At last! After what seems like an eternity we’ve ridden one of the bikes we’ve been most looking forward to in 2020. And it was well worth the wait.
Triumph’s triples have been awesome bikes bikes for a long time. The 800 Tigers did some challenging and glorious rides, and the idea of slightly more engine capacity in a slimmer, lighter package…how could anyone be anything but ecstatic? The more off-road Rally Pro – as opposed to the road-oriented GT Pro – is a clear evolution of the 800 Tigers and has abandoned none of the things which made those bikes so awesome.
The 900s are lighter than the 800s, carry more fuel, have Brembo Stylema Monobloc braking, and the My Triumph app allows the 17.8cm TFT screen to display whatever’s going on on the phone, including listening to music, reading texts, fielding calls and navigation, and the phone itself locks in a waterproof protective case, complete with a power supply, under the seat.
Lighting is all LED of course, and seeing as we had the Pro variant, there are six riding modes, heated grips, heated seats, shift assist, cornering ABS and traction control, tyre-pressure monitoring, and backlit switching.
The Rally Pro is beautifully finished and smacks of quality, Triumph claims 93hp from the 201kg dry-weight package, and suspension front and rear is Showa.
Plonking our backsides on the 900 was like sliding into a favourite pair of running shoes. Everything felt familiar and put us in the mood to take on the world. The seat height of between 850mm and 870mm – depending where one of the world’s easiest seat-height adjustments was set – meant our test riders could get their feet on the ground and still not feel cramped when riding, and the TFT screen and general layout of the cockpit and switching was pretty much what we’ve been used to on the Triumphs for some time. The left switchblock has the little joystick under the thumb which is the heart of the matter when it comes to finding and selecting modes and parameters, and there’s a small button with an ‘M’ to take the rider straight to the modes. On the right-hand switch block is another flat button with the graphic of a house on it which, if everything gets a little wobbly, returns the display to the ‘Home’ screen and lets the rider start again.
Naturally there’s all the usual controls for lighting, self-cancelling blinkers, horn and so forth.
The screen is interesting. It’s a spring-loaded affair, and adjusting the height is simply a matter of grabbing it, pushing forward and sliding it up or down to the desired position. It’s simple and effective and we used it a lot. On long road sections we had it at its full height and it did a good job of minimising the buffeting around the rider’s helmet. Off-road we slipped it down to its lowest position where it was well out of the way. We felt as though we adjusted it so often because it was so easy to do.
Naturally we pulled the rubber inserts out of the footpegs, and – a huge salute to Triumph for listening to its customers – noticed the rear footpeg mounts and subframe are now detachable. Hallelujah. The rear ’peg mounts and rear-frame section on the 800s caused a lot of very minor lowsides to become major headaches. There’s no problem now. Undo the bolts and store the rear ’pegs until they’re needed.
The other facet of the 800s which had owners grinding their teeth was airbox access, and that ’s been improved considerably on the 900.
Those two seemingly small things will probably be a big deal for anyone looking to upgrade from the 800 to the new bike. It may seem out of proportion to those who haven’t lived with the 800, but anyone who’s snagged the rear footpeg in a soft fall and dealt with the consequences will understand why we think it’s such a step forward, and the same goes for the airfilter. Access was a bit of a pain.
With the motor chuckling away we snicked into gear and roosted off, ready to be amazed.
We have to be honest and say we didn’t notice a big difference from the new firing order. The motor sounds and feels the tiniest whisker lumpier than the fluid drive we loved so much on the 800s, but the seat-of-the-pants response is very similar. Power and torque delivery is still unbelievably linear and incredibly smooth. Maybe the motor’s drive isn’t quite as smooth as it used to be, but… honestly, we wouldn’t have picked it.
It did seem to us throttle response was a little sharper than we remembered, and that was in all modes. Sport certainly made us very glad the traction control and ABS were there to look after us, especially when we got all carried away and started some boy-racer nonsense on the Oxley Highway. But even in Road mode we felt the throttle answered sharply. In Offroad and Offroad Pro we were too busy having a good time to worry about such trivialities as whether or not the throttle response was as fast as the last 800 we rode, and we were in raptures at the Showa suspension. It was a considerable upgrade from the Marzocchi’s on the GT Pro once we hit the dirt, rocks and ruts. The extra ground clearance was much appreciated as well, especially when it was so easy to get our feet on the ground. Action is firm, but both ends did really well on our usual suspension-testing section of track. Ground clearance was surprising, and the spec sheet claims 240mm of wheel travel at the front and 230mm at the rear.
The forks adjust with clickers for rebound and compression and nuts for preload, all on the top of the fork legs, and the shock has the usual screwdriver clicker for rebound and a reasonably easy-to-use winder for preload. The go was to prop the bike on the centrestand and unweight the shock. In that position preload adjustment wasn’t a big effort.
Triumph Tiger 900 Rally Pro
Recommended Retail: $22,550 plus on-road costs.
Engine Type: Liquid-cooled, 12-valve, DOHC, in-line four-stroke
Bore x Stroke: 78.0mm x 61.9mm
Compression Ratio: 11.27:1
Maximum Power: 93.9hp (70kW) @ 8750rpm
Maximum Torque: 87Nm @ 7250rpm
System: Multipoint sequential electronic fuel injection
Exhaust: Stainless-steel three-into-one header system with side-mounted stainless-steel silencer
Final Drive: O-ring chain
Clutch: Wet, multi-plate
Frame: Tubular-steel frame, bolt-on subframe
Swingarm: Twin-sided, cast aluminium alloy
Front Wheel: Spoked tubeless, 21-inch x 2.5-inch
Rear Wheel: Spoked tubeless, 17-inch x 4.25-inch
Front Tyre: 100/90-21
Rear Tyre: 150/70R-17
Front Suspension: Showa 45mm upside-down forks, manual preload, rebound and compression damping adjustment, 240mm travel
Rear Suspension: Showa rear-suspension unit, manual preload and rebound damping adjustment, 230mm travel
Front Brake: Twin 320mm floating discs, Brembo Stylema four-piston Monobloc calipers. Radial front master cylinder, Optimised Cornering ABS
Rear Brake: Single 255mm disc. Brembo single-piston sliding caliper. Optimised Cornering ABS
Handlebar Width: 935mm
Height Without Mirrors: 1452mm – 1502mm
Seat Height: 850mm – 870mm
Dry Weight: 201kg
Fuel Capacity: 20 litres
Fuel Consumption: 5.2 litres per 100km
CO2 Emissions: Euro s standard. 119g/km
Colours: Matt khaki, Sapphire black, Pure white
Service Intervals: First service at 1000km, then every 16,000km or 12 months, whichever comes first
Although it’s the off-road prowess of the 900 Rally Pro that had us so excited, we did knock over some reasonable road kilometres as well, and the bike handled it beautifully. We bumped the screen up to its highest position, set the cruise-control to the appropriate street-legal speed and sat back to enjoy the scenery.
Then the bloody phone rang, and because we were hooked up we had to answer the poxy thing.
That did remind us we had music available, so that was nice.
We averaged near-enough 21km per litre of mixed riding, and that meant we could count on 400km from a tank. The most we asked from a nonstop run was 320km, and the fuel light was on, but there were still two bars showing on the fuel gauge, so we felt 400km was realistic. What’s interesting about that for us is the tank doesn’t feel huge. In fact, the whole bike felt like a three-bears deal: not too big and not too small. It’s just right.
The big limiting factor on our review bike was the Bridgestone Battlax AX41s. They’re a 70/30 road/dirt tyre, and a good option in that scenario. But on this bike they limited our otherwise spectacular off-road prowess. The bike has a great deal more to offer than we were game to ask this time around.
We did go a bit mental on the road though. That was a lot of fun.
Reay To Go
With great performance, good ergos and the proven reliability of the Triumph triple there’s not much needs to be done to the Rally Pro to take on the world. It even has a centrestand, heated grips, and spotties. Whatever anyone would like to add to the bike is probably available from the Triumph catalogue. There’s a big range of luggage, crash-protection and comfort clobber available, and if it’s all built to the same high-quality standards as the bike itself, it’ll be top-shelf gear.
We were sad to have to return the 900 Rally Pro. After the great rides we’ve done on the 800s we felt this was another tough, high-quality, well-designed bike with sparkling performance and serious adventure potential.
We’ll never be happy about saying goodbye to a bike as good as this one.