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Author Topic: Bob Mielke Review: Triumph Tiger Explorer XC 1200  (Read 6999 times)

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Bob Mielke Review: Triumph Tiger Explorer XC 1200
« on: December 03, 2015, 12:56:05 PM »
Went 4 hours south to typically sunny St. George, UT for Thanksgivin' this year, to visit my brothers and parents. Bro had to work a 7 a.m. to 11 p.m. shift at the doctor place, but he left me the keys to his tasty Triumph and told me to have at it. I borrowed his helmet and gloves, wore my leather Harley jacket, jeans and sneakers (I know, I know), and took it around the area for a few hours running errands and getting away from the kids (because, really, isn't that what motorcycles are all about?).

First impressions? This thing is tall. I'm 6'2" but with the Touratech bags I still bashed my shins a few times swinging a leg over to mount or dismount. Once my suspension-crushing butt was in the saddle, however, things felt roomy and the Touratech saddle felt supportive, but cushy and well-shaped. Overall a nice place to spend a few hours or days. I could almost flat-foot it, and with proper riding boots I imagine I'd have been able to. Pressed the starter and got my first taste of the 1200+cc triple. Sounds like a diesel at idle. Rattly and industrial. The bike felt a little tippy and sluggish at true parking-lot speeds, meaning under 4 mph, and I actually wondered if one of the tires was flat, but once underway it felt nimble and responsive.

The diesel impression continued as I rolled on the throttle; more correctly, it feels like a highly tuned turbodiesel truck with tons of pulling power everywhere. You can lug it to 1,000 RPM in any gear and roll on the throttle and it just pulls without complaint. Really impressive. Doesn't really matter which gear you choose, as a very flat power curve puts usable horsies at your fingertips anytime and anyplace. For serious get-outta-Dodge speed you may want to downshift a couple and get it above 7K rpm (redline is at 10K) but even this doesn't really feel like it pulls any stronger than lower in the RPM range. So I pretty much left it somewhere in the middle and ran the throttle like a rheostat, twist and gooooooo! It doesn't have what I would call "poo yourself power" like the Ducati Monster 1200 S Stripe I rode a while back, and I did find the throttle stop a couple of times, but even with loaded down hardcases and a rider aboard who weighs the same as two small Japanese tourists, the power is abundant and linear, and if you twist it in any gear you will smoothly be traveling at go-to-jail speeds before you know it.

It sounds more interesting as the revs climb above idle, with a cool 2-tone engine/exhaust note that's more smooth than a twin and growlier than all but the crossplane fours. Fuel delivery is quite good, with no distracting snatchiness at low- or on-off-throttle transitions. Didn't notice the chain, which is good. No noticeable driveline lash.

Flicking it back and forth in a lane makes it shake its head a little, as there are long forks and boingers and lots of bike in between, but I imagine a properly dialed in suspension would make most or all of that go away. Needed much more rebound and compression damping, more preload for my famine-resistant carcass, and the Michelin Tourance tires didn't exactly inspire confidence on this 40-50 degree day and cold, dusty roads. I got it over far enough on some 80-mph sweepers to get my foot scraping the asphalt but never touched down anything sparky, nor would I feel able to without a lot more time in the saddle and proper suspension settings. Speaking of those higher-speed sweepers, I got a low-frequency front-end wobble as I hustled the bike into the turns, and it sort of shook back and forth through the turn. Again, I'm 99% sure this is due to flabby boinger settings and a flabbier rider. In a straight line the bike felt remarkably stable, even with 50+mph crosswind blasts that were blowing cars and trucks around the road. I've never been on a bike that was more stable in gusty conditions. This wobble was not present at legal speeds on normal roads.

Seeing as how this is an "adventure" bike, I found a dirt road to ride down, despite my horrendous inexperience riding off road. I didn't mess with the ABS or traction control settings, as doing so requires quite a few button mashings and RTFM, which I didn't feel like doing for an afternoon ride. The TC did kick in and prevent me from spinning up the rear or wheelying in higher gears and lower rpms, but I was able to break the rear loose as I dropped the transmission into first or second and got really stupid with the throttle. That's what offroad tyros like me call fun. Otherwise, standing on the rubber-centered, but aggressively toothed metal footpegs actually put my body into a more comfortable riding position than sitting, as the bars are high and wide and the pegs are placed ideally for standing and riding offroad. The bike had bar risers mounted and a taller rider might find the stock position to be a little low, but with my 38" sleeved gorilla arms the risers put the bars right where they should be. I imagine after a while my legs and back would get tired of standing on the bike, but at first blush it seems the bike was designed to be most ergonomic when standing.

I did notice the ABS when I stomped on the rear on a gravelly bit, coming to a stop at a fenceline, but otherwise it didn't intrude. I believe you can turn it off for offroad but don't quote me on that.

Back on the 80 mph highway the abbreviated windscreen was remarkably effective, and seemed to keep a good amount of the chill air off my torso and gave clean air to the helmet. It is (manually) adjustable and was set in its highest position. There is some front end dive if you really get on the excellent front brakes for a quick stop, but it felt controlled and competent in traffic, highway, neighborhoods, or back roads.

The clutch is a little high-effort for a hydraulic, and after 10 minutes sitting in stop-and-go for a bottleneck intersection my left hand was cramping a little. I also found the lever to be placed strangely, with my pinkie riding on the ball at the end of the lever as I pulled in the clutch. Either the lever should be longer, the switchgear/mount moved outboard (but it's up against the grip stop), or I would need to cut off my pinkie with some garden shears. Small price to pay for long-ride comfort, though. The handguards did a good job of keeping the wind off my digits and were greatly appreciated. I noticed a little heat on my right ankle once or twice, right where the exhaust bends through, but it would probably not be noticeable with proper boots on.

The transmission is not race-ready, with some (very little) higher-effort crunchiness that reminded me a tad of my R90/6 in lower gears, but pretty much only shifting into first or second. I only say this because I noticed it. On some bikes you don't really have to think about the transmission because it's so smooth and precise, but this felt slightly industrial which matches the character and intent of the bike. Someone who came off a 1967 Triumph and onto this bike would rave about how incredibly smooth it shifts, but we who have been spoiled by excellent transmissions will notice a small amount of notchiness. No biggie.

Ergos are excellent. Despite the large, sharp-looking origami tank wings (which are padded on the outboard edges I imagine to help with tip-over protection), my knees never came into contact or felt cramped, even though the seat was on its higher position. The seat was aftermarket touratech so it doesn't really count in the review, but it's awesome. Bags are solid, and the latches, though not intuitive to use, are secure and excellent. (There are little hidden spring-loaded tabs at the bottom edges of the latch handles that you have to press upward in order to unfasten the latches. Anyone who has used one wouldn't even mention it, but it took me a minute of study before I could open the latch.) As noted above, the reach to the nicely tapered stock handlebar would likely be excessive for shorter riders without the risers, and even with my long arms I would probably want them set back another inch or so for long highway droning. But for offroad/standing up, they are perfect.

After I'd visited the Snow Canyon overlook, snapped some piccies, and been disappointed by every pawn shop in town (looking for that once-in-a-lifetime find on a cool S&W or Colt revolver), I went to a couple hippie food stores and got my wife her daily allotment of wheatgrass pellets, soaked yeast flatus, and cricket sperm, which fit nicely into the side cases. Rode back to base camp and had some punkin pie.

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My hovercraft is full of eels

Offline kneescrubber

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Re: Bob Mielke Review: Triumph Tiger Explorer XC 1200
« Reply #1 on: December 03, 2015, 03:56:42 PM »
Nice write up.  :thumbsup:

How many midgets do you reckon will fit in those Touratechs?
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Re: Bob Mielke Review: Triumph Tiger Explorer XC 1200
« Reply #2 on: December 03, 2015, 04:08:40 PM »
 6 apiece but you need a blender
My hovercraft is full of eels

Offline R Doug

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Re: Bob Mielke Review: Triumph Tiger Explorer XC 1200
« Reply #3 on: December 03, 2015, 06:39:03 PM »
This is not a Bob Meilke review.  This is a very good review, well done!  :clap:


Bob would have gone to the grocery store and back and commented on how many apparent gears it had by his count during the ride.


You have undersold your review w/ your title. 

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Offline st2sam

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Re: Bob Mielke Review: Triumph Tiger Explorer XC 1200
« Reply #4 on: December 03, 2015, 06:48:50 PM »
"didn't notice the chain"   :bigsmile:
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Offline mxvet57

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Re: Bob Mielke Review: Triumph Tiger Explorer XC 1200
« Reply #5 on: December 03, 2015, 08:22:04 PM »
This is not a Bob Meilke review.  This is a very good review, well done!  :clap:


Bob would have gone to the grocery store and back and commented on how many apparent gears it had by his count during the ride.


You have undersold your review w/ your title.


No pic's of the produce.
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Re: Bob Mielke Review: Triumph Tiger Explorer XC 1200
« Reply #6 on: December 03, 2015, 08:48:52 PM »
My hovercraft is full of eels

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Re: Bob Mielke Review: Triumph Tiger Explorer XC 1200
« Reply #7 on: December 04, 2015, 09:42:04 AM »
This is not a Bob Meilke review.  This is a very good review, well done!  :clap:


Bob would have gone to the grocery store and back and commented on how many apparent gears it had by his count during the ride.


You have undersold your review w/ your title.

The title is one thing, but considering this a ride report is another :)

This was a Very Nice review of the Triumph Tiger. I have therefore moved it to the Triumph area  :gerg:


PS - sometimes I miss ol' Bob  :'(  Apparently he's in New England now, and writing about going to CVS to pick up Christmas wrapping supplies
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Re: Bob Mielke Review: Triumph Tiger Explorer XC 1200
« Reply #8 on: December 09, 2015, 05:05:25 PM »
BTW brother just put this bike up for sale for any interested.

LMK

Quote
2013 Triumph Tiger 1200 cc Explorer XC with Touratech seat and hard bags. 7750 miles. $17K+ new.

Asking $12K.

2014 Yamaha Bolt R spec w cowl shorty windscreen and leather bags.

2000 miles. $8K new(with add ons)

Asking $6K.

Let me know if you or any friends or family are interested.

Thanks
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Offline mxvet57

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Re: Bob Mielke Review: Triumph Tiger Explorer XC 1200
« Reply #9 on: December 09, 2015, 09:38:02 PM »
Did you break it?
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Re: Bob Mielke Review: Triumph Tiger Explorer XC 1200
« Reply #10 on: December 09, 2015, 11:25:35 PM »
nope. I wish I could buy it, actually
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Offline Virginian

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Re: Bob Mielke Review: Triumph Tiger Explorer XC 1200
« Reply #11 on: January 25, 2016, 10:57:33 PM »
Great review! I have to agree with the others, you undersold your review with the BM title. Love the way that bike is trimmed out.

Eric
« Last Edit: January 26, 2016, 10:14:26 PM by Virginian »
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Re: Bob Mielke Review: Triumph Tiger Explorer XC 1200
« Reply #12 on: January 26, 2016, 09:55:08 AM »
I've always considered St George as a place to move to. I love the area and you got some great pictures.

Oh, the bike review. Yeah, OK. I'm not a Triumph guy.
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Re: Bob Mielke Review: Triumph Tiger Explorer XC 1200
« Reply #13 on: January 26, 2016, 05:17:53 PM »
Better than a Bob review...

Offline R Doug

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Re: Bob Mielke Review: Triumph Tiger Explorer XC 1200
« Reply #14 on: January 26, 2016, 06:05:09 PM »

Oh, the bike review. Yeah, OK. I'm not a Triumph guy.


 :headscratch:

What's that have to with the quality of the review?
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Offline Blue

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Re: Bob Mielke Review: Triumph Tiger Explorer XC 1200
« Reply #15 on: January 26, 2016, 09:52:12 PM »

Oh, the bike review. Yeah, OK. I'm not a Triumph guy.


 :headscratch:

What's that have to with the quality of the review?

Apologies. It was an excellent review.
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Street- '74 S3400, H1500 '72 H2750x2 '78 GS1000C, '78 GS1000ECx2 '80 GS1000S '00 1200 Bandit, 05 FJR1300, 07 ZX14

Offline R Doug

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Re: Bob Mielke Review: Triumph Tiger Explorer XC 1200
« Reply #16 on: January 27, 2016, 05:50:04 AM »

Oh, the bike review. Yeah, OK. I'm not a Triumph guy.


 :headscratch:

What's that have to with the quality of the review?

Apologies. It was an excellent review.

Agreed.  And, I'm not much of a Triumph person myself (well, Triumph Explorer XC 1200 person). 
« Last Edit: January 27, 2016, 06:03:28 AM by R Doug »
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