Tech Review: Triumph Goes All Electronic-y with the New Tiger Explorer ADV For 2016

Everything you want to know (and maybe a little more) about the Explorer’s all-new rider aids.

2016 Tiger Explorer Tech Overview
New for 2016 is cornering ABS, a significant safety feature that allows you to continue to turn while simultaneously applying maximum possible brake force without losing traction.©Motorcyclist

Triumph outlines the key updates to the Tiger Explorer and its greatly expanded electronics suite as “rider focused technology.” Here’s how it starts:

Ride By Wire and the IMU
All Explorers get ride-by-wire throttle control, which enables a lot of technologies, including standard cruise control (with the buttons on the right switch cluster), ride modes, and traction control. The middle- and top-spec versions also get an Inertial Measurement Unit, which keeps tabs on the bike's pitch, roll, and yaw movements and tells the system how to scale traction control and ABS intervention. We first saw cornering ABS with the KTM Adventure followed by the Ducati Multistrada. This is a significant safety feature that allows you to continue to turn while simultaneously applying maximum possible brake force without losing traction. No need to straighten the bike (and possibly leave your lane) before clamping the binders. It will also intervene if you panic and fail to modulate brake force controllably.

Triumph’s version of traction control also uses data from the IMU to manage acceleration forces in all conditions. The system will partly predict and partly react to rider throttle inputs for rapid and appropriate intervention. The IMU allows the TC to limit power depending on lean angle to allow just the right amount of drive for maximum safety and control.

Plus you get ride modes. The base XR has Road and Rain as well as Off. As you’d expect, Rain has lower thresholds for TC and ABS intervention and softer throttle response along with a limit of 100 hp. The mid-spec bikes add the Off-Road mode, which allows rear-wheel locking (but preserves front ABS) as well as an increased amount of wheelspin on the power. Top-line models—the XRt and XCa—add a Sport ride mode (higher TC and ABS thresholds, more aggressive throttle response than Road), as well as a Rider mode, which allows the rider to mix and match any combination of these settings. The Sport setting activates TC only when cornering, allowing maximum power to the rear tire (and wheelspin) when upright.

2016 Tiger Explorer electronic switch controls
Ride-by-wire throttle control, which enables technologies including standard cruise control, ride modes and traction control are accessed via buttons on the right switch cluster.©Motorcyclist

Sass the TSAS
Base models get conventional (albeit fully adjustable) WP suspension while the four up-spec bikes get WP's version of semi-active suspension called Triumph Semi Active Suspension (TSAS). TSAS electronically controls front and rear damping, as well as rear preload settings. IMU data measures pitch rate, yaw and roll rates, as well as vertical, longitudinal and lateral acceleration to determine optimum rear suspension settings.

When TSAS is set in Road (auto) mode, optimum rear shock preload is identified and then adjusted at bike startup to take into account rider and passenger weight and any cargo and will refine settings continually as needed and will recheck the setting again when you stop. Rebound and compression damping is checked and adjustments made every 10ms if required.

TSAS, for Triumph Semi Active Suspension, is WP’s version of semi-active suspension.
TSAS, for Triumph Semi Active Suspension, is WP’s version of semi-active suspension.©Motorcyclist

The TSAS Off-Road mode has softer preload settings and damping that is adjusted to manage any type of terrain. The system is even smart enough to recognize when you suddenly stumbled upon some gnarly surface and quickly switches to the off-road mode.

TSAS is designed with rider preference and control in mind. Each ride mode has a predetermined comfort setting, but it is easy to adjust the level of damping on the fly to match how you want the bike to respond to road conditions and handling—choose from nine steps ranging from Comfort to Sport. In this sense, Triumph’s approach is more like KTM’s, where ride modes preset suspension settings but they’re not locked into them. You can skew the suspension response inside any given ride mode. BMW, by contrast, gives fewer options for changing suspension action without also changing to a different ride mode.

In real-world use the system works really well to adapt the suspension to a wide range of conditions.

2016 Tiger Explorer Brembo brakes
The Tiger’s advanced ABS helps manage brake power and features two modes—Road and Off-Road—plus off.©Motorcyclist

Stopping Power
In the new Explorer, Triumph switched to radially mounted Brembo four-piston monoblock front brake calipers that clamp 305mm discs. Control and power are both superb, allowing fine trail-braking modulation at serious lean angles and confident off road speed control.

The Tiger’s advanced ABS helps manage brake power and features two modes—Road and Off-Road—plus off. But, the system is much more robust than just having three settings. The Road ABS mode links the rear brake with the front when using the front brake lever, but using the rear pedal only activates the rear brake. In Off-Road mode, applying the front and rear brakes or applying the front brake only activates ABS at both front and rear wheels. Applying the rear brake only does not activate any ABS, making brake steering possible. It turns out that the off-road ABS works so well to provide optimal brake force that it makes more sense to break old off-road habits by using the front brake only when a quick, controlled stop is necessary.

2016 Tiger Explorer self-cancelling turn signals.
Mid-level models feature self-cancelling turn signals.©Motorcyclist

Not Technical But Nice
A few more notable features that come on all models include center stand, 12 volt and USB sockets and adjustable wind protection, with the mid-level models receiving self-cancelling turn signals and cruise control. The top models come standard with heated seats and grips, as well as a cool hill hold control, tire pressure monitoring system, and pannier mounts. Both top-spec versions have taller windscreens, while all models have electric windscreen adjusters.

2016 Tiger Explorer heated seats
The top models come standard with heated seats and grips, as well as a cool hill hold control, tire pressure monitoring system, and pannier mounts.©Motorcyclist
Tiger Explorer radiator guard
The XCa has an aluminum sump guard, LED auxiliary fog lights, machined footpegs and radiator guard shown here.©Motorcyclist

The XCa has an aluminum sump guard, radiator guard, LED auxiliary fog lights, and machined footpegs, while the XRt has engine guards. Most all of these options can be added to lower-spec models, as well as 50 Triumph-branded accessories, including hard and soft luggage designed for adventure tourers in mind.

First Ride Review of the 2016 Triumph Tiger Explorer: