Triumph took its Tiger XCx to the Nth degree

There’s nothing quite like a special-edition to spruce up a model family, and Triumph takes that to the bank with its new top-shelf Tiger 1200 Desert Edition. The “Desert” builds on the mid-grade, off-road-centric Tiger 1200 XCx with titanium and carbon-fiber touches and a model-specific “Sandstorm” paint package with Desert Edition graphics to set it apart visually from the pack. Of course, the factory maintains its premium electronics suite and active suspension system, and it drives it all with its proven 1,215 cc triple.

  • 2020 Triumph Tiger 1200 Desert
  • Year:
    2020
  • Make:
  • Model:
  • Engine:
    inline-3
  • Displacement:
    1215 cc
  • Top Speed:
    140 mph (Est.)
  • Price:
    20100
  • Price:

2020 Triumph Tiger 1200 Desert Edition Design

  • Premium, special-edition paint and graphics
  • 5-inch full-color TFT display
  • LED lighting
  • Electronically-adjustable windscreen
  • Adjustable seat height
2020 Triumph Tiger 1200 Desert
- image 885771
2020 Triumph Tiger 1200 Desert
- image 885583
2020 Triumph Tiger 1200 Desert
- image 885584

Trumpet put together the Tiger 1200 Desert Edition for the desert-rally types among us; you know who you are. The factory drew inspiration and ideas from bona fide desert Tiger riders during the design phase. Ever the favorite of off-road riders, a set of laced wheels set the overall tone as a terrain-busting machine to be reckoned with. Long-stroke inverted forks necessitate a set of tall risers for the front fender to accommodate the motion of the front wheel, and those supports provide fairly complete coverage for the swept area of the inner fork tubes to keep them grit free.

A snub-nose, bird’s-beak fairing extends the splash protection for the front wheel somewhat with a tall windscreen up top and stock handguards to complete the coverage. The screen is push-button adjustable, and it’s vented to ensure plenty of fresh air for the pilot and minimize the wearisome head-buffet effect.

Dual, goggle-eye headlights split the night with a narrow band of DRLs to keep you visible during the day, and short-standoff blinkers complete the forward lighting from a fairly safe location behind and above the headlights. All of the lighting is LED, so you can count on lots of lumens as well as durability in the face of the shocks and jostles of off-road work.

Behind the glass, a full-color, five-inch TFT screen displays all the instrumentation and acts as an interface for the ride-quality controls. As for the switches, backlit switchcubes put the controls at your fingertips and are easy to manipulate, even in low-light situations.

The flyline is dominated by a 5.2-gallon fuel tank that gives the entire Tiger range its adventure-bike profile, and it comes with a wide upper flange that creates deep knee pockets for your legs. Triumph gives you some control over your rider triangle with an adjustable saddle that can be set at 33.6-inches high, or dropped to 32.8-inches off the deck to suit your inseam length.

Passenger accommodations come stock with the usual fold-up footpegs and wide pillion pad, plus there’s a pair of stout J.C. handles that extend back to the small luggage rack over the rear fender. The LED taillight rides at the terminus of the tail section out of harm’s way, and the plate mounts on the short hang-down mudguard and serves to extend same for real fling control. On the right side, the muffler adds a bit of bling with a titanium body and carbon-fiber tip.

2020 Triumph Tiger 1200 Desert Edition Chassis

  • Optimized cornering ABS and traction control
  • Adjustable WP suspension
  • Triumph’s Semi Active Suspension
  • Electronic damping control
2020 Triumph Tiger 1200 Desert
- image 885769
2020 Triumph Tiger 1200 Desert
- image 885752
2020 Triumph Tiger 1200 Desert
- image 885581

The Trellis frame on the Tiger 1200 Desert Edition is built from tubular-steel members for the strength it imparts to the structure||, and of course, it’s a stressed-engine configuration that uses the mill to eliminate a large chunk of frame. Some of that weight shows up in the engine guards and bash plate, but its a worthwhile trade off given the terrain-tackling nature of this machine.

Cast aluminum is the material of choice for the single-sided swingarm that doubles as a housing for the shaft-type final drive. Laced aluminum rims round out the rolling chassis with a 120/70-19 leading the way ahead of a 170/60-17 and come lined with deeply-grooved rubber that is sure to gain purchase on soft/loose surfaces.

Dual, 305 mm discs and four-piston Brembo calipers slow the front wheel opposite a 282 mm disc and twin-pot Nissin anchor with switchable ABS protection. Not just any ABS either, but the lean-sensitive sort that calculates the available traction for an extra element of safety via data from a six-axis inertial-measurement unit.

WP supplies the stems with a set of 48 mm usd forks to float the front end and a monoshock out back for same, and here we find a real gem in the electronic suspension feature that electronically/automatically adjusts the damping values and preload on demand.

Frame: Tubular steel trellis frame
Front Suspension: WP 48 mm upside down forks, electronically adjustable damping, 7.48 in (190 mm) travel
Rear Suspension: WP monoshock, electronically adjustable semi active damping with automatic preload adjustment, 7.6 in (193 mm) wheel travel
Swingarm: Single-sided, cast aluminum alloy with shaft drive
Rake: 23.2º
Trail: 3.93 in (99.9 mm)
Front Brakes: Dual 305 mm floating discs, radially mounted monobloc Brembo 4-piston calipers, switchable ABS
Rear Brakes: Single 282 mm disc, Nissin 2-piston sliding caliper, switchable ABS
Front Wheel: 32 spoke aluminum rim, for tubeless tires, 19 x 3.0 in
Rear Wheel: 32 spoke aluminum rim, for tubeless tires, 17 x 4.5 in
Front Tire: 120/70 R19
Rear Tire: 170/60 R17

2020 Triumph Tiger 1200 Desert Edition Drivetrain

  • 1,215 cc triple engine
  • 141 hp @ 9,350 rpm
  • 90 lb-ft @ 7,600 rpm
  • Shift Assist
  • Five ride modes
  • Cruise control
  • Torque-assist clutch
  • Titanium and carbon fiber wrapped Arrow silencer
2020 Triumph Tiger 1200 Desert
- image 885770
2020 Triumph Tiger 1200 Desert
- image 885757
2020 Triumph Tiger 1200 Desert
- image 885582

The beating heart of the Tiger 1200 Desert Edition is a transverse-mount liquid-cooled triple that comes with electronic fandanglery all its own. It rocks a total of five riding modes to let you dial in the power delivery to suit conditions and preference. A traction-control feature helps keep it rubber-side down, and like the ABS, it benefits from corner-sensitive technology to make it less likely you’ll spin out in a turn. No doubt this helps negotiate sand and other loose surfaces, as well.

Cruise control makes up part of the more mundane electronics, as does the immobilizer that keeps your bike from growing legs when you aren’t looking, but the Shift Assist feature that lets you bang through the gears both up and down the range without ever rolling off or touching the clutch. As for the clutch, it’s a slip-and-assist unit that mitigates the effect of excessive backtorque in the drive and keeps the rear wheel from breaking loose on hard downshifts.

The Tiger runs an 85 mm bore with a 71.4 mm stroke for a total displacement of 1,215 cc and a compression ratio of 11-to-1. That’s hot enough to call for nothing but premium road champagne, but that’s also a large contributing factor in the overall power output as well, so it’s a necessary evil. What kind of power are we looking at here? Well, at 9,350 rpm the three-banger churns out a generous 141 horsepower with 90 pound-feet of torque that top out at 7,600 rpm to give it plenty of tractable power, even if you have to wind it up pretty tight to get all of it. A shaft-type final drive sends the power to the rear wheel with an overall drive ratio that turns in a top speed of 140 mph.

Engine: Liquid-cooled, 12 valve, DOHC, in-line 3-cylinder
Displacement: 1,215 cc
Bore x Stroke: 3.35 in (85 mm) x 2.81 in (71.4 mm)
Compression: 11.0:1
Max Power EC: 141 hp (104 kW) @ 9,350 rpm
Max Torque EC: 90 lb-ft (122 Nm) @ 7,600 rpm
System: Ride by Wire, fuel injection
Exhaust: 3 into 1 header system, Arrow titanium silencer with carbon fiber end cap, side mounted
Final Drive: Shaft drive
Clutch: Wet, multi-plate hydraulically operated, torque assist
Gearbox: 6-speed

2020 Triumph Tiger 1200 Desert Edition Pricing

2020 Triumph Tiger 1200 Desert
- image 885760
2020 Triumph Tiger 1200 Desert
- image 885751
2020 Triumph Tiger 1200 Desert
- image 885755

This special edition Tiger 1200 Desert rolls for a premium price starting at $20,100. It comes with ample blackout under a unique Sandstorm finish on the sheet metal, and the tank graphics have sand dunes laced through the 1200 badge on each side.

Instrument Display and Functions: TFT multi¬functional instrument pack with digital speedometer, trip computer, digital tachometer, gear position indicator, fuel gauge, service indicator, ambient temperature, clock and Riding Modes.
Colors: Sandstorm
Price: $20,100

2020 Triumph Tiger 1200 Desert Edition Competitors

2020 Triumph Tiger 1200 Desert
- image 885758
2020 Suzuki V-Strom 1050XT Adventure
- image 876338

Triumph puts together a good ADV bike to be sure, but the Big Four puts pressure on them just like they do everyone else, so I grabbed Suzuki’s V-Strom 1050XT Adventure to see how it stacks up. I’ll concede that the V-Strom isn’t a special-edition model, but it is Suzuki’s flagship adventure model, so here we go.

Suzuki V-Strom 1050XT Adventure

2020 Suzuki V-Strom 1050XT Adventure
- image 876339

The V-Strom leads off with the same sort of front fender that doubles as a guard for the long-stroke front forks, and laced wheels are a constant across the board, which, of course, is proper for off-road machines. Suzuki uses a similar bird’s-beak fairing to that on the Triumph with rally-tastic touches to tie into its own desert-racing history, such as a rectangular headlight and tall, vented, hand-adjustable windscreen.

The V-Strom falls short in the suspension. Even though it has the full range of adjustments up front and preload/rebound-damping out back, the adjustments are all manual, and that cedes the advantage to the Brit. In the brakes we see a resurgence in technology in the form of Suzuki’s Combined-Brake feature that delivers balanced braking effort and a lean-sensitive ABS feature to possibly surpass the Tiger’s anchors. Stock aluminum panniers give the V-Strom a considerable amount of storage right off the showroom floor, and this gives it more utility both as an ADV bike and as a commuter/grocery-getter.

Suzuki takes a hit in the displacement column with only 1,037 cc packed away in its V-twin mill, and that shows up in the power numbers with only 106 horsepower to draw on. The V-Strom meets the Tiger tit-for-tat in the engine control electronics with all the same systems, plus the Dual-Throttle Valve intake, Idle Control System, and Easy-Start feature to give Suzuki a leg up in the fandanglery. To sweeten the deal, Suzuki turns loose of its V-Strom 1050XT Adventure for $16,999, and that leaves quite a bit of money on the table against the $20k sticker on the Tiger.

Read our full review of the Suzuki V-Strom 1050XT Adventure.

He Said

“This is clearly a machine that means serious business. The Tiger name has been around for a minute now and enjoys a solid reputation, and this bike definitely toes the family line. It isn’t quite a flagship though — the XCa takes things up one more level — but it’s definitely a close second, and a technological marvel to boot.”

She Said

My wife and fellow motorcycle writer, Allyn Hinton, says, “This is more to my liking, an adventure bike with off-road chops. Don’t get me wrong, the Alpine Edition is a nice bike, but I want laced wheels, stealth knobbies, a bash plate, and handguards. That tells me we’re ready for off-road touring. The Tiger 1200s have a comfortable saddle and a relaxed rider triangle, a nice electronics package, and plenty of torque down low to navigate terrain. The XCx was nice, but this Desert Edition is a step up.”

2020 Triumph Tiger 1200 Desert Edition Specifications

Engine & Drivetrain:
Engine: Liquid-cooled, 12 valve, DOHC, in-line 3-cylinder
Displacement: 1,215 cc
Bore x Stroke: 3.35 in (85 mm) x 2.81 in (71.4 mm)
Compression: 11.0:1
Max Power EC: 141 hp (104 kW) @ 9,350 rpm
Max Torque EC: 90 lb-ft (122 Nm) @ 7,600 rpm
System: Ride by Wire, fuel injection
Exhaust: 3 into 1 header system, Arrow titanium silencer with carbon fiber end cap, side mounted
Final Drive: Shaft drive
Clutch: Wet, multi-plate hydraulically operated, torque assist
Gearbox: 6-speed
Chassis:
Frame: Tubular steel trellis frame
Front Suspension: WP 48 mm upside down forks, electronically adjustable damping, 7.48 in (190 mm) travel
Rear Suspension: WP monoshock, electronically adjustable semi active damping with automatic preload adjustment, 7.6 in (193 mm) wheel travel
Swingarm: Single-sided, cast aluminum alloy with shaft drive
Rake: 23.2º
Trail: 3.93 in (99.9 mm)
Front Brakes: Dual 305 mm floating discs, radially mounted monobloc Brembo 4-piston calipers, switchable ABS
Rear Brakes: Single 282 mm disc, Nissin 2-piston sliding caliper, switchable ABS
Front Wheel: 32 spoke aluminum rim, for tubeless tires, 19 x 3.0 in
Rear Wheel: 32 spoke aluminum rim, for tubeless tires, 17 x 4.5 in
Front Tire: 120/70 R19
Rear Tire: 170/60 R17
Dimensions & Capacities:
Width Handlebars: 32.68 in (830 mm)
Height Without Mirror: 57.87 in (1,470 mm)
Seat Height: 32.87 - 33.66 in (835 - 855 mm)
Wheelbase: 59.84 in (1,520 mm)
Dry Weight: 246 lbs
Fuel Tank Capacity: 5.2 gal
Top Speed: 140 mph (est)
Details:
Instrument Display and Functions: TFT multi¬functional instrument pack with digital speedometer, trip computer, digital tachometer, gear position indicator, fuel gauge, service indicator, ambient temperature, clock and Riding Modes.
Colors: Sandstorm
Price: $20,100

Further Reading

Triumph Motorcycles

ALLYN IMAGES: DO NOT DELETE
- image 791470

Read more Triumph news.

TJ Hinton
T.J got an early start from his father and other family members who owned and rode motorcycles, and by helping with various mechanical repairs throughout childhood. That planted a seed that grew into a well-rounded appreciation of all things mechanical, and eventually, into a formal education of same. Though primarily a Harley rider, he has an appreciation for all sorts of bikes and doesn't discriminate against any particular brand or region of origin. He currently holds an Associate's degree in applied mechanical science from his time at the M.M.I.  Read More
About the author

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

Press release

Related Articles

2020 Triumph Tiger 1200 Alpine Edition

2018 - 2019 Triumph Tiger 1200 XCx

What do you think?
Show Comments
Motorcycle Finder: