Interview: How Triumph built the Tiger 800XC

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Although Triumph would like to claim a strong heritage in off-road motorcycling, referring to the ‘50s and ‘60s, where the name Tiger and Tiger Cub originated, in truth, the modern Hinckley concern has anything but.

So how do you go about creating a credible off-roader from scratch? MCN talked to Simon Warburton, Triumph Motorcycles Product Manager, to find out…

The XC’s off-road ability is clearly very important…
It’s a big part of the appeal, no question. On of the reasons we’re doing both bikes is that we had a lot of Triumph customers saying what they’re really like is something with some off road ability.  

But this is new territory for you. How do you go about developing an off-roader from scratch?
We had to learn a lot. We spent a lot of time working out what exactly makes a good dirt bike and added another half a dozen or so extra attributes. Obviously the way the suspension works and so on. A lot of our test riders were already very skilled off road, so we had all the expertise there it was just a case of translating that into a professional environment and splitting it down as to what’s important. But, yes, there was a bit of a learning curve there…

Because it’s new territory, how do you convince riders it’s a credible off-roader?
Well, hopefully, we get you guys to do that for us by trying the bike, but you also try to communicate that through the looks of the bike, which is why the bike has been styled to look rugged and minimalist.

There’s an obvious competitor with a pedigree of 20+ years of off-road competition – it’s quite a tough challenge…
It is. There’s no question that BMW own this sector – of big trail bikes. In fact it’s quite interesting that it’s all now ended up back at where the sector started from – 800cc (BMW’S first GS, was the 800cc R80G/S of ???? – Ed).

Any plans to put it into competition?
Certainly not at the moment. There’s one or two of our subsidiary offices around the world thinking about local rallies but, no, not yet.

What do you expect the respective take-ups of the two bikes to be?
Globally slightly in favour of the XC, although that does vary quite a lot country by country.

Read the full 4-page Tiger 800 first ride in this week’s MCN, on sale Wednesday 17 November.