BikeMeet

Double Tiger test ride: 800 XCx & 1200 Explorer (with pics)

Q: So what's better than a sunny ride-out to Tintern Abbey with the missus and an old mate?

A: Doing it on a brace of Triumph triples borrowed from those nice folk at Performance Triumph, Cheltenham (who even filled the tanks for us).

So it was that old mate John and I rendezvoused at 9.30am on Saturday, signed the forms and set off: me on the XCx, John on the Explorer.


The 800 XCx - a bit taller than the XRx...

Having ridden the road-going version (the XRx) a few weeks ago I knew what to expect, and it was indeed so: silky smooth gear selection; pulls from 2000rpm in 6th gear; corners on a sixpence.
The differences? A bit taller - even on the lowest seat setting I was on the balls of my feet rather than both heels, but being quite light this wasn't a problem (the bike, not me!). Dived a bit under braking (though less than my Yam) and wasn't quite as planted on the road, but still a confidence-inducing, fun ride. I didn't notice that the uprated WP suspension was any better than the XRx though. And I missed a couple of gear shifts up.

Stopped at home to collect Debs - suprisingly she wasn't ready: said we must have been speeding to get back so quick. As if.... Then down to Monmouth and along the Redbrook road to Tintern, getting a chance to open the throttle a bit as well as enjoying the twisties. Nice to hear the triple roar, although I never got over 6000 revs without running out of room. Certainly gets quick very fast!


elessimo on the little 800 XCx at Tintern


John on the Explorer


Three amigos at Tintern

So we grabbed a bite at the excellent cafe at The Anchor and compared notes. John noted that the big Explorer seemed a bit agricultural, with a less than seamless gear selection and a really heavy clutch action. But otherwise he loved it: torque & handling especially. But he did warn me that it's a big, heavy beast at a standstill or at low speed.

So having set the world to rights we swapped mounts.


The 1200 Explorer

First impressions: although more bulky than the 800, the Explorer had a lower seat, enabling me to put one full heel down while resting on the ball of the other foot - which made the big Tiger not as intimidating as I'd expected. And when Debs climbed aboard even her insubstantial weight let me get two heels firmly on the floor. As Ollie will testify after his Isle of Man high jinks, heels on the floor are very important when riding big adventure bikes.....
The big beast was certainly less nimble than the XCx at very low speed and the gear selection was indeed a tad notchy. And I immediately noticed vibes through the handlebars, which really suprised me after the smoothness of the two 800 triples - hmmm, not a particularly good start...
But as soon as we got underway towards Chepstow and started scything through the Seven Bends the big Tiger started to exert her charm. She felt more planted than the 800 - incredibly stable on the undulating, poorly repaired, adverse-camber tarmac that passes for road-surface in the Forest. A small mental re-calibration was required, then cornering became as sure as the 800's - piling into bends faster than I would on the Yam, then powering through in a vain attempt to scrape footpegs: the grin factor was back.

So we dropped Debs back at the cottage - the Explorer was perfect down and up the steep concrete strip driveway - another box ticked.


elessimo and Debs on the way home


I want one!!


Overtaking in the driveway?

Riding solo on that 1200 Tiger could be dangerous - my inner risk-taking demon demands that it should be ridden fast, whatever the road type. Now that inner demon is always right, and has led me to some great times on bikes and off, but I've just got the latest speeding points expunged from my licence.... If I got one of these then my regular Wednesday Bikenite rides with Jed on his modified Buell would be a traffic cop's dream. Anyway, the ride back to Cheltenham was good fun.

Conclusions:
The vibes disappeared after a couple of minutes, and although the gear shift was indeed slightly notchy (better than my Yam and much better than the one 1200GS I tried) neither aspects put me off the big Tiger. I didn't notice the heavier clutch action once I got going. Man-handling it in my driveway showed that it is indeed a heavy lump, but most of the time will be spent at speed, so what's the problem?

The 800 was able to swan along in 6th through bends then just pull from 2000 revs; the 1200 was happier in 4th then upshifting for the straights - counter-intuitive but confirmed by John. It must be our similarly weird riding styles....
John preferred the 800, saying that it is quicker and more nimble; although I had originally thought that I would feel the same I actually preferred the lower seat stability and greater grunt of the 1200. And I'm a country boy - I don't mind a bit of agriculturality... Debs also preferred the Explorer, finding it more comfortable and enjoying the deeper roar of the big triple.
So taller, slimmer John likes the taller, slimmer XCx while I like the shorter, bulkier Explorer? It's like owners looking like their dogs!
I did notice a couple of niggles with all three Tigers: I didn't find the seats as comfortable as my regular steed so would need a break every 90 - 120 minutes when touring, and my throttle wrist started aching after a while. Both niggles can be tackled: I found the same wrist problem with the TDM but cured it completely with a pair of adjustable Rox risers.

I advised John to try the XRx - I thought it had the stability of the Explorer allied to the smoothness of the XCx. All great bikes - my order of preference being: Explorer, XRx then XCx.
« Last Edit: July 26, 2015, 01:28:41 PM by elessimo »



ses310

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Re: Double Tiger test ride: 800 XCx & 1200 Explorer (with pics)
« Reply #1 on: July 26, 2015, 07:12:02 PM »
Awesome review there! So of all the bikes you have been testing lately, it sounds as if the Explorer is in 1st place. So when you buying one and when can I have a go?

Re: Double Tiger test ride: 800 XCx & 1200 Explorer (with pics)
« Reply #2 on: July 26, 2015, 07:29:26 PM »
Awesome review there! So of all the bikes you have been testing lately, it sounds as if the Explorer is in 1st place. So when you buying one and when can I have a go?

I've got a test ride on an MT-09 Tracer lined up for next weekend - I'll let you know how that goes before finalising my next bike...

Then it'll be getting rid of the Jag and seeing whether I've still got a job at Christmas! But if I do get the Explorer you're very welcome to have a go, Ses!  8)

Radar

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Re: Double Tiger test ride: 800 XCx & 1200 Explorer (with pics)
« Reply #3 on: July 26, 2015, 10:47:40 PM »
Great to see you getting out on a few different machines and your reviews are excellent.

Hope the job hangs in there for you.

Put me in the queue behind Ses for a go on the Explorer!

Where is the bike meeting this week?

My review of the XC800
http://bikemeet.net/index.php?topic=7949.0

and your earlier Triumph test:
http://bikemeet.net/index.php?topic=7962.0

Radar

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Re: Double Tiger test ride: 800 XCx & 1200 Explorer (with pics)
« Reply #4 on: July 26, 2015, 10:59:23 PM »
Awesome review there! So of all the bikes you have been testing lately, it sounds as if the Explorer is in 1st place. So when you buying one and when can I have a go?

I've got a test ride on an MT-09 Tracer lined up for next weekend - I'll let you know how that goes before finalising my next bike...

Then it'll be getting rid of the Jag and seeing whether I've still got a job at Christmas! But if I do get the Explorer you're very welcome to have a go, Ses!  8)

I enjoyed my time on the MT-09:

http://bikemeet.net/index.php?topic=7911.0

Two mates have subsequently bought them and both are really enjoying their new machines.

I also tried the standard MT-09, but I think the Tracer would suit you much more:
http://bikemeet.net/index.php?topic=7509.0

Re: Double Tiger test ride: 800 XCx & 1200 Explorer (with pics)
« Reply #5 on: July 27, 2015, 12:44:34 AM »
Awesome review there! So of all the bikes you have been testing lately, it sounds as if the Explorer is in 1st place. So when you buying one and when can I have a go?

I've got a test ride on an MT-09 Tracer lined up for next weekend - I'll let you know how that goes before finalising my next bike...

Then it'll be getting rid of the Jag and seeing whether I've still got a job at Christmas! But if I do get the Explorer you're very welcome to have a go, Ses!  8)

I enjoyed my time on the MT-09:

http://bikemeet.net/index.php?topic=7911.0

Two mates have subsequently bought them and both are really enjoying their new machines.

I also tried the standard MT-09, but I think the Tracer would suit you much more:
http://bikemeet.net/index.php?topic=7509.0

Great Tracer review, Radar - don't feel I need to do the test ride now!

But if Skellerns (Cheltenham) let me have it for the agreed time (9.30-12.00) I'll be sure to find some badly-maintained Forest lanes to scratch around. The Tracer would be substantially cheaper than the TEX, but will it have that elusive grin factor??? We'll see....  8)

This Wednesday Bikemeet is at Five Mile House, Duntisbourne Abbots, GL7 7JR, but I've got a dentist appointment straight after work so will probably miss it. Thursday is at Seaborne Leisure, Kempsey, WR5 3JL: I'll probably go for that if the rain isn't too bad. Last Weds was excellent at the Croft Farm Watermeadow... 
« Last Edit: July 27, 2015, 12:53:22 AM by elessimo »

Radar

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Re: Double Tiger test ride: 800 XCx & 1200 Explorer (with pics)
« Reply #6 on: July 27, 2015, 11:53:48 PM »
Might see you Thursday, weather permitting

Radar

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Re: Double Tiger test ride: 800 XCx & 1200 Explorer (with pics)
« Reply #7 on: July 30, 2015, 11:00:52 PM »
Had to work late and missed out. Rather frustrating as the weather was perfect