Well, Ducati and Triumph seem to have taken a crack at emulating nature by developing their own exquisite versions of such predators. Although predators may actively avoid coming face-to-face with each other in the wild, we’ve managed to get these two tourers to battle it out in a competition of strength, versatility and value. Let’s start the fight here…
Desing and Style
The Tiger Explorer may not be the prettiest motorcycle out there but its menacing front facade with those large, dual headlights exudes a sense of purpose expected from an adventure motorcycle. The upswept, rugged jawline adds to its whole predatory appeal. It gets a tall, manually adjustable windscreen that is a bit difficult to operate. There are two knobs on either side of the fairing that need to be loosened before you can alter the height; so, adjusting the screen on the go will be impossible. It also gets these shrouded fog lights that sit below the fairing as a standard fitment, and really help with night riding, especially when off-roading.
When you first approach the Enduro, that front facade is sure to catch your eye. Its bird-of-prey-like front beak and that set of dual headlights with the manually adjustable, high flyscreen are a signature of the Multistrada series, although the Enduro version gets an even bigger front beak. Look beyond that and the proportions start to take on a more gargantuan nature. The 30-litre, bulbous fuel tank sits authoritatively in the centre, and that is what really stands out on the Enduro. The curves blend so seamlessly with the edges, there’s a nice, deep swoop into the seat. If anyone can make a purpose-built, adventure motorcycle look beautiful, it’s got to be the Italians. The rest of the seat, the pillion seat, and the rear end are shared with the other Multistrada models.
Features and Instruments
Just behind the windscreen of the Explorer is an LCD instrument cluster that uses handlebar-mounted thumb switches with the up/down scroll facility. Although, navigating through this menu is a bit of a complicated affair and can only be done when at a standstill. You do get a three-stage traction control (off, 1 and 2) and switchable ABS, but that’s about it. However, it misses out on more advanced electronics like power modes, a TFT screen and electronically adjustable suspension.
The Enduro, on the other hand, gets all the bells and whistles in terms of electronics. If you’ve ridden the other Multistrada models, the TFT instrument cluster is going to be rather familiar. It is well laid out, customisable, easy to read, and light-adaptive. But the Multistrada’s party trick is its rider modes that can be easily accessed via the toggle buttons on the left switchgear. This is the top-of-the-line Multistrada model, so everything from your suspension to your engine character can be controlled electronically. The four basic rider modes – Sport, Touring, Urban and Enduro – can be switched when on the go. But when stationary, you can go into each mode and customise the character of the Enduro even further.
The Explorer gets an aggressive-looking, well-chiseled 20-litre tank, while the Enduro gets a massive 30-litre one. However, when the Enduro is fully tanked up, it has the tendency to feel a bit top-heavy. The Tiger 1200 Explorer XC is a vehemently large motorcycle, but once you get astride this beast, it’s really not as intimidating as it appears. The seat is two-stage adjustable from 837mm to 857mm. At the lower 837mm setting, the seat doesn’t really feel that tall. I’m about 5ft 10in and my feet were sitting flat on the ground – a definite bonus when moving such a large motorcycle around with the engine off. Once you get a move on, the seat feels extremely comfortable and well cushioned. There’s a well-shaped taper to the front of the seat that allows you to grip the tank with your knees quite comfortably. The wide handlebars, however, do feel like a bit of a stretch thanks to the long tank. But once you get accustomed to this, you could ride for hours at triple-digit speeds. The tall, adjustable front windscreen shields you well from the wind blast that accompanies high speed.
Enduro is definitely a bike for taller, bigger built riders. With a non-adjustable 850mm seat height, it’s a bit of a daunting task getting astride (there are even taller options available at 870mm and 890mm). But once you get on, you’re sitting well inside the bike. The seat is enormously comfortable. The handlebars are nice and wide, and the front visor is manually adjustable and easy to use. And once you get it all the way up, the wind protection is just brilliant. Just a slight tuck in and you can hold this position all day with minimal fatigue from windblast. If you start to get a bit tired, all you have to do is stand up. The spiked pegs hold your feet in place brilliantly, and the tank has just the right contours to squeeze in your knees. The standing position on the Enduro feels so natural, you could probably stand and ride the entire day.
Engine and Performance
The heart and soul of the Tiger, however, is its motor. The fuel-injected 1,213cc engine has double overhead cams, with an inline triple-cylinder layout and ride-by-wire throttle. The 137hp of peak power and 121Nm of torque is directed to the rear wheel via a shaft drive that is not only durable, but also much lower on maintenance than a regular chain drive. This results in an extremely sharp throttle response that’s great for the road. But couple this up with the absence of power modes and it can complicate things a bit when riding in the dirt, although the traction control does smooth things out a bit. There’s a deep howl from the inline-triple, providing you with a pretty affable soundtrack. The torque is spread well across the rev range and pulling away from speeds as low as 25kph in third gear means you don’t have to work through the six-speed gearbox as much as you’d need to on the Enduro. If you decide to push the motorcycle, you’ll notice that it has a very strong and linear mid-range that tapers off into a not-so-punchy top end. But, all in all, this is a very tractable motor.
The Enduro gets Ducati’s Testastretta DVT (Desmodromic Valve Timing) engine which has immediate benefits on road and off. The engine pulls smoothly from 2,000rpm, ensuring you don’t have to shift the gears much. However, as with all Ducatis, you really have to keep an eye out for the false neutrals between fourth, fifth and sixth gears. The throttle response is sharp and power feels good as the revs climb, with the bike pulling noticeably harder at around the 6,000rpm mark. But it must be noted that the fuelling did feel a bit jerky in Urban mode. The 160hp produced is more than enough grunt for a motorcycle this large. Although, when off road, having it in Enduro mode with power limited to 100hp is definitely advisable. It’s more than enough power needed while in the dirt.
The Tiger 1200 Explorer XC is a genuinely likeable, rider-friendly motorcycle. It will get you across massive distances in utmost comfort as expected from a premium adventure tourer. The beautiful part about the Enduro is just how easy it is to ride, despite its gargantuan proportions. But this is not a motorcycle for just anybody and definitely not a motorcycle for the city. Even if it falls within your budget and you’re large enough to manage its size, you also need the kind of skills to really appreciate what it is really capable of. But we’re also aware that not everyone would demand that sort of potential from a motorcycle and not everybody is a great fan of dirt-riding or adrenaline surges. And the Explorer is right there to satiate the needs of the motorcyclists who aren’t big fans of electronics and tend to see this world in more subdued way.