2012 Triumph Tiger Explorer First Look

November 8, 2011
Ken Hutchison
Ken Hutchison
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The ulcers keep piling on for the warden of the MotoUSA asylum. With the inmates running rampant around the globe, Hutch has opted to get in on the madness more these days than in years past and is back in the saddle again.

The 2012 Triumph Explorer also features traction control as part of the base model. The Triumph TC system can also be switched on and off.
The 2012 Triumph Tiger Explorer features traction control, cruiser control and ABS brakes as part of the base model. The TC system can also easily be switched on and off.

The exciting news from Triumph is the official launch of the 2012 Triumph Tiger Explorer, an all-new Adventure Touring motorcycle that is poised to make an immediate impact on the ADV rider scene. Triumph has been working on this project for a while now and it shows with the release of a good looking motor bike with a laundry list of high tech goodies right out of the gate including traction control, ABS and cruise control on the base model.

Just looking at the new Triumph Tiger Explorer is enough to understand what the British marque is going for. This is a purpose built adventure touring motorcycle aimed directly at the GS. The tall stature, single-sided swingarm, pointed beak of a front fender and open, exposed trellis frame all beg the Explorer to be compared to a GS. And you know it will be put head-to-head against all the existing Adventure Touring bikes as well as a whole new crop from the Japanese OEMs as well. Enough of the speculation though, let’s get to the facts…

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Get the full feel for the ’12 Tiger Explorer in our 2012 Triumph Tiger Explorer video.

At the heart of the 2012 Triumph Explorer is a 1215cc Inline Triple that is claimed to produce an impressive 135 horsepower and 89 lb-ft of torque, both at 6400 rpm measured at the crank. As we have experienced in the past, the Triumph engines are typically quick-revving and offer loads of torque. If they essentially super-sized the small-bore Tiger 800, then we are really excited at the prospect of riding its big brother. If these performance numbers are close to reality then it will be challenging the BMW and Super Tenere for runner-up to the mighty Multistrada. That’s not necessarily a bad thing. With its peak power production coming in at around 6400 rpm, the Triumph Triple seems destined to be a low revving tractor which bodes well for its off-road potential and MPG.

A ride-by-wire throttle system will work with the traction control and cruise control to provide spot-on power to the rear wheel via a shaft-driven single-sided swingarm. The shaft drive system is of particular interest because of the layout Triumph uses. Apparently the shaft-drive unit was developed using a two-part ‘metalistic’ shaft that features a ‘rubber component’ that attached the two-part shaft within the swingarm. Obviously, the goal is to reduce driveline lash, so it will be interesting to see how the Triumph technology works. Triumph says the service interval will be 10,000-miles and since it is claimed to offer a smoother riding experience, when you are logging long miles in the saddle, smooth is usually a good thing.

2012 Triumph Explorer
2012 Triumph Tiger Explorer has everything you could desire in an Adventure Touring Motorcycle on paper. Time will tell how it works in the real world.

Speaking of comfort, the saddle is one of many keys to the success of an adventure touring bike. For the Triumph Explorer the seat height is adjustable with a range of 33.1 inches on the lowest setting to as high as 33.9 inches with the tallest accessory seat. The wind screen is adjustable but there is no word on whether that is electronically or manually adjustable. A large, lockable under seat storage area will keep valuables safe and secure.

The chassis is based around a tubular steel trellis frame. Suspension and braking components include an adjustable 46mm Kayaba inverted fork. A single Kayaba shock offers adjustable preload and rebound. A pair of 305mm rotors will work with traditionally mounted 4-piston Nissin calipers. Switchable ABS is standard equipment on the 2012 Triumph Explorer and when it came time to bolt-on the ABS unit, Triumph took note of the rumblings form our test riders and consumers as well as the new unit allows riders to easily turn the ABS on and off based on the riding conditions. Wheels and tires tend to point toward the Explorer’s intentions even further. A 19-inch front is a sign that Triumph wants the bike to be capable off-road and a skinny, 15-series 17-inch rear tire further hints that knobby tires will be easier to find than if they had used an ultra-wide 180- 190-series tire.

Triumph is making a big fuss over the rider interface of the Explorer. Starting with the adjustable ride height and windscreen and ending with the LCD dash. The onboard computer offers an array of information which is switchable through thumb switches on the bars. It includes a pair of trip meters that offer miles ridden, time spent riding, average speed, average fuel consumption, instant fuel consumption and range to empty. As any good ADV rider will tell you, knowing your limits is critical to a successful ride too. In addition to the trip info there is also an odometer, a readout for the optional Tire Pressure Monitoring System, heated seat indicator, cruise control info, service interval warning lights and an ambient temperature gauge with freeze warning.

2012 Triumph Explorer 2012 Triumph Explorer
2012 Triumph Tiger Explorer adventure bike colors include the Sapphire Blue shown
here (Right), as well as Phantom Black (Left) and Graphite versions.

A high capacity 950 watt generator is of particular interest. This is a coil-style generator rather than magnet-style which Triumph has geared off the clutch. According to the PR this system has an advantage over the traditional magnetic style in that it reduces heat and drag while producing more power in the lower revs. Triumph feels the generator will easily support a wide array of accessories including additional lighting, heated riding gear, rider-friendly navigation components, GPS and whatever else you can think of sticking into a socket that will make your long ride even better.
Taking a cue from rival OEM BMW – Triumph will offer a wide range of Explorer Accessory products which are listed on a sidebar to the right. They include 60-liter panniers, 35-liter top box capable of holding a full face helmet that has an integrated power port, heated seats, heated grips and a variety of crash guards to protect your Explorer from getting beat up when riding in treacherous conditions both off-road and on the street. They will also offer a line of Adventure Clothing that will include jackets, jeans, boots and gloves.

A cavernous 5.3 gallon fuel tank should allow the 2012 Triumph Explorer  to offer decent range.
The 2012 Triumph Tiger Explorer should get you to the edge and beyond. This is good news for the AT crowd.

After years of watching rival European brands reap the rewards of its Adventure Touring motorcycles, Triumph has finally stepped up and built one of its own. At first glance, the 2012 Triumph Explorer looks to have all the right pedigrees to make an impact on the ADV market. It looks industrial and durable plus it has a long list of high tech goodies that will be alluring to new and seasoned ADV riders alike. All that is left now is to ride the thing. Stay tuned as the press introduction for the Triumph Explorer should give us a glimpse of how it will stack up in what is shaping up to be the most highly anticipated Adventure Touring Shootout since the last one (2011 Adventure Touring Shootout).

There is no word on MSRP or availability of the Tiger Explorer but we will let you know as soon as that information is made available.