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 ride 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 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 many 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 6,000 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 near perfect. Every rider should spend time setting up a bike
to suit them, I have fitted SW-Motech Footpegs, Touratech gear lever, then 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). I have lowered the ride height by 18mm. The ergonomics now suit me well. The seat on the latest 800 is really 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 and 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 over the moors 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 and it can 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, it also permits locking the rear tyre on braking. I find I am riding the same speed as the 1200and 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 800 has far
less engine braking so I constantly have to use the brakes to slow down, rolling off the throttle has little effect. Whats not to like, delighted so far.
When you park a Tiger Explorer next to a 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 XCx.
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