Ollie Rooke swells with pride as his Tiger takes its first steps off-road.
There has been something in the water recently. A few weeks after ABR Editor Bryn had his firstborn, I found myself travelling down to Folkestone to celebrate another new addition to the world with two of my close friends who had a baby of their own.
Personally, I’m yet to become a father, but as I set off down south, my mind wandered to the challenges that I’d face in the future as a new parent. The first day of school, first dates, and, of course, introducing my kids to the world of motorcycles. So, I started wondering, if my son or daughter was in the market for their first ‘big’ motorcycle, what would I recommend? Their old man would obviously point them firmly in the direction of an adventure bike, and a mid-capacity one at that, but that would lead them headfirst into one of the most hotly contested sectors of the market right now.
There are some cracking mid-weight adventure bikes around but I’d happily argue that the bike I found myself riding to Folkestone that day, the Triumph Tiger 900 Rally Pro, would be a worthwhile stop on any rider’s adventure biking journey. Whether you’re a seasoned overlander, stepping down from a larger capacity bike, or looking to buy your first ‘big’ bike, my reasoning is simple: The Rally Pro is a great all-rounder and so damn easy to ride.
With time to burn on my way to the coast, I followed a route down south that would prove my thesis on a selection of roads that any adventure bike worth its salt would be fun to ride on. There were twisties in the Kent hills, some green lanes I’d researched in the ABR Digital Library, as well as a few A-roads and motorway blasts to make swift progress on.
Starting off on the motorway, the touring credentials of the Rally Pro were evident. The screen cuts through the air efficiently leaving little turbulent air in its wake. The triple-cylinder engine also provides enough top-end power for it to get a wriggle on in the fast lane during overtakes, and then some. Having said that, I did notice some buzzing from the handlebars as I pushed the speedo up towards 5,500rpm in top gear, so much so my hands became numb. Sure, it only happened at high speeds, but it’s something that will hamper all-day comfort for some riders.
In the twisties, the bike is nimble, zippy, and exciting to ride. However, I did notice some vagueness from the big 21-inch front hoop when I was pushing hard into tight corners. It’s a self-inflicted compromise that comes with the specific off-road focus of the Rally Pro, but it’s one I’m happy to make because boy, the Tiger is good off-road.
The handful of Kent byways I’d selected were made up of loose gravel, hard-packed dirt, as well as the tricky Trottiscliffe steps. Despite sporting road-biased tyres, the bike instantly felt at home off-road. The standing position was intuitive, the offroad traction control allowed me to kick out the back end without getting out of shape, and the off-road ABS allowed me to lock up and slide to a stop when required. The bike also took the 40 railway sleepers of the Trottiscliffe steps, each rising around 6-8’ and covered in loose gravel, with the sure-footed prowess of a mountain goat.
As I arrived at my friend’s house for the evening after a great day in the saddle, I felt like a proud parent myself as I checked out the Triumph for one final time. The Rally Pro is a proper all-rounder, nonchalantly soaking up everything I could throw at it without getting bent out of shape or leaving me feeling out of my depth. And, when it comes to an adventure bike, that’s a hell of a quality.