- June 4, 2015
- Motorcycle Reviews
- 3 Comments
When Triumph launched their Tiger 800XC back in 2010, they knew exactly what they were doing. By pitching their bike in this capacity they were going head to head with the popular and accomplished BMW800GS a bike that has accompanied legions of riders around the globe on life changing adventures. In terms of a marketing ploy, this was like going up to the biggest guy in the playground and challenging him to a fight. So did they come out the winner or did they go home with a bloody nose and a wedgie?
Before we get into the detail. Lets clarify where these bikes sit in terms of off-road riding. At a smidge under 200kg without fluids, both bikes are going to be a handful if you want to take them into proper snotty conditions like the jungles of Cambodia . Yes it can be done, but when they are carrying over 80kg over a conventional trail bike, these bikes need some serious skill to get on song in tricky going.
But as the adventure bikes they are intended, combining big distances with competence when the hardtop becomes slightly less hard and grippy, both the Beemer and the Trumpet are real Ronseal bikes – they do what it says on the tin. It’s just that one does it slightly better …
If this were judged on road only, the Trumpet would get the full five stars. But on the rough stuff, the XC lacks a certain sure footedness that you need. If you intend to use it off-road a lot, get the suspension sorted by someone that knows.
Again this will depend on use – the more you thrash this bike, the more it will need maintaining, but from a base point, the XC is well made and well put together.
The XC800 is well priced in the market, and has good levels of equipment as standard. Oh and there are no end of Triumph branded upgrade parts to personalise your scoot
Think that the BMW and the Triumph look similar? That might be no coincidence as the Hinckley based firm are not averse to buying competitors bikes for benchmarking. The XC looks like the adventure tourer that it is – beautiful in a chunky, ugly kind of way.
Lets face it – the Triumph is in essence an off road frame round a road engine. As such it accelerates at landscape blurring speed in a way that can only make you smile, providing you are on the tarmac. On the dirt you have to be more careful and short shift to keep things in check. But on the fire roads it’s totally wonderful! and completely addictive.
TRIUMPH TIGER 800XC – THREE WAY FUN
The XC version is the more off-road focussed version of the 800s in Triumphs range. Armed with a 21 inch spoked front wheel that allows a full choice of off-road rubber rather than the 19 inch cast version on the standard bike, the XC has 40mm longer suspension, bigger 45mm forks and wider more off-road suitable bars. The changes to the front end totally transform the bike into feeling far more purposeful and bullish than the standard bike. The back end is similarly pumped up in the suspension department, which completes that rufty-tufty feel that buyers want.
Of course this brings its own disadvantages on the road as the bigger wheel and higher stance mean that cornering is not quite as seamless as on the road version, but that feeling is soon adjusted to and within a very short time you will be chasing down the race leather warriors far more effectively than they, or indeed you, might have thought.
Of course that’s not just down to the suspension – it’s helped massively by the truly awesome triple cylinder powerplant. If you’ve not ridden a triple, think of all the great aspects of a big twin, add them into all the joy of a punchy in-line four and mix them together with a fantastic induction roar and jet-fighter like engine note. The 800 XC uses a stroked version of the 675cc lump in the sports bikes, a process that fattens up the power delivery in the mid to low range – ideal for an adventure focussed bike. If you don’t like this motor, there is something wrong with you.
Build quality is strong, but inevitably long distances on less than smooth tarmac will highlight any components that are not up to standard. As with any adventure bike, you need to check the XC over regularly if you are intending of shaking the bejasus out of it on dusty trails.
OK so what are the XC good points at a glance?
- Fantastic motor – super smooth and powerful
- The standard tank is bigger than the GS at 5 gallons
- You can easily upgrade the fuel tank for better range
- Happy on crappy fuel
- Lighter than the GS
- Arguably better cycle parts
- Great handling in gravel and soft sand
- Great comfort for long distances
- Fun to ride – much more so than the GS
And the bad points?
- Difficult to find neutral sometimes
- Suspension as stock is quite soft and needs careful setting of rebound and compression damping
- Swing arm and linkage reduces ground clearance
- Side panels love to rattle endlessly
- Oil leaks on clutch cover are common if not correctly torqued
- Some owners report fuelling issues
For the full spec – go to the Triumph website
RIDE EXPEDITIONS RATING: TRIUMPH 800 XC
THE BMW 800GS – THE ULTIMATE OFF-ROAD TWIN?
The GS range had a proud history in terms of adventure motorcycling even before McGregor and Boorman got into the mix. And arguably, the 800 is the bike that might have suited their trips more than the monster boxer 1200. The 800 is all that you need to cover big distances, even if on the hardtop it has a few shortcomings.
Like the Triumph, the GS used the 21 / 17 inch combination of wheel sizes, giving you good tyre choice – on the front at least – and good manners on the trail. Like the XC, the bigger dimension front makes road handling slower than a smaller rim size.
The main selling point on the GS and a key point in its competence off road is the beautifully balanced twin motor. The power delivery is swift and needs respect on trail but on the road can soon make you behave like a hooligan. The downside of the two big cylinders is that for long distance trips when you are pulling big speeds on the road, the twin lump can leave you feeling pretty tingly all round from the vibration.
Once you have got the hang of the power off-road, the bike is ridiculously competent on the bumpy stuff. The Ohlins springers front and back handle everything from stutter bumps to big hits without complaint, but the forks can become skitter if you over-egg the power. The low-slung fuel tank adds a stability that the Triumph with it’s conventionally mounted tank can only dream of.
Despite lacking a cylinder to the XC, the GS is not appreciably narrow which seems odd. That said, the dimensions are not noticeable once you get going, and the cockpit and chassis layout shows just how long BMW have been doing this kind of thing – it just feels right.
OK so here’s that list again. We like
- The 800Gs is wonderfully agile compared to the Tiger
- Rock solid handling
- Pillion seat keeps passengers in the right place
- Great luggage options and mountings
- Unbeatable reliability and mechanicals
- Good levels of standard equipment, from grips to electronic suspension adjustment
- Sturdy and well designed bodywork
We don’t like
- It’s just a tiny bit dull and functional
- Fussy on fuel – not goof in remote locations
- Hard seat
- Low screen
- Narrow footpegs
- Wheel bearings known to fail
- Upper shock bolt not strong enough for prolonged off road abuse
The full spec is on BMW’s website
The hard seat is always going to be an issue on long trips, even if it’s an advantage when off road. The GS needs a gel seat if you intend to conquer continents. On the rough stuff it is spot on.
Although we were hoping for typically Teutonic brilliance, the GS does not feel quite as well build as the XC in some areas. We still give it a 4, as it is Land Rover tough and functional.
he BMW GS800 does everything you want it to and you could easily own this for decades. Would you say that about the Triumph?
As the bike the XC has copied, the GS has to score higher. It’s got the look the buyers want, even if they never go near mud their entire life.
The BMW twin motor puts out a type of power that just makes sense on the dirt – waves of controllable torque that just propel you forward or drift the back end whenever you want. On the road, that same power isn’t quite so attractive, especially at high speed. So keep to the dirt!
RIDE EXPEDITIONS RATING: BMW 800 GS
It’s no surprise that these two bikes come out as a tie, as it’s fairly clear one is firmly – lets say ‘inspired’ by the other. Buy either and you are not going to be unhappy with your choice. But how happy you are with either will depend on where you intend to ride. If you favour large distances on tarmac but with a bike that can still handle itself on the rough stuff, the XC is your man. It’s a road motor given an off-road treatment and a suitable chassis and does it’s job well
But if you really want to go adventure riding over whatever terrain the planet can throw at you, the choice has to go to the leggy Bavarian. Its far more dirt bike than the Triumph in terms of engine, clearance, balance – just about everything. The forks needs some fettling to avoid that high speed nervousness and you’ll need to get a hardened steel bolt for that top shock mount, but otherwise it’s good to go.
You pays your money – you takes your choice …
If all this has whetted your appetite for off-road adventure riding but don’t want to plan it all yourself – why not join one of our fantastic tours in Cambodia. Here’s the calendar so all you need to do is choose the tour, book the time off work and tick the days off …
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This Post Has 3 Comments
14 Dec 2015 Reply
I was finding it difficult to pick between the two as I have just sold my Triumph Sprint and not ridden either bike.
Your information provided has helped me a lot , I will be back on a Triumph.
6 Dec 2016 Reply
Just bought the T.
6 Dec 2016 Reply
Good choice Josh – glad we could help!
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Long Term Review: Triumph Tiger 800XC
3 years ago
Murray gives us a full run down on his Triumph Tiger XC after two years and a trip around Oz. Here’s his Triumph Tiger 800XC review. Test & Photography by Murray Nettheim
Triumph released the Tiger 800 to a great reception in 2011, with the bike competing in a BMW dominated segment.
With plans to travel around Australia, including the aim to encounter a lot more dirt, the time came for me to trade in my Kawasaki Versys 650 and upgrade to a more suitable Adventure Tourer form of motorcycle… My choice after careful reading, speaking to mates and discussion with a long term rider and sales rep, was made and I collected my Triumph Tiger 800XC.
The bike was everything I was looking for – tall, upright, great suspension, good power in all gears, economical and sexy to look at.
The Tiger 800XC is basically an uprated Tiger 800, with 45mm forks, longer suspension travel at both ends, a lower seat and a number of other small improvements. The most noticeable difference is the spoked wheels, the front being a 21in item instead of the standard Tiger’s 19in.
I rode the bike home and made plans to get the bike run in as soon as possible. This meant planning a good ride up to Port Macquarie and back on back roads through Seaham, Booral, and Bulahdelah.
The first service was done in a bit over a week and everything was looking great!
A mate in Gunnedah was impressed by my new Tiger 800 and wanted to have a closer look, so some dirt riding was in order, covering 1000km on tar and at least 500km on gravel, dirt and bush tracks in a three-day period. The Tiger did not miss a beat or have any issues, with the first 2000km flashing by.
Murray fitted a massive top box capable of storing two helmets, for much of his travels.
With the standard spoked rims suitable for both off-road and tar riding, the original tyres – a set of Pirelli Scorpions lasted well, giving 14,800km from both the front and rear, before being replaced by a set of Michelin Anakee 3s.
The trip around Australia was planned and leading up to the ride I had only one issue with the Tiger – a faulty stator motor. It would cause the bike to either not start, (turn over but no ignition) or start and run like it was on full choke mode for about two minutes, or would cut out when going down gears – usually into a corner.
The guys at Triumph and Ric Andrews Motorcycles, West Gosford were excellent and had the issue fixed under warranty, including a full retune of the bike and I was back riding in under two days.
A day at The Farm – a local invite only venue – followed and allowed me to test the Tiger at high speeds all day. Weather remained hot, with an equally hot wind blowing, giving a good test to the bike’s cooling abilities, which where sure to be put to the test across Australia’s many varied conditions. The bike did not overheat, nor feel unstable while doing higher speeds than are legal on our public roads, with a set of 50/50 tyres.
Around Australia we went, covering over 14,000kms in 26 days, enduring three cyclonic weather patterns, plenty of heat and various types of tar. One oil change was done in Broome, along with chain slack adjustment, with the chain adjusted at Margaret River as well. That was all I needed to do.
On the Michelin Anakie 3s I got 25,000kms from the front and almost 11,000km from the rear, which I had to replace in Katherine, Northern Territory. My only replacement option was a Michellin Road Pilot 3, which got me home easily and eventually managed a total of 14,000km.
Fuel consumption for the trip was very consistent and within expectations, apart from a few areas where the “pink and green” fuels, in outback WA and NT, caused issues. There, the fuel economy was terrible, dropping down to 14-18km/L whereas it was normally between 20-25km/L on Premium.
Over two years after purchasing the Tiger 800XC I’m still riding it and loving the motorcycle. I’ve just done over 8000kms around Queensland, did the Bloomfield Track at Cooktown, out to the Gulf of Carpentaria and back via Longreach and Moree… and have also been down to Phillip Island for the MotoGP.
I changed my chain and sprockets at 49,000km and added a smaller, sportier windscreen which is as good as the standard high screen in regards to buffering – there is none! I’ve also since raised my front mudguard by five centimeters for future dirt riding where the additional clearance especially on wet/muddy roads is really appreciated, and the bike still handles great!
Accessories/Mods I’ve fitted to my Triumph Tiger 800XC:
- Small LED driving lights hard wired to the high beam.
- Replaced exhaust with an IXL System from WA.
- Bash plate and brake fluid cover.
- Oil filter cover – made from an old cricket groin protector. I had read of a guy travelling the Nullabor and seizing an engine, the culprit a small stone flicked from front wheel into the oil filter creating a pin size hole and leaking over a day… I’ve also seen an old baked bean tin used as well as this is the perfect size!
- Rear hugger.
- Top box big enough to hold two helmets, or a carton of beer with ice. Don’t ask me how I know that!
- I covered the standard hand grips with some foam “Pussy Grips”, for a more comfortable long distance grip.
Triumph Tiger 800XC Pros & Cons
- The Tiger 800XC is perfect for my riding posture, I can give it plenty or be sedate, and it fits me perfectly.
- Rubber insulated footpegs take a lot of the impact out on rougher roads.
- Access to the battery is great, just lift both seats and it’s right there.
- A auxillary power socket-next to ignition, but you do need to purchase a Merit plug adapter.
- You sit tall in traffic and see over everyone in a car. This means you are nice and visible, with exceptional vision yourself as a rider.
- It looks the business, in my opinion!
- The seat is extremely comfortable.
- All controls are easy to use and on hand.
- Plenty of power in all gears, rode through the city and would easily pull away in second gear and comfortably ride in fifth in stop-start traffic.
- Great highway riding, easily sits at the speed limit with room for more if needed.
- On the dirt, the Tiger sits well and as long as you stay loose the bike will take you where you point it.
- Seat setting. It has two settings, low or standard, but I wish it had one more setting, super low!
- Headlights reach/brightness. I’ve added better globes and will probably upgrade the stock lights to something better soon.
- Costs of accessories. Genuine Triumph accessories are not exactly cheap.
- Replacing the parking light in headlight. You have to remove the front beak (six screws) to get to the bulb which you can just pull out and replace.
- Getting under/into the airbox and removing the fuel tank is a trial. There’s lots to remove, including the seats, beak, radiator surrounds, panelling next to tank, then you’ll need someone or something to hold tank up while you undo the fuel pump, and it’s hard to see what you are pulling off.
- The Tiger could also do with a second auxillary power plug. I added my own direct from the battery and it sits under the rider seat.
- Switching off ABS for dirt riding can only be done when turning on the bike. You have to go into setup and turn the ABS off from there. Once you stop the engine, the ABS turns back on and the alternative is to pull the fuse from ABS, which isn’t ideal if you’re doing mixed riding.
- The oil filter is exposed to being hit by loose debris, a filter cover as standard would be great for Australian conditions.
SPECIFICATIONS: 2013 TRIUMPH Tiger 800XC (Standard)
WARRANTY: Two years unlimited
CLAIMED POWER: 69.3kW[95hp]@9300rpm
CLAIMED TORQUE: 79Nm[58.3ft-lbs]@7850rpm
WET WEIGHT: 215kg
FUEL CAPACITY: 19L
ENGINE: Liquid-cooled, DOHC, 12 valve, in-line three-cylinder, 74 x 61.9mm, 799cc, 12:1 compression, EFI, wet multi-plate clutch, stainless steel three-into-one exhaust
CHASSIS: Tubular steel trellis frame, twin-sided swingarm
WHEELBASE: 1545mm RAKE: 23.9 TRAIL: 92.4mm
SUSPENSION: Showa 45mm upside down forks, 220mm travel, Showa monoshock, remote oil reservoir, preload and rebound adjustable, 215mm travel
BRAKES: Switchable ABS, dual Nissin two-piston calipers, Nissin 14mm master-cylinder, 308mm front rotors, Nissin single-piston caliper, 255mm rear rotor
WHEELS & TYRES: Cast aluminium rim, 21in 36-spoke front, 17in 32-spoke rear, 2.50 x 21in, 4.25 x 17in, 90/90 ZR 21, 150/70 ZR17
Seat height: 810/830mm adjustable,
Overall height: 1350mm,
Overall length: 2215mm
INSTRUMENTS: Digital multifunction LCD display, analogue tachometer
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Review: 2016 Triumph Tiger Sport
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January 7, 2017Jim Clark
Agree with most of what you say about the Tiger. I have the basic Tiger 800 owned
since 2012, it has been very reliable and economical. It was bought as an all roads
tourer and performs very well in that role. If i have any criticism it would be that it
can be a little top heavy especially with a full tank of fuel. For even semi serious off
road work block pattern tyres would be an improvement especially if any mud is
encountered, however you then lose out in tarmac twisties, such is compromise.
In some respects it reminds me of bigger bikes back in the 60’s and 70’s much more
allrounders rather than narrow focussed road bikes. Best of all is the lovely characterful
engine putting the power right where you need it.
February 11, 2017bill manton
I have a Tiger 800 xcx and have has many electrical issues. Been towed to the dealership 2 times in 15000kms. Still under warranty but I had trouble with the last claim when it broke down and towed in again (3rd tow).
List of items the dealer has replaced under warranty:
– regulator rectifier
– battery (cooked over charged from faulty recipient and charging 17.5v into the electrical system.
– starter fuse under the seat
– abs module unit, electrical failure causing lights to flash on and off
– starter motor burnt out, been running while riding due to electrical failure from rectifier issue (I believe)
– starter fuse and solenoid melted and cooked
The bike has never been dropped in water, nor has the water drain under the battery been blocked. Never been riding in mud or bad weather too old to be doing that.
April 2, 2017Jim Boomba
I think the tiger is an awesome ride. Never had an issue with electrics like this other guy. Sounds like he got a friday afternoon special: it happens. Love this bike.
May 11, 2017Mike
Riding the XCx version and have mixed emotions. It’s an allrounder but engine buzz causes my hands to get numb, the standard windscreen is punishment and the engine heat is not fun on hot days and during slow commute. All in all though it’s a great, comfortable bike if you’re planning a long trip in various conditions. It’s basically a tall sports bike with good suspension (WP) and clearance.
May 20, 2017Paul Milo
All rounder it is! 800 XCA. 20k km and 12mths old
– very comfortable
– handles well on road
– std headlights are very good
– handles gravel well
– 10k Svc intervals
– heated seat and grips, although grips could be warmer
– a bit top heavy
– I’d like more power but ok
– still learning to handle it for proper off road
– I am perplexed by fuel cons figures quoted. As soon as I hit touring speeds 110kph lucky to get 5.5L/100 18km/l. I often plan for 6L/100
– switchblock is clumsy
– dealer service costs
– modes reset to nanny mode after a each start
– None really. The brakes grab at low speed like the disc is warped, but it isn’t. I suspect it’s the rotor but not confirmed yet. Irritating but not dangerous. Fitted Brembo pads that are better
October 25, 2017PhiPhi
Agree with @Paul, except I advise getting the dealer to update firmware as my 2016 XCX retains modes between journeys.
Brought the Arrow exhaust and have to say baffle out it bexomes the biggest safety feature on the bike, but the Arrow mapping is not fuel friendly and a little too rich for my liking.
If you want a do-all swiss army bike for highways, twisties and some off road the Tiger XC range delivers in spades.
December 24, 2017Stan McFadyen
I have bought a one owner 2013 model XC and was beginning to like the bike until it succumbed to that difficult to downshift malady eventually getting stuck in top gear and end up at bike shop over the Christmas break this year. I planned to fit a K&N washable filter and a Staintune muffler as soon as the bike has run-in some more. Time will tell, whether I will keep it for the long term, looks as though I’ll need to fashion a protective cover for the oil filter so it’s not vulnerable to an errant rock though that fine expanded security mesh may be perhaps better than solid metal so that it permits cooling air flow around the oil filter . I’ll keep my eye out for a centre core from and inner dry air filter perhaps.
March 28, 2018John
I’m not sure exactly why but this weblog is loading very slow for me. Is anyone else having this problem or is it a problem on my end? I’ll check back later and see if the problem still exists.
March 28, 2018Bike Review
Let us know if the problem continues John.
July 22, 2018Steve
I bought the 2018 XCA runout model with all the hard panniers about four months ago. Love the bike and agree with all the comments about the clumsy, unintuitive electronic modes, but the plus side is you do get used to it quickly and learn the menus. High first gear is a pain in the bush and can make it easy to stall at traffic lights if you are after a fast start and not on your game. Have done 7000km so far commuting and playing in the dirt. Heated grips and seats are awesome and the cruise control is worth it’s weight in gold for the freeway.
Average 5.2L per 100Km across the board running on standard 91 ron fuel. Have done a few 800Km days and the seat is the best I have used. Fitted a Puig touring screen straight away and was the best decision I have made. Helibar raisers are OK but a pain to fit as you have to reroute all the cables , Wouldn’t fit them again, over priced and over rated. Would recommend the Tiger to anyone that will listen. Go the latest model with the lower first gear and better screen and you cant go wrong. 9/10.
July 25, 2018Bike Review
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