Handling is always a priority with Triumph and on this evidence they’ve succeeded again. The road, 19inch-wheeled, lower, lighter 800, is inevitably the sharper, slightly easier of the two Tigers through the twisties – but not by much.
What’s most impressive is the handling quality given pretty basic components. Their set-up is such that, overall, on road, both are more than capable of mixing it with sports bikes and are a real blast to ride, while at the same time being decently stable, comfortable, distance machines, although I prefer the higher stature and more substantial size of the XC.
Triumph’s middleweight triple was already a gem, both in 675 and Street Triple guise. But with the stroke lengthened to take it up to 799cc, primarily to fatten-up the low and middle stretches of the 10,000rpm rev band albeit at the expense of some top end, turns the Tiger 800’s powerplant into an easy, seamless, idiot-proof jewel.
And that, combined with the light clutch, perfectly slick gearbox and impeccable throttle response, makes the Tiger 800 a doddle to ride
Too early to say on the reliability front, but neat touches abound, such as a little switch to lower the headlamp for pillion use, the clever seat height adjusters, plenty of bungee hooks and decent underseat storage.
The quality seems good, especially with the clocks, paint etc and, with a claimed 250-mile potential range and raft of accessories is immensely versatile.
You pays your money, you takes your choice… the cheaper 800 version of the two Tigers ticks virtually every box and is probably, unless you specifically NEED some off-road ability, the more logical choice, but both are decent value.
As the more entry-level, cheaper, road-biased option, the Triumph Tiger 800 is visually differentiated from the XC by its cast wheels (19-inch at the front in place of the XC’s 21), lack of ‘beak’ and less sophisticated, shorter travel suspension (although, just to confuse things, XC items like the beak and handguards can be fitted to the 800, too).