2012 Triumph Tiger 800 XC | Doin' Time

Photography by Alessio Barbanti

Wrist: Tim Carrithers
MSRP (2012): $11,999
Miles: 2465
MPG: 39
Mods: Various high-desert soil samples

I don’t like cats. And I’ve never been keen on Triumph’s fat, fluffy Tiger 1050, either. But a couple of days in Spain on both new Tiger 800s, followed by a couple of weeks closer to home on an 800 XC, sold me. This Intense Orange model will be around for at least another 7535 Miles—long enough to become a more serious adventurer than the bike you see here. We’ve already survived the potentially thorny honeymoon/reality transition at 2000 Miles without denting the bike or the relationship.

The turbine-like 799cc triple is a gem, boiling out of corners or onto the freeway with an 8000-rpm gust of enthusiasm no middleweight twin can touch. Comfortable, agile and unwaveringly stable on tarmac, it’s just a handful of production compromises short of greatness. Suspension is good, and so are the brakes, though both could be better. I expected the stock Tiger to be comfortable closer to civilization than in the actual wilderness. What I didn’t expect was a fuel-starved engine that refuses to idle after extended bouts of slow going and ignores the starter button afterwards—hopefully nothing a Dynojet Power Commander can’t fix.

The non-adjustable windscreen is adequate, but just. Standard Bridgestone Battle Wing tires skew too far toward the pavement for my taste, putting a set of suitably street-legal knobbies next on my shopping list. Since off-road excursions leave sections of vulnerable cooling/lubrication plumbing and the shock coated with a stucco-like layer of muck, more substantial protection is on the way. Standard plastic guards fend off wind, rain and the occasional SUV side-mirror better than rocks, Chilean Mesquite or Sycamore trees. No surprise there. A centerstand would make regular maintenance and fixing the occasional flat tire immeasurably easier.

I could play it safe, steering clear of gridlocked commuter traffic or anything rougher than manicured fireroads, but we all know that’s not going to happen. It’s hard to say exactly what will, but with luck and a few bolt-on bits, the next 2465 Miles will be more of an adventure than the last.

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