2011 Triumph Tiger 800 and Tiger 800XC

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  • Two all-new adventure touring models for 2011
  • Street focused Tiger 800 offers outstanding practicality and road manners
  • Tiger 800XC adds higher specification and genuine off-road capability
  • 799cc three-cylinder engine delivers class-leading performance
  • High capacity generator facilitates wide range of electrical accessories
  • Adjustable seat height and riding position for ultimate practicality
  • Key-coded immobilizer is standard
  • Switchable ABS system available for on and off-road riding
  • Priced from $9,999 MSRP (Tiger 800 non-ABS)

Motorcycles are all about adventure, and in recent years customers have demanded a new breed of practical all-rounders with that ‘go anywhere’ ability and practicality.

Enter the Triumph Tiger 800 and Tiger 800XC.

Originally conceived in early 2007, the ‘small Tiger’ has been one of the most anticipated new models in recent years. But instead of simply just putting the award-winning 675cc three-cylinder sportbike engine in a Tiger 1050-inspired road chassis, Triumph looked at the adventure bike sector and created a brand new engine and frame combination to put the Tiger 800 family right at the forefront of the adventure touring class.

Triumph has a strong heritage in the off-road sector that dates back to the 1950s and 60s.The 650cc Trophy and Tiger were the motorcycles of choice for desert racers and scramblers, while off-road versions of the entry-level 200cc Tiger Cub also found favor with trials riders around the world.

When Triumph returned to production in the early 1990s, the Tiger name became synonymous with adventure when the dual-purpose Tiger 900 took to the streets and unpaved roads. This cult classic evolved into the Tiger 955i and the current, more street orientated, Tiger 1050 which remains firmly in the Triumph model line-up.

But ever since Triumph’s ground breaking 675cc emerged in 2006, speculation of a smaller and lighter variant, usually referred to as the new ‘Tiger Cub’ raged in the media and Internet forums.

But the speculators were way off the mark. Triumph was indeed busy developing a new bike for the burgeoning mid-capacity adventure sector, but it was not the Street Triple-based project many were predicting. Rather, it was two all-new motorcycles based around an adventure platform with an 800cc three-cylinder engine.

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Developing the Tigers

Although the often speculated ‘Cub’ moniker was considered briefly, the name was quickly dropped. While an important name in Triumph’s history, Cub was deemed too ‘cutesy’ for a full-size, 800cc motorcycle. Another name from Triumph’s past, the Tiger Trail, was also considered for the off-road derivative of the new model but was also dropped as it did not truly explain the new bike’s versatile nature. Therefore the name ‘Tiger 800’ was decided upon, keeping the family bloodline with the more sporting Tiger 1050, while the tall-suspension off-road variant would be called the Tiger 800XC (for Cross Country).

Although sharing the same platform, each model was designed to appeal to a specific customer. Ideal for commuting and touring, the Tiger 800 was to be a ‘do-it-all’ machine with appeal to a wide range of customers including shorter riders and ladies, while the Tiger 800XC was to add genuine off-road capability for even the most demanding intercontinental touring. A wide range of accessories were at the heart of both models, with Triumph identifying the need to deliver an extensive range of options to meet the varying needs of Tiger 800 customers.

The team designated to work on the Tiger 800s was largely carried over from Triumph’s award-winning Daytona 675 project. Styling and concept work began in April 2007 with a brief to develop two models around one platform. A number of styling options were developed, including extreme on and off-road variants, and although there was no intent to produce the more focused models, the exercises were useful in establishing the design values customers demand from these types of machines, such as the wheel size and front mudguard design.

One of the early design ideas to evolve was to use a steel frame with deliberate design elements echoing those of Triumph’s aluminium frames. The concept was evolved to integrate the engineering and styling, and to deliver an efficient and usable package. Narrowness of the bike between the rider’s legs while seated, standing on the pegs and with feet down were all key considerations, while the need for a useful fuel range and the packaging of the ABS equipment created a considerable challenge for the design team.

A wide range of styling options was explored, from concepts with bodywork at the front and rear to a minimalist design in which the fuel tank was the only painted part. The basic idea of the Tiger 800XC with a 21″ front wheel and minimal bodywork quickly evolved. The amount of bodywork required for the Tiger 800, meanwhile, remained a hot topic that was resolved during customer styling clinics in October 2007.

The clinics also gave the go-ahead to the ‘beak’ on the Tiger 800XC. The high-level front mudguard is an essential element on pure off-road machines, but Triumph’s stylists were unsure if the element was too closely linked with adventure touring models from competitor brands. Feedback from the clinics confirmed that the beak was an important element in defining the Tiger 800XC’s off-road pretensions, and work began to develop the design that would work with the beak (on the Tiger 800XC) and without (on the Tiger 800). Several variations were tried on full scale clay styling bucks between February and May 2008.

The mixing of ‘high value’ surfaces with rugged features and functional appearance became a key feature of the Tiger 800 design, as did incorporating traditional Triumph family styling cues, such as the twin headlights and tubular frame design.

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Engine development

Upon its inception, the ‘small Tiger’ project had planned to utilize Triumph’s compact and award-winning 675cc three-cylinder engine, however it was quickly established during the concept phase that an all-new power plant was required to deliver the torquey characteristics required from an off-road machine.

The objective was to create an engine with the character that three-cylinder Triumphs are famous for combined with class leading refinement to make the Tiger 800 the best long-distance machine in its class.

A long-stroke engine was commissioned. Although the Tiger 800 unit shares a few components with the 675cc triple, most notably the cylinder head casting and throttle bodies, the 800cc engine has been designed from the ground up specifically for the Tiger 800s.

Initially the engine was stroked to 770cc, but by late 2007 the decision had been made to increase capacity to a full 799cc. The liquid-cooled 12 valve unit employs a 74.0 x 61.9mm bore and stroke, running a compression ratio of 11.1:1, for excellent power and torque characteristics. Feeding the three cylinders are 44mm throttle bodies, the same as those used on the Daytona 675 sport bike, with 30.5mm inlet and 25.5mm exhaust valves.

The stainless steel three-into-one exhaust features a muffler, also in stainless steel, which has been designed to offer high levels of ground clearance when riding on rough terrain. The airbox design also takes muddy off-road conditions into consideration and is located under the seat, where it is protected from the worst of the road debris.

The engine has been tuned to deliver a class-leading 94bhp, which makes it the most powerful machine in the class and 58ft.lbs. of torque at 7850rpm for an extremely tractable and easy to ride machine in all conditions.

Power is delivered to the rear wheel by a chain drive, with the sweet-shifting six-speed gearbox offering a tall final ratio for long-legged touring. The engine’s characteristics gives exceptionally smooth throttle response and power delivery, particularly at the low speeds and small throttle openings required when riding off-road. With a 5-gallon fuel tank, the Tiger 800 and Tiger 800XC have a greater fuel range than their direct competitors, with over 250 miles possible between fuel stops.

Another important item on the specification sheet is the 14Ah battery and high capacity, 645w generator. The most powerful generator in its class, it ensures that a Tiger 800 is capable of running a whole host of electrical accessories without fear of the rider waking up to a flat battery while on tour.

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Chassis development

It goes without saying that strength is a key attribute required from an adventure touring machine, so Triumph chose to create an all-new chassis from tough steel to make sure that the Tiger 800s can cope with rough roads and heavy payloads.

Aesthetically, the Tiger 800 frame carries over many styling cues from other Triumphs, notably over engine, twin tubular trellis design, while the minimalist bodywork highlights the Tiger 800s’ utilitarian purpose, a decision which was confirmed through a variety of customer clinics in Italy and Spain. As well as creating a purposeful look, the lack of rear bodywork also allows the easy attachment of accessory luggage options and bungee cords.

The key specification differences between the Tiger 800 and Tiger 800XC lie in the wheels and suspension. The road-orientated Tiger 800 comes equipped with 43mm inverted front forks and 10-spoke cast wheels of 19″ at the front and 17″ at the rear, giving a very accessible 31.9-inch (810mm) seat height as standard. The Tiger 800 comes equipped with Pirelli Scorpion tires as original equipment, 110/80 ZR 19 at the front and 150/70 ZR 17 at the rear.

The Tiger 800XC comes with even higher specification 45mm front forks with 220mm of travel. Combined with a 21″ spoked front wheel and 17″ rear, the Tiger 800XC takes a classic off-road stance with a tall, upright riding position and suspension that can soak up the most extreme of road surfaces. With its 32.2-inch (845mm) seat height, the Tiger 800XC provides a commanding view from the saddle. To ensure the Tiger 800XC can be ridden with confidence off-road, the bike comes equipped with dual purpose Bridgestone Battlewing tires, 90/90 ZR 21 at the front and 150/70 ZR 17 at the rear. The Tiger 800XC has also been homologated for use with the more off-road focussed Metzeler Karoo dual purpose tires.

Triumph expects Tiger 800 customers to cover higher than average annual mileage, so comfort and practicality come as standard. Both models feature a plush two-piece seat featuring an easily adjustable rider saddle that can be raised 20mm for taller riders, and have adjustable handlebars to allow the rider to tailor the riding position to their specific preferences. An accessory seat with thinner padding is also available, reducing the respective seat heights by 20mm to make the Tiger 800s truly accessible to a wide range of motorcyclists. Passenger comfort has also been taken into consideration, with a wide and well appointed passenger seat and large grab rails built into the standard rear rack. The headlights can be easily adjusted to compensate for the carrying of passengers and/or heavy luggage.

The Triumphs feature a higher chassis specification than their competitors, with twin 308mm two-piston sliding caliper brakes up front mated to a 14mm Nissin master cylinder, position adjustable aluminium tapered handlebars and a 5 gallon fuel tank for long range adventure touring. In addition, the higher specification Tiger 800XC features bark-busting handguards, radiator guard and high-level mudguard as standard, all of which are available as official accessories for the Tiger 800.

Anti-lock brakes are available as an option on both Tiger 800s, with an option to turn the system off when riding off-road. The instrument display is class-leading too, featuring a digital speedometer, trip computer, gear position indicator and clock, as well as a large and easy to read analogue tachometer. Both bikes feature a coded key engine immobilizer and a power socket situated alongside the ignition switch which can be used to power heated clothing and other electrical items.

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