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First ride: New Triumph Tiger 1200 XCA targets global adventure

Published: 01 December 2017

Updated: 30 November 2017

Triumph's new-for-2018 Tiger 1200 XCA has got BMW's R1200GS Adventure firmly in its sights, but riding it this week in Spain – both on road and off – revealed that it's not got every weapon needed to win the battle.

Having also ridden the Tiger 1200 XRT this week, the first thing that strikes you is how similar the XCA and XRT are, with the off-road focussed XCX simply boasting a set of spoked wheels over the XR's cast items, plus an extra off-road riding mode, engine protection bars and an aluminium bash plate. And that's the problem I have with it.

For my money they haven’t gone far enough and have instead simply dressed up the road-targeted XR to look a bit rugged. Which is a shame because they had scope to go further. The Tiger 1200 XC models don’t start cheap either, with the XCX coming to the market with a price tag of £14,950, increasing to £16,950 for the XCA variant and finally finishing with the range-topping XCA Expedition at £18,450.

I’m not into off-road riding, but I appreciate the fact the GS Adventure is noticeably different to the stock model thanks to longer travel suspension and a 30-litre tank. For tourers, or commuters who hate filling up, this huge tank is a big selling point. But with the XC, Triumph have given it the same suspension as the XR, all be it with an off-road semi-active setting, and not altered the tank size. When I asked why, Triumph told me they didn’t want to create a ‘big tank’ Tiger as that would have made it a heavier bike and this, added to longer travel suspension with the associated boosted seat height, wasn’t what their customers asked for. Maybe I’m missing the point, but as the BMW demonstrates (the Adventure actually outsells the stock model in the UK), riders who want an adventure bike are happy to deal with a machine that is a little bit more cumbersome to get the payoff of a 300-mile tank range and ability to take on really rough terrain. But Triumph have made their call and the XCA is still a very good bike.

Boasting the same level of rider aids as the road-targeted Tigers on tarmac the XC rides identically to the XR as its spoke wheels are shod in the same Metzeler tyres. But Triumph now approve the use of Pirelli Scorpion Rally tyres should you wish to venture onto the dirt…

I'll say it again, I’m no off-road rider, but on a gravel trail the XC was certainly capable. Selecting off-road mode gives you ABS on the front but not the rear and enough traction control so slide the rear before the electronics bring it nicely back into line, giving you the confidence to play around on the bike. It’s certainly no lightweight at 248kg dry, which can be a little intimidating for less experienced off-roaders, and its lack of suspension travel does see the sump guard hit the floor over jumps, but it is ok. More experienced riders can select off-road pro, which disables the TC and ABS.

Unlike rival adventure bikes, the XC feels more like a styling exercise than a true world explorer, which is a bit of a shame. Although that said, if you like the spoke wheel look and enjoy light trail riding, like the XR it’s still a very good adventure machine that is loaded with clever technology and excellent on the tarmac.

1200 XCA highlights

• Over 100 updates and improvements

• 10kg lighter than outgoing model

• Lighter flywheel and crank

• Engine bars, spoke wheels, aluminium sump guard

• TFT dash, updated electronics, adaptive cornering lights

1200 XCA stats

Price: £16,950 (XCX £14,950)

Engine: 1215cc (85x71.4mm) liquid-cooled, DOHC, 12 valve, triple

Frame: Tubular steel frame.

Seat height: 835-855mm

Colours: White, black

Available: December 2017

Weight: 248kg (dry)

Tank capacity: 20 litres

Power: 139bhp @ 9350rpm

Torque: 90ftlb @ 7600rpm

Triumph Tiger 1200 range explained!

The Tiger 1200 is sold in two forms, the road-orientated XR with its cast wheels and the rugged off-road XC with spoke wheels. These models are then split into versions with varying spec. The XR comes in standard, X and T spec while the XC is available in X and A.

The XR has a digital dash, non-semi active suspension and conventional ABS/TC but does have cruise control and an electronically adjustable screen while the XRX gains a TFT dash, semi-active suspension, cornering ABS/TC, keyless ignition and an extra riding mode. It is also available in a low seat height model, which is 815mm compared to the standard 835mm.

The T version adds to the X’s platform with an up and down quickshifter, adaptive lights, Arrow silencer, hill start, heated grips and seats and a further riding mode. The XC’s base model is the X, which is the same platform as the XRX, but gains spoke wheels, a centre stand, crash protection and off-road riding modes.

The top of the range XCA adds an up and down quickshifter, adaptive lights, an Arrow silencer, an extra programmable riding mode, hill start, heated grips and seats and billet pegs.

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