It is as if like it was always there, we just didn’t know it was. Or more likely, we knew about it all along but we just didn’t realize it. And where we are getting with this fits both to the buyers and motorcycle manufacturers. Perhaps, a wee bit more for manufacturers.
For long, Royal Enfields were synonymous with touring even with all their shortcomings – faulty electrical, unreliable clutch/throttle cables, a bit too lazy engine, tube tyres etc. Part of it is because we didn’t really have any other option and Royal Enfield was the only “big” motorcycle with a “big” engine. Given the price sensitive market that we are, we haven’t believed much in investing and knowing about what different chassis and suspension and their combination is capable of achieving, until now.
Secondly, we are not really used to spending much on purpose-built motorcycles. The bitter truth, most of us would be happy to get a Superbike and happily spend the next few years posing with it.
But things are changing, while we are few in numbers, the motorcycle market in India is now opening up for enthusiasts in ways like it never has. We not only have access to 200 BHP Superbikes today but also to the classics, sport-tourers, adventure-tourers and more. Companies are finally beginning to realize that mass-market motorcycles and expensive/purpose-built motorcycles can co-exist in our country.
That also has to do with the changing mentality among riders as well. We are now more aware of different motorcycles and their usability. Also, the newer generation of riders is well aware as well thanks to the guidance they get from their elders and also because of better access to watching motorsports and information on the internet.
Triumph is one such international bike maker which has a wide range of motorcycles – from classics like Bonneville to the Supersports like Daytona and then there are adventure-tourers, streetfighters, cruisers, right up to the badass 2300cc Rocket III. The company has literally everything for everyone.
Now, one form of a motorcycle, in particular, is witnessing a great success in India and we are all so much happy about it. It is not the easier-to-guess Daytona 675 or the Street Triple, it is not even their cruiser, it is, in fact, their adventure-tourer – Tiger. The Triumph Tiger has been one of the most successful motorcycle lineups since its launch in the Indian market. If it’s the versatility you’re looking for, this is one of the best motorcycles to have. It is a good street motorcycle, excellent mile-muncher on highways and extremely capable off the road. With the pillion or luggage or even both, the Tiger would carry everything happily all day long.
Tiger comes in two variants – 800cc and 1215cc – both inline 3 engines. The Explorer is the top of the line Tiger and the one with the larger 1215cc engine churning out 137 PS of power at 9,300 RPM and 121 NM of torque at 6,400 RPM.
It’s quite loaded with technology which is a norm in performance motorcycles today. Stuff like Ride by Wire throttle, Traction Control, switchable ABS, Cruise Control and engine Immobilizer are standard features. Also, the seat height is adjustable by 20 mm (837 mm to 857 mm), so is the handlebar position and windscreen.
Triumph has two versions of the Explorer, the other one is called Explorer XC, and this is the one we get in India, not the standard Explorer. The Explorer XC is more adapt for going off the road as it has wire-spoke wheels. The tyres remain tubeless though which is great. The rear is a 17-inch wheel while the front is a 19-inch one.
Performance on the road from the big Tiger is very impressive. There’s no dearth of power even for the longest and emptiest highways. The traction control works fantastically well, it allows just a small amount of wheel spin if there’s too much throttle input from the rider making the experience joyful and safe at the same time.
In the city, the Explorer is a mighty surprise. Some of us in the team were a bit apprehensive to ride it in city traffic as we thought it would be quite a handful and the tall seat height didn’t make us feel very good either. But we set the seat in its lowest position (837 mm), and even though it is still tall, the motorcycle became more manageable at almost dead speed. But the biggest surprise is its ability to cut through traffic and side to side flick-ability.
It is no streetfighter but it was much better than we thought it would be and was just easy to ride through normal traffic. The comfortable riding position made things easier as well as we could completely concentrate on riding rather than worrying about ergonomics. Heating remained under control too, nothing irritating about it.
But the Explorer belongs to the unpaved path. The big Tiger is one of the best motorcycles to go touring around the country in utmost comfort. It can take on bad roads like they are nothing and can do off-roading as well as a big motorcycle that it is. It doesn’t come cheap, though, retailing at over 19 Lakhs on-road Delhi. And that is where platforms like OLX come to our rescue. It is a great place to look for second-hand motorcycles. So try and look for a Triumph Tiger on OLX if you think that it is out of your budget brand new.
But whichever way you look at it, the Tiger Explorer is totally worth it and indeed the company deserves gratitude from us for this motorcycle in India and starting a trend in the premium motorcycle segment. People are finally beginning to realize how wonderful these motorcycles are and it is pushing other manufacturers to enter the category.