Honda XRV Forum banner

1 - 11 of 11 Posts

Wing Commander
14,437 Posts
Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
The Triumph Tiger 800XC IS an adventure bike. There is no question. It is more than capable off-road and a complete hoot in twisty back country lanes. It has the smoothest gear box and a totally forgiving engine. Whatever gear you happen to be in, if you decide to overtake the car in front, just twist the throttle and you’ll be past it.


The gearing is an eye-opener. Without doubt it would be possible to get the XC out of my garage in south-east London, stick it in third gear and ride all the way to the Triumph factory in Hinckley, Leicestershire without changing gear. You could pretty much then put in into fifth and do most of the return journey too.

I put the flexibility to the test in London traffic, slowing down and pulling away in different gears. In fourth gear, I had to slow to 17mph on the clocks (slower on the sat nav) before it even grumbled when you tried to pull away. It would pull away in fifth from 20mph without complaining. You almost do not need to ride this bike. It rides itself.

But why would you want to rely on the forgiving gears? The gear change is so smooth and easy you can whip through the gears in seconds. You only have to think about changing gear and you’ve done it. So, although 0-70mph can be easily done in three gears, it is faster done using all six. Getting back on my Zebra (a 1991 Honda XRV 750 Africa Twin) after five days of the Tiger, it felt like I had to kick the living daylights out of the gearbox to get it to change gear.

I promised myself I’d try not to compare the newly born Tiger with the 20-year-old Zebra I bought not working for £550. It would be pointless and unfair, I thought. The braking on modern bikes, for example, is in a different league. The Tiger stops with a fingertip touch, the Zebra slows a little with a full-on, nut-crushing grip. But, then, all modern bikes do that. The Tiger’s gearbox, however, stands out. Ask anyone who has ridden one. Even Triumph dealers notice it is special compared with other Triumphs.

To give the bike a test on some twisties, I met Sean at Rykas and we checked out some back roads around Ewhurst and Shere in Surrey. The riding position is aggressive. You naturally hunker forward and it is easy to move your weight around to help lean into corners. We hit a bit of Saturday lunchtime traffic but not for long. Twist and go. It will be your own riding ability and confidence that holds you back, not the bike.

The bike is light and balanced. I said to Sean I reckoned the bike felt 30kg lighter than the Zebra. The Tiger XC claims a wet weight of 215kg. That is just 5kg more than the Zebra’s official dry weight. Add 24 litres of fuel, oil and water, plus crash bars and pannier rails and I probably under-estimated.

I have heard from several people that the XC is a better road bike than the standard Tiger, with the wider bars giving more control. The shorter bars make it a bit more twitchy, they say.

Green lanes
Mudwiz took me on a 65-mile magical mystery tour of some local lanes in the Herts, Beds, Bucks border area – mainly ones he uses to teach novices as the Tiger I had was fitted with Bridgestones Battlewings and not more knobbly tyres. The XC excelled. It is light and its weight is evenly distributed. It always felt like it would be staying upright and heading in the right direction no matter how much the tyres slipped or the bike leaned over.

We did some gravel tracks, dirt tracks, a bit of mud, some ruts – a couple deep and black with liquid mud - and two gravel-based fords. I started cautiously but the bike just gave me more and more confidence as the morning went on. It is easy to handle. In fact the off-road session was probably my favourite, perhaps because it surprised me how good it was.

There is a flaw – the oil filter is exposed at the front. You can see from the photo that I got hit by big lumps of mud. A small sharp stone and that would be oil leaking everywhere. The best you could hope for is to notice it and walk your bike off the trail to a road and get assistance. But if you failed to spot it, you could seize the engine. The Triumph sump guard only covers about one-third of the oil filter and leaves it – in my opinion – dangerously exposed. That means an after-market bash plate will be a must. And it will need to be substantial compared with the Triumph model.


The Tiger has a wealth of add-ons and adjustments but there will still be room for after-market parts. The seat adjusts but there is also a gel version and a cut-down seat for shorties. I was surprised at this as I felt it was low to start with.

There is a taller, adjustable screen. I tried this on an XC at Destination Triumph in Washington, West Sussex. Sean recommended the place, having had his troublesome Triumph Tiger serviced there for the two years he kept it (and did 70,000 miles on it). I tried the screen at both extremes and the found where it suited me best. The adjustable screen is a must. As are the heated grips, which make the bars more comfortable too. It comes with had guards as standard but they are not big enough to offer decent protection, so I’d replace those.

Taller screen


Triumph also has an Arrow exhaust option that sounds a little more throaty than the standard can I had. But I’d be interested to see whether a smaller, lighter, louder can could be made to fit.

Fully-specced, with luggage, lights, grips, screen, crash bars and all will bring the total price closer to £9,500, perhaps even more.

The bad bits
The Tiger 800 XC is frighteningly uncomfortable on a long ride. The low seat meant my legs were cramped. On long journeys this meant I got off almost in pain. I spoke with others who had test-ridden the bike and they said it failed on that alone. I have 31-inch inside leg and could have done with it being taller. There is also little leg protection from the elements.

In fact, there’s little protection from the elements at all. The wind from the standard screen buffeted me consistently – though this is improved with the adjustable taller screen. But with so little in the way of faring, the wind across your chest is significant. My magnetic tank bag kept blowing across the tank – that’s how much wind got there.

The bike I rode for more than 700 miles felt every bump in the road. Running over something as small as a wheel bearing would bang though the handlebars and then through the seat. The one I rode from the dealers had done an extra 1,000 miles and was much better. There are adjustments that can be made and I did not try them, but the standard issue from the factory was too firm. Perhaps it softens with time.

It was made worse by the forward bars. I needed to lean forward to reach them. My arms were at full stretch. This meant I was either leaning on the bars or, trying to be more upright, I was pulling against my shoulders. It also means your head has to tilt back to look ahead and you are a little lower than I am used to, so visibility in traffic and on motorways is not so good. After riding for three hours, I would get off with my neck, back, shoulders, chest and arms aching and my hands bruised.

Look at the difference between the Tiger and Zebra. On the Tiger, with arms straight, I do not quite reach the bars, but on the zebra, gripping the bars I have bent arms:


I found myself pulling up at lights with sports bike riders and doing exactly the same as them – letting go of the bars, sitting upright, stretching out my back and straightening my neck. I am used to a riding position already sat bolt upright. If you have come from a sports bike this will seem an upright bike, from where I come from, I was leaning forward.

The comparison photos also show the difference in height of the standard screen and the bars and wing-mirrors. The Tiger’s mirrors are at the same height as many cars, restricting filtering. And on the bike I had, they vibrated so much at 60mph I could not identify vehicles behind – there was just a shaky blur. It settled down again at speeds above the motorway limit. I'd also have preferred sixth gear to have reduced the revs and increased fuel consumption at realistic motorway cruising speeds - five gears for driving, six for cruising.

And then there’s the tyre problem. Triumph recommend Metzeler Karoos as its off-road tyre but says the bike is unstable with them fitted at anything above 60mph. I didn’t get to try the bike with Karoos on, but the guy at Triumph confirmed he had noticed it. It is not unstable, he said, just less stable. That worries me. Though it could just be that the riders are not used to knobblies.

Don’t get me wrong, this is a great bike. I loved it off-road and in the twisties. As you would expect, it beats the Zebra in every way in terms of performance. It managed close to 45mpg during the off-road session. It did 52mpg blatting down the motorway. And it accelerates so much more easily and faster. It put a smile on my face for much of the time I was on it.

But it lost out big time on comfort. I’d need different bars to bring them back and higher so I could sit upright. Even then I’m not sure I’d be as tall as I am used to, so extra padding in the seat would be a must. And I fear the extra height would be a problem with the screen and lack of faring.

I reckon the Triumph Tiger 800XC could be the perfect bike for Hudders.

Links (new windows)
Triumph Adventure
The Zebra

1,472 Posts
Good report. I went on a ride with one of the guys off of ABR who was on a Tiger XC. He has a smaller inside leg so the height suited him perfectly especially when standing on the pegs. He did say he also had the same issues with the bars but just swivelled them back and up and it solved it for him. He's about 5'8 max so heres a bike for the 'shorter' adventurer.

Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk

329 Posts
Chris, how about a little detail in your write up? ;)

Great wee report, esp. reading some (constructive) criticism. As a some-time subscriber to the "an Africa Twin, but with more power" ethos, I was quite interested in the 800XC, which, up till now, had sounded just that. (not that I've any chance of buying another bike for at least 5 years...) @ comfort is something I'm not sure I could now live without...

6,063 Posts
Nice write up Chris :thumbup:

Shorter member :-)
1,944 Posts
Perfect for me :D

Cos I is short my good man :cool:

Good write up Chris :thumb:

4,162 Posts
be interested in Africa Jim's views..

he gets his soon..

and having had RD04s and a Tigger should be able to add something..

mmm one for Normal folk eh.. not vertically challenging gangle ungainly types :)

I still love fighting the fat twin and winning ( well most of the time .. )

whys the rum always gone?
17,680 Posts
ive sat on the XC a couple of times and he is right about the peg position spesh for a long legged yeti like me , but the bars felt perfect (que jokes about my knuckles dragging on the floor) quiet at the back:D

i absolutely will not ride this bike as i know i will want one , and thats never going to happen as i like my nuts just where they are:D:D:D:D

nice report chris:thumbup:

Ridden for years
2,806 Posts
Nice write up Chris.
Yes, this novelty of putting oil filters in the worst place possible; maybe it helps with oil cooling:rolleyes:
I'm sure you wouldn't spend too much time at 17mph in fourth, think about your big end; the bike not yours!
Good bike test though.
1 - 11 of 11 Posts