Adventure Motorcycle (ADVMoto)|July - August 2020

Bigger & Badder With More Bite
Dan DiMaio

The Triumph Tiger has been a favorite bike of mine since the day I threw a leg over the Gen 1 model back in 2012. Since its debut the folks at Triumph have continually made updates to the bike, most recently the 2018 model that we rode in the beautiful backdrop of the Moroccan landscapes. The 2018 model added some long-awaited updates in the suspension department as well as aesthetics like the TFT display and streamlined bodywork.

Enter the Year of the Tiger 900 (even though it’s the Year of the Rat). The 2020 model is all-new, not a rebadged Tiger 800. Visually the bike looks similar to the outgoing 800 model. For 2020, Triumph simplified the line-up, getting rid of all those Xes. Now the line-up consists of the Tiger 900, GT, GT Pro for the adventure touring crowd, and the Rally and Rally Pro models which are designed for riders who want to get a little more off-pavement.


Obviously, we’ve seen an increase in displacement, 88cc to be exact. This isn’t a bored-out 800, but a completely new, innovative and more compact engine configuration which weighs 5.5 lb. less than the 800 mill. The new power plant uses a unique new T-Plan crank with the crankpins set at 90 degrees apart. This places the ignition interval at 180 and 270 degrees with an all-new 1-3-2 firing order that gives the new engine a more parallel-twin tone and power characteristics in the lower rpm range. The new Nikasil-plated liners are not separate, but rather Siamese, making it one giant three-jug configuration. Other updates include new camshafts for increased torque, and new pistons and connecting rods for durability. With all these changes to make the engine lighter and more compact it loses a little oil volume. Not a major concern with today’s ultra-spec oils.

Now with all the technical details out of the way, how does the new configuration translate to the ride? With the bigger bore you’d expect an increase in horsepower. Not the case with the Tiger 900, it’s actually the same 94 hp. Now before you get your panties in a bunch, peak torque is up 10% over the 800 model, being reached at a much lower 7,250 rpm, whereas peak torque was reached at 8,050 rpm on the outgoing 800. The motor is very usable offroad with the higher torque at lower rpm and is absolutely a pleasure to wring out in the twisties.

As standard equipment on the GT Pro and Rally Pro (available as an accessory upgrade on all other models) the new shift assist allows the rider to seamlessly change gears without the use of the clutch. I’ve experienced this concept from other manufacturers and found that the Triumph product is one of the best. Add the slipper clutch and you have a Formula One car on two wheels!


With the new Tiger come new suspension bits, with Showa components on the Rally and Rally Pro. Not that the WPs were bad by any means. It was probably more of a cost consideration since the volume of Showa is much larger than the WPs.

For the Rally and Rally Pro, the Showa components are used front and rear. Front shocks are 45mm fully adjustable preload, rebound and compression. In the rear, a gas-pressurized unit with only preload and rebound adjustability is used. For our off-road day all the bikes were set up identically with the suspension settings in the middle because of the mixed terrain they had in store for us. The one trait that kept coming up in after-ride conversations was how planted the front end felt while navigating the rocky fast sections


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July - August 2020