With a fresh formulation on the innovative 1215cc triple and a superbly smooth shaft-drive, the new Triumph Tiger Explorer 1200 - just call it the Explorer - is aimed squarely at the BMW R1200GS and clearly the design team's brief was to match or better the GS in every aspect. And even those with a wardrobe already full of Motorrad gear will think twice when upgrading, particularly as the price of the new Triumph leaves enough change for a new outfit.
BMW may have long nurtured the multi-cylinder adventure tourer category, but their success inevitably attracted Triumph who has enjoyed considerable success with the Tiger 800XC and hopes to do the same with the Explorer 1200.
Of course, with two heavyweight contenders so evenly matched in performance, features and accessories, picking a winner is subjective. But for me, the Explorer simply felt more comfortable and confidence-inspiring straight out of the box. Four days and near 2000 kilometres - more than half of it spent in the Flinders Ranges and on the Oodnadatta Track - produced none of the usual monkey butt, thigh cramp and arm pump that you'd expect after such an intensive ride. Even with the standard Tourance EXP hoops, the 1200 handled the washouts and corrugations exceptionally well - though if I were to spend more time on gravel than blacktop, I'd be exploring some Metzeler Karoos.
The Explorer is in no way as hardcore as the KTM 990, but would comfortably take on such legendary adventures such as Birdsville, Tanami, Gibb River and then the Gunbarrel on the return leg - and be far more comfortable on the bitumen in between. And when necessary, it will endure deep rutted sand for far longer than most adventure riders would ever care to.
And best of all, the Explorer is designed to run on unleaded or E-10, a comforting thought when you're 400km from the next Premium pump and cold beer. Plus the unit only needs a major service once every lap of Australia.
PERTINENT FACTS FOR THE EXPLORER
- Excellent ergos for long distances
- Adjustable seat height
- 350km to 400km fuel range
- 100Nm torque from 2500rpm to redline (in 6th)
- Great ride-by-wire response
- Full suite of accessories
- 24 month unlimited km warranty
Whitaker testing out the Explorer's water crossing abilities