2020 Triumph Tiger 900 First Ride Review

DaveM

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2020 Triumph Tiger 900 First Ride Review

• Triumph's New Tiger 900 GT and Rally Pro - Bigger and Badder with More Bite!

The Triumph Tiger has been a favorite bike of mine since the day I threw a leg over the Gen 1 model back in 2012. Since its debut the folks at Triumph have continually made updates to the bike, most recently the 2018 model that we also rode in the beautiful backdrop of the Moroccan landscapes. The 2018 model added some long-awaited updates in the suspension department as well as aesthetics like 5″ TFT display and streamlined body work just to name a few.

TriumphTiger900 RallyGTPro


Enter the Year of the Tiger 900 (even though it’s the Year of the Rat). The 2020 model is all new not a rebadged Tiger 800. Visually the bike looks similar to the outgoing 800 model. For 2020 Triumph simplified the line-up getting rid of all those X’s. Now the line-up consists of the Tiger 900, GT, GT Pro for the adventure touring crowds, and the Rally and Rally Pro models which are more designed for riders who want to get a little more off pavement.

Tiger 900 GT Pro 03


• Engine/Performance

Obviously, we’ve seen an increase in CCs, 88 to be exact. This isn’t a bored out 800, but a completely new innovative and more compact engine configuration which weighs 5.5 lbs. less than the 800 mill. The new power plant uses a new unique T-Plane crank with the crank pins set at 90-degrees apart. This places the ignition interval at 180, 270 and 270 degrees with an all-new 1-3-2 firing order that gives the new engine a more parallel twin tone and power characteristics in the lower RPM range. ¬The new Nikasail-plated liners are not separate, but rather Siamese, making it one giant three jug configuration. Other updates include new camshafts for increased torque, and new pistons and connecting rods for durability. With all these changes to make the engine lighter and more compact we lose a little oil volume. Not a major concern with today’s ultra-spec oils.

Tiger 900 Rally Pro 08

Now with all the technical details out of the way, how does the new configuration translate to the ride? With the bigger bore you’d think you’d see an increase in horsepower. Not the case with the Tiger 900, it’s actually the same 94 HP.

Peak torque is, however, up 10% more than the 800 model with it being reached at a much lower 7,250 RPM, whereas peak torque was reached at 8,050 RPM on the outgoing 800. The motor is very usable off-road with the higher torque at lower RPMs and is absolutely a pleasure to wring out in the twisty.

As standard equipment on the GT Pro and Rally Pro (available as an accessory upgrade on all other models) the new shift assist allows the rider to seamlessly change gears up or down without the use of the clutch. I’ve experienced this concept on other manufactures and found that the Triumph product is one the best I’ve experienced. Add the slipper clutch and you have a Formula One car on two wheels!

• Suspension and Handling

For the new Tiger comes new suspension bits opting for the Showa components on the Rally and Rally Pro. Not that the WPs were bad by any means. It was probably more of a cost situation since the volume of Showa is much larger than the WPs.

For the Rally and Rally Pro the Showa components are used front and rear. Front shocks are 45mm fully adjustable preload, rebound and compression. In the rear a gas pressurized unit with only preload and rebound adjustability is used. For our off-road day all the bikes were set up identically with the suspension settings in the middle because of the mixed terrain they had in store for us. The one trait that kept coming up in after-ride conversations was how planted the front end felt while navigating the rocky fast sections.

Tiger 900, GT and GT Pros use the Marzocchi components front and rear. For the base Tiger the 45mm fronts are non-adjustable with the rear offering only preload adjustment. For the GT and GT Pro 45mm front forks are also used offering both compression and rebound adjustability. In the rear the GT gets preload and rebound adjustability. On the top spec GT Pro, Triumph went with an electronically adjustable rear shock that adjusts the preload and rebound based on which ride mode you’ve selected. I started the day in Road mode and felt it was a little soft based on the speeds we were riding. At the next stop I selected the Sport mode and the bike instantly stiffened up to handle the aggressive twisties we were navigating.

Tiger 900 GT Pro 05


The all-new frame with removable subframe allows the engine to sit lower in the frame for a lower center of gravity. Even with the bigger tank up top the bike doesn’t feel top heavy. I think its basically a wash with the engine sitting lower in the frame.

New Brembo Stylema brakes have the stopping power under control. Font calipers use a four piston design coupled with 320mm rotors up 15mm from the previous model, utilizing mullti-mode ABS and optimized cornering ABS. Out back the 255mm rotor remains the same while upgrading from the Nissin caliper to the new Brembo single piston sliding caliper with mullti-mode ABS and optimized cornering ABS.

TriumphTiger900 Brakes 04


• Ergos

The 900 feels a lot narrower in the standing position thanks to the redesigned slimmer gas tank. The handlebars have also been moved 10mm closer to the rider for improved control and comfort while in the standing position. The other feature that’s most welcoming to us vertically-challenged peeps is the two-position adjustable super-comfortable seat on all models, allowing you the ability to adjust the seat height 20mm up or down. In my opinion all ADV/dual-sport bikes should offer this option. After all we weren’t all born 6-foot plus with 34-inch inseam.

Controls are thoughtfully placed allowing you to keep your focus on the road ahead. The now famous Triumph navigation joystick returns on the 900 making navigating through the various rider modes a breeze. Heated grip control is a breeze with the simple push of a button located on the left handlebar cluster. The only switch I had trouble with was the heated seat button. It’s placed on the left front switch cluster—not a big issue and I’m sure the more you ride the bike, the easier it will get to remember its location.

The all-new single-handed five-position adjustable wind screen has been redesigned to offer maximum wind protection in all riding scenarios. Even in the lowest off-road setting while on road the added screen aero diffusers do a great job deflecting the wind off the rider.

Tiger 900 Rally Pro 02


• Electronics and Technology

A TFT debuted on the 2018 models and it was a great upgrade to the Tiger model at the time. For 2020 Triumph upsized the TFT to 7″, up 2″ from the previous version. All models feature the new larger 7″ TFT display with the exception of the Tiger 900 that maintains the smaller 5″ display. Bluetooth connectivity is also standard on the GT Pro and Rally Pro models with an accessory option available on the GT and Rally. There are four different color and TFT styles available to choose from as well as a high contrast option. The TFT is bonded to the glass which translates to a super-crisp display with no issues viewing in bright sunlight.

TriumphTiger900 2020 07


The NEW My Triumph Connectivity app, standard on the GT Pro and Rally Pro (accessory option on GT and Rally), allows phone calls, music, turn by turn navigation, and GoPro camera operation via the joystick control. We also played with a beta version of the “What 3 Words” which is a navigation app that uses words instead of GPS coordinates. The premise behind this new navigation is the fact that some of the most adventurous places on earth have no address. The company has assigned every three-meter square in the world a unique three-word address that will never change. A few car companies are starting to use this technology as well as some of the major GPS manufactures.

Brand new optimized-cornering ABS continually monitors lean angle and intervenes with the proper amount of ABS for optimum braking performance. On the traction control side of things, the NEW optimized cornering traction control works in the same manner as the optimized ABS feature. It regulates the traction control intervention to maintain the optimum level of traction at any lean angle. There is a total of five modes you can select based on the terrain you are riding as well as being able to shut it totally off.

Tiger 900 GT Pro 06


There are up to six modes available based on the model: Rain, Road, Sport, Off-Road, Rider, and Off-Road Pro. The top spec Rally Pro has all six modes, the GT Pro has everything, but the Off-Road Pro. GT and Rally have four modes Rain, Road, Sport, and Off-Road, while the base Tiger only has two, Rain and Road. Selection of rider modes is easy with the use of the joystick to navigate your selection and then a simple push in on the joystick. The only gripe I have is when in off-road mode and you turn the key off on the trail, you have to reset the off-road mode again. I’m sure at some point there will be a dongle available to allow the settings to stay selected when the ignition is turned off.

Other electronic bonuses include 12-volt outlet on all models as well as USB plug and air-tight phone box under the seat on all but the base Tiger 900. There’s all-new LED headlight and daytime running lights, and LED brake, tail, and turn signals. Also new for 2020 is the electronic cruise control available on the GT, GT Pro, Rally and Rally Pro.

TriumphTiger900 Headlights 01


We spent three days putting the new model through the paces, and all in all I was truly impressed with the new 900’s performance and comfort. For a 400 lb.+ bike it performed flawlessly in all the situations we encountered. The front end of the Rally Pro stayed very planted in the fast-paced off-road sections we were blasting and raised the confidence bar high. While the GT Pro, with the smaller wheel configuration and quicker turn in, made hammering the twisties of Morocco a blast and really made you feel like a pro.

The middle weight segment seems to be the growing trend at the moment with more choices than ever before. The Tiger 900 model is worth putting in the consideration pile. These models should hit showrooms within the next month or so. If you’re in the market for a new middle weight adventure bike contact your local Triumph dealer for a demo ride and see for your self what all the hype is about.

TriumphMotorcycles.com

• PROS:

• Super-compliant suspension handles anything you throw at it
• Shift assist is one of the best on the market
• Top spec models have all the bells and whistles, and then some

• CONS:

• A little pricey for the middle weight class
• Color options

Specifications GT Pro and Rally Pro:

MSRP: Rally Pro—$16,700 | GT Pro—$16,200
Engine: 888cc inline three cylinder
Power: 94 HP @ 8,750 rpm
Torque: 64 @ 7,250 rpm
Brakes: Front dual 320mm rotors with four piston Brembo radialcalipers, rear 255mm rotor with single piston Brembo caliper
Wheelbase:
• Rally Pro—61.06″
• GT Pro—61.25″
Frame: Tubular steel frame with bolt on subframe
Front Suspension:
• Rally Pro—45 mm Showa fully adjustable preload, compression and rebound with 9.44″ of travel
• GT Pro—45mm Marzocchi rebound and compression adjustable 7.08″ of travel
Wheels:
• Rally Pro—front spoked tubeless 21x2.15″ | rear spoked tubeless 17x4.25″
• GT Pro—front cast alloy 19x2.5″ | rear cast alloy 17x4.25″
Tires:
• Rally Pro—front 90/90/21 Rear 150/70R/17
• GT Pro—front100/90/19 Rear 150/70R/17
Seat Height:
• Rally Pro—33.46″–34.25″
• GT Pro—31.88″–32.67″
Dry Weight:
• Rally Pro—443 lbs.
• GT Pro—436 lbs.
Tank Capacity: 5.28 USG



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