Motorcycle Review: 2007 Triumph Tiger 1050

Triumph Tiger 1050
Dédélembrouille/CC BY-SA 2.5/Wikimedia Commons 

For years, the Triumph Tiger has enjoyed a reputation as a tried and true adventure bike, a motorcycle ready for both pavement and soil.

When the Tiger grew long in the tooth, though, Triumph engineers re-imagined its purpose. For the 2007 model year, they chose to give it the personality of a sport touring bike, endowing it with a bigger 1,050cc engine (versus the previous 955cc mill), sharper-edged bodywork, and all new mechanicals.

The 2007 Triumph Tiger is priced at $10,699 ($11,899 for the ABS version), while the 2008 MSRP has been bumped to $10,999 and $11,799 with ABS.

Looking Over the 2007/2008 Triumph Tiger

First on the long list of improvements for the 2007 Triumph Tiger (and the 2008 version, which is essentially the same bike) is a new aluminum frame and swingarm, replacing the tubular steel piece from the previous model. Claimed dry weight has been reduced a significant 41 lbs, from 474 to 436. The engine has been enlarged from 955cc to 1,050cc, and the new powerplant produces 114 horsepower at 9,400 rpm, and 74 ft-lbs of torque at 6,250 rpm. Though a formidable powerplant, the engine's exterior finish had a disappointing finish, with ripples and irregularities that suggest cost-cutting and a lack of attention to detail.

The forks are now inverted, and feature adjustable preload, rebound and compression damping. The rear monoshock has adjustable preload and compression and rebound. 17" cast aluminum wheels all around wear thicker rubber-- 120/70 ZR 17s up front, and 180/55 ZR 17s at the rear.

Seat height drops from 33.1 to 32.8 inches, and while the bike is still relatively tall, the 3/10 inch reduction will make a noticeable difference for most riders.

The reduced weight, increased power, and more aggressive tires make the Tiger a considerably more formidable street machine, though long distance riders will be disappointed to learn that the fuel capacity has been cut from 6.3 to 5.2 gallons.

Hitting the Road: How Does She Ride?

When I sampled the previous generation 2006 model year Tiger, I wasn't initially crazy about it. Not only was I put off by the large tiger stripe graphics on the side and the round, twin headlights, it took me a while to enjoy the experience of riding the thing. Fast forward a few days and a couple hundred miles, and I really started to "get" the Tiger. Its torquey triple pulled strongly from low rpms, considerable suspension travel soaked up bumps well, and it was fun to flick the bike around turns-- but, I still wasn't sold on the bike's looks.

Being handed the keys to an all-new 2007 Tiger was an entirely different experience. Not only is the bike more contemporary looking, it's more lighter, powerful, and even more willing to tear up the urban terrain. While it lost its dual purpose edge through street tires and a more aggressive suspension, the new Tiger is even more fun to ride. Radially mounted brakes up front provide more feel, and the 4-piston, 320mm dual disc setup offer sure-footed stops.

The Tiger's riding position is upright and slightly forward, reinforcing the bike's new image as a sport tourer. The 3-cylinder engine offers strong thrust throughout the powerband, and dishes out nearly as much entertainment as many all-out sportbikes, with the added benefit of that wonderful triple exhaust note. High revs make sounds akin to ripping canvas (though the Tiger isn't as mean sounding as its more feral sibling, the Speed Triple.)

Around town, the Tiger's smooth and well-suited to spirited urban romps... but how does she handle the long haul? Read on.

The Real Test: Spanning Cities in the Triumph Tiger

While testing the Tiger, I decided to use it to ride from Los Angeles to Monterey, California for the 2007 USGP, a journey which added a total of 963 miles to the bike's odometer.

While the bike appeared well-suited to short jaunts, I was a bit concerned about its long distances abilities-- after all, spending hours in the saddle is considerably more taxing than grabbing groceries or riding to the gym.

On the highway, the Tiger's small windshield enables wind to pass across the rider's chest-- not as ideal as, say, making the flow go over the helmet, but then again the Tiger isn't focused solely on touring. The sensation of wind across the chest becomes easy to acclimate to, and reminds you of the "sport" aspect of "sport touring."

While the suspension feels cushy and sometimes even floaty at lower speeds, accelerating to higher velocities provides a stable ride on straightaways. Windy roads make the front end feel a bit squishy at times, even when the forks are in their stiffest settings. Gear changes are clean and "clicky," and the six ratios encourage long-winded acceleration runs thanks to the flexible engine. Simple controls dominate the Tiger's cockpit, and a combination of analog and digital gauges offer trip computer functions, including a handy "miles to empty" display.

The Tiger's removable saddlebags are sometimes a bit fussy to lock and unlock, but their storage capacity and the fact that they become hard suitcases when removed makes them worthwhile.

In all, the Triumph Tiger is a surprisingly capable long distance bike.

Conclusion: A Bike For All Seasons

After piling on the miles, I was pleasantly surprised by the 2007 Triumph Tiger. Though fuel stops are now more frequent thanks to the smaller tank, virtually everything else about the bike is considerably better. While I would have preferred stiffer front forks, easier to use saddlebag latches, and a higher quality finish on the engine surfaces, the Triumph performed admirably during some very demanding, high-speed touring miles. Power from the 1,050cc triple was never lacking, and while entirely comfortable, the Tiger also offered an entertaining and dynamic ride.

While some riders might prefer a sportier bike with more aggressive ergonomics for canyon carving, or a more sedate bike for touring, the 2007 Triumph Tiger offers a well-balanced combination that makes it a great all-around bike.

Starting at $10,999 for the non-ABS 2008 model, the Tiger is very competitively priced considering its performance capabilities, practicality, and ease of use. If you're looking for a focused bike that's extremely good at one thing, you might want to look elsewhere. But, for an excellent do-it-all motorcycle, it's hard to go wrong with the Triumph Tiger.