Triumph's Tiger has been long overdue for an upgrade.
Triumph has abandoned the quasi dual purpose approach of the previous Tiger and reintroduced the latest model as a much more capable sporting machine.
The latest version that was recently launched sports a 1050 triple engine, new chassis and brand new styling.
There are still more suspension than on a sportbike, but upside-down fork, radial brake callipers, stronger swingarm and 85kW shouts sport rather than the old more adventure styled 955. We racked up more than 1 609km's on the first production Tiger 1050 to hit the UK?s roads with our trip commencing at the Triumph Hinckley factory.
As usual we started out our test doing motorway miles. This tells us how the bike performs as a touring bike and we also added luggage on a 514km journey. Triumph has a fully developed luggage system for the new Tiger, but we had to do without. We strapped on the luggage in the old fashioned way.
The only thing that stops you using soft luggage on the new Tiger 1050 (well, on the old 955 too) is the high exhaust on the right hand side that you have to be careful of.
At high speed we did struggle to keep a steady line due to heavy winds on the open motorways, but the front was more stable than for instance on the Honda CBF1000 that I tested with luggage a month before.
The seat is comfortable and I could handle one tank full after the other in relative comfort. I admit that I was pushing it a bit on the speed and r/min front and with this sort of riding I could do about 210km between stops and refill around 18 litres (with luggage and heavy wind).
When you ride more economically with revs below 6 000r/min the Tiger can produce decent mileage. My best run gave more than 321km on a tank-full (20 litres). The new windscreen is very decent and considering the high speed work I did, I hardly suffered from any fatigue.
At normal pace the seating position is very natural and comfortable. The distance to the handlebars and foot pegs with an 835mm seat height suited me perfect. If you keep the revs high, above 6 000r/min, there are some vibrations in the bars, but the mirrors stay clear
enough to keep a full overview of what's going on behind us.
The new Tiger front has been completely restyled and you can see some influence from the firm's Daytona 675 on the double headlight. When we rode in the dark the lights were perfectly adjusted, which is not always the case on a press bike, and provided more than enough light to keep the pace up on half empty motorways.
On the country lanes high beam provided enough light to get us safely through some mud in many of the bends. The Michelin Pilot Road tyres provided very good wet-grip too so we have had 1 000 safe miles on the '07 Tiger 1050.
The new wheels are the same size as on the average sportbike, they fit a 120/70-17 tyre at the front and 180/55-17 at the rear. Wheels and tyres are sporty, but so are the new chassis, swing-arm and suspension. The USD fork provides really good front end grip and feedback and on the front wheel Triumph has attached four pot radial callipers from Nissin.
The suspension is not too hard and perhaps on the soft side for really hard riding. But both front and rear suspension benefits from full adjustability. Suspension, chassis, brakes and wheels are all components that previously have been reserved for the sporty Sprint ST and Speed Triple models.
This brings us to the 1050cc triple engine that also derives from the ST and S3 models. Due to a big single muffler that single handily has to handle Euro 3, the new Tiger produces a bit less peak power than its sportier siblings. A claimed 85kW at 9 400r/min and 100Nm at 6 250 r/min are the claimed max figures.
Regardless of the hard facts, the engine feels powerful enough and the torque is impressive from low r/min figures. I happily accelerated from 2 000r/min in high gears as the transmission never argued and from 3 000r/min the engine pushes strongly.
Horsepower takes over from the steady torque curve at around 7 000r/min (which tells us again how important torque is for a road machine) and sends the front towards the air if you want it to.
When using the engine like that I needed to use the gearbox a lot more. And it is the same old story with a disappointing feel when gearing up the box. My left toes hurts after a day in the seat. And my boots are thick.
This is one detail that Triumph has not improved much on from previous 1050 models yet. The feel is horrible and unnecessary force has to be applied through the left foot. If Triumph could only build a Suzuki gearbox...but, this is the one and only real niggle I have with the 2007 Tiger. The rest is good, really good.
The first 2007 Triumph 1050 models are expect to reach South Africa towards the end of January. No retail price has yet been confirmed.