2011 Motorcycle of the Year | Best Adventure Bike

Triumph Tiger 800 XC
This tiger earns its stripes

England hasn't stunned the Germans like this since Montgomery outfoxed Rommel at El Alamein in 1942. Nearly 70 years later, Triumph's cheeky Tiger 800 XC vs. BMW's R1200GS Panzer sounds like a mismatch until the 70-horse triple nips at das 90-horse Boxer's heels in short sprints and runs dead-even in a top-gear roll-on from 60-80 mph. The slimmer Brit is more agile in tight going, on or off the pavement. And at 494 lbs. with 5 gallons of unleaded on board, it's 75 lbs. lighter as well. Equipped with simple-to-service spoked wheels and an exposed, steel-trellis frame that's easy to farkle and even easier to weld when you topple over in Tunisia, the Tiger XC is 100 percent ADV-ready. Here's the kicker: Even with Triumph's excellent ABS, an XC costs just $11,799—that's $4596 less than an R1200GS with BMW's Standard Package. The Tiger needs crash bars, a skid plate and real knobbies for any adventure worthy of the name, but thus equipped, it still leaves you with a few grand for gasoline, gear and extra sunscreen. North Africa gets hot this time of year…

Alternative Take

Longer legs, more cargo capacity and an indisputable, press-on-regardless persona makes the latest eight-valve horizontally opposed Ship of the Desert a better bet for taking the long way up, down or around a few continents. It's big, bulky, expensive and, in the right hands, virtually unstoppable.