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Johannesburg - Since being launched here in February 2011, Triumph’s Tiger 800 has been bravely battling against the market-leading BMW F800 GS in the middleweight adventure bike segment.

Now the Tiger is burning brighter with a midlife upgrade that involves better offroad ability and a few technological tricks to improve rider safety. Prices are up on the old models but there’s also a lot of extra spec.

The hi-tech comprises a new ride-by-wire throttle which enables the rider to select from four throttle-sensitivity maps: rain, road, sport and offroad. ABS brakes, previously an option on the old Tiger, are now standard on both Tiger models along with a newly-available traction-control system.

As with the throttle action, the ABS and traction control can be set to suit the road, either to pre-programmed Road or Off-Road modes, or by adjusting the throttle, ABS and traction settings separately to suit your liking. Because anti-lock braking is useless in the dirt, Off-Road mode disables ABS at the rear wheel and partially disables it at the front, and you can also switch off the anti-lock assistance altogether.

As before the Tiger 800 sells in road (XRx) and off-road (XCx) versions, each of which comes with all the abovementioned electrickery as well as standard cruise control and a comprehensive onboard computer that would impress a space shuttle pilot. The XRx is the asphalt-mostly derivative with a smaller, 19-inch front wheel and less ground clearance, and the only suspension adjustment that can be made is to the rear preload system.

CUSHY RIDE QUALITY

The more off-road focused Tiger XCx has larger, wire-spoked wheels (compared to the XRx’s cast wheels) which are more rugged and offer better ground clearance. It also has fully-adjustable front and rear WP suspension, and a robust aluminium sump-guard.

I rode them at their local media launch in a very hot Gauteng last week, and what sticks out in both versions is their cushy ride quality. With the broad, comfy seat and an upright seating position that now puts less strain on your wrists than before, together with a smooth and torquey power-delivery from the three-cylinder engine, the Tiger 800 is a bike for the long open road.

Power outputs are unchanged at 70kW and 79Nm but engine upgrades have resulted in a claimed 17 percent fuel-consumption improvement.

There are a few minor styling tweaks including a new radiator shroud that’s designed to better direct engine heat away from the rider, but I could still feel a warm glow around my legs when riding at the media launch. It was admittedly a scorching day with 35 degrees showing on the onboard temperature display.

For a more road-based bike the XRx capably cruised over not-too-challenging dirt roads, but the XCx is the better all-rounder, wafting more comfortably over the rough stuff while hardly feeling any more vague-steering on the tar due to its larger front wheel. As before, Triumph expects this more offroad-focused version to be the better seller.- Star Motoring

PRICES

Tiger XRx - R127 500

Tiger XCx - R139 500

Includes a two-year/unlimited mileage warranty

FACTS

Triumph Tiger 800 XRx (XCx)

Engine: 800cc liquid-cooled transverse three.

Bore x stroke: 74.05 x 61.94mm.

Valvegear: DOHC with four overhead valves per cylinder.

Power: 70kW at 9250rpm.

Torque: 79Nm at 7850rpm.

Induction: Multipoint electronic fuel-injection with three throttle bodies.

Ignition: Digital electronic.

Starting: Electric.

Clutch: Cable-operated multiplate wet clutch.

Transmission: Six-speed constant-mesh gearbox with final drive by chain.

Front Suspension: 43mm Showa inverted cartridge forks (43mm WP inverted cartridge forks adjustable for compression and rebound damping).

Rear Suspension: Showa monoshock with hydraulically adjustable preload (WP monoshock with remote oil reservoir, hydraulically adjustable preload, rebound damping adjustment).

Front brakes: Dual 308mm discs with Nissin dual-piston floating callipers and switchable ABS.

Rear brake: 255mm disc with Nissin single-piston floating calliper and switchable ABS.

Front tyre: 100/90 - 19 (90/90 - 21) tubeless.

Rear tyre: 150/70 - 17 tubeless.

Wheelbase: 1530mm.

Seat height: 810 – 830 mm /790 – 810 mm with Accessory Low Seat. (840 – 860 mm/820 – 840 mm with Accessory Low Seat)

Kerb weight: 216kg (221kg).

Fuel tank: 19 litres.

Fuel consumption (claimed): 4.37 litres per 100km.

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