For the past seven weeks I’ve been riding a Triumph Tiger 1050, compliments of California Triumph. When I first got the motorcycle in mid-May, I was quite enthusiastic about riding the bike. Several months ago, I met a guy that owned a Tiger 1050. He raved about its power and handling. He loved the bike, and spoke very enthusiastically about it.
Sadly, after seven weeks, I have mixed feelings about the Triumph Tiger 1050. Worst of all, I think that I’m tired of riding it. The fatal flaw? I’m not sure there is one. Just a few things I don’t like about the bike. In the end, the Tiger 1050 may not be the right bike for me. Here are my opinions, for what they are worth. I’d be interested in hearing from Tiger 1050 owners about their experiences with the bike.
Back to my first impressions. I like the look of the Triumph Tiger 1050. It’s sporty, but with a more everyday riding configuration than sport bikes. The upright riding position makes it more comfortable than a typical sport bike. When I first got on the bike, it felt good. It met my first riding requirement, comfortable ergonomics.
Riding the Tiger away from the dealer further put a smile on my face. At 113 bhp, the power isn’t earth shattering, but the Tiger pulled nicely on the highway. Some riders may feel that 113 bhp is a little low for a liter bike. I like the fact you can crank open the throttle for a little excitement, without getting too out of control. The wind shield provides a reasonable level of wind protection, even at 70 mph. By the time I got home, I was very enthusiastic about Tiger. I wasn’t convinced that I’d want to go touring on the bike, but I had high expectations for fun.
My first real adventure on the Tiger 1050 was in the Santa Cruz mountains. But, this is where I started to have mixed feelings about the bike. I found the Tiger tracked very nicely in the twisty bits, so long as you were at the right speed. And, the right speed seemed to be considerably over the speed limit. When riding slower (i.e., at the speed limit), the Tiger didn’t track as well in corners. The front end felt heavy, and the bike didn’t want to hold a line. I don’t know if this makes sense mechanically, but it feels like beyond a certain lean angle the bike tracks very well. But, until you reach that lean angle, the bike wants to stand up. This makes it a little hard to predict how the bike is going to handle in a corner. I’m not a big fan of unpredictability.
I noticed another peculiarity that might also be related to the front end geometry. The Tiger doesn’t seem to like bumps or indentations in the road. The front end tends to deflect off bumps and track into indentations in the road. This is quite noticeable on roads with tar strips filling cracks in the road, such as in the hills near my home. It is also quite noticeable on back roads where the center of the lane has a hump compare to the car tire tracks. The Tiger wants to track into the lowest point on any indentation in the road.
The unpredictability of tracking, and front end movement on bumps and indentations, kept me from feeling like the bike was an extension of me. Whenever I felt “in the zone,” I was regularly knocked out of the zone by handling I didn’t expect.
My biggest issue with the Tiger is probably the easiest one to fix. I found the seat quite uncomfortable as a short time of riding. Combine the uncomfortable seat with the stiff suspension, and the riding fun went away after an hour or so.
In the end, the Triumph Tiger 1050 fell short of my initial high expectations. Every time I got on the Tiger, it would start off fun, and I’d wonder if I’m being overly harsh in my assessment of the bike. Then after a little while the seat gets uncomfortable, and I start to notice the hard suspension. As my comfort decreased, so did my tolerance for the tracking and handling issues. In the end, I just had difficulty “getting into the zone,” and “feeling one” with the bike.
I’m not sure if any of these issues are fundamental problems with the Tiger. Aggressive riders my never notice the low speed tracking and handling issues. And, the hard seat and suspension are typical of a sport bike. So, if you are looking for a sporty bike, with a more upright riding position, that wants to be aggressively ridden, the Tiger may be a good fit.
As for me, I’d rather ride my Triumph Bonneville. That may sound strange to some people given the Bonneville’s lack of power, suspension and handling capabilities. But, it’s predictable in that way. And, the Bonneville is so much fun to ride. I don’t claim my opinions are rational … just my opinions.
review: Motorcycle Reviews