Ride like a Pro, triumphantly

The new Tiger 900 bears no resemblance to the Tiger 800 it replaces, save for the switchgear and is classified into the GT Pro and Rally Pro

The Triumph Tiger is one of the most recognised and revered motorcycles in the category, so much so that it has a mega fan following around the globe. With such a successful motorcycle in its portfolio, you would think that Triumph would not tinker too much with an established formula. So, when we found out that Triumph has developed an all-new Tiger, doubts emerged. Can the new Tiger 900 fill the incredibly large, adventure-motorcycle-sized shoes of its predecessor? We have come all the way to beautiful Morocco to find answers.

What does it look like?

Well, straight off the bat, let us tell you that the new Tiger 900 bears no resemblance to the Tiger 800 it replaces, save for the switchgear. It is classified into two — the GT or the Rally — with the Pro suffix on both indicating that both are the fully-loaded, top-of-the-line versions. The GT Pro is the road-biased Tiger, which is evident from the cast alloy wheels, lower ride height and its new Marzocchi suspension with an electronically adjustable, gas-charged monoshock. The Rally Pro, on the other hand, is the highest-spec off-road-biased Tiger, as seen from the fully adjustable and long travel Showa suspension, higher ground clearance, and bigger front wheel. Speaking of wheels, the Rally gets tubeless wire spoke rims and that’ll make it a lot easier to fix punctures.

While this is what essentially separates the GT and the Rally, they share the same frame, body panels, 7.0-inch TFT display (with Bluetooth connectivity and turn-by-turn navigation) and the newly developed in-line triple engine.

As far as design goes, the Tiger 900 looks fresh; and therein lies its appeal. Elements such as the sleek pair of LED headlamps, with an integrated LED unibrow above and prominent beak, complete the adventure motorcycle-correct front end. The side profile reveals the cleverly designed fuel tank; although it is narrower than the previous Tiger’s tank it holds more fuel, with its capacity rated at 20 litres. The new, split radiator sits on either side of the bike and has a well-designed shroud covering the large fans. The tail section of the Tiger 900 has a minimalistic look as there are no body panels, save for a plastic extension that houses the new horizontal tail-lamp.

What about its ergonomics?

When you sit on the new Tiger, the seats feel far more accommodating than its slim profile suggests. Just like with its predecessor, the seats on the GT Pro and Rally Pro can be manually lowered by 20mm in a matter of 2-3 minutes, which should make the new Tiger accessible to a wider set of buyers. But that is not all — the handlebar has also moved 10mm closer to the rider, which has resulted in a more relaxed riding position, whether seated or standing on the pegs.

What is the engine like?

The Tiger 900’s new in-line triple is the star of the show. A major highlight is the way it sounds. Part of the reason for this is the new engine’s 1-3-2 firing order and T-plane crank (crank pins in cylinders 1 and 3 are set at 180 degrees while the number 2 cylinder’s crank is at 90 degrees, forming a T) that not only claims to give it stronger low- and mid-range grunt, but also makes it sound deeper, angry and menacing, across the rev range.

The motor’s tractable nature and strong bottom-end saw me hovering around 30-40kph in fourth gear, while making my way around the busy streets of Marrakesh, and all I had to do was roll on the throttle to pass traffic. However, an open stretch is where this engine truly exhibits its awesome potential. You could easily sit between 60-200kph all day long without feeling the need to downshift from sixth to fifth gear. Also, given the grunty nature of the engine, you manage to stay in the power band while riding off-road most of the time, which means you don’t have to rev the engine hard to accelerate out of tricky situations — say, while riding over a steep, rocky incline.

A clever suite of electronics available on both GT Pro and Rally Pro versions — in the form of traction control (the smaller Tiger finally gets an IMU) and riding modes — keeps everything in check. The Road, Rain, Sport, Off-road and Rider (custom) modes alter the level of traction control and ABS intervention. These systems work so unobtrusively that the only way to tell the traction control (TC) is working is by looking at the bright orange indicator flashing like a Christmas light on the dash.

The off-road mode in the GT Pro version changes the throttle map to enable it to tackle light trails, but for those looking to have more fun, the Rally Pro’s dedicated Off-Road Pro mode turns ABS and TC off, so that you can have a whale of a time, drifting across sand and grinning ear-to-ear inside the helmet.

What is it like to ride?

On the road, the Tiger 900 GT Pro’s Marzocchis did a brilliant job of soaking up bumps — whether in a straight line or mid-corner — and that goes a long way in boosting confidence, especially on unknown roads. The bike stays glued to an intended line, as its communicative front-end lets the rider push the bike hard, even to the point where the pegs end up grinding into the tarmac. And this is despite the bike having more cornering clearance than before.

The Rally Pro, however, was surprisingly fun to chuck around some of the winding sections we encountered, highlighting its ability to tackle both tarmac and off-road sections with aplomb. Naturally, it is in the latter area where the Rally Pro manages to impress the most. The combination of the perfectly set up suspension, chassis balance, and peppy engine, made it incredibly intuitive to ride this big adventure tourer off-road.

Should I buy one?

It certainly was not an easy job to build upon the strong attributes of the Tiger 800, but what Triumph has managed to achieve with the Tiger 900 GT Pro and Rally Pro bikes is incredible.

The new Tiger 900 is expected to go on sale in India by May or June 2020. Compared to its predecessor, prices are expected to increase by ₹60,000 to ₹1 lakh, considering the additional equipment.

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