TRIUMPH TIGER 1200 XR (2018 - on) Review

Highlights

  • Third generation Tiger 1200
  • Direct rival to the BMW R1200GS
  • Smooth engine and bags of tech

At a glance

Owners' reliability rating: 4.8 out of 5 (4.8/5)
Annual servicing cost: £250
Power: 139 bhp
Seat height: Medium (32.9 in / 835 mm)
Weight: High (536 lbs / 243 kg)

Prices

New £16,150
Used £11,300 - £14,500

Overall rating

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

The Triumph Tiger 1200 is the third generation version of Triumph’s big, shaft drive adventure bike first launched in 2012 as a direct rival to BMW’s class-dominating R1200GS.

The original 2012 machine, called the Triumph Tiger 1200 Explorer, was an all-new successor to a long line of Hinckley adventure machines dating back to the 1993 Tiger 900 and used the same 135bhp triple also featured in the 1200 Trophy - itself a rival to the BMW R1200RT.

However, although competent and effective, both failed to usurp their German rivals for a variety of reasons. As a result, when updates were necessary for Euro4 in 2016, the Trophy 1200 was dropped and the Tiger 1200 Explorer received a raft of changes including six different variants.

There were three road (XR range) and three off-road models (XC range), much improved electronics and a host of engine (two extra bhp), comfort and chassis upgrades – the highlight being new semi active WP suspension, on the mid and high-spec models.

A side view of the Triumph Tiger 1200 XR

For 2018, this was then significantly updated again into this 'third generation' machine, now simply called the Triumph Tiger 1200. Still available in XC and XR variants, this new version is distinguished most by significant weight reduction (2kg on the XR), an uprated engine now producing 139bhp, revised chassis and ergonomics including a new electric screen, improved WP suspension and Brembo brakes.

Adding to the enhanced, 'premium' feel, there was also a new colour TFT dash, LED lights and more. The result was a significant step up in quality and performance deserving of more recognition than it receives, compared to the class-leading GS and Ducati Multistrada range.

Owners generally have nothing but praise for the third generation Tiger 1200 and there’s a devoted online following at www.tiger-explorer.com or various UK Facebook groups. Its reliability record is enviable and its equipment and accessory options second to none. It might have taken a while to get there but the big Tiger is now the true GS-rival it always promised to be.

Ride quality & brakes

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

Being the 'road' version, the updated XR variant of the Tiger 1200 (the more off-road version with wire wheels has the XC tag) features new, lighter cast alloy wheels and road tyres. It’s also a useful 2kg lighter than before, but being a shaft drive triple where most of its rivals are more lightweight twins, its bulk still shows.

At slow speed you’re aware that the Tiger is taller and heavier than its rivals by about 20kg (it’s hard to be exact as Triumph don’t reveal a wet weight) but the updated riding position helps mask this by moving the bars closer to your body so putting you more in control. However, once on the go the semi-active WP suspension delivers such a lovely ride you quickly forget the extra weight – the ride quality and handling is sublime and the big Tiger feels just as agile as its rivals. The Metzeler Tourance Next E tyres, meanwhile, deliver bags of grip and the up and down quickshifter is faultless, too.

Cornering in the snow on the Triumph Tiger 1200

Owners are generally particularly impressed with the semi-active system’s supremely plush ride and factor it as a major reason for their purchase of the Tiger. Comfort is also significantly improved for both rider and pillion with a new, electronically adjustable screen, revised ergonomics and a new, height adjustable saddle. 

The four-piston Brembo Monobloc, radially-mounted brakes, complete with ABS are top quality and are also a match for any rival, although they do have to work harder than on some, lighter rivals and a handful of owners reported that they lack a little initial 'bite', although this is a minor niggle.

Engine

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

Triumph’s traditional transverse three-cylinder engines have for decades attracted legions of followers for their combination of flexibility, performance and distinctive, curdly character. The big 1215cc, shaft drive version used – now uniquely – in the Tiger 1200 is one of its best. In this latest 2018 form it’s now into its third generation to comply with Euro4 and is more refined – and also more powerful, producing an impressive, meaty 139bhp.

The Tiger 1200's triple is smooth

Yes, the Tiger 1200 is more powerful than the GS (although the latest BMW R1250GS is now up to 134bhp) – but that’s not the point. What makes Triumph’s triple stand out is a superb throttle connection and overall feeling of quality. The transition from a closed throttle to a partially open one is incredibly smooth and the triple motor is vibe-free and oh so easy-going thanks to its abundant mid-range as well as pleasingly zingy up the top end. It just feels a classy unit and this impression of refinement is further enhanced by Triumph’s clever use of technology.

Reliability is excellent, fuelling perfect and the delivery super-smooth, with lots of grunt. Overall, the engine, though heavy, is the Tiger 1200’s standout feature for most owners with many also commenting on its gorgeous induction roar and triple howl.

Reliability & build quality

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

The quality and reliability of the Hinckley era Triumphs continue to improve, even though cynics point out that the bulk of the British-owned manufacturer’s bikes are now actually built in Triumph’s plants in Thailand. However, the Tiger Explorer, along with the Speed Triple and other premium models continued to be built at the original plant in Hinckley, Leicestershire, although this now seems to be coming to an end.

The standard of quality and finish of the big Tiger has also improved further with this third generation Tiger 1200 version. Triumph deliberately set out to give its flagship adventure machine a conspicuously more 'premium' finish after previous generations suffered a bit when it comes to retaining their looks. While mechanical reliability of all versions has never really been called into doubt, visually the big 1200 could look tatty if used and not cared for – but this is now better than ever, too.

Some owners report a few niggly faults but generally these are few and far between and owner satisfaction levels are high overall. There’s been the occasional starting issue. One owner had his accessory Arrow exhaust come loose at the main joint due to the clamp not being tight enough and there has also been reports of the sophisticated WP semi-active suspension system becoming erratic – although this is usually easily fixed by a dealer 'reset'.

Semi-active suspension irregularities have been reported

The basics, however, are brilliant. The big 1215cc triple is generally bulletproof, as is the shaft-drive transmission and is now also pleasingly refined. The build quality throughout is generally high and well thought out and the Tiger 1200’s paint and metal finishes are better than most as well with most owners reporting no signs of corrosion even after plenty of wet riding.

Value vs rivals

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

With so many different variants of the Tiger 1200 available, all at prices to suit, value is something of a moot point. So, for example, when new, with a price tag of £16,150 (£525 more than the BMW GS TE), the top spec XRT was the most expensive adventure bike on the market. However, that is largely explained by the fact that the Triumph does boast features its competition lacks. Conversely, if you want to save a few quid, lower spec options are available with the XR costing £12,200 and the XRX £14,150.

The Triumph Tiger 1200 XR with its BMW and KTM rivals

Insurance costs for a premium, 1200cc machine are never going to be cheap, but the Tiger 1200 isn’t out of kilter with competition from BMW, Ducati or KTM. Running costs, too, aren’t exactly cheap and Triumphs have something of a history of being thirstier than most when it comes to fuel. While the Tiger 1200’s higher weight and performance leads to a (slightly) greater hunger than many for consumables such as tyres and brake pads.

This is, however, compensated for slightly by the Tiger 1200’s use of shaft drive, doing away both with the need for periodic replacement of chains and sprockets and removing the requirement for routine adjustment. Another plus with the Tiger 1200 is servicing, with pleasingly high intervals and the major valve adjustment one now only due every 20,000 miles.

On the road with the BMW R1200GS

Residual values of third generation Tigers are so far bearing up better than previous. Find a specced-up, well looked after example and you’ll be getting one of the best all-round adventure bikes you can buy.

Equipment

4 out of 5 (4/5)

The Tiger 1200 is laden with technology, including the semi active suspension, TFT dash, electrically operated screen, riding modes, heated grips and cruise control just to mention a few – but a lot of that depends on which model you buy.

The XR comes in three formats – base, X and T – with the spec increasing alongside the price tag. The top of the range T version is absolutely loaded with kit and comes with cornering ABS and TC, a TFT dash, five power modes, heated grips and seat, semi-active suspension, cruise control, adaptive cornering lights, hill start assist, and up and down quickshifter as standard.

The base model lacks angle sensitivity in its ABS and TC and has conventional suspension (the X has the same spec chassis as the T) and fewer power modes, but it is still an impressive spec list.

Cornering on the Triumph Tiger 1200 XR

On top of that, Triumph now boasts a truly impressive official accessories options list for the Tiger 1200 – almost as comprehensive as BMW’s famed catalogue for its R1200GS in fact – covering everything from luggage options, to a high screen, extra comfort, crash protection, extra lights, cosmetic add-ons and more. Plus, if Triumph themselves don’t offer exactly what you want, there’s plenty of aftermarket options available as well, covering luggage, performance exhausts, different screens and more.

This is particularly worth bearing in mind when buying used – virtually no two Tiger 1200s are specced the same and it’s worth hunting down a bike in the trim you actually want.

Specs

Engine size 1215cc
Engine type Four-stroke, liquid-cooled triple
Frame type Tubular steel trellis
Fuel capacity 20 litres
Seat height 835mm
Bike weight 243kg
Front suspension WP monoshock, semi-active damping with automatic preload adjustment (standard XR non-semi-active)
Rear suspension WP monoshock, semi-active damping with automatic preload adjustment (standard XR non-semi-active).
Front brake 2 x 305mm disc, four-piston radial caliper Brembo; Cornering ABS
Rear brake 282 disc, two-piston caliper Cornering ABS
Front tyre size 120/70X19
Rear tyre size 170/60x17

Mpg, costs & insurance

Average fuel consumption 54.3 mpg
Annual road tax £96
Annual service cost £250
New price £16,150
Used price £11,300 - £14,500
Insurance group -
How much to insure?
Warranty term 2 years unlimited

Top speed & performance

Max power 139 bhp
Max torque 90 ft-lb
Top speed 140 mph
1/4 mile acceleration -
Tank range 220 miles

Model history & versions

Model history

2012 - Triumph Tiger 1200 Explorer launched, with off-road orientated XC version also available
2016 - Second Tiger 1200 Explorer launched, now with six versions to choose from: three road (XR range) and three off-road (XC range)
2018 - Renamed Tiger 1200 launched, again in XR and XC forms

Other versions

Triumph Tiger 1200 XR – price £12,200 and Triumph Tiger 1200 XRX – price £14,150 (launch prices).

Owners' reviews for the TRIUMPH TIGER 1200 XR (2018 - on)

5 owners have reviewed their TRIUMPH TIGER 1200 XR (2018 - on) and rated it in a number of areas. Read what they have to say and what they like and dislike about the bike below.

Review your TRIUMPH TIGER 1200 XR (2018 - on)

Summary of owners' reviews

Overall rating: 5 out of 5 (5/5)
Ride quality & brakes: 4.8 out of 5 (4.8/5)
Engine: 5 out of 5 (5/5)
Reliability & build quality: 4.8 out of 5 (4.8/5)
Value vs rivals: 4.2 out of 5 (4.2/5)
Equipment: 4.8 out of 5 (4.8/5)
Annual servicing cost: £250
5 out of 5 Love it to bits.
29 January 2021 by Ian B.

Version: XR - bottom of the model range

Year: 2018

Annual servicing cost: £200

A lovely bike to ride. Super comfortable, very spacious to sit on. More than enough performance and surprisingly good handling for its size.

Ride quality & brakes 5 out of 5

Longest trip so far was a total of nearly 400 miles in one day which was no effort for me or the bike. I don’t carry a pillion but imaging there is plenty of room for them. Because the bike is already so heavy a pillion wouldn’t add a disproportionate amount to the overall loaded weight.

Engine 5 out of 5

Makes a lovely noise with my Delkevic silencer fitted but was ok with the standard Triumph one. It goes like a train with the engine never feeling strained.

Reliability & build quality 5 out of 5

Not had a single problem so far (two years three months and 6500 miles)

Value vs rivals 4 out of 5

Annual servicing so far has been pretty basic - effectively an oil and filter change plus checking everything else. Now it’s out of warranty I’ll be doing most of it myself.

Equipment 4 out of 5

Being the bottom of the range XR it doesn’t have much in the way of extra kit but I love the cruise control which makes long distances a lot easier. The standard tyres are Metzeler Tourance Next. The are last well with the rear tire just starting to square off a bit but still plenty of grip. I thought that some of the options on offer were ludicrously expensive and being a tight git I declined them and bought them cheaper off eBay (top box/carrier and heated grips). The seat was lovely when the bike was new but soon lost its bounce and felt lumpy and dead so I had it rebuilt with extra memory foam and it is now excellent.

Buying experience: Got it brand new from a Triumph dealer. I paid the list price in cash and they were not interested in the slightest in giving me a better deal or offering me any incentive, but that may have been partly due to my inability to negotiate effectively.

5 out of 5 Three is not a crowd. Three is a silken triple.
12 October 2020 by McChoc

Version: XRx

Year: 2019

Annual servicing cost: £300

Best feature is that syrupy triple. Worst features are the original bum-numbing saddle - and a clutch that bites later than a guard dog with narcolepsy.

Ride quality & brakes 5 out of 5

Monobloc Brembos are more than adequate - even when fully panniered up with a large lady on pillion. The world 'plush' is not one you'd normally associate with adventure bikes, but the Tiger gives a supremely plush ride. One of the major factors for my buying it - after decades on Sports-Tourers (FJ1200, K1300S) - was that the world's increasingly deteriorating & disintegrating roads are not going to get fixed anytime soon, so WP suspenders with 190+mm of travel is the way to go.

Engine 5 out of 5

I'd actually rate it as 10/5. What an absolute peach. Fuelling is perfect at all revs, and it gives a gorgeous induction roar and triple howl when you give it some beans.

Reliability & build quality 4 out of 5

I'd hope that, for this price, the build quality is supreme. And I reckon it is - apart from the rubber bump stop on the mainstand which fell off on day one, and the replacement, which fell off soon after being fitted. 'Spoiling the ship for a ha'porth of tar' comes to mind . .

Value vs rivals 4 out of 5

Running in service was around £60 as it was for oil & filter - with free labour. My tech reckons he can do a full service for around £300 but the 20,000 mile service will be perhaps twice that as it includes valve clearances. But as I rarely venture north of 7,000 rpm, I'd expect them to be spot on, as they have always been on my ancient K1200RS.

Equipment 5 out of 5

I ordered the rad guard, sat-nav mount for my Garmin, and have bought a 'cool cover' for the rider's seat. And a 'tank protector' - although what it's really protecting is my gentleman's region during unforeseen heavy braking on a slippery saddle. The Tiger came with full Long Way Round aluminium panniers included. The base XRx has more toys than Hamleys, and none is a gimmick, all contributing to the ride. I didn't want the quick shifter and hill hold of the XRt, as I actually enjoy making all inputs to the bike myself. Old school, I guess.

Buying experience: A1 Moto in York. Nice bunch of guys, large workshop & complete with a couple of very fair maidens frothing the lattes in the attached coffee shop.

5 out of 5 A truly refined, good looking adventure bike!
18 September 2020 by Nick H

Version: XRT

Year: 2019

Annual servicing cost: £250

Brilliantly refined adventure bike

Ride quality & brakes 4 out of 5

Sublime ride, can easily ride all day in comfort and enjoyment. Front brakes are adequate although lack initial bite.

Engine 5 out of 5

Super smooth triple, with bags of grunt. The real stand out feature of the bike.

Reliability & build quality 5 out of 5

Only owned it a short while, but everything seems so well put together with a real feeling of quality throughout

Value vs rivals 4 out of 5

Quite a pricey bike to buy, but then you have to pay for quality

Equipment 5 out of 5

The XRT has everything you could possibly want, plus some stuff you didn’t know you wanted!

Buying experience: Bought from Blade m/c’s in Abingdon, really easy to deal with, professional and efficient throughout. Made the buying process a pleasure.

5 out of 5 All the bike you could ever need
02 June 2020 by Daniel Spring

Version: XRT

Year: 2018

Annual servicing cost: £250

I previously rode a 1200 Explorer which was a great bike, but the Tiger XRT is a big step change from the previous model. particularly noticeable is the change in the ergonomics, with the bars a little closer it's gives a much more comfortable and stable ride. The engine is superb and having a quickshifter is something I've gotten used to very quickly. At first I thought the 5 rider modes would be just a bit of a gimmick, but they really make a difference to the way the bike rides, the rain mode gives a lot of confidence when the roads are wet and greasy, and the Sport mode definitely gives the bike a bit more oomph...although as a fairly heavy adventure bile you're never going to be able to mix it with a sports bike, but it's fun all the same. Overall this is about as good a bike as you could ask for, it does everything well and is easy and comfortable to ride.

Ride quality & brakes 5 out of 5

ride quality is exceptional. You can easily spend all day in the saddle without getting fatigued. The brakes are excellent and very predictable.

Engine 5 out of 5

Probably the Triumph's party piece. the 1215cc Triple is an outstanding machine. Throttle is very smooth and linear with good, predictable power coming throughout the rev range.

Reliability & build quality 5 out of 5

The bike has behaved impeccably and hasn't put a foot wrong.

Value vs rivals 4 out of 5

It's a big bike and, if ridden briskly, can be a little thirsty. In the 2 and a half years I've had the bike I can normally get 170-180 miles from a tank.

Equipment 5 out of 5

The XRT has just about everything you could wish for on a bike. The quickshifter has been great and little things like the hill hold function just make life easier and the riding less stressful.

Buying experience: Bought from Bulldog Triumph in Wokingham who have provided excellent service throughout the buying and ownership process.

5 out of 5 Great bike that does everything well.
11 July 2019 by PaulD

Version: XRx

Year: 2019

Annual servicing cost: £250

The bike is supremely comfortable for long distance work, with the ability to offer good fun on A and B roads. The triumph luggage is also good quality for those touring trips. Having owned a first generation Tiger Explorer, this generation 3 model is very big leap forward. Very impressed with the bike, highly recommended.

Ride quality & brakes 5 out of 5

Thanks to the semi active WP suspension, the ride quality and handling is sublime. The bike absorbs the uneven surfaces amazingly. The feel of the bike through corners offers confidence and the Brembro brakes have a great feel and pull the bike up effortlessly.

Engine 5 out of 5

The Triumph triple is a proven unit that offers great torque and ample power. This gives the bike good performance and makes overtakes very easy.

Reliability & build quality 5 out of 5

The bike feels and looks constructed from premium components. The build quality is of a high quality as you would expect from a bike in the price bracket. Reliability so far is good with no issues.

Value vs rivals 5 out of 5

The first running in service at 500 miles cost £90.00, and I am lead to believe that the first annual service or 10K service is around the £250.00 mark.

Equipment 5 out of 5

The Tiger 1200 is laden with technology, including the semi active suspension, TFT screen, electrically operated screen, riding modes, heated grips, cruise control just to mention a few.

Buying experience: I bought my Bike from Laguna Triumph in Ashford. The guys there made the buying experience very enjoyable and I could recommend them to anyone. This is my 8th bike from Laguna, so that speaks volumes.

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