Reflections on XC800

We’ve done about 2 1/2 thousand km, so I’ll offer my opinion on the bike so far.

*Good
The engine is a gem. It will happily drone for many hours at cruising speed without causing any rider fatigue through vibration. It will also chug along rotten roads, sometimes up steep hills, just using torque and without needed to speed-up. And there’s plenty of power for “take it or leave it” overtaking opportunities, even two-up with luggage. This happens about every 5 minutes on the busy roads between Balikpapan and Bontang.

The bike is mechanically reliable. It has not missed a beat. It has stood up to the awful conditions strongly.

I added 80 ml of engine coolant yesterday. The level was mid-range, I just topped it up. No oil was needed at all.

*Could be better
It’s too heavy. All adventure bikes are too heavy, to the point where their ability to actually “adventure” is compromised. Many would say I could not do this trip on a lighter bike, but they’d be wrong. We would probably gave to compromise on what we carried, and live with less power. No problem, would be happy to do so for a 30 kg weight saving.

Seats are a bit ordinary. We both have huge blisters on our asses that have now scabbed over. The riders seat is average; the pillion seat is poor.

Lack of adjustment for fuel types is a bad oversight. I spoke about this with Triumph Tech before the trip. They said it could self adapt for Indonesian fuels at 87 RON. I can say for certain it pings. It is manageable, unlike my BMW which pinged badly and had to be babied at times. The only safe way to do this is to have selectable ignition timing maps. Please consider, Mr Triumph.

Ergonomics are pretty weird. I have Triumph tall bar risers and ROX risers, and handlebars turned up and back. This makes the reach OK when sitting, plus I can stand with straight legs and straight back. I am average height and have longer than average average arms. The bike should be configured this way from the factory. Anybody with shorter arms would be permanently stretching forward on the Tiger.

*Poor
Gear ratios are all wrong on the Tiger and everybody knows it. It requires constant clutch slippage to negotiate heavy traffic or badly rutted tracks. First gear is too high, by quite a long way. At the other end, its screaming away at 4000 rpm at a miserable 90 km/h. Way, way too low. Whoever signed off on the gear ratios must have been out taking a whiz when the original design specs were announced. Adv bikes need a wide range. Isn’t it blindingly obvious?

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