Jealous of Snag on his ‘round Australia lap? Me? He’s the boss at INFO MOTO so he gets to call the shots. Second prize isn’t too bad, though. I find myself writing this from Joey’s Bar in Ballymoney in Northern Ireland. Joey’s daughter, Donna, has just poured me what could be the perfect Guinness and it would be selfish of me not to share the pleasure.
Just to refresh your memory, Joey Dunlop had 26 victories at the Isle of Man TT and died a national hero when he crashed his 125 in Eastern Europe at age 48. When he wasn’t racing, he’d fill his race van with food and clothing for orphans in Romania and deliver them himself.
There isn’t a living being in Northern IRELAnd who doesn’t know his name and revere him.
I’m in Great Britain to find its four greatest rides and my companion is the new Triumph Tiger 1200 GT Pro. It’s the high-spec, road going version of the bike with which Cam Donald recently surprised the world by finishing a 24-hour endurance race in South Australia better suited to 250cc enduro bikes.
This bike is so capable it’s making me wonder if there’s a future for normal touring bikes. Who doesn’t want longer travel, compliant suspension, a riding position comfortable for hours, all the technology fruit (cruise control, shift assist, hill hold, five riding modes, ABS and traction control) and the additional benefit of being able to ride comfortably on the roughest made roads in the country?
Oh, I left out semi-active suspension which reads the bumps as they happen so the rider hardly feels them.
I’m in Ireland to ride the Causeway Coastal Route which is on the list of four I’m exploring. Finished so far is the NC500 in Scotland which runs along the top of the country and is, without doubt, among the best rides in the world. The Causeway Coastal Route? The jury is still out as it’s holiday season here and the normally deserted road is full of tourists watching everything except the road in front of them.
Navigating tourist traffic tends to take one’s mind off riding pleasure. In fact, at the moment, it’s reminding me a bit of the Great Ocean Road.
The elephant in the room for the Triumph 1200 range is, of course, BMW’s R 1250 bikes. I can comfortably say, possibly for the first time, it’s now a fair fight. There’s nothing much between them in any comparable area but what I’m enjoying most about the Triumph is its agility. Its slim seat line at the front of the seat makes it feel lower than it actually is and what you’re looking at past that isn’t overwhelming. If Triumph had told me it was an 800 I wouldn’t have had any trouble believing it.
It doesn’t feel like a big bike but it has all the benefits of a massive engine in a manageable package.
I would have liked Joey Dunlop to give me a second opinion. I signed something at Triumph that said I wouldn’t let anyone else ride the bike but if Joey were still alive and asked for the keys so he could do a quick lap of the nearby NW200 track, I would have given them to him in a heartbeat. I’m pretty sure Triumph would forgive me.
Triumph Tiger 1200 pricing and specs
Triumph Tiger 1200 GT Pro – $29,990
Triumph Tiger 1200 GT Explorer – $32,600
Triumph Tiger 1200 Rally Pro – $31,800
Triumph Tiger 1200 Rally Explorer – $33,950
The new Triumph Tiger 1200 is positioned to compete with key rivals like the BMW R 1250 GS and GSA ($26,295, $28,365), Ducati Multistrada V4 ($28,990) and Harley-Davidson Pan America 1250 ($31,995).
The GT versions are the more road oriented of the Tiger 1200 family, with 19- and 18-inch cast wheels with Metzeler Tourance tyres, while the Rally variants are better suited to off-road riding with 21- and 18-inch tubeless spoked wheels shod in Metzeler Karoo Street rubber.
The GT Explorer and Rally Explorer are higher-specification grades that are distinguished by a 30-litre fuel tank, as opposed to the 20-litre capacities of the GT Pro and Rally Pro.
Explorer variants also benefit from a blind spot radar system, heated seats and grips and a tyre pressure monitor, among other upgrades.
The 2022 Triumph Tiger 1200 range is built on an all-new platform that features a version of Triumph’s 1160cc triple-cylinder engine, in this case tuned to produce 110kW and 130Nm.
For comparison, the current BMW R 1250 GS is motivated by a 1254cc 100kW/143Nm boxer motor, while the KTM 1290 Super Adventure uses a 118kW/138Nm 1301cc V-twin setup.
Notably, the new Triumph Tiger 1200 is up to 25 kilograms lighter than its predecessor, and Triumph claims it to be 17kg lighter than its closest shaft-driven competitor at 240kg (wet), thanks in part to its new lightweight frame and swingarm.
Standard across the Australian 2022 Tiger 1200 line-up is Showa semi-active suspension, a new 7.0-inch TFT dash, optimised cornering traction control and ABS, a full keyless system, electronic cruise control, a centre stand, adaptive cornering lights, an up/down quickshifter, and hill hold.
GT variants offer five rider modes, Road, Rain, Sport, custom, and Off-Road, while the Rally versions gain an extra Off-Road Pro mode for increased adjustment on slippery terrain.
As part of an overhauled styling package that is familiar to the recently updated Tiger 900 range, the new Tiger 1200 features all-new bodywork, twin radiator and exhaust, an adjustable seat and new adjustable windscreen.
The ergonomics have also been adjusted with new bar and foot-peg positioning, which Triumph says is more comfortable.