Long-term test: Triumph Tiger 800XC
If pottering up and down green lanes isn’t enough to prove the Triumph Tiger’s off-road prowess then how about a gruelling, non-stop 24 hour rally through the Alps? Still not convinced? Well perhaps whacking through the sea at a 100mph on road tyres in 60mph winds ought to do it.
Last week I took my Tiger 800 XC up to rainy Glasgow to meet stunt rider extraordinaire Kevin Carmichael. I wanted to see what a pro could do with my bike and he suggested going sideways on his local beach. Sounded like a good idea at the time.
A couple of days later and I found myself standing in quick sand, frozen to my soul, fingers stinging and cheeks burning red raw, but I couldn’t take my eyes of Kevin as he snapped the back tyre from side to side, spraying rough sand into the sky.
The tide was coming in, the wind was making me sway on the balls of my feet and the hail was stabbing at my eyes. I didn’t want to be anywhere near the sea, let alone on a bike (to be honest I’d rather be sitting in a café, steaming up the windows).
But the Tiger was in its element, roaring into the sea like it was a puddle and slicing through the surf like a torpedo. As Kevin picked up speed the salty water totally engulfed the bike. “I’ve ridden in water many times, but it’s especially exhilarating today because the tide is coming in and it’s hard to tell how deep it is,” Kevin grinned. “I managed 100mph, but the gusts were too strong to go any faster, plus the quicker I went the less I could see. At one point I thought ‘s**t, I can’t see a thing’ but you can’t slam on the brakes so I just hoped I was going straight and not further into the sea.”
It’s inspiring to watch those with immense skill do what they’re good at. It’s encouraging and makes me trust the Tiger’s ability even more. I probably won’t be riding into the sea any time soon, but now I won’t think twice about the next puddle that dares stand in my way.