Triumph Tiger 800 launch: Simon Warburton

An interview with the Product Manager of Triumph Motorcycles at the launch of the new Tiger 800

The Triumph Tiger 800 is an important new model for Triumph. Filling a gap in their range, the all-new motorcycle has a tough job to not step on the toes of any of the existing Triumph line-up, while also delivering the goods against a tough set of established opposition.

Triumph are fired up about this new model and I sat down with Product Manager Simon Warburton to talk about the Tiger 800 and Tiger 800XC.

BMW have been producing an 800 for 3 years now, why did it take so long for you guys to bring this bike out?
Why did it take so long? Well, it takes a long time to develop any bike and 3 to 3 and a half years is a normal amount of time if you develop a new engine.

You must have started development straight after the Tiger 1050 was launched. Did you use the same team to build the Tiger 800?
We released the Tiger 1050 in Nov 2006 and this project kicked of in April 2007. So when I say kicked off you know we did the background work prior to this, but the actual work on the model started then. It was a completely different team. The team that did the Tiger 800 was the team that worked on the Street Triple.

Arguably the F800GS is a better bike than the R1200GS. Will the Tiger 800 take sales form the Tiger 1050 and make the Tiger 1050 redundant?
There's no question that the Tiger 800 will steal some sales from the Tiger 1050. That is always a problem when you develop a range up that you'll have overlap between bikes.

In your development of this 800 what other engines did you try? Was there ever a chance of a parallel twin-engined Tiger 800?
No, you have to make these decisions very early on. You can't spend the resource of lots of engineers working on something just to see what it works out like. To be honest with this kind of bike we only ever considered a triple. We think the triple engine is a really good engine for most bikes to be honest except perhaps our cruisers and classics where we use a twin as that's more appropriate and there's heritage there. We just thought that the triple would be a good engine as it gives you power characteristics that would be good for that bike. It's relatively compact - it's not much wider than a twin - it's shorter than a twin and four cylinders is just getting too big, so it had to be the triple cylinder engine.

Did you ever run a development models of the Tiger 800 using a 675 engine?
We did yeah, very early in a project we always run a mule to help us set out the geometry. It doesn't look anything like the final model, infact it looks like a pile of shit, it's lashed together and is purely functional. The model we used for this bike was actually a Street Triple with the frame stretched a bit so it had the wrong power characteristics but it enabled us to get the swingarm in the right place and use an adjustable headstock to work out the rake and trail and the wheelbase. So yeah, the very first Tiger 800 that was running was based on a 675.

So do you have any plans to introduce a Tiger 675 to the range?
No. If we had put the 675 engine in the Tiger 800 frame we'd have ended up with something that was very much like a Street Triple. As we expand our range there will be crossover between models but we have to minimise that crossover, which is why we decided to make an Adventure Touring bike and not a Supermoto type bike which would have been far too close to the Street or Speed Triple.

The Standard Tiger 800 uses a 19" front and the Tiger 800XC uses a 21" front, so is the 19" purely for that 'adventure asthetic' and wouldn't a 17" front on the standard Tiger 800 been better to enable a wider tyre choice and give buyers more of a difference to choose from between the two models?
The 19" front wheel gives a clear indication of 'look, I can do a little bit of off-roading guys' it's definitely a demi-off-road bike and we didn't have any real off-road bikes in the range so we wanted to have the 21" front wheel version as a proper off-road bike but we realised this in itself would be limiting our market as it's a tall bike and what people want is a little bit of off-road ability to ride on unsurfaced roads without doing any serious off-road. However, the 19" front wheel is accepted in the motorcycle world as indicating off-road ability and it genuinely does make it better off-road and gives it slightly lazier steering which makes it easier off-road.

Will the Tiger 800 feature ABS?
Yes ABS will be an option. The Tiger 800 starts production tomorrow infact, with the Tiger 800XC starting at the end of November. The ABS model won't start production until February 2011.

Click here for the final page of the Triumph Tiger 800 Simon Warburton interview

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