The new Triumph Tiger 1050 Sport. Is it new ? Well, according to Triumph, there's 120 differences on the update of this popular model in their range, although the main things that most people will notice are the single sided swingarm and slightly different bodywork. So what we have is an evolution of the Tiger 1050 rather than revolution and considering just how good the 2007 Tiger 1050 was from the get go, this is a good thing.
The new bike, as the name implies, is a sportier version of the old bike. The improvements Triumph have carried out to the chassis and suspension make this bike ride beautifully on the open road and it feels very planted through the corners and the quality of the fully adjustable suspension is very noticeable with a smoothness of action that is confidence boosting to the rider. The single sided swingarm may not be any better than the old 'ordinary' swingarm, but it looks great, as does the wheel, and it aids the fitment of a larger pannier as the exhaust is tucked in further than before. Only at walking pace did I notice that the steering was slightly heavy, but once used to that, there's nothing worth complaining about how this bike handles and overall, it is very very good.
The engine, ooooh, the engine! The compliments that everyone heaps on Triumphs triple are all worth it. It is smooth with a capital SMOO and the delivery of the power is effortless. I didn't feel any secondary vibration through the (beautifully crafted) footpegs, although at times I did feel some small tingles through the handlebars. But after my ride, I had no numb fingers or tingling hands, so nothing to worry about. What was really nice is how responsive the engine is through the gears, but the way I enjoyed my ride more was by using the torque while sitting in top gear. A mere twist of the throttle had me wizzing past slower traffic with ease and I got thinking to myself that maybe Triumph should have called this bike the Tiger 1050 Grunt. You can easily ride this bike down to 25mph in sixth gear and twist and go. The fuel injection was perfect, no doubt aiding the delivery of the power and I had no snatching experiences at all on this machine. Without doubt, the engine is the centerpiece of this bike and all I can say is, Wow !
I must also mention that the gearbox was one of the best I've used, something that has definitely been improved over the old model. Not a missed gear change and clutchless shifts up through the 'box is a pain free operation. The clutch itself is quite heavy, not that you'll need a Bullworker to strengthen your hand tho', but it is noticeable compared to other machines.
The brakes are another step up in quality with loads of power and feel. I did try out the ABS and was very impressed with how it felt and reacted. My ride was on a day of sunshine and showers, so I tested the brakes in both wet and dry conditions and they performed brilliantly. I've never been that fussed on having ABS equipped bikes and thinking back to my R1200GS, the system on that bike was fairly crude in feeling. But the Tiger Sports have convinced me that they have moved on significantly.
Quality wise, well, I was the first person to take this particular demo bike out for a blast, so it was as new as a very new thing. I had a good look around it in my garage and I have to say there's nothing that stood out to make me concerned that this is anything other than a well-built product. There's lots of lovely details around the bike and I know how well I keep all of the bikes I have owned, so there's nothing I can see in the finish to concern me at all should I add one to my garage. Is it Honda quality? Not quite, but it's not far off and is certainly up there with the rest.
So how did I gel with this bike over the 110 miles I rode it for ? The ergos for my 5' 11" frame suited me down to a T. The seat, although firm, didn't cause me any great discomfort and is a lot better than many bikes I could mention that are touted as long distance mileage munchers. I would like to try out Triumphs comfort version, but otherwise, no real complaints. The handlebar/seat/footpeg /relationship were very good and I had no aches or pains after my ride. I tend to suffer from a sore lower back, but the Tiger Sport must lean me ever so slightly forward towards the handlebars, making this the first bike in a long time not to give me my usual back pain. The bike is easy to flick from side to side and as said earlier, the chassis bestows great confidence and I had great fun hooning through the countryside. The screen fitted to this particular bike was the touring version which is obviously taller than the stock screen. It provided excellent wind protection and as an Arai TourX fan, it caused no problems or headaches for me at all. The switches are more or less normal fair apart from an added 'Info' button to scroll through the clocks menus. The clocks themselves are clear and typical Triumph fair. The only missing thing was possibly a gear indicator and surely it would have been easy enough for Triumph to fit one ? Still, once on the move and in top gear, it's hardly going to make a world of difference.
In fact, this bike does everything most people would ever need. I like the fact that it's not over-complicated with riding modes (is that not what your right wrist is for?), traction control (again, right wrist!) and all the other 'luxuries' that seem to be the norm on all the other high spec bikes currently being released. Does that make Triumphs Tiger Sport 'Old School’? Well if it does, there's plenty of people out there that probably agree with me that you don't necessarily need all the fancy gizmos that are available these days and the old acronym KISS (keep it simple, stupid) springs to mind. Triumph has ultimately moved the Tiger 1050 Sport firmly away from the Adventure bike category. I never really considered the previous model to be in that category anyway as like the Kawasaki Versys etc., a 17" front wheeled machine won't cope as well as the pseudo giant trailies on the rough stuff (or slightly raised kerbs of Chelsea). I suppose what it now is or what it actually always has been, and here comes a well-used cliché, a good long distance sports tourer that has the ability to cover many miles in comfort and to hustle along the twisties when the need arises.