First Ride: Triumph Tiger Explorer XRT

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The Tiger moniker has been an integral part of the Triumph brand since the very first Tiger 80 rolled off the production line in 1937.

As the decades progressed, the Tiger became sportier, and more off-road capable, with the Tiger Trail becoming the last of the iconic models to be built under the company's previous ownership, in 1982.

Since current owner John Bloor revived the brand in 1984, a number of Tigers have seen production.

From the 885cc Dual sport Tiger 900 of the 1990s, to the lightweight Tiger 800 which made its debut in 2010, Triumph continues to compete with manufacturers including BMW and KTM to establish itself as the leaders in the ever-growing adventure market.

What is it?

The Tiger Explorer was first introduced in 2012, making history as Triumph's biggest adventure bike to date, and bringing a new competitor to BMW's R1200GS.

This latest model was launched earlier this year, and comes in eight different guises – two of which feature a lower seating height, making the large bike more accessible.

AOL Cars tested the range-topping Explorer XRT, which comes complete with all the creature comforts required for a long distance trip and, thanks to a host of new electronics, is as capable on long distance motorway rides as it is off-road.

What's under the tank?

A powerful 1215cc inline-triple powers the Explorer, producing 137bhp at 9,300rpm, and providing a broad spread of torque across the revs. This power is delivered smoothly to the rear wheel via a car-like shaft drive, and allows the model to reach a top speed of 140mph with sportsbike-rivaling acceleration.

This engine is now both quieter and more frugal than that in its predecessor, thanks to adaptions necessary to bring it in line with Euro4 regulations.

A host of electronics includes a clever Inertial Measurement Unit (IMU), which uses sensors to monitor and respond to the bike's movement status. It calculates the bike's lean angle and adjusts the ABS and traction control accordingly, therefore improving stability.

This allows the rider to make the most out of the bike, and the five different riding modes on the top spec model are easily switchable for different terrain and conditions.

What's the spec like?

Spec on the XRT is extensive, with heated handgrips and front and rear seats, a Hill Hold Control system, and Tyre Pressure Monitoring System (TPMS) all coming as standard.

Also featuring on the top spec XRT is the Electronically Adjustable Touring Screen, a first of its kind to be seen in the class, which is easily controlled via a handlebar mounted rocker switch.

Engine protection bars and pannier rails come pre-attached to the model, but if this still doesn't quite fulfill your touring dream, Triumph also offer more than 50 official accessories to choose from.

First Ride: Triumph Tiger Explorer XRT

First Ride: Triumph Tiger Explorer XRT

Any rivals?

First and foremost in the Explorer XR's sights is BMW's R1200GS, with Triumph even naming the model in a comparison back when the Explorer made its debut.

While the Triumph may lack the BMW's heritage, it more than makes up for it with its excellent engine and electronics.

What's it like to ride?

The Explorer XR models are more road focused than their XC siblings. However, that's not to say that the XRT is limited to the tarmac. Included in its aforementioned rider modes is an off road choice, which sits alongside the Rain, Road, Sport and Rider modes.

Triumph's Semi Active Suspension – again a new addition to the Explorer – means the bike can find grip in any condition, which inspires confidence in the rider.

A broad spread of torque means accelerating and overtaking in a high gear need not be shied away from, while the new aerodynamic screen means the rider doesn't suffer as much wind buffering at these speeds.

However, the Explorer is a tall and heavy model, and no amount of refinement can hide this when you come to a stop.

Thanks to a low centre of gravity, it is relatively stable when stopped, but manoeuvring the bike is still one hell of a task.

AOL Cars verdict:

The Triumph is smoother and more powerful than its predecessor, and indeed some of its rivals. At £15,000 on the road the XRT is not cheap, although you can rest assured that you are paying for a piece of quality kit – and a lot of it.

It offers extensive comfort on longer rides, but with winter approaching, the Explorer wouldn't make a bad choice for a daily commute, either.

THE KNOWLEDGE:

Model: Triumph Tiger Explorer XRT
Power: 137bhp at 9,300rpm
Price: £15,000
Max speed: 140mph
MPG: 53.3mpg
Emissions: 122g/km