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Getting a grip

The Triumph Tiger Explorer XRT 2016 is marketed as a cosseting long-distance tourer, but how good is it really?

When the original Tiger Explorer made its debut four years ago, it brought a new contender to the adventure market, competing directly with BMW’s R1200GS.

This latest guise was launched at the beginning of this year, and comes in six different spec levels – two of which also come in a lower seat option, making the large bike more accessible to shorter riders.

The range-topping Explorer XRT comes complete with all the creature comforts required for a long distance trip and, thanks to a host of new electronics, is as capable on long distance motorway rides as it is off-road.

The Explorer’s powerful 1,215cc inline-triple is now both quieter and more frugal than that in its predecessor, thanks to adaptations necessary to bring it in line with Euro4 regulations.

Producing 137bhp at 9,300rpm, it provides a broader spread of torque across the revs. This power is delivered smoothly to the rear wheel via a ride-by-wire throttle, and allows the bike to reach a top speed of 140mph with sportsbike-rivalling acceleration.

Since launch, the Tiger Explorer has been an eye-catching model, and few changes were required to keep it current.

The top spec XRT model benefits from the new electronically adjustable touring screen – a first of its kind to be seen in the class. This screen can easily be moved up and down via a handlebar-mounted rocker switch.

Engine protection bars and pannier rails also come pre-attached to the XRT, but if this still doesn’t quite fulfill your touring dream, Triumph also offer a selection of more than 50 official accessories to choose from.

The electronics include the clever inertial measurement unit, which uses sensors to monitor and respond to the bike’s movement. It calculates the bike’s lean angle and adjusts the ABS and traction control accordingly, therefore improving stability.

This allows the rider to make the most out of the bike, and the five different riding modes on the top spec model are easily switchable for different terrain and conditions.

While the new touring screen prevents wind buffering, heated handlebars and seat ensure the rider is warm whatever the weather.

The Explorer XR models are more road-focused than their XC siblings. However, that’s not to say that the XRT is limited to the tarmac. Included in its rider modes is an off-road setting, which sits alongside the rain, road, sport and rider modes.

Triumph’s semi-active suspension – again a new addition to the Explorer – means the bike can find grip in any condition, which inspires confidence in the rider.

A broad spread of torque means accelerating and overtaking in a high gear need not be shied away from, while the new aerodynamic screen means the rider doesn’t suffer as much wind buffeting at these speeds.

However, the Explorer is a tall and heavy model, and no amount of refinement can hide this when you come to a halt.

Thanks to a low centre of gravity, it is relatively stable when stopped, but manoeuvring the bike still takes an almighty effort.

Overall, riders considering a BMW R1200GS may be swayed by Triumph’s attractive offering. While it doesn’t boast the BMW’s touring heritage, it more than makes up for it with an excellent engine and electronics.

At a glance

Engine
1,215cc inline triple

Power
137bhp at 9,300rpm

Top speed
140mph

MPG
53.3mpg

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