Toad, a Tiger 1200 and the TRF - Green Roads on the T1200

To find out if you really need a lightweight off-roader to enjoy green roads, we joined up with the TRF for a mooch around the Peak District


THINK of green road (also called green lane) riding and you probably picture groups of riders taking to the trails on lightweight (quite possibly orange-coloured) enduro style motorcycles.

And while an enduro machine is possibly the most fitting bike from a rider’s perspective, it’s not the only option if you’re looking to get out and enjoy the UK’s network of byways. Triumph for instance has a myriad of bikes that are more than up to the task of tackling many of the routes in the UK, but there is another point to taking less focused, more multi-purpose bikes along green lanes... but more about that once we’ve got going.

Toad, a Triumph Tiger 1200 Rally Pro and the TRF

My day on the Triumph Tiger 1200 Rally Pro began with a coffee and a chat in the pretty Derbyshire town of Bakewell, where I met up with our lead rider for the day Jonothan Bentman and ace snapper James Archibald. After a quick coffee and a chat about the format of the day we were off, on a short ride out of town to pick up our first route.

An overview of the route we had ahead of us

Peeling off the B5057 we picked up the first track and were greeted by a fairly perilous left-right climb that was a bit of a wake-up call after a morning of schlepping along the motorway. This first technical section meant putting the ample spread of torque the new T-plane engine provides to good use, and with the triple basically ticking over, the Tiger 1200 Rally Pro chugged its way up the climb and out onto an idyllic-looking tree-lined lane. We were only minutes into the trip, and already it brought into focus the fact that this really is the best way to experience the views, the obstacles, and the glorious weather. It wouldn’t have been anywhere near as breathtaking had we been using any other form of transport, and we were only 20 minutes into the day!

After a quick stop for filming and photos, we are off again and climbing steadily, linking together the lanes with short squirts of road riding that broke it up enough for me to have a bit of a breather. I’m not saying the Tiger 1200 was tricky to ride on these sorts of byways, it’s actually not. The engine is so well managed thanks to off-road electronics that it’s a pussy cat to use, and the electronically controlled suspension means you’ve always got the perfect setting for whatever obstacle you are trying to get over, around, or through. The issue I had came about because of the format of the day and my diminutive stature. With lots of stops for filming and pictures, I found myself having to turn the bike around in sometimes narrow lanes quite frequently. Had we just been heading in one direction (as you would on a normal ride) I’d have had no issues whatsoever.

After a couple of hours, we reached what lead rider, and Editor of the TRF’s Trail magazine, Jonathan Bentman described as ‘the trickiest section’. And he wasn’t wrong. What lay ahead of us was a steep, dusty climb, covered with loose rocks and boulders. Feeling that discretion was the better part of valour, I opted to hand Jon the bike to get it to the top. Sure enough, he scrambled up the climb without him or the bike really breaking a sweat. Damnit, next time Toad, next time. 

"So basically you just pop the clutch and 'BRAAAAP'"

We’ve now begun to reach the highest point of our journey, and time for some lunch and a bit of a catch-up with Jon on why he chose to organise the day on the Tiger 1200. He explained that one of the main reasons for choosing Triumph’s flagship off-roader was to prove that you don’t always need a lightweight off-roader to take to the trails. “If you pick out routes carefully and get some advice from groups like the TRF, you really can take to a great number of the UK’s 6,000 miles of green roads and byways. They are for all bikes, not just trail and enduro bikes”.

This is a point Triumph would probably agree with, and despite the firm currently working on some new enduro and off-road machines over in the USA, they already have a pretty expansive range of bikes that could take to a trail with ease. From the Tiger 900 and 1200 and the Scrambler 1200 or 900cc variants, any one of them and more should really be considered as a tool to go off and enjoy the countryside. It’s bikes like this that look like a bit of a win-win for trail riding. You can ride to work Monday to Friday, and go out and explore over the weekend, all on the same bike and sometimes with little or no modifications to the bike. Obviously, some off-road tyres would be ideal, but even the stock tyres on the Rally Pro version of the Tiger 1200 would allow you access to the network if dry conditions prevailed.

There was another reason for choosing these bikes though, and it comes down to perception. Enduro bikes are great, but a snarling 450 with a dirty great exhaust being ridden by a rider in full motocross kit, is admittedly a slightly more intimidating sight for a walker to encounter. The TRF hope that encouraging some of these more ‘normal’ looking bikes onto green roads and byways, it might ease some of the tension that can arise between those enjoying the countryside. It’s a key point that Jon was keen to get across on the day; green lanes and byways are there for everyone to use. Riding like a knobber at high speeds is only going to arm the NIMBY types and accelerate route closures and Travel Restriction Orders (TROs). One of the best ways to ensure you are presenting bikes in the best light possible is to look at joining the TRF, as Jon explained. “Definitely the best way for a budding adventure bike rider to find green roads is to join the TRF, there are 40 groups nationally and within each group, you’ll find people who will already be riding green roads on big bikes and can both point you in the right direction and probably ride with you”. That final point is an important one to note, as riding a big adventure bike out in the wilds on your own is not a great idea. Despite green roads and byways being legal rights of way there is a lot more that can go wrong. If that were to happen, an extra pair of hands to help could be a literal lifesaver.

With lunch devoured and our biological fuel tanks refilled, we headed off for what Jon promised would be the most scenic part of the journey. From Derbyshire’s highest pub (the Barrell Inn which I can highly recommend!) we snake our way along the valley before climbing again to reach a plateau, crowned with a green road that led right along the ridgeline. The stunning byway is called Brough Lane and gives panoramic views out across the Peak District and probably allows you to gaze upon multiple counties as you ride. With the blue sky now pockmarked by sinister-looking grey clouds, it was a stunning way to begin the last leg of the journey. The perfect end to a fantastic day riding on what I still rate as the best big-bore adventure bike on the market.

Why the TRF needs more responsible riders

There was a point that Jon (who is also a bit of a PR rep’ for the TRF) was keen to get across throughout the day of riding, and it’s something we’ve touched on at Visordown before. We are reaching a point where access to some green roads is being taken away from certain groups of people, often under the pretence of protecting the environment, and also to keep riders away from residential homes. The TRF is keen to get across the fact that we are at a ‘use them or lose them’ crossroads when it comes to green road use. The more riders who go out and enjoy the byway network in a safe and responsible manner, the more normal it will become and subsequently harder to take away from riders like me and you.

Not only that, TRF membership can actually help to keep routes like the Peak District National Park and the rest of the byway network in the UK open for riders to enjoy. The TRF membership fee (£52 a year or £565 for a lifetime membership) doesn’t just go into AGMs and monthly newsletters, it’s actively used to help fight TROs and even goes towards helping to pay for the upkeep of lanes that might need vital groundworks after heavy use or rainfall. More than that, the TRF can actually step in and assist with individual cases, should you as a green road rider need some form of representation. 

Many thanks to Triumph Motorcycles for the bikes, and Jonathan for sorting the route and leading the ride.

Pictures by James Archibald

More information on the TRF and how to join can be found on the official website.

Triumph Tiger 1200 (2022) On And Off-Road Review

Triumph Tiger 1200 (2022) On And Off-Road Review