluctantly hand the key back to Triumph I thought how comfy the seat was – no numb bum!
I really liked the Tigers – they were nimble and responsive as well as positive and reassuring. So, what’s next? I’d like a longer test ride please.
About Gail Biddulph: Gail has been riding for 22 years. Her stable of motorbikes have included sports bikes as well as dual purpose bikes. Her current bike is a 1200 adventure bike. She remains the first woman to have an evidence-based solo ride around the coast of Great Britain. She has ridden extensively throughout the world, but she still marvels at the beauty of North Wales.
Photo Credit: Jason Lewis