Triumph Tiger 1200 GT Pro and Rally Pro first ride review | Should the R 1250 GS be worried?
The BMW R 1250 GS and the models before it have been widely regarded as the big daddy of ADVs for a long time now. After all, BMW was one of the first companies to crack the ADV formula 40 years ago now. But now, Triumph has decided that it wants its piece of the pie and has gone and completely, comprehensively overhauled the entire Tiger 1200 lineup. After unveiling it last year and building a lot of hype around it, we finally got a call from Triumph India to head to Shimla to sample both the road-biased variant the Tiger 1200 GT Pro and the off-road biased Tiger 1200 Rally Pro. Does the comprehensive overhaul to the looks, features and equipment list make it a more desirable bike and one that could possible dethrone the GS? Read on to find out.
Triumph Tiger 1200 design
As with the rest of the motorcycle, the design of the entire 2022 Triumph Tiger 1200 range has been given an overhaul as well. The design language of the bike has been updated to bring it in line with that of the Tiger 900 range which was updated a little over a year back. The new 1200s now look like proper elder siblings of the 900. The bikes are now a lot smaller in terms of footprint over the models they replace. Look at the bikes head-on and they are significantly narrower. The front end has a new all-LED headlight set up with a bar like DRL running through the centre. Above that sits a windscreen which is adjustable in a similar manner to the Tiger Sport 660. The infotainment unit on the new Tiger 1200 is a 7-inch full-colour TFT unit which has a user interface like the one found on the Speed Triple 1200 RS but with modes and settings bespoke to the ADV. Based on which model you choose you will get either a 20-litre or a 30-litre fuel tank below the handlebar. 20-litre on the GT and Rally Pro and 30-litre on the Explorer variants. You then have a nice wide seat for both the rider and pillion. The seat height ranges from 850-870mm on the GT Pro and 875-895mm on the Rally Pro.
Looking at the bike from the side will reveal that the 2022 Tiger 1200 despite being shaft-driven, no longer gets a single-sided swingarm. This is down to a new ‘tri-link’ swing arm which is supposedly 1.5kg lighter than the previous unit all while becoming stronger. The bike also gets a new tubular frame design with a bolted-on subframe. This new frame design contributes to a weight reduction of 5.4kg of reduction of mass. The overall theme of the motorcycle revolves around making this new version significantly lighter than its predecessor with one of the variants being as much as 25kg lighter than earlier. Another significant design change is the use of split radiators on either side instead of one single unit. The benefits of this are multifold according to Triumph, one being better and more efficient cooling and the other being that doing so has allowed the boffins at Hinckley to place the new T-Plane crank engine further ahead and lower bringing the centre of gravity lower to the ground. The design on the whole ties in together well, with the bikes looking sleeker, more modern and proper generational updates over the predecessors. In terms of colours, there are three to choose from in both variants, two of which are common — Snowdonia White and Sapphire Black while the GT Pro variant gets a bespoke Lucerne Blue and the Rally Pro variant gets a bespoke Matt Khaki Green colourway. Overall, while the bikes do look significantly narrower than before, there is no denying the fact that these are still tall, massive, daunting ADVs.
Triumph Tiger 1200 chassis
Now since there are two motorcycles to talk about, I’ll first talk about everything common on both bikes and then talk about the specific parts of the chassis that differentiate the two models — the GT Pro and the Rally Pro. Now the basic chassis setup of the bike barring the wheels is the same on both the GT and the Rally variants. You have the same new steel tube frame with a bolt-on subframe. Both bikes are suspended on 49mm Showa USD forks up front and a Showa Monoshock at the rear both with semi-active damping. The only difference is that the Rally variant gets 22mm of travel at both ends which is 20mm more than the road-biased GT Pro. The suspension setup is extremely well for this ADV. It handles everything you throw at it with a lot of finesse and composure. And courtesy of the semi-active dampers which are user-adjustable, they lend the bike with multiple characters. In the ride customisation screen, you can adjust the feel of the suspension as well by making it softer or stiffer or in layman's terms more comfortable or sporty. All this customisation does change the way the bike feels. Overall, the riding experience is extremely plush giving you a sense of being cushioned over most undulations that would usually unsettle any bike. Another element that is common on both bikes is the braking setup that comes courtesy of Brembo. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again the Brembo Stylema callipers are amongst the best brakes you’ll find on road bikes. The amount of bite and feel you can get from these brakes are simply astonishing. The Tiger 1200s also get bespoke Magura master cylinders and the combination ties together really well. The versatility of the Stylemas also really shines on these bikes because when you are riding off-road you don't want the sharpest bike, you want to be able to squeeze the lever and get the right amount of feedback and these brakes do exactly that. At the same time while out on the road, with road-biased tyres, grab a handful of the lever and this behemoth of a bike will stop on a dime all while not getting too unsettled or diving too much courtesy of the semi-active suspension.
Triumph Tiger 1200 GT Pro ride and handling:
Now while a lot of the chassis setup is largely the same on both variants, the few elements that are different, really set the two variants apart. The GT variant is the more road-biased variant that gets a better-suited 19-inch front and 18-inch rear cast alloy wheel setup with a Metzeler Tourance tyres. Now, this setup works wonders on the roads while still allowing a fair bit of off-roadability. There were many sections of the road in our ride where the roads could be considered light trails and the bike handled it like a champ. As far as riding it on road, the bike feels planted and thorough, and the suspension with its levels of adjustment adds a lot of character and versatility to the bike. Show the GT Pro a set of twisties and there is a lot of fun to be had. Although, there is no denying the fact that it is a heavy (245kg) motorcycle and you do need to muscle it a bit to change direction but the comfortable ergonomics make that process significantly easier.
Triumph Tiger 1200 Rally Pro ride and handling:
The thorough off-roader of the two, the Rally Pro gets a 21-inch front and an 18-inch spoked wheel setup shod in Metzeler Karoo Street tyres. Along with the bigger front wheel, the Rally Pro also gets an additional 20mm of suspension travel at both ends to aid in conquering land after the tarmac ends. Now we were riding on trails discovered and chalked by none other than the Mountain Man, Vijay Parmar himself, so you know that level of challenge is on the higher side. Along with the suspension, the seat height on the Rally Pro is also higher with the lower end of the adjustable height being 875mm. Not your average bike. All this translates to a bike with a very specific focus. Now as far as riding this bike is concerned, it is not an easy bike to ride. You need to know exactly what you are doing while riding it to get the results you want. It doesn't forgive callousness but on the flip side, it rewards proper riding technique, in spades. Once you grip the bike properly with your lower half and leave your upper body loose, you start to find your groove. The bike starts munching the trails and spitting them out. The suspension is extremely capable and the bike remains unperturbed through it all. The 21-inch front means you can navigate through pretty much anything. The Handlebar can be adjusted and tilted upwards to aid riding while standing. One thing that needs rectification however is the lack of grippy area around the tank. At certain times when you want to shift your weight and grip the tank, there isn’t much to hold on to. Something aftermarket tank grips can rectify but is still worth mentioning. The older Tigers were known for having a very heavy front end although that issue doesn't seem to plague this iteration of the bike. As far as the bike’s road manners are concerned, like the GT Pro is pretty capable off-road as well, the Rally Pro is rather capable on-road too. Longer travel suspension and the more absorptive spoked wheels meant that the undulations were ironed out even better on this bike. So if you have off-road intentions but do spend a lot of time on the roads too, the Rally Pro will not feel like a compromise in the slightest.
Triumph Tiger 1200 GT Pro and Rally Pro engine and electronics
The 2022 Triumph Tiger 1200 range gets an all-new 1160cc in-line triple motor that like the Tiger 900s, now gets a T-plane crank. This engine is good for 148bhp at 9000rpm and 130Nm of torque at 7000rpm. This engine is in an identical state of tune in both bikes and gets different maps for the various modes available. Thumb the starter and you're greeted by a very unfamiliar, for a triple, exhaust note. It’s a gruff baritone exhaust note that almost sounds like a twin instead of a triple. The performance of the engine however is something you would appreciate. As Triumph advertises, it does have the power delivery characteristics of a torquey twin in the lower end of the rev-range and the creamy high-end of a triple at higher revs. This is something that comes in handy in all situations. The gearing of the bike is such that the first and second gear felt rather long and that combined with the widespread power and torque meant not having to bother with the slick gearbox while tackling slow to medium-fast trails. The motor has enough grunt to cream through it all without needing to shift. And when you do need to shift you can rely on a rather slick bi-directional quickshifter. Even while riding through the twisties, as long as you are averaging speeds ranging better 60-100kmph, you can get away with just sticking the bike in third and just riding without stress and even when the speeds drop a little below, you can just ride the torque back up to the sweet spot. Now in terms of refinement, this isn’t the most refined mill out there and there is some buzz and vibrations here and there but never unpleasantly so. One thing I like most about the engine is that despite being plenty powerful, it doesn’t feel maniacally fast or difficult to tame. This also comes down to a well-calibrated ride-by-wire throttle system and good fueling.
In terms of electronics, you have almost everything known to man to ensure that you keep the skin on your bones while having a big smile under your lid. IMU optimised ABS, traction control, riding modes (the Rally Pro gets an off-road pro mode as well which allows you to switch ABS and traction control completely off), hill hold control, cornering lights, and a bunch more. The 30-litre Explore variants also get a radar assisted blind spot monitoring system similar to that of the Ducati Multistrada V4.
Triumph Tiger 1200 verdict
Now the Triumph Tiger 1200 will be available in four variants — the GT Pro, the GT Explorer, the Rally Pro and the Rally Explorer and prices for the same are Rs 19.19 lakh, Rs 20.69 lakh, 20.19 lakh and Rs 21.69 lakh, respectively. This in my opinion is stellar pricing because these are extremely capable motorcycles packed with a tonne of kit as standard fitment that most other manufacturers would charge for after the fact. Now granted that they aren’t easy motorcycles to ride and you really need to know what you are doing while riding them, that will what will make you either love them or not. Not having ridden the previous Tiger 1200 I can’t comment on how much better this bike is over its predecessor but on paper, it feels a proper generation ahead in the right direction. As far as the BMW R 1250 GS is concerned this does have a price advantage over the German considering prices start at Rs 20.55 lakh ex-showroom and it doesn't get as much in terms of standard equipment. However, what the story is like in the real world is one we look forward to putting to the test real soon, but on paper, this seems like one that can put up a solid fight against the big daddy of ADVs.