2018 Triumph Tiger XCx: Four things you'll love and three that you won't
The 2018 Tiger 800 XCx is the higher-end off-road-oriented model of Triumph's adventure tourer family. For 2018, Triumph rolled out a comprehensive update to the line up which features six variants on all. The XR-badged versions are the road-going machines while the XC-badged ones get longer travel suspension and spoke wheels, marking them out as more off-road friendly. Unfortunately, Triumph sells neither of the two top XR and XC models in India, identified by the diagonal LED DRL you can see on the 2018 Tiger 1200 in India. But the rest of the bike is new - we have covered the motorcycle itself in great detail in other stories. So here, after a long and hard 700km ride are the things we liked and didn't like about the new Tiger 800 XCx.
While I wasn't a fan of the older XCx - the front-end was too vague and sharp cornering caused moments of worry - the new one is a star. Despite the 21-inch front wheel up front, I found myself getting enough feedback on the 2018 Tiger XCx to confidently lean it all the way over to the very edge of the most excellent Bridgestone Battlewing tyres that come as standard fitment. 350km of wet, dry and broken twisties were handled with such precision and ease that I was extremely surprised. I'm not a fan of the 21-inch front-end for road use but this XCx showed me that it can be made to work well enough for anyone except that hardcore sportsbike to have things to whine about. Fantastic!
Like: Ride quality
My ride included a number of really bad patches and quite a bit of off-road trails of moderate difficulty. Technically, they're easy trails but rains throughout made the going harder than normal. In these conditions, the Tiger XCx revels. Most bumps are handled easily without the chassis or rider feeling much in the first place. Bigger bumps are comprehensively smothered and the XCx felt unbreakable which is a powerful reason to get a bike in unpredictable Indian conditions. But most importantly, when I got tired, the Tiger was comfy enough for me to attack severely bumpy stretches sitting in the saddle and being lazy.
Like: Off-road manners
The 21-inch wheel comes into its own when you leave tarmac behind. The bigger radius means its harder to deflect the motorcycle off its line when a bump or stone arrives. This made me - not an off-road rider by any stretch of the imagination - confident enough to cut corners, take shortcuts through slush patches and attack deep slush and ruts in construction zones without slowing significantly. The suspension is well tuned and it makes landing small jumps easy and confident too. There was a rattle on the test bike on the bumps but it defiantly refused to get worse with the punishment.
Like: Engine feel and power delivery
The 95PS triple is smoother than its ever been and I was surprised by how loud the Tiger XCx although it had a stock exhaust and it didn't look like the can had been messed with. Baffled me a bit, heh heh. But this is a likeable engine. Torque arrives easily and swinging into the high revs produces a satisfying noise along with good thrust too. I cannot imagine that you could improve this too much.
Dislike: Sixth gear
Except for the selection of the sixth gear. The engine runs smoothly long at 5-6,000rpm at highway speeds but I kept searching for a seventh gear. That tells me that the Tiger would have probably felt even better if Triumph had selected a taller ratio for the sixth gear, most probably getting better highway fuel tank range in the process as well. This isn't a criticism of the motorcycle, though. This is a sweet highway bike - but I do think improvement room exists.
Dislike: Windscreen and adjustment mechanism
The more I ride bikes in India, the more my dislike of tall and big screens gathers ammunition. The Tiger 800 is no exception. The transparent wind deflectors that flank the headlight and the tall screen conspire to cut out all manner of ventilation and if this were my bike, both of these items would be nixed. Just a short screen, maybe with a small, adjustable lip screen would be enough for highway runs and omit helmet buffeting for riders of all heights. Once dirty, you find yourself having to rise up on the pegs repeatedly in slow traffic or difficult conditions just to see over it. The screen adjustment mechanism is a simple spring-loaded thing that uses two channels with detent positions to allow you raise and lower the screen. This is a great idea and very easy to operate. But the mechanism and its exposed spring look vulnerable to corrosion and damage to my eyes. Indeed, the right spring on the test bike was already cadged together with a fresh spring and a non-standard washer on my bike.
Dislike: the halogen headlights
I didn't ride in the night often enough to say that the stock halogen-powered headlights are good or not. But I certainly do not like the idea of paying so much money and still not getting the latest LED headlights which the XCA model - not on sale in India - gets. I know this is a sleight of product trim configuration on the part of the Triumph India but I do believe they should have put the new headlight on all their bikes, even if it meant a different DRL configuration for the lower models.
The 2018 Triumph Tiger XCx, without any doubt in my mind, is the best Tiger series motorcycle I've ever laid my hands on. It handles roads with unprecedented confidence and has potent off-road capability too. The smart suspension tune and the excellent Bridgestone Battlewings allow these motorcycle manners that I never expected.
On the flip side, if I were buying one, I'd be hunting for a smaller screen, throwing the near-useless handguards for a set of BarkBusters from Big Bad Bikes and perhaps, add a set of Baja Designs Squadron Sport/Pros from MotoUsher.
At Rs 13.76 lakh ex-showroom, the Tiger 800 XCx is the most expensive of the 800cc line. But luckily, it is also the most impressive by absolutely miles. It is an expensive acquisition, no doubt - Mumbai on-road prices will hit nearly Rs 16 lakh!
But if you've always wanted a Tiger that did the highway and off-road work with equal aplomb, there has never been a better motorcycle than the new 800 XCx to do that with.