2011 Middleweight ADV Touring Comparo Conclusion

JC Hilderbrand | May 30, 2011
As similar as these two machines are, they’re also completely different. Twin vs. Triple, Showa vs. Marzocchi, linkage vs. fixed shock… The important thing is that they both accomplish the same goal. Either bike makes a great adventure touring machine and the differences are enough that riders can pick which minute details are more in-line with their riding needs.

2011 Middleweight Adventure Touring Comparison - Horsepower
A look at the Dyno Chart reveals the BMW F800GS surges through the midrange, but doesn’t make horsepower like the Triumph Tiger in the upper end of the rev range.

The Triumph is supremely smooth, and the high-revving nature of its Triple makes it feel extra aggressive on the twisty pavement. It’s a little wider than the BMW, but feels much lighter in the saddle. The BMW is torquey and the clutch handles low-speed situations much better. The way it settles into corners on the street is effortless but its front end is less confident in the dirt. It was pretty difficult for our test riders to pick the best, but ultimately they both came to the same conclusion.

JC Hilderbrand – Off-Road Editor – Triumph Tiger 800 XC
Choosing between these two bikes was almost impossible for me. I’ve done plenty of comparison testing and usually am pretty sure of my personal favorite. I’ve never had qualms about picking a bike that isn’t the “best” bike in the test. It’s about what I want, need and which bike I can identify with. The BMW endeared itself to me over the past few years in a big way. It’s hard to explain how much I like the F800GS, so for the Triumph to come in and win me away was a big challenge. During the test, every time I’d get on the BMW I’d say “Oh, yeah… This is the bike for me.” Then I’d get on the Triumph and say the exact same thing, and then switch back, over and over.

I definitely like the Beemer’s creature comforts, but the pricetags are almost identical by the time the Tiger gets a few upgrades. I’d take the optional ABS in a heartbeat, install heated grips and live without a few nifty computer gizmos. Even without the bells and whistles, the Tiger feels a little more put together. Brakes, gearbox and chassis are all a little tighter, and the suspension really sold me on the package.

2011 Middleweight Adventure Touring Comparison - Torque
Even though it is down on torque, the Tiger 800 builds power so smoothly compared the F800 GS. However, the BMW has a clear advantage until 8000 rpm where the Tiger passes it.

I still think the BMW has more character and I love the Twin engine, but until I can bolt the Tiger’s fork and shock onto the German, the Triumph is just a bit better.

Justin Dawes – Associate Editor – Triumph Tiger 800 XC
Not quite as good looking as the BMW. The lack of bodywork on the rear subframe looks unfinished to me. The rest of the bike looks like a copy of a BMW F800GS with the newest generation of Triumph head lights. Handling in the dirt is amazing for such a big bike, but it felt like a dual sport on the street, like you had to pay attention and be careful in corners. The BMW would be my pick if I was to spend 90% of my time on the street due to the handling in the paved corners and the reach to the bars. Any more dirt duty than that, and I give my vote to the Triumph.

The Tiger has such a sweet engine. With knobs in the dirt, riding higher in the revs would be the hot ticket. For the street the engine is perfect. It makes some serious power on the top end which is good for blasting down the freeway and making passes on two-lane roads. The meaty midrange is great in the twisty mountain roads.

Although the BMW is the standard that all others are judged by, there is a new judge in town – the Tiger. Triumph beat BMW at its own game. 

BMW is under attack in the middleweight adventure market. Watch it in our 2011 BMW F800GS Comparison Video.


JC Hilderbrand

Off-Road Editor| Articles | Hilde is holding down the fort at MotoUSA’s Southern Oregon HQ. With world-class dirt bike and ATV trails just minutes away, the hardest part is getting him to focus on the keyboard. Two wheels or four, it doesn’t matter to our Off-Road Editor so long as it goes like hell in the dirt.

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