Without a doubt, the most hotly contested segment in motorcycling today is the mid-displacement Adventure bike category.
Now that people have come to grips with the fact huge, big-displacement ADVs are a lot to handle, the (slightly) more sensible among us have asked for a lighter, more manageable alternative without giving up any of the fun. Triumph answered the call with the Tiger 900 Rally.
Competing in a field that’s also occupied with very capable bikes from BMW, KTM, and even Yamaha, the Tiger 900 Rally and Rally Pro are Triumph’s most dedicated ADV middleweights to date. Let’s break them down.
What Sets It Apart?
What does it mean when to have a “dedicated” ADV bike, anyway? In the case of the 900 Rally lineup, it means a focus on off-road suspension and wheels that separates it from the 900 GT family which prefers to see more of its miles taken on the pavement.
The most obvious difference is the switch to 21-/17-inch wire wheels compared to the 17-inch front the GT wears. The Rally doesn’t use tubes, so you can decide for yourself whether that’s a good thing for you or not.
Going off-road means you’ll need more suspension travel, and the Rally models come through with a fork and shock from Showa (the GT models get Marzocchi suspension) offering 9.4 and 9.0 inches of travel front and rear, respectively.
If you need more than that, then maybe a dirt bike is what you should be looking for. Both the front and rear are adjustable for spring preload and rebound damping, but only the fork lets you adjust compression damping as well.
Lightness is key no matter what you ride, but especially off-road. With this in mind, Triumph claims the Rally Pro is 20 pounds lighter than the previous XCc. The weight reduction comes from a number of areas, not least of which is the lighter steel trellis frame and bolt-on aluminum subframe.
There are some cool dirt bike-inspired touches too, like split radiators that allow the front wheel to be closer to the center of the bike. Overall, the Rally is a little narrower than before with better ergonomics for hitting the trails.
A defining feature of the Tiger line is its three-cylinder engine. Now it gets a bump to 900cc for even more power and torque. At the same time, new firing order is said to make it easier to manage and as engaging as ever.
It still keeps that distinctive exhaust note three-cylinders are known for while adding 9% more power compared to the old engine. Triumph says peak power is 94 horses and torque is up 10% from before.
Let’s talk electronics for a minute. Nearly every good motorcycle these days has them, and the Tiger 900 Rally is no exception. The first thing you’ll see is the 7-inch TFT display. It’s hard to miss, and thankfully it’s nice to look at.
What you won’t see is the sophisticated cornering ABS and traction control hardware and software. The Rally also gets six riding modes, along with LED lighting, heated grips, cruise control, handguards, and secure cell phone storage with a built-in charger.
Bump up to the Tiger 900 Rally Pro and you’ll have access to the My Triumph connectivity system. Not only does this allow you to connect to and operate your phone via Bluetooth – including access to your calls, music, and navigation – but it also lets you control your GoPro, all from the handlebar. As far as we know, no other brand has that capability.
If electronic gadgets aren’t your thing, the Rally Pro also offers things that make the ride experience better, like Triumph Shift Assist for clutchless gear changes up or down, a tire pressure monitoring system, as well as heated front and rear seats, and LED fog lights.
Is It ADV Worthy?
Usually when a manufacturer builds a motorcycle to handle both on-road and off-road situations well, it ends up doing neither. Some could say the old Tiger family fell into this category.
With the Tiger 900 Rally family, though, Triumph realized it had to make a clear separation between the GT family for road use and the Rally family for adventure riding.
With more suspension travel, wire-spoke wheels, proper tires, better ergonomics, a more powerful engine, and a laundry list of electronic aids, it’s safe to say the Tiger 900 Rally can tackle just about any ADV route you’d take any of its competitors.
The reason should be obvious – because Triumph has aimed this motorcycle directly at the mid-size ADV competition. And we’re not the only ones saying it; other sites and reviewers all over the world are realizing the same thing.
KTM, BMW, and even Yamaha are getting attention for their mid-size ADVs, but don’t sleep on the Triumph. This complete revamp of the Tiger 900 is for real and places it in the list of motorcycles you should consider if you’re in the market in this hotly contested category.
Triumph doesn’t follow the established rules when it comes to its motorcycles, and while the rest of the field gets by with two cylinders, Triumph proudly breaks the mold with a third. Couple that with the rest of the Tiger’s features, and it’s a sleeper in the category.
So we come back to the original question at the top of this post: Is the Triumph Tiger 900 Rally ADV worthy? By now you should know your answer.