Test Drives

By James Nixon

April 15, 2016

Abroad on the Triumph Tiger XCx

Photo: James Nixon

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Touring Iceland on a Triumph Tiger XCx has convinced me it’s an ideal bike for this beautiful—at times challenging—island. With 70 percent of the roads consisting of dirt or gravel, an adventure touring motorcycle—while not an absolute necessity—is a wise choice. (Even the Ring Road, Iceland’s major thoroughfare, isn’t entirely paved.)

According to Edelweiss tour guide Michael Kreuzmeir, even popular roads are often only graded once a year, in the spring. With the right combination of precipitation and traffic—of which there is plenty of the former—roads quickly become rough and rutted and generous suspension travel is a bonus.

Enter the Tiger XCx. The smooth-shifting 800 cc inline triple is a gem, with adequate power for the highway and plenty of pep for paved-or-otherwise twisties. Its supremely comfortable seating position is tops for touring, and even though my rental XCx has the low accessory seat ($290, adjustable for either 820 or 840 mm), its upper setting is acceptable for my 32-inch inseam. Its WP-brand suspension (220 mm front and 215 mm rear travel) is spot on for gravel and lighter off-roading. ABS is standard.

The XCx has riding modes that favour dirt or asphalt, and, if you’re a riding god, you can shut everything off and high side all the way to heaven. Cruise control, hand guards, centrestand, sump guard, engine protection bars and two auxiliary power sockets are useful amenities. Edelweiss fitted our Tigers with Heidenau Scout dual-sport tires, as well as a full complement of luggage—tank bag ($200), aluminum panniers ($1,035) and aluminum top box ($535). Those accessories, plus the necessary mounting kits, are on top of a base price of $14,899.

The fuel gauge on my Edelweiss Tiger is faulty (it reads empty for the entirety of the trip), possibly the result of damage to the fuel level sensor sustained in a crash on the previous tour. It’s a problem your local Triumph dealer could remedy—except if you live in Iceland, where there are no Triumph dealers. A minor annoyance is that the button to adjust the heated grips is a lengthy stretch for my thumb. I also wish the riding modes could be adjusted from the handlebar, and not by pushing buttons on the dash. The pettiness of my complaints masks my fondness for the machine, however, and I certainly wouldn’t kick it out from under the duvet for eating smoked fish.