2016 Triumph Tiger Explorer XCa Review

Huge updates for the Triumph Tiger Explorer

2016 Triumph Tiger Explorer First Ride
Triumph will build six versions of the new Explorer but only five of those will make it into the US and Canada.©Motorcyclist

They say: "Perfect trans-continental companion."
We say: "Driving long distances to take on BMW and KTM."

Triumph deserves your full attention with what it did to the 2016 Tiger Explorer. The UK-based company has taken a perfectly good motorcycle and made it markedly better by adding a sophisticated suite of electronic aids, semi-active suspension, hardware upgrades, improved finish and engineering refinements. After a day riding the top-spec XCa version at the worldwide media launch in Portugal, I came away impressed. The superb electronic suspension and easy-to-use rider aids make the Triumph Tiger Explorer a bike that is capable of doing amazing things on both pavement and in dirt.

Adventure Touring First Ride test
The main differences among models involve electronic aids.©Motorcyclist

While Triumph will build six versions of the new Explorer—and bring five of those into the US and Canada—the press launch focused on the top-line XCa version. As we've described in this 2016 Tiger Explorer preview (click here) , those six versions fall along two lines, the road-biased XR and the dirt-ready XC. XR versions have cast wheels, XCs have tubeless spoke wheels. Also, there is a "low" version of the mid-spec "x" road and off-road models with a 52mm lower seat height. These low bikes are more than just a cut down seat and slammed chassis. The XRx Low and XCx Low are dedicated models with reduced suspension travel and a chassis setup specifically tuned to perform. The low seat is an option that can be fitted to the standard models.

First Ride review of the 2016 Triumph Tiger Explorer
The Explorer shines brightly on twisty paved roads.©Motorcyclist

The main differences among models involve electronic aids, with the top models benefitting from multiple ride modes and Continental's latest Inertial Measurement Unit (IMU) that provides pitch, yaw and roll data to the central control unit that drives the new "optimized cornering" ABS and traction control safety systems. Base model XR owners will have to settle for standard multi-channel switchable ABS and traction control. Moreover, Triumph has upgraded the Explorer's suspension, starting with manually (but fully) adjustable WP components on the base model and electronically adjusted semi-active suspension on the four up-spec bikes. Again, the US will not get the base XC, so four out of the five models we get will have the Triumph Semi Active Suspension, or TSAS. (Click here for everything you want to know about TSAS.)

2016 Triumph Tiger Explorer, Electric Seat Control
2016 Triumph Tiger Explorer, Electric Seat Control©Motorcyclist

On pavement, the Explorer is impressive. It’s comfortable, sophisticated and powerful. The Tiger is propelled by the familiar shaft final drive 1,215cc three-cylinder engine, but with more horsepower (139 hp at 9,300 rpm, up 4 hp) and torque (90 pound-feet at 6,200 rpm, up 1) as measured at the crank. That doesn’t sound like much, but the efforts to broaden the torque curve have given the big triple more oomph between 3,000 and 6,500. The ‘16 also carries a substantial power gap from 7,500 rpm to the 9,500-rpm redline. Fuel efficiency is also increased by a claimed five percent. A new, smaller exhaust enhances performance and sound while helping meet stringent Euro 4 compliance. Plus it sounds and feels like a big triple.

2016 Triumph Tiger Explorer, Engine
The Tiger is propelled by the familiar1,215cc three-cylinder engine, but with more horsepower and torque.©Motorcyclist

Performance and handling are excellent. We rode hard on the twisty Portuguese tarmac and I doubt most riders on their supersport machines could have kept up. Cornering clearance is excellent, shifting is smooth (clutch or clutchless), and the torque-assist clutch provides lighter lever effort. Regarding handling, front-end feel is very good and ever-accessible torque makes fast and accurate cornering a breeze.

The Explorer shines brightly on twisty paved roads and even moderate dirt terrain. The new suspension does a great job keeping the wheels in contact with any surface and can handle all manner of surface conditions. Yes, the Explorer is a heavy bike, but it really does hide its weight well once underway.

2016 Triumph Tiger Explorer, Dash
Rider view of the XCt dash.©Motorcyclist

Off road? I had the time of my life spinning the Metzeler Tourance tires—now the fashionable 120/70-19 front and 170/60-17 rear sizes—on Portugal’s rocky coastal terrain. The Tiger proved to be a way better off-road companion than I expected. It’s not perfect, though. While the off-road capabilities are much improved, the weighty Explorer is still more of a pavement dweller than a rock jumper. Part of the reason is its weight—between 538 and 560 pounds dry, depending on model.

The overarching impression is that the new Explorer is well balanced and composed, thanks to the TSAS, precise throttle control, advanced ABS and excellent brake feel. Also, the ergonomics strike the perfect balance between sporty, comfortable, and off-road compatible. This is partly because of the 30mm more forward seat position and narrow seat-to-tank junction, which shifts rider weight a bit more onto the front wheel for better feel and response, and also allows a neutral off-road appropriate standing position.

2016 Triumph Tiger Explorer, Off Road
The Tiger proved to be a way better off-road companion than expected, but the weighty ADV is still more of a pavement dweller than a rock jumper.©Motorcyclist

Final pricing is being worked out as we speak, but a bump from last year’s $15,899 base ($17,499 for the XC) should be expected. Triumph has turned all the right knobs and sharpened all the right edges on the updated Tiger Explorer, making it more versatile than ever.

2016 Triumph Tiger Explorer 1200, Street
The new suspension does a great job keeping the wheels in contact with any surface and can handle all manner of surface conditions.©Motorcyclist

TECH SPEC

EVOLUTION
Think of this as the Explorer 2.0—same basic engine and chassis but with all new electronics and a host of useful refinements.
RIVALS
[Aprilia Caponord Rally][], [BMW R1200GS][] and [R1200GS Adventure][], [Ducati Multistrada][] and [Multistrada Enduro][], [Honda Africa Twin][], [KTM 1290 Super Adventure][], [Moto Guzzi Stelvio][], [Suzuki V-Strom 1000][], [Yamaha Super Ténéré][]
TECH
PRICE TBA
ENGINE 1215cc, liquid-cooled inline-three
TRANSMISSION/FINAL DRIVE 6-speed/shaft
MEASURED HORSEPOWER 139.0 hp @ 9300 rpm
MEASURED TORQUE 90.7 lb.-ft. @ 6200 rpm
FRAME Tubular-steel trellis
FRONT SUSPENSION WP 48mm fork with dynamic compression and rebound damping; 7.5-in. travel
REAR SUSPENSION WP shock adjustable for spring preload with dynamic compression and rebound damping; 7.6-in. travel
FRONT BRAKE Brembo four-piston calipers, 305mm discs with ABS
REAR BRAKE Nissin two-piston caliper, 282mm disc with ABS
RAKE/TRAIL 23.1°/3.9 in.
WHEELBASE 59.8 in.
SEAT HEIGHT 33.0/33.7 in.
FUEL CAPACITY 5.3 gal.
CLAIMED WEIGHT 569 lb. wet
AVAILABLE Spring 2016
CONTACT [triumphmotorcycles.com][]
VERDICT
An impressively improved Explorer with more power, better manners, and all the now-mandatory electronic goodies ADV owners want.

New Tiger Explorer Models for the US Market

2016 Triumph Tiger Explorer New Models, XR
2016 Triumph Tiger Explorer XR©Motorcyclist

Tiger Explorer XR (standard equipment)

  • ABS and Traction Control
  • Brembo monoblock 4-piston radial calipers
  • Center Stand
  • Electronically Adjustable Screen
  • Immobilizer
  • Newly designed cast wheels
  • On Board computer
  • Road and Rain riding modes
  • Sump guard
  • USB Power Socket
  • WP adjustment front and rear suspension
  • 12V Power Socket
2016 Triumph Tiger Explorer New Models, XRX
2016 Triumph Tiger Explorer XRx©Motorcyclist

Tiger Explorer XRx (additional to the XR)

  • Additional 12V Power Socket
  • Advanced Onboard computer
  • Cornering-optimized ABS and Traction Control
  • Cruise Control
  • Hand Guards
  • Heated Grips
  • Inertial Measurement Unit (IMU)
  • "Off Road" riding mode
  • Self-cancelling LED indicators
  • Triumph Semi Active Suspension (TSAS)
2016 Triumph Tiger Explorer New Models, XRT
2016 Triumph Tiger Explorer XRt©Motorcyclist

Tiger Explorer XRt (additional to the XRx)

  • Electronically adjustable touring screen
  • Engine protection bars
  • Heated rider and passenger seat
  • Hill Hold Control
  • Pannier rails for aluminium panniers
  • "Sport" and fully customizable "Rider" riding mode
  • TPMS
2016 Triumph Tiger Explorer New Models, XCX
2016 Triumph Tiger Explorer XCx©Motorcyclist

Tiger Explorer XCx (standard equipment)

  • 2 x 12V power socket
  • Advanced Onboard computer
  • Aluminium sump guard
  • Cornering-optimized ABS and Traction Control
  • Cruise Control
  • Engine Protection Bars
  • Hand Guards
  • Inertial Measurement Unit (IMU)
  • "Off Road" riding mode
  • Self-cancelling LED indicators
  • Stainless radiator guard
  • Triumph Semi Active Suspension (TSAS)
2016 Triumph Tiger Explorer New Models, XCA
2016 Triumph Tiger Explorer XCa©Motorcyclist

Tiger Explorer XCa (additional to the XCx)

  • CNC-machined footrests
  • Electronically adjustable Touring screen
  • Heated rider and passenger seat
  • Hill Hold Control
  • LED auxiliary fog lights
  • Pannier rails for aluminium panniers
  • "Sport" and fully customizable "Rider" riding mode
  • TPMS