Trail – Tiger Explorer XCA test: Triumph at the crossroads – Dynamic: the Tiger has its fangs!


Faro (Portugal),

Tiger Explorer XCA test: Triumph at a crossroads

Trail - Tiger Explorer XCA test: Triumph at the crossroads - Dynamic: the Tiger has its fangs!

Electric screen, semi-active suspensions, hill start aid, high-tech ABS and anti-skidding: so many features previously reserved for high-end road motorcycles. Here they are now standard on the 2016 Triumph Tiger Explorer XCA.


Dynamic: the Tiger has fangs !

Thanks to an ingenious system of shims that can be moved in notches – one of the simplest in the category – the Explorer saddle height goes from 837 to 857 mm in the blink of an eye (same as in 2012) . In the low position, a 1.75m pilot easily touches the ground despite the intimidating volumes: the astonishing finesse at the crotch and the very reasonable spacing of the knees are valuable bonuses for accessibility !

Close to the bust of 20 mm, the wide and slightly curved handlebars fall more easily under the gloves, which is relevant for two reasons: comfort wins because the arms are less stretched and the link with the front axle increases. , for the immediate benefit of feedback.

A few turns of the wheel are enough to appreciate the progress made in this area by the Tiger Explorer, whose steering gear has gained a lot in precision. The new distribution of masses and the modifications made to its geometric values ​​(shorter caster angle and wheelbase: all details in our Technical Report) are undoubtedly a success..

However, the Triumph maxi-trail still requires energy to turn quickly from one angle to another, a phenomenon amplified by a tendency for the front to engage slightly at low speed. Its engine architecture stretched upwards is at the origin of a high center of gravity, causing inertia that we must combat – without too much difficulty, moreover – by using the handlebars.

The increase in the width of its tires – 120 and 170 mm against 110 and 150 mm previously – and its weight gain also explain why the Explorer did not suddenly turn into a trial bike. With 258 kg dry in the XCA version (that is probably not far from 280 kg all full made with 20 liters of gasoline and other fluids), the Triumph trail clearly does not usurp its "maxi" designation. !

Contrary to these characteristics, the Tiger Eplorer surprises however by diving with the rope with an ease that we did not know him. This new vintage is not really livelier but shows a welcome frankness and predictability when entering curves..

The front axle sits more conveniently, without showing hesitation or resistance, even when the pace increases or the brakes are applied. Confidence is total in just a few turns, allowing you to scrape the footrests thanks to very strong angle grips.

Logically, this serenity is also appreciated off asphalt, especially on the sometimes bumpy, sometimes rolling and often muddy tracks used during this first contact. Despite its weight, the Tiger Explorer is fairly easy to handle on roads, thanks in part to its successful general balance and its short turning radius..

Bluffing suspensions

One of the reasons for this brilliant mutation of the Explorer is due to its semi-active suspensions developed with WP (property of KTM), quite simply bluffing of efficiency and reactivity. Whichever driving mode is selected, the front works in perfect coordination with the rear.

Thanks to the speed with which the device varies the opening of the hydraulic valves, the damping continuously offers excellent resistance and, moreover, smooths variations in attitude, especially under braking. Even with the brakes set, the Explorer remains almost horizontal. The braking suitably coupled from front to rear also plays a positive role here..

This feature serves precision and feedback throughout the angle setting phase, including when the right lever continues to be used. The opportunity to appreciate the very decent power delivered by Brembo monobloc calipers, despite a moderately sharp bite and not always constant in sports use.

Very comfortable in "Rain" and "Road" mode, the Triumph reveals in "Sport" mode the rigidity necessary to jump from bend to bend without restraint: it is used and abused with relish, taking advantage in this configuration of the total transparency of the actions ABS and anti-slip as well as immediate responsiveness of the accelerator, very precise.

Very efficient on the road – probably among the best tested so far by MNC – these semi-active suspensions are just as brilliant on the roads, ensuring progressive absorption without ever trailing. Even successions of rapid shocks or small jumps triggered on protruding stones did not affect the sensitivity present at the start of the race..

Admittedly, the substantial mass and generous measurements set limits not to be exceeded in terms of improvisation, especially off-road. And if the ABS disconnects automatically on the rear in "Off-Road" mode, it is better to have a certain level before cutting a pin by making the rear skid: when it goes, the weight quickly takes you on board to perpette !

Likewise, if deactivating the traction control is essential on gravel – as it is quite intrusive in "Off-road" mode – drifting this heavy and long motorcycle requires skill and experience. The incredible finesse of the ABS is then appreciated since it is possible to strongly press the right lever (operating the front and rear), without the risk of seeing the 19-inch front wheel ripping in a muddy slope..

Finally, the last master asset of the Tiger Explorer 2016 resides in its three cylinders of 1215cc, at the same time flexible, vigorous and smooth. Extremely available (to hold the 50 km / h in 6th at 1600 rpm is a formality), this "3-legged" has a staggering trunk, powerful revivals and a hard-hitting extension (red zone at 10,000 rpm).

Honda has the dual-clutch transmission, Triumph has its fantastic "Triple": in either case worrying about the gear engaged is absolutely useless. Because for a little, it would be possible to go directly from the first to the sixth on the English! Which does not necessarily fall worse because the selection is a hint of dryness and the grip point of the clutch located a little far away …

On the other hand, we appreciate the softness of the newly hydraulically assisted clutch lever, as well as the exceptional transparency of the final drive shaft. Absorbing the sharpest acceleration without lifting, this acatene transmission is a model of pleasure. Look no further: Triumph still has the softest in the category !

Only downside: the small mechanical vibrations from 5000 rpm, which scramble the mirrors – beautiful and efficient – and tickle the buttocks. We forgive him gladly because, excellent news, its primary transmission hardly delivers this painful whistling often criticized on many Triumph 3-legs. It is hardly if it whistles now when gas is stopped: very good !

Verdict: major overhaul, legitimate ambitions !

The very slight facelift granted to the Tiger Explorer 2016 actually hides a host of developments, mostly brilliant. Its sharpened cycle part enriched with perfectly developed semi-active suspensions is certainly one of its first qualities..

Until now a little clumsy and not straightforward enough on his support, the English Tiger is undoubtedly gaining dynamism and pushing – very far – its limits. MNC’s faith: maxi-trails that are as safe, stable and healthy in curves are not legion! This looks promising for our next comparos …

Its comfort, praised by its current owners, also goes a step further, in particular via a new saddle that is still so smooth and well designed. As for the added value offered by its electric windshield, it appears to us to be more measured. On the one hand, because the protection remains broadly similar to the previous model, already excellent on this point.

The head and shoulders of a 1.75m pilot are very adequately sheltered, without any turbulence at high speed. Only those over 1m85 will consider installing the optional high windshield. On the other hand, if the electric sliding is interesting and practical, the gain is not so high compared to a well-designed manual adjustment … like the wheel of the "maxi-trail-the-most-sold-in-the-world".

On the other hand, this "electric window" is inevitably heavier, which is not really a quality on a motorcycle whose mass is dangerously close to three quintals in this "full option" variation! When will reverse gear to exit the gravel driveway leading to the garage safely? ?

The fact remains that in addition to all its qualities as a road bike and its stunning finish, the Tiger Explorer hits its German rival hard where it hurts: in the wallet. Without selling off his bike or cutting prices, far from it, Triumph indeed offers an ultra-complete package, where BMW follows a policy of "all optional" which makes cross or even exceed the threshold of 20 000 € to a .. And the bill goes up again on the Adventure version !

On the other hand, MNC likes less the small "undressing" observed on the standard version XR: at its exit, the Explorer received among others of series a speed regulator, now in the radius options. Admittedly, the Englishwoman has since won an electric bubble and a UBS outlet, but her price has also increased in parallel (€ 14,890 in 2012, € 15,400 in 2016) …

Compare, however, with the € 15,999 requested by Yamaha to afford a Super Ténéré 1200, the € 15,795 required by KTM for its 1190 Adventure… and of course, the € 16,105 required to afford a BMW R1200GS "from based" !

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