The face of motorcycling may be changing...
Talking of desire only a mother could love the boggle-eyed slightly inbred looks of Triumph's Tiger. It is a bit of a monster although it's no man-eater. Just hoisting it around on a dead engine you can gauge its heft, and it's a big ol' boy. Climb onboard and the first thing you grasp are the fat cowhorn handlebars and the horizon-full of white-faced dials, the screen rising vertically up in front of you, almost to eye level. The adjustable seat (it moves through 20mm) is squashy, wide and flat and supremely comfortable which, funnily enough also describes the Trumpet's power delivery.
These three cylinder engines Triumph are building now are in a different league to those of even a few years ago - mechanically quieter, smoother and much more efficient.
They still, however, possess a defined character. The Tiger whirrs its three pistons around with an almost gravelly urgency, which turns to a cavernous roar as the revs rise, very unlike the fluid thump of the twins. With the most outright peak power here - 89bhp at a heady (for this crowd) 9,300rpm - it can hustle, but can only just best the 25kg lighter TDM on torque with 60.7ft-lb delivered, albeit at a lowly 5,000rpm.
It's worth looking at the Tiger's torque curve, because it tell the story of the Triumph's motive delivery nicely - it's making 43ft-lbs at 3,000rpm (as much as a good 600cc sportsbike at peak) and holds a solid plateau of forward thrust until 8,000rpm, where it starts to drop off. Now that's solid performance, the sort of performance which dispenses - pretty much - with the need to bother the Tiger's clunky gearbox.
You do pay for the poke, though, the Tiger drinking gas at the rate of one gallon for every 30-odd miles covered, but the fat tank means you still get at least 150 miles under your wheels before the fuel light comes on.
Our test bike (actually it's our longtermer, adboy Giles will be no doubt adding 20,000 miles and all manner of muffage over the course of the coming year) was set up well on the soft side, which translates to lazy manners and placid response to steering input - in other words, hard work. At least you can haul on the tiller-like handlebars to get the Tiger from side to side but I know from personal experience just how much fun these things can be (I went on the launch of the model before this one in 1998) once jacked up at the back with a load more spring preload and compression damping. Believe me, the Tiger can be a real wolf in, er, sheep's clothing once set up - bags of easy to use power, great vision (you're perched well up in the air, as you are on both the TDM and V-Strom) combined with a chassis that'll cope with little short of anything that comes its way.
Faults? It's got a few - the front brakes could be stronger, and are, frankly just about adequate for a bike this fat. The spoked wheels look groovy but are a nightmare to clean and once you scratch the surface of the Tiger it's probably the least well finished bike of the three, with stray wires loitering in the nose cone and a general, slightly agricultural, feel.
The lime green paint is knockout in the flesh though and prompted some involuntary emissions from passers by. And funnily enough, Steve, who initially gave the Tiger a wide berth because he felt "it just looks too bloody big..." got on with it very well indeed. Enough to pronounce it his favourite by the end of the day. Tiger? It's a cub at heart...
Click to read the Suzuki V-Strom review and conclusion
SPECS - TRIUMPH TYPE - ALL-ROUNDER PRODUCTION DATE - 2002 PRICE NEW - £7599 ENGINE CAPACITY - 955cc POWER - 88.9bhp@9300rpm TORQUE - 60.7lb.ft@5100rpm WEIGHT - 215kg SEAT HEIGHT - 840mm FUEL CAPACITY - N/A TOP SPEED - 133mph 0-60 - n/a TANK RANGE - N/A
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