What’s it like to live with the Triumph Tiger 900 Rally Pro through winter?

triumph

Ollie Rooke turns on his heated seat and assesses the Tiger 900’s winter riding credentials

A winter in the Midlands is no place for a Tiger. Or is it?

Over the past few weeks, my Triumph Tiger 900 Rally Pro has come into its own during some particularly harsh weather, which I’ve appreciated as I saddle up each day to tackle the cold, rain, and ice.

That’s not to say winter riding hasn’t taken its toll on the Triumph. It has acquired a near-permanent layer of road crud which, despite my best efforts, seems to return with a vengeance at the end of my 30-mile commute, no matter how much I clean it.

But despite its filthy exterior attracting plenty of ridicule aimed at yours truly in the ABR office, I think the Tiger’s new look has given it a rugged edge that may have been missing previously. Adventure bikes are made to get dirty after all.

But there’s more to the Triumph’s winter performance than wearing winter road crud with pride, with a number of features making cold weather riding a more enjoyable experience than it otherwise would be.

Top of that list is the heated seat which, at the flick of a switch, bathes my backside in a cosy warmth that travels throughout my upper body, keeping my core warm as I ride. It’s a such a simple but effective way to stay warm in the saddle during winter that I’m at a loss as to why more motorcycles don’t come with the feature.

I’ve been combining this luxury with a heated jacket and the two have done a brilliant job at keeping me toasty, which in turn makes me feel relaxed, loose, and quick to react when I ride.

However, I have been disappointed by the effectiveness of the Tiger’s heated grips which come as standard with the Rally Pro model. While they did a decent job during milder autumn weather, since the mercury has crept towards zero, it’s clear they don’t produce enough heat to noticeably warm up my hands.

I’ve also noticed the bike’s handguards are rather small and are poor at keeping cold winds off my fingers.

SPECS AT A GLANCE

PRICE: £13,100
ENGINE:
Liquid-cooled, 12 valve, DOHC, in-line 3-cylinder
CAPACITY:
888cc
SUSPENSION:
Front; Showa 45mm upside down forks, manual preload, rebound damping and compression damping adjustment, 240mm travel. Rear; Showa rear suspension unit, manual preload and rebound damping adjustment, 230mm wheel travel
BRAKES:
Front; Twin 320mm floating discs, Brembo Stylema 4 piston Monobloc calipers. Radial front master cylinder, Optimised Cornering ABS. Rear; Brembo single piston sliding caliper
WEIGHT:
201 kg (dry)
TANK CAPACITY:
20 litres
SEAT HEIGHT:
850-870mm

The same can’t be said for the screen which has more than proved its worth by ensuring freezing wind blast avoids much of my chest and shoulders, while also keeping buffeting to a minimum. A screen may be a simple piece of kit, but a well-designed one makes riding in winter so much more pleasurable. Top marks to Triumph on this front.

A more advanced feature on the bike is the switchable rider modes. I put them to good use this week when the roads outside my house looked more like Lapland than Leamington Spa. Ok, I’m exaggerating, but there have been plenty of mornings when there’s been a layer of ice on the road, or the rain has been lashing down.

In these tricky conditions, it’s been reassuring to switch the Tiger into rain mode to reign in the power delivery and tell the onboard computer to adapt the bike’s performance to slippery conditions. So far, it hasn’t put a hoop out of place, even when I’ve tried testing its limits to see just how effective those rider aids are.

Sadly, there are a few more months of chilly mornings ahead, but there aren’t many adventure bikes I’d prefer to tackle them on than the Tiger 900 Rally Pro.