Triumph’s Tiger 1200 Is a Fully Redesigned Adventure Rockstar

Photo By: Kingdom Creative

Quick take: Triumph’s fully redesigned Tiger 1200 steps into the ring ready to rock the big-bore adventure category. Powerful, graceful, and brilliantly designed, it is a promising long-haul overlanding motorcycle. 

After crossing half a dozen timezones overnight en route to Portugal, Pacific Standard Time got the best of me in the back seat of the taxi heading south from the Lisbon airport. I woke up an hour later to a fleet of shiny new Triumph Tiger 1200s lined up in front of the hotel at Triumph’s global launch event. There’s nothing better than a bunch of motorcycles patiently waiting to be ridden. My jet lag was instantly replaced with eager anticipation to spend the next two days putting the redesigned Tiger to the test. 

Photo by Kingdom Creative

“Redesigned” is actually an understatement with regards to the new Tiger 1200; this is easily one of the most ambitious projects that Triumph has ever undertaken. I’m fairly certain company brass built a bonfire in the engineering department and set ablaze every blueprint of what the brand’s 1200 was before to create an entirely new machine.

The 2023 Tiger 1200 lineup includes five models, all featuring a radical engine, chassis, and technology overhaul. The new 1160 cubic-centimeter engine is still the Triumph signature, an inline triple, but the unique T-plane crank with uneven firing order gives the Tiger a proper growl from bottom to top. The new setup improves acceleration and boosts power on the low end, then makes you love it even more by delivering torque galore all the way to the top of the rev range.

In the chassis department, the Tiger underwent some serious weight saving revisions. Triumph reports slashing as much as 55 pounds, depending on the model. The frame alone pares 12 pounds off the previous design, with a bolt-on aluminum rear sub-frame and pillion hangers. The tri-link dual-sided swingarm is lighter and stronger than before, the engine components were all refined to cut weight, and the aluminum fuel tank shaves even more ounces. 

Each model in the Tiger family weighs between 530 and 590 pounds wet. But, before you click off this article in disgust about how much big-bore ADV bikes weigh, let me tell you the Tiger’s weight includes a lot of fuel onboard. The Tiger 1200 has either a 5.3-gallon or 7.9-gallon tank, so you can knock 30 or 45 pounds off the wet weight if you’d like to sleep a little easier tonight.

All of that gasoline is one of the things that puts the Tiger 1200 squarely in the running as a solid choice for long-distance overlanding. With an estimated fuel consumption of 55 miles per gallon, you’re looking at the possibility of a 290 mile range on the smaller tank and upwards of 430 miles with the larger tank models. That translates to a lot of quality dirt time between gas stations and a little more peace of mind on long trips.

Photo by Kingdom Creative

In the tech briefing prior to the test ride, Triumph was eager to point out that the Tiger is 37 pounds lighter than the competition. And the competition, in their eyes, is the BMW GS. But can Triumph truly compete with the granddaddy of adventure bikes, the motorcycle that virtually invented this genre of riding? The only way to find out would be to take it for a spin.

First Ride Impressions

From the moment I threw a leg over the motorcycle, Triumph’s attention to ergonomics was obvious. The Tiger lineup consists of the on-road orientated GTs and the off-road inclined Rally models. I took a seat on one of each before heading out and found them to fit like a glove. The bike is narrow through the waist and the seat slims where it meets the tank, making it easy to stand up on the pegs and giving you the wiggle room to change position during long rides.

The ergonomics disclaimer here is that I’m tall and the Tiger is tall, too, so it’s a good match. The seats adjust easily between a high and low position, placing the GT at either 33.5 or 34.25 inches and the Rally at 34.4 or 35.2 inches. If that’s still a stretch for your inseam, a lower seat option is available that will buy you an extra three-quaters of an inch.

The 1200 GT family includes three models. The base model GT and GT Pro each have a 5.3-gallon fuel tank, 19-inch front and 18-inch rear cast aluminum wheels, and an all-new Showa semi-active suspension. The GT Explorer takes the tank size up to 7.9 gallons, making it the only cast wheel adventure bike in the class with that much fuel capacity.

Photo: Kingdom Creative

For your off-road adventures, the Rally Pro and Rally Explorer mirror the tank sizes of the GTs but swap out the wheels for a 21-inch front and 18-inch rear tubeless spoked wheel and a longer travel version of the Showa suspension. Perhaps you’re detecting a theme here. This is the only shaft-driven adventure bike with those wheel sizes, which is a winning combination in my book.

My first day on the Tiger 1200 was 175 miles of amazing Portuguese pavement and non-stop twisties. I was riding with a posse of moto journalists who eat tarmac for breakfast and, needless to say, it was a zesty day of riding. Right off the line, the power and finesse of the Tiger is obvious. 148 horsepower is nothing to shake a stick at and the Tiger delivers it gracefully with a buttery smooth gearbox and that T-plane engine humming away across the whole RPM range. 

This truly is a fantastic motorcycle, but at the risk of sounding overly one-sided in my review, “humming” is the wrong word for the new engine. The firing pattern of the motor gives the Tiger a distinct grittiness that is decidedly different from the satin purr of other Triumphs. It is very V-twin-esque and this might be a turnoff to some brand aficionados. Aside from that, a bit of buffeting when your windscreen is adjusted improperly, and an abrupt initial throttle response that I learned to work with in time, I don’t have much to criticize the 1200 about. 

2023 Triumph Tiger 1200 Lineup
Photo: Kingdom Creative

The new Tiger is a tech powerhouse and each aspect of the rider modes can be customized to your liking. The TFT display and controls are clear, intuitive, and easy to use. Between the seamless quick-shift feature, the heated grips and seat, and the blind-spot radar on the Explorer models, which Triumph developed in partnership with Continental, the Tiger takes the gold in the technology department.

On the road ride that day, second and third gear were king. The new Tiger loves hanging out at high RPMs and blasting through corners. The GT Pro was truly top of the class that day and I was also thoroughly impressed at the Rally’s on-road handling, especially given its 21-inch front wheel.

READ MORE: Editors’ Choice: Adventure Motorcycle Tires & Tools

Day two of testing was spent entirely on pristine dirt roads with some mud, rocks, and steeps thrown into the mix to give us a taste of what the Rally Pro can do off road. The matte-khaki Rally Pro comes wrapped in lower crash bars and a factory skid plate. The high, wide handlebars almost made it seem that a custom set of bar risers had been fitted just for me. And, with all the raving I’ve done about this bike on the pavement, I’ll double down on that in the dirt. 

Photo: Kingdom Creative

That aforementioned power and finesse translates directly to the Tiger’s capability off road. The bike is stable, handles like a dream, and is much easier to manage than its weight might suggest. What’s more, the array of technology packed into this machine truly shines once you’re off the tarmac. 

Over the course of the day, I scrolled my way through a range of suspension damping levels, flipped traction control and ABS between on-road and off, and finished the day with a smile on my face. My only regret was that time flies when you’re having fun; I wished I had a few more hours, or months, to spend getting the Tiger muddied up. 

Overland Travel Predictions

Spending a weekend trying to keep up with a bunch of mad-cap journalists and crushing corners in the Algarve is an entirely different application than long-haul overlanding, where distance reigns and speed is measured over the course of weeks or months. So, I can’t fully attest to the Tiger’s overlanding acumen, but I suspect that this motorbike is as promising for a round-the-world trip as it is for weekend adventure riding.

The long range fuel tank makes for more miles between fill-ups and the shaft drive alleviates the ongoing task of tending to your chain and sprocket. Triumph paired the shaft drive and big engine with a 21-inch front wheel on the Rally model, a winning combination for mixed riding. The larger front wheel gives you the upper hand off road and, on this bike, it also handles impressively well on the tarmac.

The Rally model has a dirt-worthy 220 millimeters of travel on the Showa semi-active suspension and even the GT has 200 millimeters, making it perfectly capable if you’re more of an occasional dirt rider on long trips. All of this means the Tiger is primed for whatever you throw at it, be it extensive pavement or gnarly dirt. The slim profile lets you stand up easily when the going gets tricky and gives you room to change position when tarmac fatigue starts setting in.

2023 Triumph Tiger 1200 Rally Explorer
Photo: Kingdom Creative

Some of the technology behind the Tiger bodes well for overland travel as well by taking rider safety up a notch. A wide bank of LED headlights with daytime running lights lets you see and be seen and the whole Tiger family is equipped with ABS and cornering traction control. The ride modes are easy to switch on the fly and you can adjust throttle response, suspension settings, ABS, and traction control precisely to the conditions at hand. Plus, cruise control, heated grips, and a center stand come standard on all models, other than the base GT.

I can’t yet speak to fitment options for luggage and crash protection or the ease of sourcing parts in the result of a far-flung breakdown. Will it stand up to weeks or months on the road and the kind of rigors that overlanding will demand of it? Will the 1200 live up to Triumph’s goal of overtaking the GS as the preeminent adventure bike, leaving BMW in the dust?

Only time will tell.

What I know for sure is that, after my weekend of riding in Portugal, I’d be more than delighted to head out for the long haul and put it to the test.

What to Know:

2023 Triumph Tiger 1200 Features:

  • All-new Showa semi-active suspension set-up for dynamic rider control
  • All-new 7” TFT instruments with integrated My Triumph Connectivity System
  • Optimized Cornering Traction Control
  • Up to six riding modes
  • All-new keyless system, including ignition, steering lock and fuel cap
  • All-new LED lighting, plus Adaptive Cornering Lights (not available on GT)
  • Triumph Shift Assist (standard on all except GT base model)
  • All-new Triumph Blind Spot Radar System (GT Explorer and Rally Explorer only)
  • Tire Pressure Monitoring System (standard on GT Explorer & Rally Explorer only)
  • Hill Hold (not available on GT base model)
  • Heated grips and seat options (heated seats standard on GT Explorer & Rally Explorer)

Pricing includes three-year unlimited mile warranty:

  • Tiger 1200 GT family with 19” front and 18” rear cast aluminum wheels
    • Tiger 1200 GT— 5.3 gallon tank: $19,100
    • Tiger 1200 GT Pro— 5.3 gallon tank: $21,400
    • Tiger 1200 GT Explorer— 7.9 gallon tank: $23,100
  • Tiger 1200 Rally family with 21” front and 18” rear tubeless spoked wheels
    • Tiger 1200 Rally Pro— 5.3 gallon tank: $22,500
    • Tiger 1200 Rally Explorer— 7.9 gallon tank: $24,200

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