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2011 Middleweight ADV Touring Comparo Conclusion

Monday, 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. 

Videos Our Sponsor
2011 BMW F800GS Comparison Video
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BMW is under attack in the middleweight adventure market. Watch it in our 2011 BMW F800GS Comparison Video.
Videos Our Sponsor
2011 Triumph Tiger  800 XC Comparison Video
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See the new ADV challenger in action with the 2011 Triumph Tiger 800 XC Comparison Video.

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martinidry   October 2, 2011 09:04 PM
Best, most thorough comparison between these 2 bikes I've found - after a lot of looking. Good one.
themountain   June 7, 2011 06:22 PM
Very nice comparison...I would like to throw a leg over the triumph , the beamer is a awesome bike in all aspects...hope other companies will offer something like that too(HELLO HONDA !!!)
ridingdirtymaui   June 2, 2011 07:36 AM
Did anyone ever think to do a comparrison with the KTM 990? I realize the displacement is larger, but the overall size and purpose of the bike is in line these two.
Scoot   June 1, 2011 11:34 AM
I will take the tried and true BMW as I do not like copy cats. The Triumph might be a nice bike and a good copy but I will always take the real deal anytime. The BMW can't be beat - it has the years of experience and is time tested.
ridingdirtymaui   June 1, 2011 11:18 AM
Thankfully, the article was much more about comparing the bikes than either video. Since the videos were seperate, they felt more like a commercial.

Basically, it looks like this: If the bike is going to be a daily driver, get the BMW (gas isn't going to get much cheaper!). If you intend on going on an adventure (plenty of dirt and gravel), get the Triumph. Otherwise, you can't go wrong...
OhioPT   May 30, 2011 05:49 PM
Great, unbiased comparison test. You are one of the first publications to actually test the bike in the dirt. Congrats! Did you happen to measure the unladen ground clearance of the bikes? From just looking at them the Triumph appears to have less, but I could be wrong. I test rode the 800XC last week and managed to scrape my boot on a tight right hander, which shocked me because I thought the bike was supposed to have a lot of clearance. I'm 225 lbs though, so maybe the shock preload was set too low??
guambra2001   May 30, 2011 09:28 AM
Great review! Triumph all the way... But I still kind of like the looks of the BMW.