FIRST RIDE | New 2020 Triumph Tiger 900 gets more growl
Triumph’s middleweight adventure bike, the Tiger 800, was launched in 2010 as a versatile tourer and dirt machine with useful torque and a comfortable ride quality.
The British motorcycle firm has now launched a 900cc successor with more muscle, less weight and the latest technology.
The 100cc increase in cubic capacity sees torque in the triple-cylinder engine rising from 79Nm at 7,850rpm to 87Nm at 7,250rpm. Maximum power is unchanged at 70kW but it’s available at a lower 8,750rpm compared to the previous 9,250rpm. The overall power-to-weight ratio is further improved by the 900 being about 5kg lighter than its forerunner.
Those numbers translate into a bike with decidedly more spring in its step, as I found out when I rode the new Tiger 900 at its SA launch last week. Triumph SA CEO Bruce Allen and I engaged in an impromptu dice to compare their overtaking ability — with him on the old Tiger 800 and me on the 900 — and the new bike outgunned the old quite comprehensively.
Though the 900’s still no superbike, it feels punchier and sweeps past long trucks more quickly and thus more safely, and addresses the criticism by some that the 800 was a tad underpowered.
The new Tiger also sounds a little gruffer and sportier, if no less smooth, due to a change in the firing order of the three-cylinder engine.
The Tiger 900 is available locally in two versions: the off-road-based Rally Pro and the more tar-focused GT Pro.
The Rally Pro has a wire-spoked 21-inch front wheel, giving it more ruggedness and ground clearance than the GT version, which has cast alloy wheels and a 19-inch front hoop.
To underline its superior trail-tackling ability, the Rally Pro is fitted with a robust aluminium sump guard, plus more suspension travel than the GT Pro.
The GT Pro has a lower stance that makes it the easier bike for shorter riders, especially in the stop-start commuting grind, though the seat heights are adjustable in both bikes. The road-based GT comes standard with electronically adjustable rear suspension, allowing the rider to stiffen or soften it via a menu in the TFT instrument panel.
The Rally Pro version’s suspension is adjusted the old-fashioned way, by twisting a knob.
Our riding route started in the morning from Triumph Motorcycles’s Sandton headquarters, and for the chilly first part of the trip I didn’t focus on much else but the toasty feel of the heated seat and hand grips. These winter-friendly features are standard on both bikes and were much appreciated in the brisk highveld weather.
One of my favourite aspects of the old Tiger 800 was its cushy ride, and that’s been carried over into the new 900, which cruised smoothly as we made our way towards the hilly roads of the Magaliesburg. The plush ride continued when we turned onto gravel, and even the GT Pro felt capable on the not-too-rough stuff, but the Rally Pro’s longer-travel suspension was less prone to bottoming-out when things got really bumpy.
The new 900 Tiger’s seat has been made a little narrower, giving a more comfortable ride in the standing-up position required for rougher off-road trails.
The new Tiger is brimming with hi-tech features including offering preprogrammed modes that affect the response of the throttle, the cornering ABS and the traction control system. Both bikes get Rain, Road, Sport, Off-Road and Rider-configurable modes. The Rally Pro comes with an additional Off-Road Pro mode that disables the ABS and traction control so you can slide the bike around to your heart’s content.
Also standard is a quickshifter that allows cogs to be changed — both up and down — without using the clutch or releasing the throttle. It’s one of those slick features you didn’t know you needed until you try it, and then you don’t want to ride bikes any other way.
Other electrickery includes cruise control, an underseat USB charger for mobile phones, all-LED lighting with daytime running lights, and a tyre pressure monitoring system.
As per the modern motorcycling trend, analogue clocks are consigned to history in the new Triumph 900, which instead has a large TFT digital screen that can be configured in a number of different views. The integrated My Triumph connectivity system enables phone call and music operation, turn-by-turn navigation, and GoPro control — all accessed via the switches on the handlebars.
Gutsier than before, just as smooth, and brimming with convenient technology, Triumph’s latest middleweight adventurer is a worthy successor to the popular 800.
Triumph Tiger 900 Rally Pro — R229,000
Triumph Tiger 900 GT Pro — R225,000