2012 Triumph Tiger Explorer
Triumph new 1215cc Tiger Explorer is the British company’s largest model in the burgeoning adventure-touring segment. To power the Explorer, Triumph revamped its existing 1,050cc three-cylinder engine by increasing the bore to 85mm. This fine liquid-cooled engine has a balance shaft, dual overhead cams and four valves per cylinder and is now rated at a class-leading 135 horsepower, with 89 lb-ft. of torque. Keihin fuel injection breathing through 46mm throttle bodies is controlled by a new throttle-by-wire system, which allows cruise control and traction control to be standard.
- Riding Impressions
Toss a leg over the lofty saddle and you’ll notice just how large this motorcycle is. Its tall engine and high gas tank (along with the optional top trunk) give it a high center of gravity, and its 570-pound wet weight becomes noticeable quickly if you lean it very much while stopped. The engine stirs to life quickly and runs well, with loads of torque for quick passing and hill-climbing power. Chug along at 30 mph in top gear, and it will accelerate away without protest, yet it revs freely up to the ten-grand redline. Shifting the six-speed transmission is smooth and fast. Required clutch lever pull is higher than average, but clutch action is flawless. Thanks to the long travel (7 ½ inches at both ends) suspension and quality components, the Explorer delivers a comfortable ride along with a precise feel. Metzeler Tourance EXP tires are standard fitment, 110/80-19 front and 150/70-17 rear. They have good traction on pavement, but lack solid grip on loose dirt, mud or sand. The traction control can be set on intermediate Level 2, which allows the rear tire to spin briefly and controllably to steer by throttle on dirt if desired. As the Explorer gathers speed the steering begins to lighten up and, although it never feels as nimble as a smaller machine, it carves a line through corners nicely and always feels stable. If you grab too much brake for the available tire grip the lever pulses lightly, letting you know the ABS is working, as the bike comes swiftly to a well-controlled stop. The ABS also prevents stoppies, but can be switched off by the rider for off-road use. Explorer’s manually adjustable windscreen can be leaned back to get a breeze, or position it nearly vertical for excellent wind protection sans buffeting. Front seat height can be adjusted from 31.6 inches with the low accessory seat up to 32.8 inches with the stock saddle and there’s an optional seat that’s almost an inch higher. Passengers should appreciate the plush pillion saddle which has handles to hang on with. Separately controlled heated seats are also available optionally. The small dash cluster contains an LCD display with a digital speedometer, odometer and dual tripmeters, gear position, clock, gas gauge, water temperature, and the rider can scroll to see ambient temperature, timers and an analog tachometer. The cluster is also designed to work with Triumph’s optional tire pressure monitoring system. A standard 950-watt alternator provides ample current for add-on electrical accessories such as Triumph’s heated seats, grips and driving lamps. There are also unheated lower and taller seats, a taller windshield, a tankbag and soft-luggage. You can choose optional hard panniers, which have 60 liters combined capacity and a 35-liter top trunk. While the left box is spacious, the right one has severely reduced volume to clear the upswept muffler. A single full-face helmet and additional small items will fit in the top box. Inside is a 12-volt lighter outlet and there’s also a BMW-style socket adjacent the ignition switch.
- Impressions in Terms of Rider Level
This is a tall, heavy and expensive motorcycle with a lot of power. Power delivery is smooth and controllable, but due to the potential speed and high center of gravity which makes it easy for an inexperienced rider to have a mishap. Therefore we recommend it for riders who are at least intermediate in experience and have ridden large motorcycles. New and beginning riders should work up to motorcycles in this category by gaining experience on smaller, lighter machines first.
Comparison to Competitors
The Explorer’s closest competitors are the BMW R1200 GS and the Yamaha Super Ténéré, both of which are 1200cc adventure touring machines. All three are tall heavy motorcycles with similar utilitarian appearances and are available with angular aluminum panniers designed for long-distance travel. The base price of the Yamaha is lowest, with the Triumph in the middle and the BMW at the top. However, optional features and accessories can cause the final price to vary considerably, particularly with the BMW GS, so shop carefully and consider what the price will be equipped as you want.
- Summary of review and pricing
Color choices are Sapphire Blue, Graphite and Phantom Black. Triumph’s Explorer base price of $15,699 makes it a strong competitor to the BMW R 1200 GS and the Super Ténéré. It is well built and works well, and displays quality paint and components, and Triumph offers some useful accessories. Explorer offers up a torque-rich power band, a comfortable and well-controlled ride with good handling and braking, and it looks and sounds great.
Base Price $15,699 Model Year 2012 Manufacturer Triumph, www.triumphmotorcycles.com Model Tiger Explorer Categories Touring (it should be adventure touring, but you don’t have that category) Fuel Capacity 5.3 gal. Engine Liquid-cooled DOHC inline triple Transmission Manual, 6-speed