2016 Triumph Tiger Explorer first ride

Published: 15 February 2016

Triumph has combined state of the art electronics with a host of chassis, engine and comfort upgrades to transform its big adventure bike. It might look the Tiger Explorer we know and love on the outside, but the new machine is easier to ride for longer, as well as being safer, faster over distance and above all, more fun.

We’re testing the fully-loaded £15,800 off-road spec Explorer XCA at its world launch in southern Portugal today, but there are now six Explorer versions to choose from – three XR (road) and three (XC) off-road models in ascending levels of spec. There are also two ‘Low’ models, which have a 52mm lower seat height, thanks to different forks, shock, suspension and seat.  Prices start at £11,800 when they hit dealers in April.

There are a staggering amount of changes to the new Explorer, which continues to be made in Triumph’s UK factory. They all add up to make a machine that’s is smoother than the 2012 original, more powerful, gruntier, plusher, more aerodynamic, comfier and 5% more frugal.

And that’s not all: paint finishes have been improved, there’s better wind protection and the fuelling off a closed throttle is now flawless. It now corners with more urgency, steers quicker and is fitted with and Inertial Measurement Unit (IMU) controlled traction control and cornering ABS (like the latest superbikes), so it’s safer in all conditions, too.

There’s still more: new variable riding modes (five on the top spec bike: Rain, Road, Off-Road, Sport, Rider) are perfectly judged, but the jewel in the new Explorer’s crown is its new electronically controlled Triumph Semi Active Suspension, which transforms the Explorer’s ride, handling and ability to find grip in any conditions.

The old Explorer used to sit on the soft side of sporty and was too unwieldy for true off-road. But thanks to its electronic enhancements it can behave like an adrenalin-fuelled sportsbike, be comfortable enough for day-long motorway cruising, or your off-road friend – all at a flick of a switch.

The 1215cc inline three-cylinder engine has been given the Euro 4 treatment, so it’s now quieter and more efficient. But far from stifling this superb powerplant, the breathed-on motor has a delicious spread of torque for cruising, civilised manners around town and a kick-ass top end when you want to get a move on. It’s a flexible, fun engine in its own right and enhanced further by the variable riding modes, so you get an engine that’s even more tailored to your mood and conditions.

But as fast, safe and capable as it is, the new 137bhp Triumph is still pretty weighty and this XCA tips the scales at 258kg dry. The lightest version is the 244kg base model XR. So hardcore, sporty riders are still going to find more fizz from the lighter, more powerful adventure bikes like the Multistrada and S1000XR.

Unlike the old Explorer the new machine is more comfortable and after a full day’s riding body and mind are still fresh. The riding position is roomy and there’s no more wind buffeting, thanks to a new electrically-operated screen – a first for an adventure bike. It works so well that, even at full extension, it doesn’t drag you into towards it at speed, so you don’t get neck ache. You don’t get spray on your visor following other vehicles in the wet, either.

You get a lot of equipment in standard trim, even on the base model. In addition to the electronic headline stuff, there’s the small things that make your life easier, like self-cancelling indicators, a centre stand, on-board computer, cruise control, heated grips and seat, chargers… the list goes on. There are over 50 official accessories to choose from, too.

Read the full story, including details of specs and price on all six Explorer models, in MCN this Wednesday.