TRIUMPH’S FORGOTTEN ROADSTER GETS SOME LOVE...
WORDS: ROLAND BROWN
PIC: ALESSIO BARBANTI AND STEFANO GADDA
It’s strange that while adventure bikes have been getting increasingly popular of late, the Tiger has become almost the forgotten bike of Triumph’s range. After all, adventure bikes are essentially sports-tourers with upright riding positions and comfy suspension, right? Despite their dirtbike influenced styling many don’t go further off road than a pub car-park, so would be better off with street rubber.
As the old Tiger 1050 was arguably an adventure bike with road tyres, you might think the tall triple would have been perfectly placed to surf that growing wave. Instead it found itself swamped by knobbly-tyred newcomers peddling fantasies of trans-global travel. So Triumph decided it needed a revamp and a new name to add some glamour.
The result is the Tiger Sport. It’s basically the 1050 with a bunch of changes, most of which are intended to make it more practical. It also gets the Sport addition to its name, presumably because Hinckley’s marketing department decided the more accurate Tiger Touring or Tiger Practical wouldn’t do...
The 1,050cc, 12-valve motor is unchanged, but improved breathing gives extra low-rev torque and boosts power by 10bhp to 123bhp. Other features include reshaped fairings and bodywork, revised chassis incorporating a new single-sided swing-arm, lower seat, extra luggage capacity, plus new headlights, switchgear, gearbox and ABS brake system.
As soon as you climb aboard it’s obvious why Triumph call the Tiger an adventure bike. At 830mm its seat is 5mm lower than the old Tiger’s, and narrower at the front, but still pretty high. Short riders will struggle but will doubtless appreciate the change. Pillions also gain because the rear part of the seat is lower and flatter, and has new built-in grab-handles.
After leaving the launch base near Barcelona I soon appreciated another update. The new switchgear lets you toggle through the digital display’s functions without taking a hand off the bars. And the new set-up incorporates indicators with switchable self-cancelling. For once on a launch, nobody went down the road flashing at pedestrians.
Triumph’s electronics update didn’t include ride-by-wire throttle control or multiple engine modes, but I can’t say I missed them. The triple motor might have gained 10bhp but it’s a massively flexible lump with smooth throttle response, and still makes only 10bhp less than the Speed Triple’s similar powerplant.
This motor is even gruntier than the Triple’s, now kicking out peak torque at a knuckle-dragging 4,300rpm – only 65mph in top. I could slow to 2,000rpm and 30mph at times, then crack the throttle open and be swooshing smoothly towards the 130mph-plus top speed moments later. But the Sport’s nowhere near as wheelie happy as it once was, mainly due to its longer wheelbase.
The engine’s flexibility meant that once under way I had little need of the gearbox, which is further improved following last year’s redesign. A new selector mechanism and drum give lighter, more positive shifting. One long-standing weakness finally nailed.
Wind protection from the headlamp fairing and enlarged, reasonably wide screen was pretty good. Shame Triumph didn’t fit an adjustable screen, but despite being tall I didn’t cop too much turbulence.
Handling was basically sound, though disappointing at first because I’d hoped for Speed Triple style flickability. That was unrealistic because the Tiger is 20kg heavier and more than 100mm longer, never mind its extra 20mm of suspension travel at each end. It cornered fine but needed a fair bit of effort to get it to change direction in a hurry.
Backing off the 43mm forks’ preload and adding a few turns at the rear helped by sharpening the steering slightly. The Showa units at both ends worked well, soaking up the bumps effortlessly yet keeping good control despite their fairly long travel.
Pirelli’s Angel GTs are designed for distance as much as grip, but did a decent job. And the unchanged front brake combination of 320mm discs and four-piston radial Nissin calipers hauled the Triumph up hard, enhanced by a faster acting, standard fitment ABS system.
One reason Triumph was keen to improve high-speed stability was to let the Sport carry more load. Its accessory panniers are joined by a wire and are free to pivot in similar style to the Trophy tourer’s (which use rods). This improves aerodynamics, reduces instability and has increased each pannier’s load to 10kg.
Triumph claims its injection changes improve fuel efficiency by nine per cent. I got 40mpg when thrashing it and over 50mpg at a lazier pace (according to the instrument panel), so the unchanged 20-litre capacity should normally allow a 150-plus mile range. Other new features include under-seat storage and bungee loops.
All of which should improve the practicality and long-distance ability of a bike that is likely to get better the further it’s ridden. Despite its name the Tiger Sport is not a sports bike, nor an adventure bike either. It’s a sports-tourer with long-travel suspension. And although it’s still not particularly glamorous, it’s a pretty bloody good one at that.
ENGINE The 1,050cc, 12-valve triple engine is carried over from the Tiger 1050. A reshaped airbox, recalibrated injection system and a new exhaust combine to boost torque throughout the range and increase max power by 10bhp, to 123bhp at 9400rpm. The gearbox is a further improved version of the unit fitted to last year’s Speed Triple R, with a new selector mechanism for improved shifting.
CHASSIS The unchanged, twin-spar aluminium frame holds a new rear subframe that is lower and stiffer. A new single-sided swingarm replaces the old twin-sider and allows the exhaust to be tucked in tighter, reducing the width of the right pannier. Panniers are linked by a cable in Triumph’s Dynamic Luggage System, so can pivot on their top mounts to improve stability. ABS is updated.
TECHNICAL TRIUMPH TIGER SPORT
Type | 1,050cc, liquid-cooled, transverse triple
Bore x Stroke | 79 x 71.4mm
Compression | 12:1
Fuelling | Electronic fuel-injection
Claimed Power | 123bhp @ 9,400rpm
Claimed Torque | 104Nm @ 7,500rpm
Frame | Aluminium twin spar
F Suspension | Showa, 43mm inverted fork, fully adjustable
R Suspension | Showa, Monoshock, fully adjustable
Front Brakes | Four-piston radial calipers, 320mm discs, ABS
Rear Brakes | Twin-piston caliper, 255mm disc, ABS
Wheelbase | 1,540mm
Seat Height | 830mm
Dry Weight | 235kg (kerb)
Fuel Capacity | 20 litres
Price | £9,599
From | Triumph UK www.triumphmotorcycles.co.uk 01455 251700
150 mile range
Would cope, just about
FAST ROAD 7
Fast and stable
Too sensible for all that
NEW RIDER 8
Fine if your legs are long
Head more than heart
Understated all-rounder that lacks flair but won’t let you down. Can’t match the Speed Triple’s grin factor, but it’s well built, competitively priced and makes plenty of sense.
+ FLEXIBLE ENGINE, STABILITY, PRACTICALITY, PRICE
- TALL ON SEAT HEIGHT, SHORT ON THRILLS