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Adventure motorcycles are big in the market nowadays and so are big adventure motorcycles. And when it comes to big adventure motorcycles, Tiger is a very respected name. Triumph has been on a bit of a roll in the recent past with the new Speed Triple, new Tiger Sport 660 and such. This one is the big one though as Triumph has launched their flagship adv-tourer- here it is then, the new Tiger 1200. And there isn’t just one either.
When we received the invite to check the new Tiger 1200 out, it had us excited. But what really got us jumping was the location. Triumph decided to take us to Kufri in Himachal Pradesh to test the biggest and baddest Tiger to date. With serpentine mountainous roads and dirt trails abound, they could not have chosen a better location.
First things first; the Tiger 1200 is not one motorcycle but a family. There’s the road-biased GT Pro and GT Explorer. Then there’s off-road biased Rally Pro and Rally Explorer. And finally, there’s the base model which is the Tiger 1200 GT. The Explorer models feature a 30-litre tank instead of the 20 found on other models. Now, we got our hands on the GT Pro and the Rally Pro; more than enough to find out what’s what!
There is a lot of new stuff going on with the Tiger 1200 so let us talk about some components first. Starting with the chassis, the frame on the new Tiger 1200 now has a bolt-on subframe along with bolt-on pillion footrests. Semi-active suspension from Showa is standard on all models along with an adjustable seat with two settings, and an adjustable windscreen.
The highlight though is the Tri-Link swingarm setup. It provides the Tiger 1200 with a lightweight yet stiff shaft drive system. Another unique thing that Triumph has done is using a lower ratio in the front bevel box that allows the use of a smaller gearset in the second bevel box. This has been done to minimize the weight at the end of the swingarm and thus, ensure that the suspension works smoother and better.
Moving away from the mechanical side of things, an up/down quickshifter is also standard on all models except the base GT model. There are riding modes, of course. 5 different ones on the GT Pro and 6 on the Rally Pro (the additional one being a dedicated off-road mode). The good thing here is that all the riding modes can now be customized. There’s granularity too as the Off-Road and Off-Road Pro modes allow the riders to use off-road specific traction control and ABS… or switch them off entirely for some old-school fun.
Model-specific features are easy to figure out. The more road-focused GT Models get 200mm of suspension travel with a 19” front wheel and an 18” rear. Rally models on the other hand get 220mm of suspension travel with a 21” wheel on the front and an 18” on the rear. As mentioned earlier, Explorer models for both GT and Rally get a larger fuel tank.
Now, the juicier part and the one constant in a rather diverse range of motorcycles- the engine. A new 1,160cc liquid-cooled, 12-valve, DOHC, inline 3-cylinder engine that makes 148 bhp of power and 130 Nm of torque. Regular Triumph recipe? Not quite. The engine features a T-plane crank design that sets it apart from the other triples from Triumph, lending it a bit more character in how the engine feels and sounds.
Triumph has gone to great lengths to make sure that this is not just the best Tiger to date, but the best adventure motorcycle in its class. There have been some clear comparisons with the obvious competition; the R 1250 GS. The Tiger 1200 makes more power, is lighter and is more technically sound. But motorcycles are outdoor creatures, even more so when they are adventure motorcycles. So out on the road is where they should fight, not on paper. And so, let us head out!
Upon reaching the location and checking out the motorcycles in flesh, it was time to ride. Triumph had divided us riders into two groups with each having a go at the GT Pro or the Rally Pro. We got our hands on the GT Pro first and that is what we will talk about first. Getting on the Tiger 1200 GT Pro will be fairly easy for most people as the seat height is adjustable and the lowest it can get is 850mm. Moreover, because of how narrow the motorcycle is, it is easy to find your feet on the ground.
As we pushed the starter button, the engine came to life with a roar. It has the signature Triumph smoothness to the noise but the T-plane crank has added a tinge of madness. As the revs climb, the character of this triple with a twist becomes more pronounced. The vibrations are minimal even when you sit higher in the rev range and overall, the Tiger 1200 GT Pro feels smooth and refined.
When the going gets quicker, even the minimal vibrations are forgotten as the 1200 GT Pro is a joy to ride. The adjustable windscreen keeps the windblast away and you can put the heated grips to use in chilly weather. We did not do that but it was reassuring to know that we could do that. A motorcycle meant to go anywhere should be ready for everywhere.
We also liked the layout of the backlit switchgear and everything was easy to find. The TFT display is also a joy to look at and use. We also liked the fact that it is not massive and therefore, less distracting. Despite its size though, all the information you can ask for is there when you need it.
The pull of the slip-and-assist clutch is light and the gear changes are on point. The up/down quickshifter works like a breeze. The Tiger 1200 GT Pro’s mill sure packs a punch. Gunning out of the corners with the roar of the triple reverberating was a joyous experience. The first couple of gears are tall and the ever-present torque throughout the rev range makes sure that you do not shift often. Though the sound of the engine at higher revs is also a major contributor.
The chassis and geometry of the motorcycle are the stars of the show though. It inspires so much confidence that one can easily ride this big adventure-tourer like a much smaller sportbike. The harder you ride it, the further it asks to be pushed. Despite the 19” wheel and a 20-litre fuel tank sitting rather high, the Tiger 1200 GT Pro never felt top-heavy or lethargic.
It was quite the opposite and for that, the engineers at Triumph deserve all the appreciation. The Metzeler Tourance tyres also do a decent enough job of providing more than ample grip for some corner shenanigans. The one thing that we’d have liked is a bit more clearance. The pegs touch the ground as soon as one starts to push the motorcycle a bit too much.
In order to ride hard, one must have a lot of confidence in the anchors and with the Tiger 1200 GT Pro’s Stylemas, one has a lot of that. They offer a lot of power and plenty of feel so that department is nailed too. In off-road mode, one can switch off the ABS on the rear for some sideways action. The suspension also deserves a special mention. The Shoma semi-active suspension does a great job of soaking up everything in its stride without feeling too soggy. It complements the wonderful chassis of the motorcycle so the Tiger 1200 GT Pro.
Overall, the Tiger 1200 GT Pro is a heck of a road bike and we reckon it will do alright on even some light trails. Wonderful handling, punchy engine, and loads of creature-comforts make the 1200 GT a tourer worth your consideration… a lot of it!
Once we were done with the Tiger 1200 GT Pro, it was time to ride the Tiger 1200 Rally Pro- the more hardcore offroader meant to deal with the tough stuff and make it fun too. Triumph has taken a lot of inputs from a lot of riders and has incorporated a lot of those. The most common complaint was the weight and its distribution which took a lot away from the Tiger’s real prowess while taming trails. As such, the new Tiger 1200 Pro is lighter and the CoG is lower too. What does that entail? A whole lot of fun.
The engine is the same and the only changes, as highlighted earlier, are a bigger wheel and more suspension travel. Riding the GT Pro we could already tell that even that road-biased variant would do alright off the road. And based on that assessment, we could tell that the Tiger 1200 Rally Pro was going to be an absolute animal. And an animal it was!
The place that was designated for us to test the Tiger 1200 Rally Pro was the near-perfect spot one can ask for; dirt, dust, gravel, inclines, declines, and of course, a few jumps! And what fun it was to hear the T-plane triple roar away every time we gave in to the adage, When in doubt, throttle it out! Or whatever it is.
Off the road, the engine of the Tiger 1200 really feels alive. This is an engine that begs to be ridden hard. And once you start to really wring it, it feels so organic. It is like you always know what your next input is going to do to the tyre- it will break traction but you know what input you need to keep it sliding at the edge of a precipice for an eternity. As good as the GT Pro was on the road, the Rally Pro does one better off the road. Again, the chassis, the geometry, and the suspension have a big part to play here.
Even when you end up pushing it too hard and you feel like you have made a mistake, the motorcycle makes up for it and never loses its composure. We have ridden quite a few adventure motorcycles in the past but this is something else. After riding it for a while, we decided to fiddle with the modes a bit. So the Rally Pro, in addition to the 5 riding modes seen on the GT Pro, comes with an additional one called Off-Road Pro. It gives you more granular control over the electronics and you can fine-tune everything to your liking.
Now, since everything is good, everything cannot be good, right? And there are a few shortcomings. The most critical one? Tyres. Metzeler Karoo Street tyres are alright but the potential of the Triumph Tiger 1200 Rally Pro demands more. The second complaint would be the performance in the lower rev-range. It is not spikey by any means but it could have been a bit smoother. Then again, we did not ride slow but someone still learning to hang with the tools of the trade may do better with a better low-end.
That is more or less it but before we wrap it up, we would like to talk about the Tiger 1200 as a whole. It is a massive step in performance be it on the road or off it. It is lighter. It is more characterful. It is more powerful. It is so well set up that it makes you want to cry. Chassis, geometry, suspension, modes, and everything you can think of are dialled in and ready to go. There are always a few misses and there always will be but they cannot be deterrents. And doing all that, the Tiger 1200 has not lost anything. It was never a headline-grabber but it was comfortable, smooth and very practical. It still has but now it has more zing… more pizazz if you will. And we love it for that.
Brass tacks aka price? The Tiger 1200 GT Pro comes in at INR 19,19,000/- (Ex-Showroom). The Tiger 1200 Rally Pro comes in at INR 20,19,000/- (Ex-Showroom). The Tiger 1200 GT Explorer comes in at INR 20,69,000/- (Ex-Showroom). And the Tiger 1200 Rally Explorer is set to go for INR 21,69,000/- (Ex-Showroom). It is a lot of money but then again, and you can take our word for it, this is one of the best-kitted adventure motorcycles out there; mechanically, electronically and in every aspect there is. And it rides like… just give it a try.