Triumph’s 1200 cc Off-Road-Centric Adventure Bike

If the phrase “British Explorers” brings to mind fond memories of Safari hats and 24-7 solar coverage of the Empire, then I’ve another visual for you to plug into the equation; Triumph’s Tiger Explorer XC family. Based on the entry-level XR range, the XC siblings build up to the XCx that adds cornering traction control and ABS to the 139 ponies that reside in the engine cases, and the XCa that expands the yummy-goodness even more with a tire-pressure monitor and two additional rider modes. Is there more? You betcha. Trumpet really went to great lengths to bring top-notch touring capabilities and an adventure-some spirit together.

Continue reading for my review of the Triumph Tiger Explorer XCx and XCa.

  • 2017 Triumph Tiger Explorer XCx / XCa
  • Year:
    2017
  • Make:
  • Model:
  • Engine:
    inline-3
  • Displacement:
    1215 cc
  • Price:
    18700
  • Price:

Design

2017 Triumph Tiger Explorer XCx / XCa
- image 731629
What I can say for certain is that the features really show the maturity and sophistication we've come to expect from the marque, and its Britishness manages to shine through the adventure-bike uniform quite nicely.

I reckon nothing says serious business like a bird’s-beak fairing and a full front fender, and the XC group adds to that with a full windshield to protect the rider. The XCa takes it even further by extending the screen vertically past the break of the scoop, and both enjoy a power-adjuster feature that allows you to dial it in right where you need it, within reason of course.

Handguards add to the defenses. Not only do they help preserve the comfort gained by the heated handgrips, they’ll also protect your control levers in case you dump it in the parking lot. Cheek fairings protect the radiator and create a pocket for the rider’s legs, and they flow right into the 5.3-gallon fuel tank creating the camel-like hump that gives adventure bikes their characteristic flyline.

A precipitous drop to the rider’s saddle and subsequent rise to the pillion seat puts the pilot in the bike rather than perched on top for a marriage between rider and machine, and the rider triangle leaves you with the option of sitting in an upright position or standing on the pegs. Engine guards protect the sides of the lump and a generous skidplate guards the bottom of the engine and the delicate exhaust pipes.

All of the above is true across the board, but the XCa takes it even further with a bun-toaster, er, I mean heated rider and passenger seat (yeah, that’s what I meant...), LED foglights and stock pannier mounts with billet footpegs to hopefully withstand some rough treatment. I can’t say for sure, ’cause I’m not about to go drop one in the parking lot to test it. What I can say for certain is that the features really show the maturity and sophistication we’ve come to expect from the marque, and its Britishness manages to shine through the adventure-bike uniform quite nicely.

Chassis

2017 Triumph Tiger Explorer XCx / XCa
- image 731623
A steel Trellis frame peeks out from beneath the panels for a bit of an industrial look, and more importantly, oodles of the strength and stability necessary to support the kind of off-road riding that's commonly associated with the class.

A steel Trellis frame peeks out from beneath the panels for a bit of an industrial look, and more importantly, oodles of the strength and stability necessary to support the kind of off-road riding that’s commonly associated with the class. Steering is rather crisp due to the short 23.1-degree rake and 3.9-inch trail with a 59.8-inch wheelbase.

Seat height on the XCa and XCx varies between 33- and 33.7-inches tall, but the XCx “Low” drops the range right on down to between 30.9- to 31.7-inches tall for the vertically challenged crowd. Well, to be fair, that’s still going to be tiptoe country for some, but there’s only so much you can do when you need to maintain your ground clearance and suspension travel.

As for the travel, you can expect 7.48-inches from the usd WP front forks and 7.59-inches out back. The front forks come with electronically adjustable damping values, and the WP monoshock out back sports semi-active damping adjustments with an automatic preload adjuster. A set of 32-spoke laced wheels mount the 19-inch front hoop and 17-inch rear with lightweight aluminum rims that help keep unsprung weight low.

Triumph didn’t fool around with the brakes here. A pair of 305 mm front discs and four-pot Brembo anchors team up with a 282 mm rear disc and twin-pot Nissin caliper to slow these rides down, and a switchable cornering ABS makes sure you can do it safely. The ABS reads bike attitude, lean angle and speed changes at the Inertial Measurement Unit to moderate the intervention level to meet current conditions and prevent contact-patch overload when braking in a turn. That’s really nice if you plan on riding in the rain or actually hitting some unimproved dirt roads anytime soon.

Frame: Tubular steel trellis frame
Swingarm: Single-sided, cast aluminum alloy with shaft drive
Front Wheels: 32 spoke, aluminum rim, for tubeless tires, 19 x 3.0in
Rear Wheels: 32 spoke, aluminum rim, for tubeless tires, 17 x 4.5in
Front Tires: 120/70 R19
Rear Tires: 170/60 R17
Front Suspension: WP 48mm upside down forks, electronically adjustable damping, 190mm travel.
Rear Suspension: WP monoshock, electronically adjustable semi active damping, 193mm wheel travel. Automatic preload adjustment.
Brakes Front: Twin 305 mm floating discs, radially mounted monobloc Brembo calipers, 4-piston, switchable ABS
Brakes Rear: Single 282mm disc, Nissin 2 piston sliding caliper, switchable ABS

Drivetrain

2017 Triumph Tiger Explorer XCx / XCa
- image 731624
Along with an extra user-programmable rider mode, the XCa gets Triumph's Hill Hold Control that keeps pressure on the rear brake for up to 9 seconds so you can deploy both training wheels for stable and safe uphill starts.

A Triumph Triple powers the range with its 1,215 cc in-line three-banger. This engine churns out 139 horsepower at 9,300 rpm, and the full 90.7 pound-feet of torque comes on at 6,200 rpm. The oversquare mill runs an 85 mm bore and 71.4 mm stroke with an 11-to-1 compression ratio that’ll put you at the premium pump, and that may actually be a liability if you go on a genuine adventure somewhere that doesn’t have what you might call a civilized infrastructure. Better take some octane booster with you just in case, that’s all I’m sayin’.

A ride-by-wire throttle enables a variable-power Rider Mode as well as the cruise- and traction-control features. The Rider Modes come with a preset profile for Road, Rain and Off-road on the XCx, and the XCa adds a Sport mode as well as a Rider profile that lets the truly ambitious dial in their very own custom power delivery. On top of that, the XCa gets Triumph’s Hill Hold Control that keeps pressure on the rear brake for up to 9 seconds so you can deploy both training wheels for stable and safe uphill starts.

Electronic fuel injection and engine controls give the Explorers a mileage rating of 40.6 mpg and help them meet current emissions standards. A slipper clutch provides one final layer of contact-patch integrity protection ahead of the six-speed gearbox.

Engine: Liquid-cooled, 12 valve, DOHC, in-line 3-cylinder
Capacity: 1215cc
Compression: 11.0:1
Max Power EC: 139 Hp (102 kW) @ 9,300 rpm 90.7 FT-lbs (123 Nm) @ 6,200 rpm
Max Torque EC: 123 Nm @ 6,200 rpm
System: Ride by Wire, fuel injection
Exhaust: Stainless steel 3 into 1 header system, side mounted stainless steel silencer
Gearbox: 6-speed

Pricing

2017 Triumph Tiger Explorer XCx / XCa
- image 731626
It's a nice bike, but still a bit pricey for the genre.

Triumph lets loose of the Explorer XCx in Jet Black for $18,700 and either Crystal White or Lucerne Blue for $18,950. The XCa trades the black for a Matte Khaki Green finish and offers the same white and blue paint as the XCx for a flat $20,700 across the board.

Colors:
XCx: Crystal White, Jet Black, Lucrene Blue
XCa Crystal White, Matt Khaki Green, Lucrene Blue
Price:
XCx: $18,700
XCa: $20,700

Competitors

2015 - 2017 Aprilia Caponord 1200 Rally
- image 713726
2017 Triumph Tiger Explorer XCx / XCa
- image 730660

While there are plenty of adventure models with widely varying capabilities out there, it’s tough to find another with this many bells and whistles on board. Sure, Ducati has its Multistrada, but this time I want to take a look at the Caponord 1200 Rally from Aprilia and sports a vented windshield that cuts down on the wearisome head-buffet effect.

Honestly, Aprilia’s sportbike roots are showing just a bit here since the tank doesn’t have quite as dramatic of an effect on the profile, and the rider isn’t nearly as far in the bike. Although I prefer the looks of the Trumpet, I gotta say I’m really feeling the rear end of the Caponord; fender, lighting and bags. Like the Tiger, the Caponord comes with electronically controlled suspension components front and rear under the control of Aprilia’s Dynamic Damping adjustment and Skyhook algorithm. Both rides come with ABS protection, but Trumpet gains an edge here since Aprilia doesn’t go all the way with a lean-sensitive system.

A 90-degree V-twin powers the Caponord with 125 horsepower and 84.8 pounds of grunt against the 139/90 from the Trumpet, close enough by anyone’s standards, but again a slight advantage to the Tiger. Aprilia comes back swinging with a full electronic suite to rival Triumph’s to include traction control and variable-delivery throttle maps, and both the traction control and ABS can be turned off for a raw riding experience.

All of the above seems pretty equal as long as you’re not hung up on one look or another, so that makes the price difference even more remarkable. Aprilia takes Triumph to school at the checkout counter with a $16,499 sticker that is liable to entice some business away from the 20 K-plus, top-line Tiger Explorer.

He Said

My husband and fellow motorcycle writer, TJ Hinton, says, “Triumph bills the family as on-road/off-road capable, but to be honest, they look a lot more like street-friendly tourbike/commuters to me. The electronics would certainly make them perform admirably as such — better than most “proper” tour-commuters in fact— plus the upright riding position would be comfortable no matter what you use it for. At the end of the day, you can go ahead and pencil me in as a fan.”

She Said

"The XC is the more off-road-oriented version, whereas the XR is geared more for pavement use. Either would make fine commuters. Once you get moving, the XC feels very balanced and effortless. The seat and seating position are very comfortable. Roll-on is very responsive, though the power comes on early in the bottom end, but peters out quickly once you get into the higher revs. That’s okay though, because this isn’t a sportbike, but that doesn’t mean you won’t have fun on it."

Specifications

ENGINE AND TRANSMISSION:
Type : Liquid-cooled, 12 valve, DOHC, in-line 3-cylinder
Capacity : 1215cc
Bore Stroke : 85 mm / 71.4mm
Compression : 11.0:1
Max Power EC : 139 Hp (102 kW) @ 9,300 rpm 90.7 FT-lbs (123 Nm) @ 6,200 rpm
Max Torque EC : 123 Nm @ 6,200 rpm
System : Ride by Wire, fuel injection
Exhaust : Stainless steel 3 into 1 header system, side mounted stainless steel silencer
Final drive : Shaft drive
Clutch : Wet, multi-plate hydraulically operated, torque assist
Gearbox : 6-speed
CHASSIS:
Frame : Tubular steel trellis frame
Swingarm : Single-sided, cast aluminum alloy with shaft drive
Front Wheels : 32 spoke, aluminum rim, for tubeless tires, 19 x 3.0in
Rear Wheels : 32 spoke, aluminum rim, for tubeless tires, 17 x 4.5in
Front Tires : 120/70 R19
Rear Tires : 170/60 R17
Front Suspension : WP 48mm upside down forks, electronically adjustable damping, 190mm travel.
Rear Suspension : WP monoshock, electronically adjustable semi active damping, 193mm wheel travel. Automatic preload adjustment.
Brakes Front : Twin 305 mm floating discs, radially mounted monobloc Brembo calipers, 4-piston, switchable ABS
Brakes Rear : Single 282mm disc, Nissin 2 piston sliding caliper, switchable ABS
Instrument Display and Functions : Instrument pack with analogue tachometer, fixed segment LCD display and multifunction dot matrix LCD display. Fixed segment LCD display: speedometer, fuel gauge, gear position indicator, service indicator, clock, ambient air temperature, coolant temperature, cruise control status and set speed. Multifunction DOT matrix LCD display: five Riding Modes (Road, Rain, Off-Road, Sport, Rider), windscreen adjustment, TSAS setting, Trip computer (journey distance, journey time, average fuel consumption, average speed), motorcycle information (odometer, range-to-empty, instantaneous fuel consumption, TPMS), settings menu, heated grips status, heated seat status.
DIMENSIONS & WEIGHTS:
Width Handlebars : 32.7 in (830 mm) - With hand guards: 36.6 in (930 mm)
Height Without Mirror : 57.9 in (1470 mm) - 60.6 in (1540 mm) with higher screen position
Seat Height : 33.0 - 33.7 in (837-857 mm)
Wheelbase : 59.8 in (1520 mm)
Rake : 23.1˚
Trail : 3.9 in (99.2 mm)
Dry Weight : 569 lbs (258 Kg)
Tank Capacity : 5.3 US Gallon
DETAILS:
Fuel Consumption : 40.6 US MPG
Colors:
XCx: Crystal White, Jet Black, Lucrene Blue
XCa Crystal White, Matt Khaki Green, Lucrene Blue
Price:
XCx: $18,700
XCa: $20,700

References

2015 - 2017 Aprilia Caponord 1200 Rally
- image 713720

See our review of the Aprilia Caponord 1200 Rally.

All images featured on this website are copyrighted to their respective rightful owners. No infringement is intended. Image Source: triumphmotorcycles, apriliausa.com

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