2024 Triumph Tiger 1200 GT Pro and Explorer review | Revised engine balance means fewer vibes

Highlights

  • Rebalanced engine for fewer vibes
  • Heavier crank means less stalling
  • Push-button seat height reduction

At a glance

Power: 148 bhp
Seat height: Tall (34.3 in / 870 mm)
Weight: High (542 lbs / 246 kg)

Overall rating

Next up: Ride & brakes
4 out of 5 (4/5)

Triumph’s flagship adventure bikes got a complete revamp in 2022 over the old 1215cc Tiger: a new engine, lighter and more powerful, with the latest electronics, a new frame, suspension and brakes, and re-worked styling. There were two models: the road-orientated GT and the more adventure-styled Rally. Both came in Pro or Explorer versions: the Pro with a 20-litre tank and the Explorer with a 30-litre tank, plus a higher level of trim including blind-spot rear radar and heated seats.

The road-based GT came on a 19in cast front and 18in cast rear with Showa semi-active suspension and 200mm of travel, and a seat height of 850mm or 870mm – which sits the rider deeper in the bike and lower behind the screen than its Tiger 1200 Rally counterpart (21in front, wire rims, more suspension travel and taller seat).

Both bikes used a 148bhp, 1160cc inline three-cylinder retuned from the current Speed Triple, plus the lumpy, off-balance T-plane crank concept recently used in the Tiger 900 to add extra engine character and off-road traction. But the T-plane crank met with market resistance – some riders felt the previously smooth engine was too lumpy, with vibration increasing in frequency as revs climbed. Also, the T-plane motor was prone to suddenly stalling at low rpm when the rider least needed it – negotiating U-turns while feathering the clutch.

Triumph Tiger 1200 GT Pro right side static

The 2024 Tiger 1200 GT is fundamentally the same bike as the 2022 Tiger 1200 GT, but fixes those problems: engine design modifications mean a significantly smoother engine all through the rev range, it’s now easy to use the engine at low revs without fear of stalling, and a push-button lowering system means the bike drops to minimum preload height and is more manageable at low speed and standstill. The GT also gets more cornering clearance from repositioned footpegs, a flatter, re-shaped rider’s seat, and new Carnival Red colour.

Ride quality & brakes

Next up: Engine
4 out of 5 (4/5)

With 200mm spring travel, beefy 49mm Showa semi-active forks and Showa shock, plus kerb weight figures of 246kg for the GT Pro and 256kg for the GT Explorer (up one kilo from the previous model), ride quality is superb, with full options for adjusting the semi-active damping range to suit tastes from soft, comfortable and slightly wallowy to taut, responsive and slightly choppy sports. Damping adjustment can be made on the move in any of five modes, including a custom Rider mode which allows personalised set-up (changes made in fixed modes will remain at ignition off). Preload is automatically adjusted by the bike according to detected payload.

The GT Pro and Explorer use a 19 x 3.0in cast front wheel and 18 x 4.25in cast rear wheel on 120/70 front and 150/70 rear Metzeler Tourance Next tyres. Steering is initially weighty – even turning the handlebars at standstill you can feel the tyre resisting (almost as if it’s under-inflated). On the move, the GT needs a conscious countersteer pressure on the bars to change and hold direction, and is especially noticeable riding in the wet. It feels like a steering geometry mis-match – the GT has steeper rake but longer trail than its sweeter-steering 21in front Rally counterpart. However, you soon compensate as you ride, and notice it less.

Other than that the GT has stable and reassuring cornering ability, needing only a marginal drag of rear brake to hold a line mid-corner. The lower seat height (than the Rally models) sits the rider deeper in the bike, which lowers the rolling centre of gravity and gives the GT a more steady, sports tourer rate of turn than its adventure-orientated sibling.

Triumph Tiger 1200 GT Explorer front action shot

Brakes are as before: four-pot radial Brembo Stylema calipers on 320mm discs with a Magura radial master cylinder and adjustable span. Cornering ABS is by Conti. The brakes are powerful and have plenty of lever feel, allowing the GT to be trail-braked deep into a turn.

An Off-Road rider mode deactivates rear ABS and switches the front ABS to an off-road setting. The heavier GT Explorer, with a full 30-litre fuel load, steers and brakes with more weight transfer than the lighter, 20-litre Pro – but both bikes hide their weight well and don’t feel excessively large or cumbersome on the road.

During the launch there was no time or access to get an experienced pillion view of the Tiger 1200 GT but, as nothing has changed for the pillion rider, any previous comments about the passenger set-up on the outgoing model still stand.

Triumph Tiger 1200 GT Pro electronic suspension

Engine

Next up: Reliability
4 out of 5 (4/5)

The GT’s 1160cc inline triple is adapted from the Speed Triple, retuned to make 148bhp @ 9000rpm and 96 lb.ft at 7000rpm. That’s a healthy performance, and there isn’t a scenario in which the Tiger 1200 feels slow. It can’t match the instant low-down snap of the larger BMW R1300 GS or KTM 1290 Super Adventure, and it hasn’t got the top end legs of a Ducati Multistrada V4S – it’s somewhere in between, capturing the middle ground but missing out at extremes. It's worth noting the Tiger 1200’s actual engine capacity is less than the previous generation Tiger 1200, at 1215cc – it’s closer to Honda’s 1084cc Africa Twin than it is the 1300cc BMW GS or 1301cc KTM 1290. Even Ducati’s Multistrada V4 is 1190cc.

The big news in 2022 was the addition of a Tiger 900-style T-plane crank. In a conventional Triumph triple (in fact most inline triples) the crankpins are evenly spaced at 120° around the crank, giving perfect primary and secondary balance, with only a torsional rocking couple requiring balancing. It’s a smooth engine.

But a conventional triple’s linear, even, smooth power delivery, while satisfying on the road, is less conducive to sniffing out grip off-road – where an engine with larger, uneven gaps in firing interval make finding grip easier and give a more tractive feel to the rider. Part of the appeal of an adventure bike is at least a notional ability to go off-road, so Triumph engineers responded by designing the T-plane crank, which has crankpins set at 0°, 90° and 180°. This creates an imbalance in the motor and leaves a longer gap between combustion strokes.

Triumph Tiger 1200 GT Pro engine

A household analogy would be putting three housebricks each in a pair of washing machine drums. In one, they’re attached to the drum at evenly spaced intervals (120° apart). In the other, they’re lumped all on one side. Put the machines on spin cycle and see which one vibrates most – thus the T-plane crank is a rare example of a manufacturer intentionally introducing vibration (in engineering terms, making the engine worse) to make it feel better.

And it nearly worked. By adding vibes, the first T-plane motor had a strong alternative character, and helped the Tiger 1200 Rally feel more appropriate off-road (the platform engineered, road-biased GT models got the same engine even though, arguably, they would’ve been better off keeping a conventional triple). But the vibration was intense and went up in frequency as engine revs climbed – at cruising pace, it was a very apparent chattering. While plenty of riders were perfectly happy with this feeling, some weren’t.

So for 2024 Triumph engineers have reduced the engine’s vibration intensity, by re-distributing the mass on the engine’s counterbalance shaft. Triumph claim they’ve calculated a 5% reduction in pitch vibration, 43% less in the yaw plane and 89% less in the roll plane, just by moving the optimised weight about.

Triumph Tiger 1200 GT Pro cornering action

And it’s worked – the motor is now the perfect compromise at all revs, retaining the smooth, churning potency of the original 120° triple, but infused with just enough pulsating rhythm to mark the engine out as different and interesting. It’s a fabulous balance (excuse the pun) and even contributes to a glorious – and unique – wailing howl when the bike is on the pipe. It’s a quite astonishing turnaround in character.

And it’s not the only engine improvement. Triumph have also addressed the previous Tiger 1200’s tendency to suddenly and unexpectedly stall at low revs, often leading to embarrassing toppling incidents as the bike’s weight overwhelmed the rider. The reason is because a T-plane crank firing interval introduces a long gap between combustion strokes – a dwell time during which the crank and its assembly are not producing torque but essentially in a deceleration phase before the next power stroke. This is what leads to the engine stalling at low rpm, when there’s not enough momentum in the crank to keep it spinning between power strokes.

Triumph’s solution is to add mass to the crank and increase the size of the generator flywheel – adding 1kg extra weight. It means the crank carries more inertia and will keep spinning between power strokes – it’s harder to stall. And it really is – the motor is more flexible, will hold a longer gear and pull down to lower revs without chattering or stopping. Combined with a 15mm longer clutch lever for more leverage and finesse, and the result is motor happy to chug down to walking pace in almost all its gears. It’s a major improvement.

Triumph Tiger 1200 GT Pro rear quarter static

Reliability & build quality

Next up: Value
3 out of 5 (3/5)

Triumph’s finish quality – the stuff you can see and feel – has improved dramatically in the last ten years and the Tiger 1200 is a step up in design from the clunky chunkiness of the previous Tiger 1200 Explorer. But as flagship adventure bikes, while the GT Pro and Explorer are arguably on par with BMW’s out-going R1250 GS, they don’t match the fluid design economy and sleek component integration of BMW’s new R1300 GS. On the other hand, they still look like actual adventure bikes. Paint options are limited to red, black or white and the schemes aren’t what you’d call eye-catching.

The 1200’s redesigned T-plane engine is only two years old, and no widespread engineering faults are coming to light. The hydraulic clutch can need regular bleeding, and occasional faults have been reported with quickshifter, remote keyfob, TFT dash and various assembly/quality control issues related to individual bikes; no more so than with any other new machine.

Triumph Tiger 1200 GT Explorer left side cornering shot

Value vs rivals

Next up: Equipment
3 out of 5 (3/5)

The Tiger 1200 GT Pro costs £17,295 and the Explorer is £18,695. Considering the standard trim level of the bike for this price, it compares well with an equivalently spec’d BMW R1300 GS (which would be around £19,110) or Ducati’s Multistrada (which starts at over £20,000). Currently (April 2023), KTM’s 1290 Super Adventure is good value; starting at £14,599 base price... for which it comes with adaptive radar cruise.

Quoted via MCN Compare (based on a 54-year old male engineer, married, licence held for 9 years, 8-years NCD, no claims or convictions, for social, domestic and pleasure use. Bike is garaged with postcode WA14 1NU and annual mileage 5000 miles. Quote supplied by www.MCNcompare.com in April 2024), cheapest fully comp insurance for the Tiger 1200 GT Pro starts at around £542 with £1750 excess or £766 with £850 excess. The more expensive Explorer costs around £20-£50 more, and so does an equivalent R1300 GS.

Service intervals are a decent 10,000 miles. Servicing costs vary from dealer to dealer, but the Tiger 1200 is known to be expensive at around £300 to £400 for an annual service, rising to quotes of over £1000 for a 20,000 mile service. Fuel economy is around 45-55mpg depending on riding style.

Triumph Tiger 1200 GT Pro headlight and screen

Equipment

4 out of 5 (4/5)

The level of trim offered with the GT Pro and Explorer as standard, is excellent. The GT Pro comes with semi-active suspension and a high degree of electronic rider-mode customisation, plus heated grips, cruise control, cornering ABS, adjustable screen, centre stand, quickshifter, handguards and fog lights. The Explorer adds a 30-litre tank, heated seats, engine bars, blind spot rear radar and tyre pressure monitors. Most of this would cost extra to fit to the R1300 GS.

Triumph say the reason the Tiger 1200 GT Explorer only comes with a rear blind-spot radar and not also a front adaptive cruise control radar is because, according to their customer focus groups, it’s not been asked for (which sounds like gaslighting; hard to imagine many people in their focus groups specifically and solely asking for rear blind-spot radar alone).

Triumph Tiger 1200 GT Pro front right static

Specs

Engine size 1160cc
Engine type Liquid-cooled, 12v, inline triple
Frame type Tubular steel trellis
Fuel capacity 20 litres
Seat height 870mm
Bike weight 246kg
Front suspension 49mm Showa semi-active forks
Rear suspension Single Showa rear shock, semi-active with auto preload and push-button minimum setting
Front brake 2 x 320mm discs with Brembo four-piston radial caliper
Rear brake 282mm single disc with single-piston caliper
Front tyre size 120/70 x 19
Rear tyre size 150/70 x 18

Mpg, costs & insurance

Average fuel consumption 46 mpg
Annual road tax £117
Annual service cost -
New price -
Used price -
Insurance group -
How much to insure?
Warranty term Three years

Top speed & performance

Max power 148 bhp
Max torque 96 ft-lb
Top speed -
1/4 mile acceleration -
Tank range 200 miles

Model history & versions

Model history

  • 2012 Triumph Explorer 1200 – The all-new Explorer 1200 is launched. Powered by a 1251cc triple, it comes with cruise control, ABS and TC as standard. Early issues with its cylinder head gain it the nickname ‘exploder...’
  • 2013 Triumph Explorer 1200 XC – The spoke-wheeled Explorer XC model joins the range with a bit more rugged attitude.
  • 2016 Triumph Explorer 1200 XR and XC – The second generation sees a comprehensive update to the Explorer’s electronics, chassis and engine. There are now six versions – three road-biased (XR) and three more rugged (XC) models. Semi-active suspension is now introduced alongside cornering ABS and TC.
  • 2018 Triumph Tiger 1200 XR and XC – The Tiger is updated (and no longer called the Explorer) in two forms – the road-targeted XR and more rugged XC. The XR comes in standard, X and T spec while the XC is available in X and A. The bike’s’ engine is tweaked with a lighter flywheel, weight reduced by 11kg and electronics updated.
  • 2022: Triumph Tiger 1200 GT Pro and Explorer – The Tiger is completely overhauled and restyled with a new 1160cc engine and T-plane crank, 25kg lighter chassis and upgraded electronics package. The road-targeted GT comes in Pro or Explorer guise, in which the Explorer increases tank size from 20-litres to 30-litres and adds a higher level of trim.
  • 2024: Triumph Tiger 1200 GT Pro and Explorer – almost identical package, but with much smoother T-plane crank engine and less propensity to suddenly stall.

Other versions

Since 2022 the Tiger 1200 also comes in Rally Pro and Rally Explorer versions, the more off-road orientated Tiger 1200, with identical engine and chassis, bar a narrower 21in front, wire spokes, longer travel suspension, taller seat height, an extra off-road Rally rider mode and a higher price tag.

Since 2020, Triumph’s Tiger 900 offers the same T-plank crank triple concept in both GT and Rally guises in varying levels of trim, in a smaller, lighter and more manageable package.

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