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ADV Bikes8 Things To Know About the 2018 Triumph Tiger 800 XCa

8 Things To Know About the 2018 Triumph Tiger 800 XCa

 Triumph's Middleweight ADV gets lighter, more comfortable & better offroad.

Published on 02.20.2018

It’s surprising how adventure bikes in the upper-middle class don’t get nearly as much attention as their counterparts in the liter-plus category. Bikes around the 800cc range slot right into that Goldilocks Zone with enough power and acceleration to cruise effortlessly on the highway, but in a smaller, more-maneuverable package that makes venturing off-road even more accessible.

Striking a balance between versatility and capability on the trail is what Triumph had in mind when they first introduced the Tiger 800 in 2010. While somewhat overshadowed by its main competition, the BMW F800GS, the Tiger 800’s distinctive styling and powerful triple engine have always set it apart. And Triumph has continued to refine and perfect the model over the years to distinguish it further. This year was more of a leap than a step forward, with over 200 engine and chassis upgrades. Updates covered everything from enhanced comfort and rider aids, to safety and performance improvements.

2018 Triumph Tiger XCa offroad Adventure Motorcycle


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We got our chance to test the 2018 Triumph Tiger 800 at the International Press Launch in Morocco. Specifically, the range-topping XCa model with wire-spoke wheels, long-travel suspension and more technology and creature comforts than you might expect from a Middleweight Adventure Bike.

Thoughts of a warm winter retreat and riding in the footsteps of the old Paris Dakar Rally had us counting the days. What was unexpected was a freak storm with freezing rain and snow. The challenging conditions and exotic backdrop made for a dramatic adventure on two wheels. And after two days and more than a few hundred miles of testing, we got a chance to explore the bike’s capabilities both on- and off-road. Read on to find out the key insights we came home with after our 2018 Triumph Tiger 800 XCa test.

1. A Lot Has Changed

2018 Triumph Tiger XCa offroad Adventure Motorcycle

For 2018, the Triumph engineers focused their attention on mass optimization, which included removal of the backlash gears, reducing mass of the cooling system and lightening the alternator. The Tiger’s exhaust silencer has also been reduced in size and weight, and now offers a more aggressive exhaust note. Refinements to the fueling make the Tiger 800 more responsive on the low end, while a shorter first gear gives improved control, acceleration and climbing capability. A new ‘Off-Road Pro’ Ride Mode offers more control in the dirt and stopping power is even better with higher-spec Brembo front brakes.

2018 Triumph Tiger XCa offroad Adventure Motorcycle Torque Curve
Source: Triumph Motorcycles

Comfort and convenience were increased with a 5-position windscreen, along with new side-screen aero deflectors. Additional touches include illuminated hand switches, optimized handlebar geometry, and an updated cruise control and seat foam compound. Visual appearance has been enhanced with new bodywork and graphics, plus distinctive LED headlights and a full-color TFT display that give the Tiger 800 a more modern look. With all the updates across the engine and chassis, the new Tiger 800 XCa lost 15.4 pounds (7 kg) and gained just $150 on the price.

2. It’s Ready For Long-Range Travel

With its new adjustable windscreen, upgraded seat and new handlebar geometry, Triumph definitely had an eye on improving the touring comfort of the Tiger 800 XCa. And the new seat foam compound seemed to do the trick. I never once felt sore during our two days of testing. In fact, I enjoyed the comfort of the seat so much that I found myself sitting down more off-road than I should have.

Triumph Tiger 800 XCa Adventure Motorcycle Long Range

All the ergos have been well sorted out. The knee bend is comfortable and the reach to the handlebars feels ideal with the seat adjusted in the high position (about 2″ difference between high/low settings). There is also an convenient spring-loaded design on the adjustable windscreen that lets you slide it up and down using one hand while you ride. And with the addition of the aero deflectors, side wind protection is improved. Even so, I did notice there wasn’t much difference in the level of wind protection between the highest and lowest setting of the adjustable screen.

The heated grips and heated seats (both pilot and passenger) were greatly appreciated during our chilly ride through Morocco. Yet, I would have liked the seat and grips to get hotter if the weather had been any colder. Other features that make this an excellent touring mount are the electronic cruise control (unique for a middleweight), a 200+ mile fuel range, ‘two’ 12-volt charging ports and a 650W alternator that provides enough juice for all your electronics, plus heated gear for you and a passenger. It also comes equipped with a center stand for flat repairs or maintenance on the road.

3. It Has a Sporty Side

Triumph Tiger 800 XCa Adventure Motorcycle Sporty Ability

While the Tiger’s 800cc triple engine doesn’t have the same down-low punch as a twin, the acceleration is smooth, constant and just keeps pulling into the higher revs. It will easily get the front wheel up with a little clutch action (and traction control off) in first gear. With 94 horsepower on tap, it has the acceleration to surprise some Adventure Bikes in the liter class (check your mirror Africa Twin) and its flat torque curve means there’s always power on tap when you come out of a corner. The sound of the triple engine going through the gears is also music to the ears.

We didn’t get to push full lean angles in the twisties due to the road conditions but we did explore some of the bike’s versatility over a variety of street conditions. Potholes weren’t even noticed with the WP suspension with 21″ front wheel and 8.7″ of travel, and the street-biased Bridgestone Battlewings (fitted for our road test day) gave excellent grip on the slick roads. Tight hairpins were also easily navigated thanks to the bike’s excellent fueling and low first gear. Additionally, the new Brembo brakes had excellent feel but did require a firm two-finger squeeze for emergency stops.

4. Newer Riders Won’t Find it Intimidating

2018 Triumph Tiger XCa offroad Adventure Motorcycle Good for New Riders

Everything about the Tiger 800 seems to be designed to make it more accessible to a wide range of riders. Seat height on the Tiger 800 XCa is a reasonable 33.1 inches in the low setting, and for those looking for an even lower seat, Triumph makes a ‘Low Ride Height’ model that gets you down to 29.9 inches. The triple engine offers smooth, tractable power and an almost completely flat torque curve makes it easy to control the bike at slower speeds or on loose terrain. ‘Rain’ Mode turns the Tiger into a pussycat and even a bout of whiskey throttle won’t upset traction.

Weighing in at 459 pounds dry, the Tiger 800 XC is by no means a lightweight but it does offer significant weight advantages over many of the Adventure Bikes in the liter class. For some, that could mean the difference in being able to pick up your own bike on the trail or requiring assistance. The Tiger also feels highly maneuverable everywhere, thanks to a short 60.8″ wheelbase. It makes u-turns on a dime and doesn’t feel top heavy when you are changing directions at slow speeds. Generally speaking, the bike gives you the feeling that you have more control over it than it does over you.

5. It’s Solid In the Dirt

2018 Triumph Tiger XCa offroad Adventure Motorcycle

During the slick morning conditions, I relied on the standard ‘Off-Road’ riding mode to get acquainted with the bike. In this mode, just the front tire gets ABS, while the rear tire is free to slide, and traction control allows a reasonable amount of slippage to get the revs up or steer with the rear. It won’t wheelie in ‘Off-Road’ mode but it does have enough pop to lighten the front wheel when needed.

The new shorter first gear made quick work of chunky river beds and steep inclines. Although, the bike was almost as happy chugging up hills in third. With a super-flat torque curve and refined fueling, the Tiger 800 pulls up hills with resilient power. Where a V-Twin might start lurching, the third cylinder of the Triple fills in the gap to help prevent bogging.

2018 Triumph Tiger XCa offroad Adventure Motorcycle

Triumph Tiger 800 XCa offroad footpegs
The Tiger 800 XCa comes equipped from the factory with several enhancements for off-road use including large serrated CNC-machined foot pegs, stout crash bars, a beefy skid plate and more.

For more advanced riders, the new ‘Off-Road Pro’ mode turns Traction Control and ABS off completely. Yet, the Tiger 800 still feels manageable in this mode on the slick trails (bikes were fitted with Pirelli Scorpion Rally knobby tires for our dirt test). The triple engine is surprisingly tractable in low-grip conditions and the twin Brembo brakes have good feel. On choppy terrain, XCa’s WP suspension feels plush and remains stable over rough terrain at speed. The long-travel suspension didn’t let us down either, with enough stiffness to avoid bottoming out on the deep ruts and jumps.

It was also nice to see the bike comes standard with good off-road equipment like large serrated CNC-machined foot pegs, stout crash bars, a beefy skid plate, decent hand guards and a set of auxiliary lights. Off-Road ergos are also good with an optimal knee-to-tank connection for standing, along with a relatively flat seat for sit-down turns. Although, I did feel slightly cramped with the bar position when standing up (at 6′ 2″ height). Some riders may prefer to add aftermarket bar risers, but it’s worth noting the bar clamps can be adjusted to position the bars 10mm forward.

6. It’s Facing Stiff Competition

It used to be that the Tiger 800 only had to worry about the BMW F800GS as its primary competition. But with the release of the Honda Africa Twin and KTM 1090 Adventure R, there are now two other off-road-capable adventure bikes in roughly the same weight class. With the XCa’s MSRP of $15,850, potential owners will have to acknowledge they could save $1,150 on a 1090R or $2,550 on an Africa Twin. Although, when you consider the heated grips, heated seats, adjustable windscreen, cruise control, center stand, premium off-road protection, plush seating and other top-shelf components on the Tiger, those two bikes look comparatively stripped down.

2018 Triumph Tiger XCa offroad Adventure Motorcycle Good for New Riders

Alternatively, you might consider the Triumph XCx at $14,450. That puts you inside the price range of the 1090 and Africa Twin. What you give up for a $1,400 savings is: two ride modes (Off-Road Pro and Rider), backlighting on hand switches, heated seats, LED lighting, additional TFT themes, a center stand and off-road pegs. The XCx is also 7 pounds lighter than the XCa.

Another threat on the horizon is the all-new 2018 BMW F850GS (Price TBD). The new Beemer now has the power to match the Tiger, although it gained 27 pounds, lost some of its front suspension travel and it appears there will be no cruise control. Even more menacing from an off-road perspective, are the new Dakar Rally-inspired prototypes in the middleweight category — the Yamaha Ténéré 700 and KTM 790 Adventure R — expected to be released as 2019 models. Things are heating up quickly in this category!

7. We’ve Got a Few Nits to Pick

Triumph Tiger 800 XCa Adventure Motorcycle Morocco Press Launch

Overall, the 2018 Triumph Tiger 800 XCa impressed us far more than it let us down and didn’t make it easy for us to find fault. With all of its factory equipment and premium components, this really is a bike you can just load with luggage and drive off the showroom floor to your next big adventure. But we do have a few nits to pick.

For one, we were a little underwhelmed with the wind protection compared to the Tiger 1200. With its large windscreen and side deflectors, we would have expected a bit more. Strangely, it was hard to feel a difference between the highest and lowest setting on the adjustable screen.

While the heated grips and seat were adequate during our test (mid-30s Fahrenheit), the heating elements didn’t get as hot as we expected. It’s not uncommon for the high setting on other systems to roast you alive, and we know a few finicky passengers that love to crank it up all the way on a cold ride.

On the performance side, brakes had excellent feel in the dirt but their bite wasn’t as impressive on the street. Stopping distances were good but required a firm squeeze with at least two fingers. And while we liked the fact that the suspension includes compression and rebound damping, along with rear preload, we did notice the forks don’t offer a preload adjustment.

8. We’re Still Craving More

Triumph Tiger 800 XCa Adventure Motorcycle offroad

Whether it’s the premium components, long-range comfort, quality suspension, signature triple sound or its distinctive styling, the Tiger clearly stands out as unique in its class. During our test, we got a good sense of how versatile and capable the bike is, but it left us still craving more seat time.

We’d like to see how sporty the Tiger can get on dry asphalt and how well it matches up with other ‘Big Bikes’ on more-technical off-road terrain. And with all of its touring equipment, we are eager to get it out on some longer journeys too. For those of you who are ready to do your own testing, the 2018 Tiger 800’s should be hitting US dealership floors at the end of February.

2018 Triumph Tiger 800 XCa Specs

Engine Type:Liquid-cooled 12 valve, DOHC, in-line 3-cylinder
Displacement:800cc
Bore & Stroke:74.05 x 61.9mm
Max. Power Output:94 HP @ 9,500rpm
Max. Torque:58 ft-lbs @ 8,050rpm
Compression:11.3:1
Fuel System:Multipoint sequential EFI
Exhaust:Stainless steel 3 into 1 header system, stainless steel silencer
Clutch:Wet, multi-plate
Gearbox:6 speed
Final Drive:O-ring chain
Frame Type:Tubular steel trellis
Suspension (front):WP 43mm upside down forks with adjustable rebound and compression damping
Suspension Travel (front):8.7 in. (220mm)
Suspension (rear):Cast aluminium swing arm, WP mono-shock with remote oil reservoir, adjustable rebound, hydraulically-adjustable preload
Suspension Travel (rear):8.5 in. (215mm)
Brakes Front:Twin 305mm floating discs, Brembo 2 piston sliding capipers, Switchable ABS
Brakes Rear:Single 255mm disc, Nissin single piston sliding caliper, Switchable ABS
Tires Front:90/90-21 (inner tube)
Tires Rear:150/70-17 (inner tube)
Wheels Front:Wire spoke 21 x 2.15 in.
Wheels Rear:Wire spoke 17 x 4.25 in.
Seat Height (STD/Low):33.1/33.9 in.
Height (without mirrors):53.1 in.
Rake:23.4º
Trail:3.68 in.
Length:87.2 in.
Wheelbase:60.8 in.
Dry Weight:458.5 lbs. (208 kg)
Fuel Capacity:5.0 US Gallons
Fuel consumption:50 US mpg
Color Options:Korosi Red, Crystal White, Marine Green
Price:$15,850
Availability:End of February 2018

More details and specs on the 2018 Triumph Tiger 800 XC and XR line.

Photos by Kingdom Creative

Author: Rob Dabney
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16 thoughts on “8 Things To Know About the 2018 Triumph Tiger 800 XCa

    • I test rode the last gen model around 2015 thereabouts.

      The point that kept me from buying was the heat on to my legs from the motor. Unbearably Hot! So, how is the heat management on this latest model (The XCa model)?

      (I see they cured the other problem I had which prevented the sale: Poor off road handling).

      Also, I read about the lack of wind management change with dialing in change to the windshield height. Where approximately does the wind hit the rider? Forehead level? Over the top of the helmet?

      Thanks,

      • Hey Bob. I didn’t notice any excessive heat coming off the engine. It would have been welcomed in the cold weather for this ride. Wind is redirected to about the forehead level for a taller rider (high or low setting seemed about the same). Although, there still seemed to be a low level of wind coming behind the windscreen, like the wind is not completely blocked.

  1. Great review. Looks like Triumph has improved the bike in many areas which was long overdue. My interest is definitely piqued, can’t wait to give it a test ride once it hits dealerships.

  2. @advpulse do you know if they revised the access to the air filter? I had the older version of the bike which I loved but I dreaded air filter changes.

    • The XCx model variant is a lighter option you might want to consider. Check out point #6 where they mention what you get if you opt for that.

  3. I have a 2017 XCA that I bought last May. It’s a great bike, but I’ll admit I’m a little miffed about the new one only a year later. Nevertheless, I solved the first gear problem by dropping a tooth on the front sprocket.

    The various “ergo improvements” are nice but pointless if you customize the bike to yourself anyway. I added a 3″ riser, a better seat, new windscreen, etc. Fits me great. And the cruise control is AWESOME. Why the other bikes aren’t adding that is beyond me. Best thing ever! 🙂

  4. Can’t find it mentioned – Do the tires have inner tubes with the spoked wheels on 800 XCa or are they tubeless?

  5. The 2015 plus models handle rough dirt roads at speed with luggage easily. Triumph have sorted issues that owners had to at their own expense before. YesI would like to see removable pillion pegs and handles. The Unifilter pre-filter we all use to cope with dirt riding fits the 18 model. Good work designers.