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 long distance machines, although we prefer the higher stature and more substantial size of the XC.
The stroked engine is perfectly suited to the Tiger 800. The throttle response is crisp and sharp, and the motor delivers its power with that typical Triumph triple characteristic of a wide range of usable power.
And that, combined with the light clutch, perfectly slick gearbox and impeccable throttle response, makes the Tiger 800 a doddle to ride
For some reason Tigers eat the rubberised plastic chain runner that guards the swingarm and damps out chain noise when riding off-road. Whereas owners of most other model machines hardly give this item a second thought, Tiger 800 owners will be looking at replacing this small but important part regularly – Triumph recommend every 6000 miles. It is a simple task and the rubbing strip costs around £25, if you reuse the two rubber damping elements.
The only recall issues came from the return spring on the optional centrestand fitted to Tiger 800s and XC models during 2011 and early 2012. It was at risk of failure, so this part was recalled and the spring was upgraded. At the same time, Triumph fitted the centrestand’s feet with tougher rubber boots to prevent it damaging the underside of the swingarm when stowed.
Tigers built between September 2010 and August 2011 were recalled for an ECU software upgrade to prevent a fault which potentially caused the bike to stall under deceleration.
You pays your money, you takes your choice… the base 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).