Redesigning the Trumph Tiger 1200 Explorer

1 of 10

The all-new Triumph Tiger 1200 Explorer – directly targeted at the BMW R1200GS – went through a major, late transformation to end up as we see it now.

MCN was given exclusive access to Triumph’s designers and management at its Hickley HQ in Leicestershire to get the full story of the 1200cc adventure bike’s development.

And we were stunned not just by the time and resources allocated to the new machine – it’s been by far reborn Triumph’s biggest project to date – but also by how overtly the British frim has decided to take on its German rival.

The production Explorer looks so different to the prototypes MCN spy shots first revealed just over a year ago because Triumph decided to re-style the bike as a result of the reaction to those photos!




Out – bulbous tank
Original concept drawings were dominated by a vast, ‘saddle type’ 25-litre fuel tank. Although originally approved, this style was scrapped daringly late in the development process when MCN spy shots received an adverse public reaction.



In – sleeker styling
Restyle of the Explorer’s tank and seat (by Newcastle design consultants Xenophya) in autumn 2010 was intended to create a lighter, less intimidating look. Tank capacity has now also been reduced to 20 litres.



At the firm’s main factory, Triumph Product Manager Simon Warburton told MCN that the key aim of the new Ewplorer is to be “an attractive alternative to the BMW R1200GS”. The key ingredients to achieve that, he explained, were:

  • A three-cylinder engine – “We never considered anything else”
  • A single-sided shaft drive – “We know people like it”
  • 1215cc capacity – “To future-proof it a little bit”
  • A minimum 130bhp – “We wanted a good level of performance”
  • Ride-by-wire and a class-leading, high output alternator to ensure reliability and power accessories.

Timeline: from concept to production


January 2007
Full project team in place and underway


September 2007
Original full-scale styling model signed off


June 2009
Frame geometry confirmed


January 2010
First 1215cc engine up and running


May 2010
First Explorer prototype is running


September 2010
Response to spy picture prompts styling rethink


January 2011
Full scale ‘Version 2’ styling signed off