1998 Triumph Tiger - Me & My Bike

Up To Speed

Name: Chris Doyle
Age: 47
Home: Bolton Valley, Vermont
Occupation: R&D; Mad Scientist, Burton Snowboards

"'Hey, nice bike-what is it?' I get that a lot. Never mind the classic Triumph logos on the engine cases and exhaust cans. I explain my faithful steed is a 1998 Triumph Tiger and get either a puzzled look or a tale about their dad's back-in-the-day Bonneville that trails off as they watch the thirsty beast slurp close to 6 gallons of super unleaded into its bulbous fuel tank. I bet dad's Triumph didn't do that!

"I live and ride in rural Vermont and prefer the way backroads, which often find me rolling rough pavement or straight-up dirt on my daily commute. That, combined with the fact that winter is a full six months here means I need a rig that can handle the sketchy road conditions that are part and parcel of late-fall and early-spring riding. After 15 seasons spinning up 70,000-plus miles on my trusty Kawasaki KLR650, it seemed time for an upgrade. Fortuitously, my Tiger became available when I convinced a former boss who was moving to Southern California that he should sell it to me at a ridiculously good price. Somehow the Jedi mind trick worked, and on a cold December day I threw him a check and got the heck out of there before he could change his mind. We happily shivered our first 35 miles together through scattered snowflakes and mid 20-degree temperatures on the way home.

"The first few rides the following spring brought some traits into clear focus. The Tiger swings three big cylinders twixt the wheels, totaling nearly 900cc of supposed fang-extending power. Instead, it felt more like an overfed house tabby. Crack the throttle to the stop in third gear and ... wait. Horribly cold-blooded, it required partial choke for miles, stumbling off idle, simply refusing to run clean at low rpm. And the seat ... I don't know which British ass signed off on this torture device, but mine would go numb in 100 miles.

"Lopping off most of the convoluted airbox, installing a Dynojet stage II kit and bumping up the pilot jets one size exorcised the carb demons, and the merciful folks at Corbin had the perfect seat in stock. Suddenly the beast was unleashed and the Tiger became a totally different animal, easily lofting the front tire or kicking out the rear on dirt corners.

"Working in snowboard R&D; makes the seasonal transitions difficult. I want to ride the Triumph as long as possible yet am stoked when heavy snow blankets the Green Mountains. Sometimes in the spring I get to have my cake and eat it too when sunshine melts the ice off the roads yet the ski slopes are at their best. I strap my deck to the back of the Tiger, gear up for shredding and ride to Stowe. There's something extra-sweet about riding to ride."