If you don’t care about why others buy what bike, stop reading now.
For the last 3.5 years, i was riding a 2015 BMW R1200RT with much joy, a little over 10tkm per year on that one. It was the easiest bike to ride i ever have ridden, and it is probably one of the best touring motorcycles ever build. I did really long trips with that one (like Marbella -> Zurich in one go, took 22 hours) and i did not hurt too badly when i arrived home 🙂
The RT had a lot of good points:
- very comfortable
- very good 2up machine
- easy to ride
- Boxer engine (i know that is debatable and can be on both lists :))
- great weather protection
- on the minus side though
- terrible luggage system. Heavy. small, try to attach additional fuel tanks, or a tent…
- pretty bulky and heavy when you need to push it
- it’s a sports tourer. You don’t do any gravel roads, because each scratch looks just wrong on it
- in the hot summer, the weather protection is a curse
I want to do gravel again in Africa, and the RT is not the ideal machine for that, due to the luggage option, the fairing that just does not want to be scratched and the available tyre options.
So the idea of going BMW GS again, or similar. After 4 BMWs in a row, i felt it was time for a change. They ride great, but all 4 of them had significant issues (during warranty, but still, in the shop, and some of it might have been dangerous if not caught in time) – the QA is lacking imo. And, in all seriousness, in Europe, you go to any Motorcyle happening, if you ride BMW, you have to RFID tag YOUR bike to find it again among all the other bikes looking exactly like yours.
I considered KTM and Ducati, but i don’t like the KTM look personally, and the nearest Ducati dealer is rather far away. The Triumph dealer (which i bought a Thruxton R from 2 years ago and am very happy with) was just around the corner of the office.
I always like Triumph, but the last time i rode an Explorer, the cockpit was kind of ugly, and the machine just felt too high compared to the GS. So back then (7? years ago), i went with a GS that i happily rode for a few years.
In March i did a 3 hour testride of the newest Tiger 1200, and i liked it enough to buy one on the spot. Lucky for me, they delivered my machine before Brexit becomes a reality over here, I do hope they sort this out before i need spare parts 🙂
What i noticed so are about the machine, compared to my GS and RT:
- all the knobs and buttons are backlighted in the dark. That’s very useful imo, there are buttons i don’t use often enough to have a muscle memory for them (at least not yet)
- the LED adaptive light is amazing in the dark. Finally, i go into a turn and i see the road and not the house on the other side.
- the triple engine is very different compared to the boxer. It’s quiet (as long as you don’t let the tiger roar) and very cultivated. Lucky for me i have another 2 cylinder engine if I miss the vibrations.
- The luggage system (from Givi) is a lot better than the ZegaPro stuff from Touratech i had on my GS. Just mounting and unmounting is so simple. Same 45/37L asymmetrical side case setup, which for me is better than the Triumph (GIVI based) 37/37 symmetrical system.
- Good display, easy menu navigation
- very comfortable, good enough weather protection (of course, RT was better)
- super stable on the highway, although i have not been on German super speedways yet
- on my RT i had to select: rider/rider+1/rider+luggage as setups for the machine. On the Triumph, this is done automatically based on the weight it measures. I like it, the older BMW system was a pain to remember to do, and if you didn’t you noticed first time you had to break hard.
On the negative side:
- the Tourance Next (default tire), is creating some weird noises between 35-55km/h. Not too annoying, and a known issue, which might go away once the tire is a bit more run in.
- The keyless system is only for the ignition. You need a key for filling gas, you need another key for the topcase/sidecase. I noticed that yesterday: i got the helmet out of the topcase, forgot the key in the topcase lock, rode home for 40km including highways to luckily discover that the key is still in the lock when i searched for it in the garage. The BMW system is keyless for everything, that is much nicer.
- Also, you can argue that the Triumph is not really a “dirt bike”. Of course not, but it is probably less a dirt bike than the GS, and even more so compared to the KTM. I got the Xrt version which does not even have the spoked wheels.
The non spoke wheel Xrt version is as “dirt” ready as the Xca, but yes, if you hit a rock, you probably break the wheels. I don’t plan on doing that (i do gravel, but normally i don’t cross dry river beds, especially not alone on a big bike like that), and the non Xrt is 10 pounds lighter than the Xca. Also, you can only get a red bike as an Xrt 🙂
So far, only 6 hours of riding in, but i enjoy the bike, it has (beside emergency call) anything i would want in a bike and i am looking forward to going to Africa again next year.