2012 Triumph Explorer

Britannia’s Big Adventure

Carrying on in the illustrious English tradition of Scott, Hillary, Stanley and Livingstone, Triumph is heading for terra incognita in a big way with its 2012 Explorer. Though it bears a predictably striking resemblance to last year's superb Tiger 800, Hinckley's dive into the deep end of the adventure-bike pool is powered by a DOHC, liquid-cooled, fuel-injected triple displacing something north of 1200cc. Moving beyond super-ficial resemblances to the mid-size Tiger, Triumph's most threatening shot across the collective bow of bikes like BMW's all-conquering R1200GS and the Yamaha Super Ténéré breaks new ground in more ways than one.

Though we expected it to break cover in the Trophy sport-tourer spied here last month, Triumph’s XL all-surface triple looks to be a fresh piece of work, inheriting few part numbers, if any, from its 1050cc pre- decessor. Home office PR boss Paul Taylor says the Explorer’s all-new engine was designed specifically for global adventures. That tells us to expect something more than the current GS-spec Boxer’s rated 110 horses, sent earthward via shaft final-drive through a new single-sided aluminum swingarm, complete with what appears to be a parallelogram-type link to keep all that torque from bullying the single-shock rear suspension. An equally new electronic ride-by-wire throttle will debut on the Explorer as well, blessed with standard cruise control for the freeway and traction control for everywhere else. A stout, 950-watt generator provides electrical impetus for all of the above. Beyond that, the biggest British triple appears to share a good deal of its basic architecture with the 799cc Tiger, starting with two cams and a dozen valves upstairs. Oil is carried in a wet sump, below stacked gearbox shafts and a gear-driven balance shaft ahead of the crank.

As with the Tiger, the Explorer’s heart bolts into a curvaceous steel-tube skeleton—heavier than aluminum, but tougher and easier to weld on some icy Saturday afternoon in Chickaloon, Alaska—with its rear subframe welded in place. Initial photos show cast nine-spoke aluminum wheels shod with the latest Metzeler Tourance EXP radials: a 110/80R-19 front and 150/70R-17 rear. Triumph-badged four-pot Nissin front calipers and floating rotors supply most of the stopping power, followed by a two-piston Nissin caliper and rotor out back. ABS will be standard equipment.

No word yet as to whether there’s a more dirt-worthy Explorer XC in the works, but bet on something with tougher wire-spoke wheels and longer-travel suspension to break cover soon. The rest of the Explorer’s vital statistics, including when you can buy one and how much it costs, will be available shortly.

If it gets here equipped with ABS, cruise/traction control and a centerstand, the basic Explorer will be anything but. The accessory catalog will offer luggage and lots more.
Cast-aluminum wheels will limit Triumph’s Explorer to relatively benign dirt excursions. With any luck at all, a more adventurous Explorer XC version will roll in on spoked wire wheels.