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Newer, better Triumph 1215cc Explorer, May 2017

Newer, better Triumph 1215cc Explorer, May 2017
« on: June 01, 2017, 10:57:21 PM »
Hottest day of the year? Perfect for test riding!
So grabbing my lightest armoured jeans and removing the liner from my heavy leather jacket, I set off from the Forest to join the Friday afternoon traffic in the Cheltenham area.
Blade Triumph were offering a competition: to enter it a Tiger test ride was required, so I chose the new all-singing, all-dancing 1215cc Explorer – at least I could make a direct comparison with my own ancient (2013) version.


Up at Cleeve Common

The Blade team had obviously checked my vital statistics on-line prior to my visit, as the sales rep assured me that the smart blue Explorer XCa (top of the range) was set to its lowest option – lowered seat ‘n’ all. Grateful though I was, when I straddled the beast I found it still a good few cm taller than mine….

Then it was out into the afternoon rush hour, battling through to Prestbury (the most haunted village in England according to some) to the joys of Cleeve Hill, with its relative lack of traffic. The tarmac on my chosen route is bumpy, though not as pot-holed as the Forest, so should make for a good comparison: the reported improvements on the 2016/17 model include rider modes and semi-active suspension.
 


First impressions were of a long clutch-bite, jerky front brake and vague rear brake – but that just shows how well Rich Kingdon set up my bike at its 20,000 mile service. That said, once the throttle was twisted the dodgy set-up was forgotten…. although Triumph claim a meagre 2bhp increase (to 137), this one seemed a bit more eager than my Tex even in standard Road mode. The sound of the big triple was deeper and slightly louder, too – that’s better!

So I used my old stomping ground of Cleeve Hill, Winchcombe, Gretton, Alderton, Teddington Hands and Toddington – a mixture of narrow B-roads and curvy country A-roads with occasional mud-covered straights – to have a blast. The bike still registered the many bumps, so I wasn’t sure about the well-documented smart suspension (apparently adjusting to the road surface 2,000 times per second), but the big Triumph certainly seemed more focussed and eager for the fray. It felt really planted even on the bumpiest stretches and inspired absolute confidence when cornering. I didn’t try out the cornering ABS but it was nice to know it’s there if needed.



It’s a bit hard to define the differences between the new model and old, but there definitely is a qualitative improvement. Personally I still love my 2013 bike, but the new model is ‘the same but better’ in pretty much every way. The slight difference to the rider position – to me it now seemed a bit more sports-touring than adventure – and the instantaneous pick-up make the experience a tad more involving, while the handling felt even more like riding on rails. The very slight buffeting of my present ride was gone: even at three figures the air in the cockpit was completely still. I’d better see if I can adjust my screen to get the same result.

Putting the new Explorer into Sports mode (very simple, though not possible at 60mph!) halfway through the ride, I covered the same rural route again, just quicker! There is apparently no more power or torque than in Road mode, but the Traction Control and ABS thresholds are higher and the throttle response more aggressive (though still completely snatch-free), making it even easier to feel the 6% increase in torque over my 2013 model. And I’m sure that selecting ‘Sports mode’ results in a commensurate psychological switch – the bike seemed eager to be thraped and this rider couldn’t resist the challenge! This is fine on rural lanes but could seriously endanger my current clean licence if I upgraded…. I’ve owned old British bikes, Japanese nakeds, a step-through, a trail bike, sports-tourers, and my current Explorer but never a sports bike: for me, the Sports Mode on this test bike felt really fast, especially on such bumpy lanes. Sportsbike riders might not find it as much fun, but each to their own, eh?



Eventually I joined the queues back into Cheltenham, returned the test bike and again climbed Cleeve Hill, to run the test route for the third time - this time on my own Explorer. The ride was definitely more bouncy, showing in retrospect just how well the new Triumph semi-active suspension had worked on the test bike; but although the acceleration might have been a little less phenomenal than on the newer bike, my old steed still got very fast very quickly. It still handled well, cornering nimbly and with excellent stability; it just took a bit more work to stay onboard. And, courtesy of Lusty Racing links, I could even get both heels down when stationary.

So would I upgrade? Well, the new model is definitely better – no argument. Offer me a straight swap and I’d bite your arm off. It sounds beefier, goes slightly faster, handles even better, and just feels a bit nicer to ride (though I’d still lower it). The new XCa also comes with all sorts of goodies including LED fog-lights, heated grips & seats, Hill Hold Control, 5 rider modes, etc. But I can’t afford to upgrade, and my 2013 Tex is still (almost) the perfect bike for my requirements: touring 2-up; pot-holed country lanes; twisty country A-roads; and the odd gravel trail. And even motorway munching, when unavoidable. Adding a Beowulf slip-on will make my bike louder and lighter anyway, reducing the differential.


Regretting the 5kg leather jacket!

And one good thing about having a poor memory is that I soon won’t remember that my No.1 perfect bike is now the 2017 Triumph Explorer XCa.     8)




Radar

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Re: Newer, better Triumph 1215cc Explorer, May 2017
« Reply #1 on: June 02, 2017, 12:05:26 AM »
Interesting review. Of course the 3 figures that you refer to as a speed is 69.9mph... ;)

Good to see that Triumph are continuing to evolve the 1200. I see more of the 800 models on the road and I did wonder if that impact on the development of the 1200. Good that seems not to be the case

You really should try a sports bike sometime, they are a huge amount fun, although I think where you are based and the character of riding that you do that the Triumph is the right bike for you.

As for trading the 13 for a 17 it would be a big jump in cash and the improvement in capability is probably not worht that right now.

Keep the reviews coming!

katana

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Re: Newer, better Triumph 1215cc Explorer, May 2017
« Reply #2 on: June 02, 2017, 08:39:14 PM »
Another great review.

If you fancy doing a direct comparison of a sports bike of the same vintage as your Triumph you're more then welcome to take the Mille out for a spin.

Re: Newer, better Triumph 1215cc Explorer, May 2017
« Reply #3 on: June 03, 2017, 12:25:18 AM »

If you fancy doing a direct comparison of a sports bike of the same vintage as your Triumph you're more then welcome to take the Mille out for a spin.

Thanks Karl, that's an interesting and tasty offer!
But I'm taking an enforced rest from bikes for the next couple of months, after tearing a ligament while crash testing someone else's bike!        :-\
But when the cast is off ! might take you up on that: I should really see what the sports bike lark is all about!     8)

Radar

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Re: Newer, better Triumph 1215cc Explorer, May 2017
« Reply #4 on: June 03, 2017, 12:51:18 AM »

If you fancy doing a direct comparison of a sports bike of the same vintage as your Triumph you're more then welcome to take the Mille out for a spin.

Thanks Karl, that's an interesting and tasty offer!
But I'm taking an enforced rest from bikes for the next couple of months, after tearing a ligament while crash testing someone else's bike!        :-\
But when the cast is off ! might take you up on that: I should really see what the sports bike lark is all about!     8)

What have you been up to??? We have a section for crash stories too you know. Hope it wasn't too drastic and your recovery is quick and uncomplicated.