TRIUMPH TIGER 900 RALLY PRO (2020 - on) Review

Highlights

  • All-new replacement for the Tiger 800
  • Smooth 900cc triple
  • Class-leading equipment

At a glance

Power: 94 bhp
Seat height: Tall (33.5 in / 850 mm)
Weight: Medium (443 lbs / 201 kg)

Prices

New £13,100
Used £10,900 - £13,100

Overall rating

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

It’s good to know that, even in the digital age of riding modes and electronic engine management, making a significant change to a bike sometimes involves reshaping big, heavy bits of steel in the pursuit of progress. 

But it’s typical too, that despite all of the know-how that’s gone into the new Triumph Tiger 900 Rally Pro – the huge pile of swarf, the work of extreme heat, force and giant milling machines operating with microscopic accuracy – the thing you notice first is the white paint on the tubular trellis frame. It looks fantastic.

The Tiger 900 is all-new, from the front wheel to the back, and from the screen (in any of its five, easy to adjust positions) downward. The old 800 was a great bike, but the development team started with a blank sheet.

Twin radiators allow the engine to be moved forward, and a smaller sump allows the crankshaft to be lower in the frame. So, you get more ground clearance, but a lower centre of gravity and the weight bias moves forward slightly. All of this results in greater low speed agility, better high-speed stability and no loss of ground clearance.

In developing a new bike from scratch there was a risk Triumph could screw it up. They haven’t. The biggest compliment I can pay the new bike is to say it feels like a better version of the old one. 

The mid-capacity adventure sector is crowded, but this is probably the best bike of the bunch. Triumph expect to sell dramatically more of the Rally and Rally Pro than the GT – but ultimately the choice between GT or Rally, base models or Pro versions, will more likely be made by budget, intended purpose and inside leg.

Ride quality & brakes

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

The Rally’s balance, stand-up riding position and high-quality suspension also help its off-road ability. It feels like a more integrated trail bike than the previous model, and there’s plenty of adjustment available to tailor the suspension to preference and riding conditions. Backing off the damping made the bike less skittish on rocky trails. 

On the road, the Rally has a wider bar and slightly rearward footrests for a balanced standing stance. Extra ground clearance from the taller suspension (240mm travel) gives 850-870mm on the two-position seat. The narrower front tyre, wider bar and different geometry reduce rider input on the road. 

On the Tiger 900 GT you sit lower (810-830mm) the bar is narrower and closer to the rider, and the footrests are slightly further forward. So, greater input is needed to change direction, but it’s utterly stable at speed, and completely composed on bumps. 

Engine

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

The new Tiger is stuffed with clever electronics, but the single biggest change is the crankshaft – on a motorcycle you don’t get much more fundamental than that. So, for the first time we’ve got a Triumph triple that doesn’t feature a 120° crank layout and the evenly spaced firing intervals that go with it. 

Triumph refer to the new crank as a 'T', so the pins are arranged at 180°-90°-90° intervals. This allows the firing order to be managed so that two cylinders (one and three) fire close together, then there’s a gap to the third (actually the middle one). It feels more like a lumpy twin than a turbine triple.

In theory this should improve its off-road ability – the longer gaps give the rear tyre more chance to find grip on loose and slimy surfaces, and it sounds different too. Disadvantages? The arrangement is inherently out-of-balance, so it needs balancers to sort out the vibes. 

The new engine makes a big difference to the Tiger’s trailability, too. Faced with rocky climbs or nadgery wiggles the bike has a responsive, but beautifully smooth throttle action and easy power delivery.

Triumph Tiger 900 Rally Pro static view

It feels more comfortable pulling a gear higher than the old bike, in any given situation. Where you’d been in second gear on a Triumph Tiger 800, the 900 pulls third. The extra torque and low rev performance that come from the extra 100cc is useful too.

Absolute power is a claimed 94bhp at 8750rpm, and peak torque happens at 7250rpm, but Triumph also boast an increase across the rev range. Off road you are mainly using fractional throttle openings, and at 3750rpm the bike is producing over 40bhp, which is quite enough to get you into all sorts of bother on a muddy trail.

There are six rider modes on the Rally Pro and on our test I spent most time in Off-road, with dialled down TC and ABS. Hardcore riders can enjoy Off-road Pro, which removes all the safety nets. Turn off the ignition and the bike reverts to base settings.

A rapid 130-mile ride from Essaouira back to Marrakech in top gear on the GT (4750rpm equates to about 75mph) revealed a decent amount of extra punch available at the twist of the wrist.

You don’t need to change down to make a brisk overtake, which bodes well for pillion and luggage ability too (and that’s definitely part of the adventure bike equation). By 6000rpm you are conscious of light vibes through pegs, bars and tank, but it’s a light tingle that’s not finger numbing. At least not for me.


Tech focus: Inside the new 888cc engine

Triumph Tiger 900 Rally Pro engine

The three-cylinder engine in Triumph’s new Tiger 900 combines two existing triples and uses new tech to keep it compact. Well, 'new' as in ‘been around for decades...’

Derived from the old 675cc motor, the previous Tiger 800 was a long-stroke design. Measuring 74.05 x 61.9mm (and so displacing 799.75cc), the larger crank required for this 61.9mm stroke meant different crankcases to those used on the old Street Triple.

Raising its capacity for the new 900 couldn’t involve extra stroke as there was no room for an even longer crank throw, so Triumph needed a larger bore size.

To do this they’ve used the top end from the 765cc motor in the latest Street Triple, which measures 77.99 x 53.4mm (so is actually 765.3cc). With the 765’s bore and old 800’s stroke giving 77.99 x 61.9mm, Triumph get an 887cc engine (which they’re calling 888cc) for the 900 – and get some new technology which means this bigger engine is actually smaller. 

Triumph Tiger 900 Rally Pro switches

When Triumph developed the 765cc engine for the Street Triple they increased the bore (and stroke) of the 675cc engine. They didn’t start with the previous Street Triple engine though, but the one from the final Daytona sportsbike

The reason? Cylinder liners. The Street used thick iron 'wet' cylinder liners, so called as they stand in the middle of the cylinder block and are in contact with the coolant. But the Daytona had a light aluminium cylinder with thin 'dry' liners which slide directly into the block. And Triumph could 'Siamese' – or conjoin – these to make room for bigger pistons in the 765.

Traditionally each slip-in liner is cast separately, and there’s a minimum thickness the walls can be in order to deal with combustion pressure. Fusing the cylinder liners and casting them as one piece makes them stronger, allowing wall thickness to be minimised and bore size maximised. 

This means that despite its extra capacity, the new 900 engine is actually slightly slimmer than the departing 800. And because the Siamesed liners and aluminium block weigh less than the 800’s iron liners, it is lighter too. Clever Triumph.

Reliability & build quality

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

The frame looks similar to the 800’s, but the rear subframe is now a bolt-on item in ally with separate bolt-on pillion footrest hangers, reducing the risk of an expensive frame swap in the event of a light spill – just replace the subframe or footrest hangers.

Of course, the rest of the bike is just as vulnerable to the low speed off-road impacts that are an inevitable part of off-road riding.

Owners reviews of the outgoing 2018-on Triumph Tiger 800 XR reveal five star ratings for build quality and we would expect no less of the latest 900.

Value vs rivals

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

Priced at £13,100 (2020 figures), the Rally Pro is considerably more expensive than its main rivals, including the £12,599 KTM 790 Adventure R, the BMW F850GS - starting at an optional-extra-free £10,170 and Yamaha's £9147 Ténéré 700.

That said, few can match the spec and off-road prowess of the Trumpet and - should the Pro be too costly for your liking - a cheaper standard (from £9500) and Rally (from £11,700) model are also available. 

Elsewhere, at 20 litres, the tank is marginally bigger than the old one, too and the airbox design allows an air filter change without removing the tank.

Triumph claim 55mpg, which would provide a 240-mile range. Enthusiastic launch riding on the GT had the on-board claiming 48mpg, which would still provide a range of more than 200 miles.

Triumph Tiger 900 Rally Pro vs Honda CRF1100L Africa Twin

Triumph Tiger 900 Rally Pro vs Honda CRF1100L Africa Twin

"I reckon I’d match any sports or naked bike on this road," says MCN contributor and Datalogger, Bruce Dunn after a spirited B-road ride on the Triumph. "The Tiger’s suspension is just perfect for these roads, it irons out every ripple and gives you really good mechanical grip as a result, leading to lots of trust in the front-end."

On the same roads, the Honda also shows excellent ride quality, however it does feel like it is using more of its suspension’s stroke, something excellent damping helps control, banishing any hint of a wobble. Weirdly, the Triumph’s composure makes it feel like it has a smaller 19in front as it is so assured in bends, whereas you’re always aware the Honda has a 21-incher.

"It’s quite tall-geared but the gears are nicely spaced," is Bruce’s summary. "Which means that when you want to up the pace you are always in the power. You don’t have to throw gears at it but it does respond well to being worked and feels nice and spirited."

In contrast the Tiger’s triple, which loses out in capacity and therefore torque, can start to feel a bit gear-hungry when you up the pace. It’s not really a fault as such because a triple will always want to rev more than a parallel twin, and the Tiger’s excellent quickshifter reduces the chore of swapping cogs, but it is certainly less gutsy and as the revs rise so do the engine’s vibes, making it feel busier.

Triumph Tiger 900 Rally Pro on UK roads

Smooth roads with light traffic play to the Tiger’s strengths. It may be Triumph’s more off-road targeted Tiger but you get so many creature comforts as standard on the Pro version that it puts the similarly-priced Honda to shame.

Honda may have updated the Twin’s spec for 2020 with an IMU adding angle-sensitivity to its electronics and also (finally!) fitted cruise control as standard, but the Tiger thoroughly trumps it with heated grips and seats as well as the quickshifter, adjustable screen, tyre pressure monitors, fog lights, back-lit switchgear and a 12V socket - items that (if available) are accessories on the Twin. On a bike with a £13k price tag that’s a bit of a black mark against the Honda.

For mile-munching on tarmac the Tiger is undeniably better thanks to its impressively high touring-targeted spec and plush suspension. But as an all-rounder, the Africa Twin is a bit of a dark horse and it comes as a genuine surprise at how close it runs the Tiger for test honours.

Equipment

5 out of 5 (5/5)

The adventure market loves a gadget, and the Tigers come with an impressive level of equipment. Move beyond the base model and you get multiple modes, heated grips, cruise control, cornering ABS and traction control and big TFT instruments.

Invest in the Pro version of the Rally and you get heated seats, quickshifter, Bluetooth, tyre pressure monitoring, centre stand and fog lights. In addition, the Rally Pro has crash bars, sump guard and an extra mode.

Triumph Tiger 900 Rally Pro dash

Perhaps the most ingenious add-on is a navigation system that links with the My Triumph App to provide turn-by-turn instructions via your phone, with the display on the dash, using 'what3words' location tech. 

There are also two accessory packs depending on whether your preference is for panniers in aluminium or plastic and Triumph offer 65 factory accessories, from anodised alloy trinkets to security devices to 'make it your own'.

Specs

Engine size 888cc
Engine type 12-valve DOHC triple
Frame type Tubular steel frame
Fuel capacity 20 litres
Seat height 850mm
Bike weight 201kg
Front suspension 45mm upside-down fork, fully adjustable
Rear suspension Monoshock, rebound and preload adjustable/electronically adjustable
Front brake 2x320mm discs with four-piston calipers. Cornering ABS
Rear brake 255 mm disc, single caliper. Cornering ABS
Front tyre size 90/90 x 21
Rear tyre size 150/70 x 17

Mpg, costs & insurance

Average fuel consumption -
Annual road tax £93
Annual service cost -
New price £13,100
Used price £10,900 - £13,100
Insurance group -
How much to insure?
Warranty term Two years

Top speed & performance

Max power 94 bhp
Max torque 64 ft-lb
Top speed -
1/4 mile acceleration -
Tank range -

Model history & versions

Model history

2011-2019 – Triumph produce the Tiger 800. The standard model had cast wheels with a 19in front, whereas the more off-road XC had spokes and a 21in front, longer travel suspension and wider bars. The Tiger 800 XC was upgraded in 2015 and joined by a new Triumph Tiger 800 XR version to take over as the road-biased model.

Other versions

There are five versions of the new bike. The budget (£9300 on the road, 2020 pricing) base model, and the GT and GT Pro feature cast wheels with a 19in front, and a narrower handlebar for a road focused rider, while the Rally, and Rally Pro have 21in front tyres and spoked wheels, longer travel suspension and wider bars.

MCN Long term test reports

MCN Fleet: Time to hit the trails on the Triumph Tiger Rally Pro

MCN Fleet: Time to hit the trails on the Triumph Tiger Rally Pro

I want to see how the extra capacity and firing order of the Triumph Tiger 900 work on the dirt. I’ve got camping trips planned, plus I’m keen to explore the North of Scotland, and gain a clear understanding of what the Tiger’s like to live with. The rider Michael Guy, MCN Sports and Featu

Read the latest report

Owners' reviews for the TRIUMPH TIGER 900 RALLY PRO (2020 - on)

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