Triumph’s Tiger line of adventure bikes is near and dear to my heart as a rider. My first bike was a 2015 Tiger 800 XCx, and it inspired my love of middleweight adventure motorcycles. The only real problem with that bike and its successor, the Tiger 900, is the fact that they’re kind of expensive — the Tiger 900 starts at almost $15,000, for example. But on Tuesday, Triumph announced a new, more affordable Tiger called the Tiger 850 Sport.
What’s the difference between the Tiger 850 and the Tiger 900? Well, to start with, the Tiger 850 is only available in one configuration, the GT, and that’s biased toward road use. The Tiger 900 comes in a road-focused GT trim or an off-road-oriented Rally model. The 850 version uses the older 888-cc triple engine, while the 900 gets a 900-cc updated engine. Power is down for the 850, but only by around 9 horsepower.
If Triumph isn’t saving money on the engine, where is the price difference coming from? Suspension and electronics, mostly. The Tiger 850 Sport gets a 45mm Marzocchi front fork, just like the 900, but unlike the 900, the 850’s is nonadjustable. Also, while the 850 Sport gets anti-lock brakes, it lacks the advanced lean-dependent system found on the 900.
The dash is a little less fancy on the 850 Sport, which makes do with a 5-inch color TFT screen, while the 900 gets a 7-inch TFT with more features. Like the more expensive bike, the 850 has a ride-by-wire throttle and switchable traction control but lacks the advanced riding modes of the 900.
From a rider’s perspective, the net result of these changes isn’t likely to be massive and certainly not something you’d really notice or lament unless you rode both bikes back to back. As a former Tiger owner — with a bike spec’ed more closely to the 850 than the 900 — those who go for the more affordable Tiger are unlikely to find much to be disappointed about.
The Triumph Tiger 850 Sport has a manufacturer’s suggested retail price of $11,995 before accessories or dealer fees. That makes it a reasonably tasty proposition and one that should be available in dealers in late February 2021.