Carole Nash
Content Writer
Published: 16th May 2016

Triumph Tiger Explore Review

British manufacturer Triumph unveiled the all new 2016 Triumph Tiger Explorer adventure bike

triumph tiger review

Triumphs vision for the new 2016 Explorer was to embrace state of the art technology to deliver a better and safer riding experience. The company also decided to modify the frame geometry and increase power, torque and performance in areas where the typical rider could feel the benefits. The Explorer has also been given a contemporary styling makeover.

The first thing of note about the new Explorer is that there are eight different versions; three road focused ‘XR’ models ( ‘XR’, ‘XRX’, and ‘XRT’), three off road equipped ‘XC’ models (‘XC’, ‘XCX’ and ‘XCA’). plus there are low seat versions for both the ‘XR’ and ‘XC’.

All models come with the same basic frame, engine and new electronically adjusted windscreen with the higher specified ‘X’, ‘T’ and ‘A’ versions featuring additional electronic upgrades and extra or upgraded components. See the detailed specification box out below for more information.

There’s a whole raft of new and useful features on the 2016 Explorer and it’s worth listing the highlights to get a handle on the technology involved and establish how different this model is from the previous version.

The bike comes with fully adjustable WP suspension, Triumph Semi Active Suspension (TSAS), multiple mode ABS and Traction Control, Cornering ABS and Traction Control, 5 rider modes, cruise control, hill hold control, tyre pressure monitoring system, self cancelling indicators, Torque assisted clutch, heated grips, independently operated heated rider and pillion seats, USB socket, two 12v power sockets, electronically adjusted windscreen, ride by wire and an advanced on board computer.

Most all of the above features are accessed through a new LED instrument panel and handlebar controls and despite the huge range of features and options the user experience is admirably stress free. On the move I found the controls easy to navigate and user friendly.

Triumph have made a few tweaks to alter the riding position on the new model and it’s both a comfy and commanding perch. At 6ft 2in and on the standard seat I could plant both feet on the floor for stability whilst still having enough knee bend for a relaxed longer ride. With the Explorer offering a seat height anywhere between 785mm and 857mm most all riders should feel these benefits too.

triumph tiger bike review

Firing up the Explorer the sound is still undoubtedly that of a Triumph Triple. The new exhaust is 28% smaller than the previous version plus freer flowing, Euro 4 compliant and offers enhanced performance. The 1215cc triple cylinder engine offers more power, torque and 5% better fuel economy than the previous version.

Pulling away the first two features of note are the lightness of the new torque assisted clutch and the smoothness of the ride by wire throttle. Both notable upgrades on the previous model. Additional improvements on the new Explorer are the adjustable WP suspension and Triumph’s Semi Active Suspension (TSAS) system which can both be adjusted on the fly.

The TSAS automatically detects the weight of the rider/pillion/luggage and without any rider imput adjusts the rear pre-load to match. The system can be further adjusted and tweaked by the rider on the move with nine settings between a soft ‘comfort’ and a firm ‘sports’. In addition the TSAS system is also switchable between ‘auto’ for road use and ‘off-road’ for trail rides.

Switching the suspension between ‘Comfort’, ‘Normal’ and the ‘Sports’ I found there to be a noticeable difference in the handling with the softer setting spot on for comfortable motorway cruising and a stiffer set up perfect for high speed twisties.

With 138bhp on hand Triumph claim the Explorer is the most powerful shaft driven bike in it’s class. There’s no denying that this is a fast bike but what’s better is the way the immense power just keeps coming right through the rev range. I also liked the fact that you can be tootling along at 30mph in top gear and just open the throttle and go, with no downshifting, stuttering or complaint from the Explorer.

The XCA version on test came with 5 rider modes; Road, Rain, Sport, Off-Road and Rider. Each mode offers a different Throttle Map and sensitivity of ABS, Traction Control and TSAS to suit conditions. The ‘Rider’ mode offers total flexibility where each setting can be dialed in and customised to suit the rider.

On the test ride we were faced with wet, muddy and very slippery mountain roads, an ideal opportunity to check out the technology and safety claims of the Explorer.

Locking into ‘Rain’ mode I let the sophisticated ABS and Traction Control take control on roads and in conditions where I’d normally be riding 20mph slower. I’m happy to report that the Triumph ABS and Traction Control systems worked flawlessly and I genuinely have not ridden so fast, with so much confidence and control on such demanding road surfaces.

By midday we’d moved on to a location where the roads were dry and the bends long and sweeping. I’d also gained complete confidence in the bike’s on road manners; the handling was sharp, steady and predictable, the performance blistering, the brakes and suspension spot on and comfort levels high.

triumph bike images

The new seat on the Explorer is the perfect blend of size, shape and firmness and the electronically adjustable screen one of the most protective on the market. With the screen set at three quarters height there was no buffeting and wind noise was at a minimum. In short, this is a bike I could happily take long distance touring.

Adventure bikes have to possess at least some off road ability to be worthy of the moniker. However, when it comes to a motorcycle as big and heavy as the Explorer it’s always going to be more about the competence of the rider rather than the ability of the motorcycle.

With that in mind Triumph had laid on a section of off road riding, unfortunately due to the overnight rain most of the route was flooded. What was rideable was a wet, loose gravel trail full of pot holes and protruding rocks.

Switching into ‘Off Road’ mode the suspension noticeably altered with the ABS on at the front brake whilst off at the rear. The Traction Control off road setting also allows for a little slip at the rear.

The suspension performed exceptionally well on the rough ground and even though we were riding on Tourance Next E road tyres the level of control, feel and traction was excellent. In summary, the Explorer will perform off road, though would you want to risk £15,800 hitting the gravel? In addition, would you be able to pick up this 258kg machine in the event of a slip.

On the plus side, spinning the back end of a big, heavy motorcycle out of a wet, gravel bend is usually the preserve of the experts. However even a relative novice could do so on the Explorer. Open the throttle mid bend and just let the Traction Control take over, that’s all there is to it

The new Explorer is better than the previous version in just about every conceivable way. If you’re in the market for a large capacity adventure bike, the Triumph Tiger Explorer thoroughly deserves a place on any short-list.

triumph bike review


  • As an on-road adventure tourer
  • In reality the Explorer is going to make a lot more buyers happy with it’s touring ability than dual purpose adventure credentials.
  • It’s exceptionally comfortable and reasonably frugal when ridden with restraint. When you want to open up there’s bags of blistering power and speed to make big mile days a breeze. Should handle a pillion and luggage with ease. An exceptionally fine long distance adventure tourer.
  • As an off-road adventure bike.
  • The Explorer costs a lot of money and it is very heavy – two very good reasons to avoid anything too gnarley. However, as with all big adventure bikes it’s more about the ability and confidence of the rider than the capabilities of the machine. This bike can do it off road, can you…or more to the point do you want to?

In a line

A triumph of of old and new technology.

Quick Spec

Bike Tested – Triumph Tiger Explorer XCa

Engine: 1215cc in line triple

Power: 139bhp@9,300rpm

Torque: 90lbft@6,200rpm

Frame: Tubular steel trellis frame

Suspension: Front – 48mm WP upside-down forks, electronically adjustable for rebound and damping. Rear – Semi-active WP monoshock with auto pre-load.

Tyres: Front – 120/70 R19; Rear – 160/70 R17 (tubeless)

Brakes: Dual 305mm discs with four-piston Brembo calipers front; single 282mm disc with two-piston Nissin caliper

Dimentions: Hight 1400; Handlebar width 830mm

Wheelbase: 1520mm

Seat Height: 837mm-857mm

Weight: 258kg (Dry)

Fual Capacity:20l

Price: From £11,800 for the XR (XCa model on test £15,800)

Model Range (Box Out )

With 8 different models to choose from which Triumph Tiger Explorers is for you?

On Road Focus

XR £11,800

ABS and Traction control; Brembo monoblock 4 piston radial calipers; Centre stand; Electrically adjustable screen; Immoboliser; On board computer; Cast wheels; Road and Rain riding modes; sumpg guard; USB power socket; WP adjustable front and rear suspension; 12v power socket.

XRX £13,400

As per the XR plus: 2 x 12v power sockets; Advanced on board computer; Cornering optimised ABS and Traction Control; Cruise control; Hand guards; Heated grips; Inertial measurement unit; Off-road riding mode; Self cancelling LED indicators; Triumph Semi Active Suspension (TSAS)

XRX Low £13,400

As per the XRX with lower seat hight

XRT £15,000

As per the XRX plus: Electronically adjustable touring screen;Engine protection bars; Heated rider and pillion seat; Hill hold control; Pannier rails; Sport and fully customizable ‘Rider’ mode; TPMS

Off Road Focus

XC £12,200

ABS and Traction control; Brembo monobloc 4 piston radial calipers; Centre stand; Electrically adjustable screen; Immobiliser; On board computer; Spoked wheels for tubeless tyres; Sump guard; USB power socket; WP adjustable front and rear suspension; 12v power socket.

XCX £14,200

As per the XC plus: 2 x 12v power sockets; Advanced on board computer; Aluminium sump guard; Cornering optimised ABS and Traction Control; Cruise control; Engine protection bars; Hand guards; Inertial measurement unit; Off-road riding mode; Self cancelling LED indicators; Stainless radiator guard; Triumph Semi Active Suspension (TSAS)

XCX Low £14,200

As per the XCX plus lower seat height.

XCA £15,800

As per the XCX plus: CNC machined footrests; Electronically adjustable touring screen; Heated rider and pillion seat; Hill hold control; LED fog lights; Pannier rails; Sport and fully customizable ‘Rider’ mode; TPMS