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Reviewed: Triumph Tiger 1200 GT Pro (2022)

Triumph Tiger 1200 GT Pro

In a sector that’s more hotly contested than the tightest Moto3 race, Triumph really is talking tough when they say that their new Tiger 1200 is ‘it the world’s most capable, agile and manoeuvrable large capacity adventure motorcycle’. Pitched directly against BMW’s perennial best seller, the R 1250 GS, not to mention an eclectic selection of incredibly impressive machinery such as KTM’s Super Adventure, Ducati’s Multistrada V4 and Honda’s Africa Twin, Triumph have re-entered the snake pit with their new Tiger 1200. And looking at that spec sheet? Well, it appears that they might’ve just delivered. Let’s face the facts: the last Tiger 1200 just wasn’t up there with the very best of them, for a whole host of reasons. But it looks like the bods in Hinckley have very much learnt their lesson, which is why they’re back with a brand-spanking new machine for 2022.



Or should that be five new machines? As has been the case with Triumph’s Tiger range for many years, the British company has created a range of derivatives to suit all kinds of tastes and bank balances. For this review, we’ve been riding the more road orientated GT models, which has a further three sub-versions (base, GT Pro and the range topping GT Explorer). There’s also two, more off-road focussed, ‘Rally’ models with taller suspension, spoked wheels and a 21” (as opposed to 19”) front hoop as the most obvious differences. We’ll tell you more about that in another review but, for now, the GT Pro…

Triumph Tiger 1200 GT Pro

So, let’s start with the engine (which is shared across all five models). It’s a wholly new 1160cc unit, which produces not only more power than the previous generation of Tiger, but, significantly, is more powerful current R 1250 GS too. As far as headline figures go, you’re looking at 149bhp which is delivered at 9,000rpm (for the record, BMW claim 135bhp), while the new Tiger makes a whopping 130Nm torque at 7,000rpm. This is all thanks to a whole host of engineering wizardry, which includes Triumph’s ‘T-plane’ crank and the benefits of a triple’s uneven firing order. Triumph says that they wanted the gentle, throttle characteristics of a twin at the bottom of the rev range while still keeping all the torque-y goodness and top-end zest of at triple, which is exactly why they’ve utilised the new 1,3,2 firing order, offering a big chunk more power than its Bavarian rival. Couple that with the all-new shaft drive system and radiator design, which incorporates cooling for the rider as well as the engine, and you can see why Triumph have spent so long developing this bike. It’s an important bike aimed at a very lucrative sector of the market, and fires a serious warning shot at the GS.

And that’s before we’ve even started on the chassis, which is also an all-new unit. The main frame weighs in at just 5.4kg… and that’s without even mentioning the lighter and stronger swingarm. They’ve then chucked on some seriously high-spec Brembo Stylema calipers with 320mm discs, alongside Showa semi-active suspension on all models, including the base GT. They’ve even separated the sub-frame into a bolt-on unit, so if you fancy doing some serious off-road riding and have a spill, you can replace that rather than just writing off the whole bike – and if you’re into that, you can check out our full off-road review of the Rally version.

Triumph Tiger 1200 GT Pro

There’s a lot of focus on the engine and chassis but, for me, the important numbers come in the form of weight, and ergonomics. Being on the short side (not to mention my average off-road riding ability) means that the weight, and indeed where it sits, is a big factor in an adventure machine’s usability, and by chopping a whopping 25kg from the previous generation model, Triumph looked to have seriously pulled out a trump card… especially when it’s over 15kg lighter than the Bavarian rival it will inevitably be compared to. This goes hand in hand with the ergonomic changes, which start with the seat height settings. These can be altered as standard, differing by 20mm (850mm at its lowest for the GT options, and 875mm for the Rally). As you can imagine, skid-guards and handguards come as standard for all models, with more protection being bundled in with the higher-end models.

They’ve then laid on all the tech that you’d imagine, with an IMU powering a whole host of rider aids, including cornering ABS, traction control and electronically damped Showa suspension, alongside a whole host of riding modes that alter both power output and throttle response, that are customisable to the rider. These come across the board on all models, while the GT and Rally Explorer models also get the all-new Triumph Blind Spot Radar System, essentially warning you of vehicles in your blind spot. This is fed through a 7” TFT dash, that connects to the My Triumph Connectivity system.

Triumph Tiger 1200 GT Pro

They’ve then given the big Tiger a whole new, aggressive look and created five different versions: for the road, you have the Tiger 1200 GT, Tiger 1200 GT Pro and the Tiger 1200 GT Explorer, while off-road focused is the 1200 Rally Pro, alongside the 1200 Rally Explorer But no matter what iteration you opt for, you get a three unlimited mileage warranty as standard, with whopping 10,000 mile service intervals too. So, is the new Tiger now the king of the heavyweight jungle?

The ride

As far as hype goes, the Tiger 1200 is up there with the best of them – but the real proof is in the pudding, starting with a damp morning road ride in the depths of Portugal. Even though it was cloudy, the Tiger still looked mighty in the metal; the paintwork and finish on the big 1200 is outstanding, and although it’s bigger end of the capacity scale, the new facelift makes it look aggressive, but not intimidating. I started the day on the GT Pro, essentially the highest spec road bike, but without the 30 litre fuel tank and a few other little extras of the Explorer. With the seat in its normal setting, it did feel that little bit too tall for my liking - especially navigating in and out of traffic and bumbling through town. Thankfully, the seat is manually adjustable, and I changed it in about 30 seconds to the lower setting and it made a world of difference. Being 5'7” I was incredibly impressed to actually get a flat foot on the floor, as usually on adventure bikes I feel like something out of a comedy sketch, with my bum off the seat and my opposite leg of the peg. This is because although the seat height still seems high, the Tiger is quite narrow and that monumental weight saving instantly makes its self-known. The old Tiger 1200 was notoriously top heavy, but this all-new version filled me with confidence, as before we’d even set off I felt like I was sitting on top of a 900, rather than a 1200.

Triumph Tiger 1200 GT Pro

That being said, when we got going it certainly didn’t. I started in the ‘Sport’ mode, and I have to say from the first few metres, the Tiger felt, well, like a tiger: poised and aggressive. That motor is a potent beast and under 4000rpm the throttle response was surprisingly aggressive in every mode but the 100bhp Rain setting, which meant almost a reset for me in riding the thing. It definitely doesn’t have the soft entry of a twin down below by any stretch of the imagination, but after a few miles I’d adapted quite easily, and with a softer nip of the throttle, it’s a bit nicer – although still not the softest engine that’s on the market today.

And to be honest, it almost makes sense as the thing that really surprised me about the Tiger was just how focussed it felt. The throttle response is incredibly sensitive and in Sport mode it very nearly borders on aggressive, but in ‘Road’ mode it's just that little bit smoother, especially between tickover and 4000rpm. It took a bit of time to get my head around the triple's characteristics at slow speeds in town, but after a bit of open road? Cor, did it make sense! From the very moment I had the chance to open it up, it felt so fast and offered so much thrust, whether I found myself sitting in the middle of the rev range or gunning towards the top. The best thing is that the soundtrack backs it up too. The more time I spent onboard the more I enjoyed it, and I'd easily put it towards the sportier side of the adventure bike spectrum. I wasn’t expecting it in all honesty, and that chassis, braking and suspension combo backs it up – especially when I started feeling at home and nailed it straight back into ‘Sport’ mode.

Triumph Tiger 1200 GT Pro screen

We were lucky enough to take just about everything a road-going adventure bike should: wet, dry, fast and flowing, small and nadgery and of course some motorway work too. The new Tiger 1200 took everything I could throw at it, and then some in the handling department. I was a little cautious about the narrow profile of the Metzeler Tourance tyres to start with (the rear is a 150/70R18) but I needn’t be; the only limitation to this bike is ground clearance, as it finds those hero blobs very quickly on winding roads. Saying that though, with the suspension simply switched into the sportiest mode and a little mess around with the settings, I had even more scope to play with and, besides a bit of ABS intrusion, those Brembos offer an incredible amount of braking power too, especially considering the weight of the bike (claimed 245kg ready to ride). It’s funny, as where a lot of other manufacturers have shied away in terms of crafting something that can be ragged, over the last few years Triumph have gone in the opposite direction, and this Tiger is absolutely no different. Show it a corner and will make you wonder if it’s even an adventure bike at all.

But then again, for a bike in this segment, practicality is just as important as its sheer, balls-out performance. We did a fair amount of A-road bits throughout the day and the Tiger 1200 was mightily impressive, sitting happily at 70 or so with very little engine noise and an incredibly impressive and easy to use cruise control system. The only qualm with motorway work is the slight buffeting from the screen but for my size you get that on all of these types bikes. Oh, and on the subject of the screen, they’ve switched out the electronic adjustability which is annoying, as now it’s a manual adjustment. It’s smooth, but it’s no button…

Triumph Tiger 1200 GT Pro

If you’re looking to go big, I took the range-topping GT Explorer out for a few miles too. It gets a whopping 30 litre fuel tank, heated rider and pillion seats alongside the radar mode, which although isn’t complex at the front, does offer blind spot detection for the rear. I did try it out and although I felt like it was a bit gimmicky, it was surprisingly effective in loads of situations for everything from changing lanes to joining the motorway – although if I could change it, I would like it to be slightly less sensitive, as it did like to light up with a fair amount of room to spare. Aside from the radar unit, with that massive tank I was expecting to be on top of a bit of a heifer in comparison with the standard model, but the wizardry Triumph and Showa have performed on the chassis and suspension combination genuinely surprised me, as even with the big, full tank the Explorer model didn’t feel comprised at all. It really did offer every bit the sporty ride, but with those little extra nuggets of goodness thrown in, which is no mean feat at all. But the best part? After riding all day, I still felt fresh. It’s like a very sporty armchair.

Conclusion

All in all, Triumph have done an incredible job with the new Tiger 1200 range. Although it’s comfortable, composed and incredibly easy to ride, the trump card is just how capable it is if you want to get a bit of a hustle on, without compromising on what makes a big, high-capacity adventure bike so attractive. The GT model was incredibly impressive, finally taking the fight to not just the GS, but to the other competition on the market too, where road-going tekkers are concerned. But if you fancy a bit of off-road? Well, keep your eyes peeled on the Insidebikes channel, and we'll have a full, off-road review coming before you know it too.

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