When I tested the previous generation Triumph Tiger 800 three years ago, I was impressed with the level of equipment Triumph packed into their midsize adventure bike, and particularly with how competent a road bike the off-road-focused XCa was.
As a result, I was very keen to lay my hands on the latest Tiger 800 XCa to see if the bike is still as good as I remembered.
Upgrades in every department
One of the most noticeable differences between the two is the more rugged, macho look of the current model, but the changes are much more than cosmetic: the bike received more than 200 engine and chassis upgrades covering everything from increased comfort and improved rider aids to safety and performance enhancements.
Triumph says their engineers have focused on mass optimization, which included reducing the size and weight of the silencer, reducing the mass of the cooling system and lightening the alternator.
They’ve also sharpened up the fuelling to make the Tiger more responsive at low revs and gave it a shorter first gear for improved control, acceleration and climbing capability.
A pleasure to pilot
This and the myriad of other changes resulted in a bike that will easily stand up to its competitors off the road with its traction control, switchable ABS and three rider modes. Standard equipment includes heated rider and passenger seats, heated grips, LED fog lights and three auxiliary sockets (backed by an uprated 650W alternator).
The Tiger offers ample ground clearance, but just in case, it sports a rugged aluminium belly pan to protect the sump. The radiator is likewise protected by a metal grid, allow you to confidently carry on riding where the road ends.
The 799cm³ motor produces sufficient torque to power your way through thick sand and up slippery hills. Although the spin-off of the ground clearance is that the bike is quite tall, the weight distribution is such that it didn’t bother me overmuch during off-road riding.
Image: Wheels24/Dries van der Walt
The only thing that did bother me was the fact that the side-stand cut-out switch seemed perilously exposed – one bash against a protruding rock, and you may find yourself stranded in the wilds.
Smooth and powerful
The XCa shines on the road as much as it does off it. It is comfortable enough to take on the open road, and responsive enough to commute with to your heart’s content.
The slightly more powerful triple mill is mated to one of the smoothest gearboxes I’ve experienced, and even with the street-legal knobblies, it remains stable well in excess of the national speed limit.
The manually adjustable screen works well at speed, and the three-pot mill is smooth – both factors that reduce rider fatigue over long distances. With mounting points available for Triumph’s aftermarket luggage boxer, turning the Tiger into a cross-country adventure mount is a cinch.
Image: Wheels24/Dries van der Walt
Throughout the test period, the Tiger was a pleasure to ride: quick off the mark with surprisingly good handling for an adventure bike and comfort that promises effortless long-distance riding.
It does so well in town that it is easy to forget you are riding a serious off-road machine while switching it into full adventure mode is as simple as changing the surface beneath your wheels.
So, to answer the opening question: the Tiger 800 XCa is not as good as I remember. It is much better.
Type: Four stroke, transverse three cylinder, DOHC, 4 valve per cylinder.
Maximum Power: 70.8kW @ 9 250rpm
Maximum Torque: 79Nm @ 7 850rpm
Fuel supply system: Multipoint sequential electronic fuel injection
Fuel type: Premium Unleaded 95 octane RON
Fuel capacity: 19l
Type: 6-speed sequential
Final drive: Chain Dimensions
Overall length x width x height (mm): 2 215 X 845 X 1 390 Dry weight: 2015kg
Front: 2 x 308mm floating discs, Nissin 2-piston sliding calipers, switchable ABS
Rear: Single 255mm disc, Nissin single-piston sliding caliper, Switchable ABS
Front: WP 43mm upside down forks, adjustable rebound and compression
Rear: WP monoshock with remote oil reservoir, hydraulically adjustable preload, rebound
Wheels & Tyres
Wheel, front: 36-Spoke 21 x 2.5 in, aluminium rim
Wheel, rear: 32-Spoke 17 x 4.25 in, aluminium rim
Tyre, front: 90/90 R21
Tyre, rear: 150/70 R17