Tiger-800-XC

While the stock Tiger 800 is an incredibly accomplished machine for predominately on-road use, the 800 XC is its bigger, beefier brother. Both Tigers share the same engine and frame, but the XC is your choice if you want a convincing dual-purpose middleweight adventure bike. It’s fitted with chunky 45mm USD forks, barkbusting handguards, spoked rims with a 21-inch front tyre, radiator guard, high-level mudguard and taller handlebars to suit off-road use. The XC also comes fitted with dual-purpose Bridgestone Battlewings that are a good on/offroad compromise choice of rubber. The bigger 21-inch front wheel means the bike steers slightly slower than the Tiger 800, but grip isn’t compromised and you can chuck the XC around quite happily – back-to-back on the road, both bikes feel very similar. But take the XC off-road and it starts to shine. It will jump, slide its way around gravel trails, clear boulders and stay stable at 79kph on shale, as I discovered on Triumph’s off-road test route.

For a bike weighing in at 215kg (5kg more than the Tiger 800), it handles incredibly well and the chassis is very forgiving. A couple of times I messed up on jumps and landed the bike nose first, but the massive 220mm of travel on the front forks made light work of my mistakes. The rear suspension’s also really good at relaying info and absorbing the hammering you’re putting it through. Like the Tiger 800, it’s got hydraulically adjustable preload, although on the XC, the reservoir’s remote. It also benefits from an extra 45mm of rear wheel travel, with 215mm on tap, and greater trail.

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The nature of the long-stroke motor’s power delivery really suits off-road riding. If you want it to spin it everywhere, use first gear and rev it up the top, but if you want control and drive, get it into second or third and use the abundance of torque available. There’s also decent amounts of engine braking you can rely on, rather than grabbing a handful of brakes and washing out the front wheel (easy to do off-road if you’re not used to it). The little extras are also helpful: the handguards saved my hands from branches on several occasions and the higher bars meant I didn’t have to slouch when stood up on the pegs – extra grip (and 20mm more legroom) can be gained by removing the rubber blocks located on top of the steel pegs. The XC is practical, well-thought-out, versatile and fun to ride. You can genuinely ride along a road, spot a green lane and go tackle it without making any changes to the bike. And when you’re finished, find the nearest road and head home.

Of course, the XC’s main rival is the BMW F800GS, and the XC is a little cheaper. The XC will be £7749 OTR, again taking into account the new 20% VAT rate in January 2011, whereas the BMW is currently £7780 (£7945 with the extra 20%). There’s no doubt Triumph has created a very competent all-round mid-sized adventure bike –

Words: Bruce Wilson Pics: Paul Barshon

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