As nice as the Tiger Explorer 1200 is to look at, it isn’t really an adventure bike. The Tiger Explorer 1200 is best described as an adventure style touring bike, and from my 2 hour test ride, its not a particularly good touring bike. This is of course subjective; if you have very little experience of riding multiple bikes over long distances, you may think it is the perfect bike for your needs, but I am comparing it to many different makes, models and styles of bike.
The biggest failings of the Tiger Explorer 1200 as an adventure bike are its weight, its size and its lack of wind protection. We all expect 1200cc bikes to be big and heavy, but the Tiger Explorer is one of the heaviest adventure bikes, weighing around 275kg wet, without any luggage or accessories. At that weight, in my opinion, it is a big and heavy touring bike capable of a bit of easy off-road trail riding. Its size created another interesting issue which puzzled me somewhat. In order to make the bike more appealing to those who find the BMW and KTM adventure bikes a little too tall, Triumph has created a large bike with quite a low seat, but this means you ride it with your knees pointing slightly upward. After a short spell on the Explore, this proved to be quite uncomfortable, and not ideal for a long distance adventure bike. The next major failing of this bike is the ineffective screen. Not only does it fail to protect you from wind noise and buffeting, it is shaped in such a way that it distorts what you see when you look through it. The screen was somewhat more effective at the lowest setting, but even that provided too much wind noise and buffeting for my and my pillion on a 2 hour test ride and certainly wouldn’t have been a pleasant experience on a multiple day adventure.
There were two other issues I had with the Tiger Explorer 1200. One is that in order to accommodate the shaft drive system, the left hand foot peg was around 40mm further out from the frame than the right hand foot peg. This meant I was always trying to bring my left foot in, which meant when changing gear, my boot was always touching the gearchange arm instead of the roller which sticks out from the arm. The other issue is the vibration under gentle acceleration. When going from a 30mph limit in to a 40mph limit, if you just applied a little bit of throttle to gently increase your speed, the whole bike would vibrate, to the point that my hands and bum were going numb. This only happened under gentle acceleration. Cruising at a set speed, or accelerating hard, the bike was nice and smooth. So after a very critical couple of hours spent trying to love the explorer, I returned it to the dealer. I explained to the salesman what was wrong with it and what it was that I wanted from a new bike.
As soon as I explained that I basically wanted a newer, more powerful, more comfortable version of my KTM 640 Adventure, he said why don’t you try the Triumph 900 Rally Pro. They had a 900 Rally demonstrator, so I decided to take it out for the remaining 20 minutes that the dealership would be open.
I set off, and within the first 60 metres between the workshop and the first set of traffic lights, I knew I had found my next bike. It has all the agility of the 640, with the power and refinement of a modern dual sport. The next 19 minutes were so enjoyable, and fun, I asked if I could return the next day for a longer ride.
After another hour on this wonderful bike, I knew my search was over. I now have to decide exactly how to spec and finance my next bike.