Triumph Tiger 800 vs 1200 Compare
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Back in 2012 I test rode the first generation Tiger 800 and the Tiger Explorer 1200.  At the time I decided to trade in my Tiger 1050 and purchase a 1200
Explorer.  My thoughts were that the standard 800 bike felt more supermoto than trail bike, the XC version felt closer to an Adventure bike.   Both the
new 800 Tiger's were nice to ride and more manageable for the shorter rider however the 2012 Tiger 800 lacked extras like Traction Control and
Cruise.  When I rode the Explorer there was such a difference in the feel and power delivery between the 800 and the 1200 engine, a bit like comparing
a 2 litre car with a 3 litre.  As I rode at least 8,000 miles per year and I was planning my second return trip to Turkey I bought a Triumph Tiger Explorer.  
The Explorer was an excellent long distance cruiser and it had shaft drive.  I preferred having Traction, Cruise, ABS etc.  I do not regret buying the
Explorer, the downside is it is one heavy lump (Just like the GS1200), I ride off road and the weight is limiting, in any sort of gravel, mud or puddle the
front wheel goes where it wants, sometimes I really struggled to stay upright.  I dreaded riding through Fords because I am not tall enough to kick the
bike upright if it starts to go over.  In 3 years and 26,000 miles I rode all sorts of challenging trails and got though unscathed but I cannot say it was
always fun to ride.  I also found the Explorer difficult to maneuver when parking.  When touring you are often invited to park safely overnight "Round the
back" on gravel or grass, on an incline and/or uneven ground and the Explorer was one heavy bike to push around in these conditions.

In 2015 the second generation Tiger 800 became available.  The XCx version offers WP suspension which provides an uncanny magic carpet ride and
the 21" front wheel gives excellent feedback - overall a great riding experience, just try it.  The new 800 is much improved and the "x" versions come with
Cruise, Traction, switchable ABS plus Rider Modes. I decided to trade in my Explorer for the new 800 XCx.  Compared to my Explorer I find the 800 much
more manageable round the garage, when parking,  when riding small roads and when trail riding.  It is easier for me to handle and therefore more
enjoyable.  The 800 provides a relaxed and completely neutral riding experience, it goes where you want it and benefits from being 40kgs lighter.  It is
not shaft drive which for me is a bonus because I have raised the gearing for just £15.  The downside is less torque and it REVS, the smaller engine has
to work harder and it cannot match the graceful, long legged surge of the Explorer.  The latest 800 has a sweet gear change which is vital because I
have to use the gears more often than the Explorer.  On the move, on the road, the Explorer was light, easy to ride and it was a superb bike for long
trips.  It is off road, at junctions, at walking pace and riding small roads like the Lake District or Wales where I was so conscious of  the weight.  The final
clincher is the price, the 800XCx comes in £2,500 cheaper which made the upgrade to a new bike more affordable.  As a side note when I joined the
BigTrailbike Club most rode BMW GS 1150s and 1200s.  On recent trips some of the Beemer pilots has moved down to an 800.  The larger bikes are
getting too expensive and the smaller bikes are becoming more capable.  I guess I have joined the trend.

I have now ridden over 15,000 miles on my Tiger 800 XCx and I am really enjoying it, not missing my Explorer that much.  The WP suspension is superb,
the forks loosened up nicely after 700 miles. The engine has revved freely from day one ( I still ran it in properly).  The gear change was good new and
after 2,000 miles it is near perfect.  I  am pleased that the 800 has stainless steel fittings unlike my 1200 Explorer.  Every rider should spend time setting
up a bike to suit them, I have fitted SW-Motech Footpegs, Touratech gear lever, adjusted the foot brake and gear lever so I can use them sitting or
standing.  I rotated the handlebars forward a little and fitted CNC clutch and brake levers (Huge improvement).  Initially I lowered the ride height by
25mm, now only lowered  5mm.  The ergonomics suit me well.  The seat on the latest 800 is comfy, in fact I took it off to check if Triumph had fitted
accidentally the comfort seat by mistake.  The 800 engine is light and free revving with a small flywheel at first it is easy to stall, more revs required to
move off (like the 1050).  When riding the XCx is so light and flickable, on small lanes and off road I can ride like an MX bike keeping my body upright
and leaning the bike over with pressure from the inside of my thigh, weighting the outside peg.  I have ridden to the edge of the tyres and touched the
pegs down, at all times the Tiger is stable and reassuring.  It does lack the delicious surge of a 1200,  the 800 is quick enough but you have to use all
the gears to live with 1200 Adventure bikes.  I only have to rev the engine to 7,000 to go fast, the last 3,000 revs can be kept for special occasions.  I
can ride through town at 30 in 5th gear, when I open the throttle the 800 has plenty of go.  I have tried the different engine maps Sport, Road, Rain and
Off-Road with roll-ons from 2,000 revs, to be honest it is hard to tell the difference.  Cruise ABS and Traction Control work well on road, off road the
standard TC is too intrusive, to ride up any kind of gravel slope it is essential to select the Off-Road mapping which reduces TC and permits locking the
rear wheel.   I find I am riding the same speed as the 1200 feeling more relaxed. When riding all day long unexpected encounters with gravel strewn
corners, mud, leaves, puddles, animal pooh etc are much less scary on the 800.  The only thing I miss is the engine braking, there is very little on the
Tiger 800 rolling off the throttle has little effect so my mates ask me why I keep dabbing the brakes.  Whats not to like, delighted so far.
When I parked my old Tiger Explorer next to my new Tiger 800 XCx it is surprising to note how much higher the headlamps are on the 800.  The overall
size is similar, in fact I think the 800 is a longer bike.  However you can easily see how much more mass the 1200 carries, from every angle it is bigger
and bulkier  Webbs also had a BMW 800 Adventure in stock, what as big, tall, fat bike that is in comparison with the Tiger 800 XCx.