Triumph Tiger …On the Prowl

January 1 2008

There was a time that all motorcycles played the same game, regardless of what they were asked to do. When you went to your local dealership to buy a bike you didn’t have to decide what type of riding you were going to do, or wanted to do. You simply bought from a limited number of models.

It didn’t matter if you wanted the bike to use as a commuter bike or had longer distance trips in mind. Imagine leaving home to take part in ‘Hare Scrambles’ or enduro racing for the day and on your way home, if your bike was still worthy, maybe try hill climbing. The point is, the dealership had a few different models but basically only one style of bike, and you took part in whatever type of riding you wanted to do. The general purpose did everything pretty good, but not perfect.

Then engineers decided to specialize the motorcycle into various segments. The general-purpose motorcycle didn’t take the rough terrain and fallen trees very well, so the taller ‘off-road’ bike was introduced with increased suspension that provided more wheel travel. Another segment was born when riders wanted comfort to travel farther distances, so fairings and luggage were added to create the ‘touring’ segment. The variations of styles continued to grow, as did the names of those segments.

Walk into your local dealership today and there are so many target-specific models you’ll get dizzy trying to absorb it all. Now throw in all the combination names like Adventure Touring, Sport Touring, Adventure Sport, even Urban Adventure, to name a few and you’ll think you just stepped off a tilt-a-whirl.

The previous Triumph Tiger was considered to be an Adventure Touring bike. It was tall, had scads of suspension travel, chunky dirt/ pavement tires but a comfortable riding position for hours in the saddle. As it turns out, most who buy into this segment of the Adventure Touring market don’t use the bike for adventure riding. Sure, they had good intentions of going off-road when they bought the bike, but pavement seems the better way. Handling on pavement, apart from their usual height and top heaviness, was very good on most of these ‘Adventure Tourers’ and most were considered to handle much better on pavement than in any type of off-road scenario.

Triumph took a look at what was happening and listened to the riding public, especially Europeans who wanted to get back to the general-purpose all-round bike. The redesigned 2007 Tiger could once again be considered an all-purpose motorcycle. No longer do you need to understand a myriad of categories, you only need to know that there is a bike that does just about everything, and it does it very well.

I didn’t have the opportunity to ride the 2007 Tiger until nearing the end of the ‘07 riding season and by the time you read this the 2008 Tiger will be announced however, according to the Triumph website, there is no change for the 08 model except for the addition of a new colour, Blazing Orange, to accompany the existing colours of Jet Black, Caspian Blue, Scorched Yellow, and Fusion White.

The 2007 Tiger sports Triumph’s liquid cooled, DOHC, in-line three-cylinder 1050 cc engine. This is the first year this engine has been put to use in the Tiger and what an engine it is. The fuel-injected sportbike style engine provides silky smooth power delivery regardless of how much you twist the throttle. While the engine is also used in Triumph’s hooligan streetfighter, the Speed Triple, and in the Sprint ST, the Tiger’s power plant has been lowered slightly from its Urban Sports brethren to make for a more relaxed, but still exhilarating ride. While the other engines produce a maximum of 131 and 125 hp, respectively, and both other models produce 77 ft lbs of torque, the Tiger’s engine produces 114 hp at 9,400 rpm, just below the 9,500 rpm redline, and 74 ft-lbs of torque at 6,250 rpm. Regardless of the deprived numbers, when you ask the Tiger to go, it is more than willing and picks up speed very quickly. I was surprised at the volume of the muffler being on a stock bike, or what I thought was stock. As it turns out there was a Triumph accessory muffler on my demo bike that let off a very desirable chord out the tailpipe and let the sweet sound of the British Triple sing at most rpm ranges.

As mentioned, the previous version was considered an Adventure Tourer and while the suspension isn’t as tall as the 2006 Tiger, it is still a stretch to get the right leg over the seat. Sitting at 835 mm (32.8 in.), it’s hard to touch the ground flat-footed with both feet but the seat is tapered at the front which helps to get a good foothold on the pavement. A little farther back the seat widens out for a more comfortable perch and easily offered adequate support for two or three hours. By then it was time to get off, stretch and fuel up anyway.

My borrowed ‘Fusion White’ steed had optional hard bags and the extra width from the right hard bag made it a little awkward to mount the bike. Because of the bikes height, care must be taken when throwing your leg over the seat not to kick the top corner of the bag. An excellent painted finish proved invaluable as the scuffmarks from my boots came right off, and I’m sure I wasn’t the first to abuse that corner of the pannier. The optional bags do stick out wider than anything else on the bike so care should also be taken when navigating very tight spaces.

The optional bags come off easily and the locking mechanism incorporates carry handles into them, making it easy to carry your belongings into your hotel room after a long day on the road. For those day trips where bags aren’t necessary, the Tiger looks sleek and trim without them.

For those who decide to travel farther from home in one stint, the average fuel mileage during my outings was 5.76 L/100 km (49 mpg) and the low fuel warning light usually came on in the 230 km range. This should result in about 290 km per 20-litre tank of fuel. The full instrumentation includes an analogue tach with digital speedo on the right and a multi-function display on the left. The multi-function display includes km to empty, fuel mileage at the time as well as average fuel consumption, elapsed trip time and mileage, clock, fuel and temp gauges and a tattle-tale display that holds the fastest speed and engine rpm.

The agile Tiger navigates twists and turns as easily as you would expect a big cat to pounce from rock to rock. With a wheelbase of 1510 mm (59.4 in), a rake of 23.2 degrees and a dry weight of only 198 kg (436 lbs), the Tiger is very responsive in any corner and reacts to very little input on the handlebar to initiate a turn. Holding a line in a curve was never a concern as it seemed to corner as if on a rail. Slow speed cornering took a little practice but for a tall bike with a short wheelbase it handled quite well. Add to that a full tank of fuel and the bike can get a little top heavy, more noticeable of course while performing slow speed manoeuvres.

The suspension seemed a little soft when I picked the Tiger up, but after tweaking the fully adjustable upside-down front fork it seemed much better in the corners and helped to keep the wheel on the ground during some of the rougher backroads. Adjustment on the rear monoshock suspension is easily accessible with a screwdriver from the right side of the bike and offers adjustable preload and rebound damping.

Braking is exceptional on the front of the Tiger. A pair of Nissin 4-piston radial calipers easily squeezes a pair of 320 mm floating discs while the rear uses a 2-piston caliper and a smaller 255 mm disc. An easy pull on the brake lever provides good solid feedback and a gentle push with the rear brake pedal gives way to quick stops. The brake lever is adjustable in four increments, as is the clutch lever, to fit a wide array of hand sizes.

The cable-operated clutch is easy to pull and the friction point occurs at about half way in the lever travel. Just right. Shifting is as buttery smooth as the power delivery is. Just a little flick of the toe and the transmission changes gears with a quiet snick. Downshifting is no different.

The cast multi spoke front 17-inch wheel has a 120/70 tire mounted while the chain-driven rear 17-inch wheel uses a 180/55. A nice touch on the rims is that the valve stems have a 90-degree bend making it easy to check tire pressure and top it up if necessary. Anyone who has struggled with a 17-inch wheel and large brake rotors can appreciate the easier access to something that should be checked on a daily basis.

Seating position is as traditional as an all-purpose bike can get. The handlebar pulls back to meet the rider and the feet are below the seat making for a straight, upright riding position and it has to be one of the most comfortable seating positions in terms of ergonomics. The seating position also adds to ease of handling. There is enough room to sit comfortably and the feeling of being cramped never entered my mind. On some bikes my knees are the first to complain, being bent too tight for too long, but the Tiger provides plenty of legroom. The smallish non-adjustable windscreen does take most of the brunt of the wind off the rider from the neck down but your head is out there for all the bugs to see, and hit. A full face helmet is the order of the day while riding the Tiger. There is a larger optional windshield available, but I didn’t have the opportunity to try it.

The 2007 Tiger is everything you need in a motorcycle. It’s a fun, comfortable, easy to handle ‘all-rounder’ that does everything really, really well . But don’t take it from me, have a look at the world’s press reports and the many awards this bike has garnered, then take one for a ride and you’ll agree that maybe putting a general-purpose bike back on the road is the way to go. MMM

Price for the 2007 Tiger, according to the website is $13,999, while the ABS option will set you back $14,999. Check out for more info.


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