The new Tiger 1200 is not a revision, it’s not an update, and it certainly isn’t just a set of spoked wheels added to a touring motorcycle. It is absolutely, a 100% all-new machine from the ground up. Exhaustive comparisons to last year’s model are not worth making, especially when you consider the Tiger 1200 Rally has a 21”/18” wheelset vs. the outgoing Tiger 1200 XC’s 19”/17” combo. The big tiger also got a new engine, a purpose-built off-road suspension and received a 55-pound weight reduction!
Will this now be the adventure bike to beat in the liter-plus class? Let’s dive in!
New Model Designations
The next-gen Tiger 1200 is divided into 2 families: ‘GT’ models with a more touring-oriented focus and the ‘Rally’ line-up with a dirt-focus. Since this is ADV Pulse, we’ll focus on the most-dirt-worthy machine in the line, the Rally Pro, and share a few details about the Rally Explorer as well.
To make things easy, the Rally Pro ($22,500) and the Rally Explorer ($24,200) are the same bikes except for the larger tank size (5.3 gallons vs. 7.9 gallons), blind-spot detection, fuel tank protection bars, standard heated seats, and taller handlebar risers that come with the Explorer trim level. Personally, I’m not a fan of oversized gas tanks (unnecessary for most adventure rides) or overly tall bar risers (less control in aggressive riding), but to each their own.
What Makes The “Rally”
The Rally’s new 21-inch front and 18-inch rear wheelset (vs. the GT’s 19”/18”) should be *stands on soapbox* THE STANDARD FOR ALL ADVENTURE BIKES! It also has 8.6 inches (220mm) of suspension travel vs. the GT’s 7.8 inches (200mm) of travel, up from the old Tiger 1200 XC’s 7.48 inch front and 7.6 inch rear. Both the Rally Pro and Rally Explorer come with the same six rider modes, including the additional “Off-Road Pro” mode that allows you to turn off Traction Control and ABS entirely.
A nuclear-powered freight train comes to mind when cracking open the 1160cc T-Plain Triple engine in third gear at 50mph. If you try that in second gear, the front wheel will reach for the sky, and you’ll be reaching for the gear lever. With 147 ponies at the crank at 9,000 rpm and 95 ft-lbs of torque at 7,000 rpm, the new Tiger 1200 gets a noticeable boost compared to the outgoing model’s 139 horsepower @ 9,350 rpm and 90 ft-lbs @ 7,600 rpm.
With a 1-3-2 firing order separated by 180, 270, and 270 degrees, the “T-Plain” crank is the same layout as the Tiger 900. This gives the Tiger 1200 its distinct growl and familiar whirl from the three-cylinder engine. This staggered firing order also lowers where the torque comes in on the RPM range, making the Tiger 1200 easier to ride at slower speeds and less prone to stalling out.
Some journalists “cried” about vibrations on the Tiger 900, and I disagree wholeheartedly with that statement. The new Tiger 1200 is even smoother, and vibrations are virtually nonexistent. However, some valvetrain noise at idle isn’t my favorite but throttle up the engine coming out of a turn, and the intake growl takes over the soundtrack.
What I found most impressive was when Triumph compared the motors of Tiger 1200 to the Tiger 900. The numbers are staggering, just like the firing order (see what I did there). While 33% larger than the 900 powerplant, the 1200 makes 58% more horsepower and 49% more torque! All while weighing only 10% more! Yes, my eyebrows raised reading that too.
All that power and torque can only take you so far in the ADV world. Eventually, you’ll have to reel it in and ride this bike in off-road conditions. The Tiger 900 would put the power down ferociously and turn liquid-exploding dinosaurs (gas) into forward motion very efficiently. The Tiger 1200 does it with the option to slide out of every turn with precision and predictably, or you can go from 30 to 70+ mph without shifting out of third, all while keeping things tidy. Off-road confidence comes quickly in a package this well thought out.
New Transmission and Drivetrain
You know what they say? “A motor is only as good as the transmission it’s attached to,” or something like that. The spacing and shift action on the Tiger 1200 is top-notch and as smooth as butter on a warm English muffin. It’s funny how when something works perfectly, no one notices. The shift assist auto-blipper up and down works as it should and never felt tangled up as earlier versions can sometimes feel.
The clutch action from the new Hydraulic Magura HC-1 master cylinder coupled with the slipper/assist clutch is spot on with the ability to slip the clutch in slow-speed situations. The all-new shaft drive, bevel-box (90-degree primary output differential), and dual-sided Tri-Link swing arm add up to an adventure-ready package with no chain maintenance. The more rigid dual-sided rear swingarm saves weight (3.3 pounds) and reduces unsprung mass while adding stability.
New Electronic Suspension
Adjusting itself at a rate of 20-milliseconds, the electronic Showa suspension is anything but “Semi-Active,” but that’s what Triumph calls it. I’m calling it “Active Suspension” because you can feel it working and changing Compression, Rebound, and Preload as you ride it.
Suspension travel on most dirt-focused adventure bikes has settled around 8.6 inches (220mm) as an industry standard and the Tiger 1200 has been built to that spec as well. On the fly (while moving), the overall damping is adjustable with settings ranging from 1 to 9 (comfort to sport). These settings also fall under the overall rider mode format, which can be rain, road, sport, and off-road, with the optimized levels predetermined by Triumph.
The system allows for a lot of dynamic range and works to a level very few people would find fault with while not being complicated. On-road, the active suspension can even keep the motorcycle sorted out if you push it too hard in a soft setting, avoiding a wallowing whale of an ADV Bike.
Fresh Frame Geometry and Layout
By moving the engine forward in the frame, Triumph was able to lengthen the swingarm for increased stability. The rider triangle is also moved forward for a more commanding riding position and better weight distribution. Bringing the overall size down was also a major goal for Triumph, which contributes to the claimed 55-pound drop in weight vs the old model.
The Rally Pro comes with a standard-sized 5.3-gallon fuel tank giving you a range under ideal conditions of 207 miles. The Rally Explorer has a 50% larger fuel tank that carries 7.9 gallons of fuel for 310 miles of range while achieving up to 39.3 miles per gallon. On both variants, the fuel tank is mounted low in the frame for a better CG. The Rally Pro tank offers ample space for your knees, while the Explorer’s tank adds extra capacity by being wider. The bigger tank does restrict movement a bit but also has the benefit of additional wind protection for your legs.
Considering the Tiger 1200 Rally Pro only weighs 10% more than the Tiger 900 Rally Pro, you would think it has to be close to 10% larger than a Tiger 900. I was able to sneak a leg over a 900 Rally Pro while at the press launch. I would estimate the overall size of the big Tiger to be less than 10% bigger than the Tiger 900. Check out the comparison below.
New Cooling System
Triumph has also done an impressive job of keeping the front end visually narrow even after splitting the radiator into two and mounting them behind the upper gas tank shrouds. This allows the radiators to act as a double bypass type cooling system, allowing lower volumes of liquid to spend more time in the cooling areas. More surface area equals more efficient cooling, and the proof is in the lack of complaints about the heat. NONE!
Speaking of heat, the Tiger 1200 turns forward motion into heat with 320mm brake rotors with top-of-the-class Brembo Stylema-monoblock brake calipers up front. They work like no one’s business. The Magura Radial Master Cylinder offers a better feel than the non-Magura units on my personal Tiger 900 Rally Pro or my Scrambler 1200XE with Brembo M50 calipers. The Tiger Rally 1200 has two modes for ABS off-road: “Pro” is full-off front and rear; and “Off-road ABS” turns off the ABS to the rear wheel and leaves the front in a dirt-sensitive setting that I prefer as a safety net.
Electronics and DashBoard
Triumph murmured that the new Tiger 1200 results from 5 years of development and testing. I can say that the Tiger 1200 Rally Pro is an impressive leap forward for all top-tier Adventure Bikes, no matter how many years ago they started developing them. Unfortunately, based on my Sherlock Holmes levels of deduction, they must have started on the menu interface first and never updated it.
It’s not bad, but it isn’t as good or intuitive as the Tiger 900 or Scrambler 1200. Sure the modes are easily accessible, and after two days with the Tiger, I had it down without watching a how-to video, but… It’s a bit clunky. In addition, it lacks the ability to make a truly customizable mode, for example, off-road throttle response but on-road sport mode suspension settings if you’re into that sort of thing.
The beginner to even advanced level off-road rider probably won’t want/need more control than what the 1200 dashboard and software offers, but I do. I want to tell the “off-road” suspension damping that I want to control compression and rebound independently. I want to dial in front vs. rear preload depending on if I’m in rocks or sand. Understandably though, I represent such a small fraction of actual customers that the simplicity of the 7-inch TFT display is just right.
The keyless key fob worked perfectly with absolutely no issues for anyone on the press launch. So just leave the key in your pocket and go. If you turn the Tiger 1200 off and then back on later, you can access the “last used” rider mode by pressing the mode button once and then pressing in the five-position thumb joystick on the clutch hand controls. It’s a simple and effective way to get back into off-road mode without a “dongle,” like KTM uses.
Ergonomics are subjective but coming with a solid idea of what most Adventure Riders want; I can tell you it’s mostly good. But, of course, the first thing is always the seat height, and once I tell you the standard vs. low seat heights, I’m supposed to say that it feels much lower because it’s narrow.
I’m going to speak freely here because tip-toeing (pun intended) around the seat height will not help anyone. The standard seat height is 35.23 inches, and in the lower position, it will come in at 34.44 inches. My inseam for a pair of Levis jeans is 32 inches, while I stand 6’2″ tall if I don’t slouch. Mathematically that would make it impossible for me to flat foot the Tiger 1200 Rally in the standard seat height, but I can, easily.
It is simply just not that tall between the legs. My little moto journo buddy Ryan Adams stands at 5’8″ and had no issues making sure to lean the Tiger 1200 in the right direction to get a foot down. So how tall/big does it feel then? It’s big, especially if you opt for the larger gas tank with higher bars on the Explorer model, but the 1200 Rally feels more like a 32-inch seat height or slightly larger than the old Tiger 800XC.
I reference the Tiger 800’s because they’re larger than the Tiger 900s and the 800s feel similar to the size of the Tiger 1200 Rally Pro when you’re on it. That should paint the picture of how hard Triumph worked to get the size of the Tiger 1200 under control.
The handlebars on the Tiger Rally Pro are tall with an interesting bar bend that is swept back but take to being rolled forward for off-road riding really well. The reach to them is nothing to note, and that’s because Triumph moved the footpegs forward when they moved just about everything else forward.
The rider position is commanding and neutral while standing in a ADV stance on the pegs. If I were to nitpick again and want a more aggressive riding position, I prefer swapping the bars out for the Tiger 900s. The lower rise is perfect, and the sweep on the 900 bars is visually more appealing. The reach to the bars from the too-soft seat is relaxed, but the bars feel a bit too wide when turning to the lock while standing or sitting. It’s easier to cut them down 5mm than add to them.
Less swept-back handlebars like the Tiger 900s are more centered over the front axle, which aids in control and allows for faster steering speeds in rocks. However, it would move the rider triangle forward on the bike, which is the same as moving the pegs rearward, which I would want for an aggressive rider position. In the other direction, if you get a 1200 Rally Pro and want higher bars, you can just order up the taller risers from the Tiger 1200 Explorer Pro and keep the factory look.
So the motor is fantastic, the clutch couldn’t be better, and the transmission’s action, feel, and spacing are infallible. Where is the negative? Well, believe it or not, it comes from the fueling. The Tiger 1200 exhibits a snatchy on/off and off/on throttle response, in Street Mode and especially in Sport Mode, that feels like a fuel-injected bike from the early 2000s (that was 20 years ago.) To be fair, I haven’t ridden a Triumph that exhibits this kind of behavior in 15 years.
The snatchy-ness is not terrible, but it also isn’t good. Remember what I said early about doing everything right? Everyone in the American Press group noticed the throttle response being a little off for Triumph standards. However, there are some things you can adjust to make it better.
Being smoother on the throttle is one of them, and you’ll be rewarded with an improved riding experience from there on out. If you’re ham-fisted like I am, the next step is to set the throttle map to Off-Road or even Rain mode, which still offers full power but at a much smoother rate. Trail braking and some slick clutch work to put the power down are other ways to smooth out the big Tiger.
Ultimately, I’d love to see Triumph address this with a software update but fear Euro 5 emissions standards may be the cause. Some motorcycles from other manufacturers are reported to be suffering similar issues. Another solution, in states that allow it, is an after-market exhaust system, power plugs, tune, piggyback ECU, and “track only” de-cat exhaust systems. Fingers crossed for a software update, but this is also just me nitpicking on a primarily flawless drive train.
On The Road
The Tiger 1200 is a serious machine from tip to tail with a 61.41-inch wheelbase. For comparison, the Tiger 900 has a wheelbase of 61.25-inches but feels much shorter and more playful than its 1200cc shaft-driven counterpart. Being serious with all that motor at your disposal is not a wrong choice. The Tiger 1200 wants you to be thoughtful and composed on the road.
For our road test, bikes were fitted with Metzeler Tourance tires which will come stock on all the Tiger 1200s. I’m not a fan of these road-biased Adventure tires. The lean characteristic and feedback from the front tire ruins it for me entirely! They fall into turns so abruptly that they make the bike feel heavier than it is and take confidence from the rider in the slower, tighter village streets of Portugal. Since the Metzeler Tourances came stock on both my Tiger 900 Rally Pro and Scrambler 1200xe, I can confidently say it’s the tires not the bike.
Even with “85% on-road” tires, the Tiger 1200 still breaks the rear end loose on perfectly paved and clean roads with the traction control off. Leaving the traction control on is highly recommended. Rather than offering multiple levels of tunable Traction Control, Triumph opted to keep it simple. Rain, Road, and Sport Traction Control are all monitored by the IMU (Internal Measuring Unit) and are lean angle sensitive, just like the ABS.
The Traction Control System is a bit intrusive though, even in “Sport” mode but remember; this bike feels serious on the road. With the Traction Control light blinking under hard acceleration, it might just be the right amount of intrusiveness. On the other hand, the ABS never feels intrusive and keeps things in line when late-braking corners. Later in the day, I put the 1200 into the Off-Road-Pro Mode, which shuts down the Traction Control and ABS.
With all the rider aids turned off, the Tiger will lift the front end easily in second gear. Sliding the rear brake into corners shows off the stability of the refined Tiger while being a hooligan. The active front suspension mitigates the brake dive, and in any of the Road Modes, the brakes are linked front to rear, and that’s a positive feature.
Across the board, the Tiger 1200 models get handguards and manually adjustable windscreens. Just a good shove or pull of the windshield’s adjustment bar/handle, and you can determine your level of wind protection. Windshields are one of an Adventure rider’s favorite things to pour over and research. I’m usually one to remove them or cut them down to a bikini fairing. It’s all personal preference at that point, but I have no complaints about the new Tiger 1200’s factory windshield.
The seating position on the Tiger 1200 feels centered on the bike and not too far from the bars. So seated, you feel locked into the tank in the right way (able to move but connected) during road use. Like most stock seats, this one is too soft for long touring days back to back, but it was just fine for an eight-hour day out on the bike.
In The Dirt
In off-road situations, I’m going to declare something many people in the comments section will find frustrating. The Tiger 1200 Rally Pro has the most confidence-inspiring front-end feel of any large ADV bike stock. “Stock” is the keyword here, though.
With the active Showa suspension and the “off-road” parameters that Triumph developed for the Tiger 1200, the front end of the Tiger 1200 Rally Pro tracks wherever you point it. We were on Michelin Anakee Wilds for the off-road test day, and lean angles that would be sketchy on any other stock Adventure bike felt neutral. Even front-end traction “fall off” was predictable on long fast gravel sweepers.
The Tiger 1200 Rally still exhibits some “knife edging” or pushing of the front end in really slick mud or deep sand, but a lot of Adventure Bikes do that. The short sandy sections and loose gravel on hardpack during our test in Portugal prove the Tiger 1200 Rally has been engineered with off-road Adventure Riders in mind and can keep the front end in line thanks to the layout, low CG, and compact design. Of course, the 21-inch front tire is crucial for front-end stability in these scenarios too.
In fast, aggressive off-road riding scenarios, the Tiger won everyone over with its ability to take big hits from g-out situations and not only recover from them but stay composed. Landing a jump or riding into and out of a water erosion dip causes the Tiger to go through most of its rear suspension stroke, if not all of it. That’s fine as that’s what it’s supposed to do.
After a significant compression like that, the 1200 Rally Pro feels a little under-sprung for hyper-aggressive riding. When heavily compressed, the active Showa suspension stiffens up the rebound damping and keeps the Tiger 1200 composed, in a straight line and ready for the next obstacle.
Pushing the bike past its intended use is just part of the fun of testing. Slowing down and riding the Tiger 1200 at a quick but not ballistic pace allowed the suspension to continuously adjust as we went from smooth gravel roads to soft dirt with rocky fields. Turning on the “Off-Road Traction Control” creates a safety net by allowing the rear wheel speed to double the front before kicking in. And delivering power to the ground is where the Tiger 1200 Rally Pro shines and inspires confidence. In stock form, it’s also the best suspended large displacement bike from the factory, in my opinion. However, there is a drawback to this.
Modifications to the Tiger 1200’s suspension will not be easy. Even the balance of the bike with the electronic preload is not independently tunable in the dashboard, and I wouldn’t want to be the first person to go down that rabbit hole if I wanted more performance from this bike. Most customers don’t want to upgrade the suspension on their new class-leading Adventure Motorcycle though, and with the Tiger 1200, I doubt most will need to.
Tunability was absolutely not the goal with the Tiger 1200’s suspension. The ease of adjustability will ultimately make for a better experience for anyone that purchases a Tiger 1200 Rally Pro.
Drop Tests and Service
After pushing the Tiger 1200 Rally Pro very hard off-road, it showed no weakness. Not a single warning light came on during some interesting jumps and hard g-outs, which can often send an error code to the dash.
The Tiger 1200 Rally Pro does not come with upper crash bars, and our ride leader stated that our test bikes already had “crash tests” done on them by the press groups before we Americans got our hands on them. So other than scuffs on the side panels and a few broken handguards the Tiger 1200 tips over well. On the other hand, the Tiger 900 side panels are not as durable. Trust me.
For the past few years, 10k mile oil changes have become the standard for the large ADV category, and the Tiger 1200 is no different. For valve adjustments, the Tiger 1200 can do 20,000 miles between valve services which is better than most. Unfortunately, the air filter is still under the gas tank, and a headache to get to. However, the Tiger does come with a 3-year unlimited mileage warranty that’s extendable, and a standard 4-years if you live in Italy.
A Glance At Competitors
There are so few bad bikes out there that circumstances and use case scenarios should help you determine your next bike purchase, not HP, not weight, or even seat height.
If you’re looking for the king of the road, then the Ducati V4s with its 19/17 wheelset is IT. Just stay out of the deep sand washes and try not to get a ticket on it. Also, enjoy carrying chain lube, but with the adaptive cruise control, you might be able to lube while on the go.
Best for doing tight circles around cones and hauling 100 pounds of gear deep into the backcountry, look no further than the BMW R1250GSA. It’s also the easiest to pick up since it always rests its weight on its cylinder heads or crash bars. The motor in the BMW is fantastic, and the Germans have been in this game for a long time, but it’s losing ground in the off-road category by sticking to its 19/17 wheelset and wishbone front suspension. Personally, I find the Tiger 1200 Rally Pro less intimidating than a BMW R1250GS because of the engine layout and overall feel. Same when comparing the Tiger Rally Explorer to the large-tanked BMW R1250GSA.
The most customizable/race-able bike is the new KTM 1290 Super Adventure R. The SAR is built for battle with its manually-adjustable and highly-tunable WP suspension. The engine in that machine is so powerful it might do wheelies even with the throttle closed. Just be careful with a sword that sharp. It can cut the person who wields it improperly.
If you want to save a considerable amount of coin, the Honda Africa Twin 1100 should be at the top of the budget-conscious buyer’s list. The Honda also doesn’t take itself too seriously. The difference is the features and finish of the Honda are not as premium. The motor’s performance is also not at the same level. I think of the Honda as a middleweight ADV bike with an underpowered cheater motor. There’s nothing wrong with that, but it’s just not in the same class.
If I could have any 1200cc’ed Adventure Bike on the market, but I was going to keep it STOCK, I’d choose the Tiger 1200 Rally Pro for its stability, suspension, motor, and character. Right out of the box, it feels like the option I’d stick with, and I’d enjoy it the most.
Value for money?… Look, we’re all talking about top-tier ADV Bikes here, and Triumph has a way of dividing accessories up to look like their bike is a better value than the BMW or the Ducati. That may be true, but all of these motorcycles are above $22,000 when equipped with the same accessories, and a couple of thousand dollars shouldn’t make your decision for you at that point.
What should make your decision is what you want out of your Adventure Bike, what you are going to do with it, how does it feel, does it inspire you, and so on?
The Tiger 1200 delivers power, suspension, brakes, features, value, and quality. After five years of development, Triumph has managed to embody what a Liter Plus Adventure Bike should be from the factory, and that’s the big takeaway.
Gear We Used
2022 Triumph Tiger 1200 Specs
|ENGINE TYPE:||Liquid-cooled, 12 valve, DOHC, inline 3-cylinder|
|MAXIMUM POWER:||150 PS / 147.9 bhp (110.4 kW) @ 9,000 rpm|
|MAXIMUM TORQUE:||130 Nm (96 lb-ft) @ 7,000 rpm|
|FUEL SYSTEM:||Multipoint sequential electronic fuel injection with electronic throttle control|
|EXHAUST:||Stainless steel 3 into 1 header system with underslung primary silencer and side mounted secondary silencer|
|FINAL DRIVE:||Shaft drive|
|CLUTCH:||Hydraulic, wet, multi-plate, slip & assist|
|FRAME:||Tubular steel frame, with forged aluminium outriggers. Fabricated, bolt-on aluminium rear subframe.|
|SWINGARM:||Twin-sided “Tri-Link” aluminium swingarm with twin aluminium torque arms.|
|FRONT WHEEL:||All GT: Cast aluminium, 19 x 3.0in; All Rally: Spoked (tubeless), 21 x 2.15in.|
|REAR WHEEL:||All GT: Cast aluminium, 18 x 4.25in; All Rally: Spoked (tubeless), 18 x 4.25in.|
|FRONT TIRE:||All GT: Metzeler Tourance 120/70R19 (M/C 60V TL); All Rally: Metzeler Karoo Street 90/90-21 (M/C 54V TL)|
|REAR TIRE:||All GT: Metzeler Tourance 150/70R18 (M/C 70V TL); All Rally: Metzeler Karoo Street 150/70R18 (M/C 70V TL)|
|FRONT SUSPENSION:||Showa 49mm USD forks with semi-active damping (All GT: 200mm travel; All Rally: 220mm travel).|
|REAR SUSPENSION:||Showa monoshock with semi-active damping and automatic electronic preload adjustment (All GT: 200mm travel; All Rally 220mm travel).|
|FRONT BRAKES:||Brembo M4.30 Stylema monoblock radial calipers, OC-ABS, twin 320mm floating discs. Magura HC1 span adjustable radial master cylinder with separate reservoir.|
|REAR BRAKES:||Brembo single piston caliper, OC-ABS, single 282mm disc. Rear master cylinder with remote reservoir.|
|INSTRUMENTS:||Full-color 7” TFT instrument pack with My Triumph Connectivity System|
|LENGTH:||GT: 2245 mm; GT Pro: 2245 mm; GT Explorer: 2256 mm; Rally Pro: 2270 mm; Rally Explorer: 2296 mm|
|WIDTH:||849 mm (handlebars), 982 mm (handguards)|
|HEIGHT WITHOUT MIRRORS:||All GT: 1436 – 1497 mm (adjustable screen); All Rally: 1487 – 1547 mm (adjustable screen)|
|SEAT HEIGHT:||All GT: 850 – 870 mm (adjustable); All Rally: 875-895 mm (adjustable)|
|RAKE:||All GT: 24.1°; All Rally: 23.7°|
|TRAIL:||All GT: 120 mm; All Rally: 112 mm|
|WET WEIGHT (90% FUEL):||All GT: 530 lbs (240 kg); GT Pro: 540 lbs (245 kg); GT Explorer: 562 lbs (255 kg); Rally Pro: 549 lbs (249 kg); Rally Explorer: 575 lbs (261 kg)|
|FUEL TANK CAPACITY:||GT/GT Pro/Rally Pro: 5.3 gallons (20 liters); GT Explorer/Rally Explorer: 7.9 gallons (30 liters)|
|MSRP PRICING ($USD)||GT: $19,100; GT Pro: $21,400; GT Explorer: $23,100; Rally Pro: $22,500; Rally Explorer: $24,200|