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ADV NewsIsle of Man Champ Takes On 24-Hour Off-Road Trial On Tiger 1200

Isle of Man Champ Takes On 24-Hour Off-Road Trial On Tiger 1200

The first time a big-bore ADV finishes the famous Australian endurance race.

Published on 10.21.2022
Isle of Man Champ Takes On 24-Hour Off-Road Trial On Tiger 1200 Rally Pro

We’ve seen Triumph’s Tiger Rally Pro 900 in recent headlines, grabbing impressive finishes in both Spain’s Bassella Enduro Race and Baja Aragon Rally with enduro champ Ivan Cervantes at the helm. Now it’s time for Triumph’s all-new flagship Tiger 1200 Rally Pro to enjoy its moment of glory, having over the summer become the world’s first large-capacity adventure bike to conquer the grueling HARDI Australia 24 Hour Trial, a behemoth in a sea of lightweight enduro bikes. 

This event isn’t some local fun ride, but rather a highly respected and extremely difficult endurance race — a test of machine and rider that’s been run in South Australia since 1924. It’s not a tag team kind of thing, but rather one hardy rider enduring four, six hour laps covering difficult terrain in freezing temperatures (remember the Aussie winter is our summer). Each lap comprises 12 timed competitive sections and 13 transit legs. Four 15 minute breaks are included to fuel bikes and riders. 

Isle of Man Champ Takes On 24-Hour Off-Road Trial On Tiger 1200 Rally Pro

Triumph tapped two-time Isle of Man TT champion Cameron Donald to pilot one of two Tiger 1200 Rally Pros, the other was guided by Cameron’s best mate, Donald Owen, an Expert class enduro rider who also races road and motocross. In a high-quality, Triumph-produced video, you have a ringside seat watching these buddies — just two weeks before the trial — become acquainted with the heavy adventure bikes, skeptical at first of the 1200’s potential to perform in such a brutal event, where the “normal” entry is 250-450cc. 


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Cameron laughs that the whole thing was kind of a joke at first, but when he swings a leg over the stately 1200 for the first time he says things felt serious, fast. The pair went about making adjustments to their bikes’ handlebar and gear lever positions, saying even though those sound like minor things they made a huge difference. Their first go was also on the stock tires, which would be upgraded to aggressive, road-legal knobbies ahead of the Trial. 

Isle of Man Champ Takes On 24-Hour Off-Road Trial On Tiger 1200 Rally Pro

Additionally, the bikes were fitted with Triumph accessory upper protection bars and an 0.8-inch LED light bar to aid visibility at night, while center stands and pillion mounts were removed. Otherwise, the Rally Pro models were completely stock.

The two riders quickly warmed up to the big bike, a new machine from the ground up for 2023 with a raft of improvements pointed at off-road adventure riding. There is a 21”/18” spoked wheelset and purpose-built off-road suspension with 8.66 inches (220mm) of travel front and rear, as well as a new dual-sided swingarm and a 55-pound weight reduction over the 1200 XC the Rally Pro replaced. Its new T-Plain 1160cc triple also pumps out an aggressive 147.9 horsepower and 96 ft-lbs of torque. And being the comfy, amenity-laden travel machine it is, the guys of course packed up their kit and rode their 1200 Rally Pros 8 hours from home to the start of the 24 hour endurance event. 

Isle of Man Champ Takes On 24-Hour Off-Road Trial On Tiger 1200 Rally Pro

After arriving in high style, they were somewhat dismayed to be told by a competitor who had finished the race 24 times that this year’s course was by far the most technically difficult ever. “A lot of people told us we were crazy, not expecting us to finish a single lap let alone four laps to finish the race,” said Cameron. 

The longtime friends, whose immediate intention was simply to finish the grueling endurance event, did have a friendly competition about which of the two might have the quickest accumulated stage times. As it turned out, a freezing temperature-worn Donald Owen would smash his front wheel into a deep, square-edge hole during the 16th hour and be unable to carry on with his bike, instead turning his attention to supporting Cameron to get to the finish line.

Isle of Man Champ Takes On 24-Hour Off-Road Trial On Tiger 1200 Rally Pro

By all accounts the course was both grueling and highly technical – not the ideal terrain for a 550-pound, 1200cc adventure bike. “There were boobytraps everywhere, including ledges four-feet high and bulldust two-feet deep, often hiding rocks and roots,” says Cameron of gnarliest sections, which he would ride 4 times over the 24-hour period, though he says the bike’s 21-inch front wheel and heft, which translated to momentum, actually gave it a “point-and-shoot” feel.  

“You had to be careful in the tight, technical terrain but, once it opened up, the Tiger 1200 was unstoppable.” He also said the transit sections were awesome thanks to the bike’s roominess, plush seat, heated grips, cruise control and the shaft drive, which negated stops for chain lubrication. 

In the competitive stages Cameron says riding in the Off-Road Pro mode ensured the Tiger 1200 Rally Pro’s power delivery “was nice, linear and easy to use – exactly what you want when you’re in super tight, technical terrain that would test a 250!” 

Of the 138 competitors who entered this year’s HARDI Australia 24 Hour Trial Cameron was one of the hardcore 91 riders who finished the event, settling up in 60th position out of 75 two-wheeled entrants.

Isle of Man Champ Takes On 24-Hour Off-Road Trial On Tiger 1200 Rally Pro

Though Cameron was gutted his friend Donald didn’t make the finish line, he made another deep connection during his time on the 1200 Rally Pro. “I formed a special relationship with that bike,” he says. “We struggled, we argued, we laughed, we cried, but I brought her home safe,  just as she brought me. Together, we crossed the finish line. I can’t believe we did it! I feel as if I’ve won a race!”

Cameron’s advice for those riding large displacement adventure bikes like Triumph’s Tiger 1200 Rally Pro? And really these sage words apply to just about everything in life: “As long as you’re going forward, you’re fine.”

Photos by Triumph Motorcycles

Author: Jamie Elvidge

Jamie has been a motorcycle journalist for more than 30 years, testing the entire range of bikes for the major print magazines and specializing in adventure-travel related stories. To date she’s written and supplied photography for articles describing what it’s like to ride in all 50 states and 43 foreign countries, receiving two Lowell Thomas Society of American Travel Writer’s Awards along the way. Her most-challenging adventure yet has been riding in the 2018 GS Trophy in Mongolia as Team AusAmerica’s embedded journalist.

Author: Jamie Elvidge
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