First Ride: Triumph Tiger Sport 1050

Published: 11 April 2016

“This versatile all-rounder just keeps on improving”

The Tiger Sport has always nestled in the shadows of Triumph’s huge 38-model range, earning a reputation as an all-rounder rather than as a star – a more dependable defender than star striker. But in the highly competitive field of 17-inch front-wheel adventure styled bikes, the Sport was starting to look and feel a little basic and dated, especially against considerably more expensive bikes like Ducati’s DVT Multistrada.

So for 2016 Triumph have given the Tiger a new lease of life. The chassis remains pretty much as it was but they’ve heavily revised the already torquey triple it shares with the Speed Triple with a claimed 104 changes plus a new exhaust, airbox and fuel mapping. Peak torque and power have only increased a fraction but the spread has changed significantly; there’s four per cent increase in torque at 5250rpm and a four to six per cent increase in power between 5 and 7000rpm.

The old Tiger was lacking spec and rider aids, but Triumph have addressed this issue by adding traction control as standard, which is changeable via three modes:  Rain, Road and Sport. Cruise control (and ABS) also comes as standard; there’s a new 12v power socket and a USB socket under the seat for charging your phone. An adjustable, tinted flip screen makes its debut, though it’s manually not electronically adjustable. There are new clocks while hand guards come as standard, as do wind deflectors either side of the new screen. There are new graphics, a new seat with an embossed logo, and new, gripper pegs.

Triumph claim the Tiger Sport is designed to ‘excel at every aspect of motorcycling from scratching to touring and more’. The neat new switchgear and clocks are informative and easy to navigate, there’s a pleasing Triumph logo on the fuel cap, while those hand guards took the morning chill away from my summer gloves and the screen seemed wider and taller.  

Once away from the tiny cobbled streets and heading towards the Alps it was time to let the Tiger Sport out of its cage to see if it lives up to its ‘sport’ title. Its fully adjustable Showa suspension is identical to the old bike’s while the new Tiger Sport has gained just 2kg despite all its new toys, and I couldn’t detect any difference in the way it handles.

The suspension is controlled and the ride is sporty: the fork doesn’t dive excessively when you apply the Nissin ABS-assisted brakes, which are now stronger than previously due to a new ratio at the lever, nor does the rear sit like a well-trained sheep dog when you apply the power. Unlike the old bike you now have traction control to complement the handling. It isn’t lean angle sensitive, nor does it measure pitch or yaw, but simply measures the differences in wheel speed, while monitoring gear and throttle position along with engine speed and acts accordingly. It’s a rather simple system but it works smoothly and has anti-wheelie built in.

The ergonomics – bars, footpegs and seat positon – are as per the old bike: upright and comfortable, while the fuel tank stays at 20 litres. Triumph claim the revised motor is eight per cent more frugal and good for 54mpg. I managed to average 49mpg but was making the most of smooth motor up the stunning Alpine roads.

The three engine maps are switchable from the mode button on the dash. Once you’ve chosen your specific mode you simply close the throttle and pull in the clutch to activate it.

I spent most of the day in the standard road mode, but if you want that extra dollop of power then opt for the sports mode, which gives the Tiger Sport a kick up the arse without disturbing its smooth fuelling.

Usually the end of a long test ride leaves me tired and looking forward to the hotel bar but after a full-on blast on the Tiger Sport I could have easily taken on more. I would have happily taken on the test route through the stunning French Alps again or plonked a pillion on the back and taken a trip down the coast to Monaco for an evening meal. I would have ridden home to the UK if Triumph hadn’t needed the bike. Not many bikes are so versatile.

Triumph Tiger Sport 1050 – Tech Spec

Price £10,300
Engine liquid cooled 1050cc (79x 71.4mm) inline triple, six gears, chain drive
Power 125bhp (claimed)
Torque 78.18ft.lb (claimed)
Wheels Front – 120/70 R17 Rear – 180/55 R17
Front Brakes 2 x 320mm discs with four-piston Nissin radial caliper.
Rear brakes Single 255mm disc with two-piston Nissin caliper, ABS as standard.
Front Suspension Showa 43mm front fork, fully adjustable
Rear Suspension Showa single rear shock adjustable for preload and rebound damping
Weight 218kg (dry)
Fuel capacity 20l
Seat Height 830mm

Triumph Tiger Sport 1050 – in brief

Engine Triumph claim 104 engine changes, which include a new cylinder head with new inlet ports and piston design. There are new injectors, a new exhaust design and silencer, ECU and the introduction of ride by wire.

Ride by wire and modes The ride by wire allows cruise control, traction control, anti-wheelie and the use of three changeable throttle maps, Rain, Road and Sport.  Each mode changes the engine characteristics, Sport and Road having the same peak power, but rain mode is restricted to 100bhp. The level of TC is the same in Sport and Road but is increased in the Rain mode.

Screen Now adjustable and can be done on the move with one hand. There’s additional ‘Aero Diffusers’ either side of the screen to deflect the wind blast further. Hand guards also come as standard.

Suspension Settings are the same as the previous model, even the same springs and weight. This means up front you have Showa 43 inverted items which are fully adjustable and on the rear is a single Showa rear shock adjustable for preload and rebound damping.

Rider aids The traction control is switchable on the move via the modes, but there are only two options. You can de-activate the TC but only at a standstill, and you can’t reset the TC once on the move if you’ve opted to disengage it. The TC will re-set to on every time the bike is turned on.                                   

Styling New badges and graphics, while Triumph have improved detailing. Wheel spindles have a billet aluminium finish and the mirrors get an embossed logo. Two models are available: black with neon or silver with red.

Accessories There are 38 official accessories for this model, from performance accessories like an Arrow Exhaust, to comfort like heated grips, and obviously there’s luggage, box panniers, tail packs and tang bags.  

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