The Triumph Tiger 850 Sport has landed in Australia. Jeff used one for a fortnight to see how well it fits into the comprehensive Tiger line-up. Review: Jeff Ware Photography: HMC Photography
The Triumph Tiger 850 Sport is a new back-to-basics entry level version of the ultra popular Tiger range. Now forging adventures for over a decade, since the Tiger 800 arrived in 2010, the now 888cc middleweight all-rounder is the fourth model update. We put it to the test…
If you jump onto the Triumph Motorcycles Australia website, you will see there are plenty of Adventure options to choose from powered by the 888 triple – The Tiger 850 Sport ($17,890), Tiger 900 GT ($20,950), Tiger 900 GT Pro ($23,990), Tiger 900 GT Low ($20,950), Tiger 900 Rally ($22,190) and Tiger 900 Rally Pro ($24,590). If you want to go big, of course, you also have the Tiger Sport (1050cc, $19,800) and the Tiger 1200 range – 1200 Alpine Edition, 1200XRT, 1200 XCX, 1200 Desert Edition, 1200 XCA. Confused? Well, let’s stick the to most basic and least expensive model. It’s a ripper.
The Sport is a road oriented soft adventure bike with basic electronics (non-cornering ABS and TC), cast alloy wheels (19in front and 17in rear) and slightly reduced suspension travel compared to the off-road versions of the 900. It hasn’t got cruise control and that is not an option, it hasn’t got a quickshifter either or heated grips but it does have a 5in TFT display and two Riding Modes (Road and Rain).
It also features RbW throttle, switchable TC, LED lighting with DRL and an adjustable screen, adjustable seat height (810mm – 830mm), adjustable handlebars, Brembo Stylema calipers and meets Euro5 emissions regulations. The Sport also has ample luggage hook areas, rubber footpeg inserts, span adjustable levers, and replaces the Tiger 900. The forks are basic Marzocchi 45mm inverted non-adjustable items and the shock, also Marzocchi, only has preload adjustment.
So although the Tiger 850 Sport is the basic version, it also has some nice spec on it, including a 12V charge point. A centre-stand would be nice as standard though and I was surprised it hasn’t got one.
There are 50 listed Genuine Triumph Accessories available and the centre-stand is one of those but it should be standard for the price point. Other extras available include luggage options, crash bars and various protectors, comfort seats, hand guards, heated grips and more.
Cruise control is not an option, but a Shift Assist at $607.05 is, which of course is a quickshift, and that plus the Heated Grips at $275.95 and Handguards at $212.48 would be first on my list, so there’s an extra grand or so before delivery. Still, well worth the spend. You could literally go crazy on the accessories, as usual, Triumph are one of the leaders in this area.
I’ve always liked the character and useable nature of the Tiger 800 and Tiger 900 triple engines. They can be ridden lazily around town, short-shifted and motored through country or dirt roads or respond to fun, aggressive throttle inputs and get up and go. They also sound awesome with the trademark 1-3-2 firing order and generally offer something different to the normal.
Check out more Adventure Bike articles here…
The 850 is supposed to be a detuned version of the 900, however, to be honest it is really a re-tuned version. The engine’s are identical aside from tuning and share the same capacity. Considering most riding is done in the midrange, the 850 version could actually be the more practical donk. Either way, within the first 15-minutes of riding the new Sport, I was a happy lad as that triple sang a sweet note.
I had picked the bike up late in the arvo and it was pretty cold and wet, but that engaging motor and the comfort of the 850 Sport kept me out riding. I spent an hour just riding around my hometown, short-shifting and enjoying the sites. The soft suspension and relaxed ergo’s making the Sport a breeze in the urban environment, with the odd squirt on the throttle adding some spice.
I tested out the Rain and Road Modes, with the Rain Mode great for the conditions, which were wet, cold and slippery. The Rain Mode softened the throttle response and dulled the acceleration and would be great for the more inexperienced riders in particular. The modes don’t change any ABS or TC settings as there is no IMU on the bike.
The engine and gearbox are smooth and the clutch action moderately heavy, with a smooth take-up. The throttle is a tad choppy off closed, so some clutch slip is needed to make for smooth progress around town.
Out on the open road is where the 850 Sport shines. On the motorway at 110km/h the bike is smooth and has plenty on tap for passing…
Comfort is good, as mentioned, however at 187cm I found the seat-to-peg gap on the limit for me (with the seat at the highest level) and I started to get some leg discomfort. It is cramped for those with longer legs but would be great for many riders. The seated reach to the handlebars (also adjustable via roll) is spot on and the seat firm but comfy enough.
One thing I noticed pretty quickly is how busy the dash is to read and how complicated it is. It is originally from the Street Triple RS and has multiple display options. I found the dash difficult to navigate on the move, even around town.
With a full 20L tank of premium unleaded, the Tiger 850 Sport is quite top heavy, particularly noticeable around town and exaggerated with the taller seat setting and soft suspension. It’s not an issue, really, but something to keep in mind for shorter riders, less experienced riders and with luggage or a pillion added, could make the bike a handful, although that is typical of adventure bikes in general.
Out on the open road is where the 850 Sport shines. On the motorway at 110km/h the bike is smooth and has plenty on tap for passing, but cruise control is missed. The screen is fantastic and I found it easy to adjust with one hand while on the move. There is an accessories bar behind the screen for your phone, GoPro and or sat nav that is nice and close the the charge point, so that is handy for the long rides and for town. Overall the highway ride is good but above 120km/h towards 130km/h there are some slight vibes through the bar and pegs.
Flowing and often bumpy country roads are where the Tiger 850 Sport finds its sweet spot. The super plush suspension glides over the biggest of bumps and comfort becomes high level. I added some preload via the easy access remote adjuster knob and that gave some extra support (I’m 95kg, was not carrying luggage at the time), however not having an option of increasing rebound control meant I didn’t want to go too far on the spring preload, otherwise the bike would start to kick back.
Upping the pace on some tighter, smooth twisty sections, the Tiger 850 Sport handled as predicted. It has typically good Triumph geometry and steers accurately and quickly for a bike with a 19in front wheel and a lazy, stable steering angle. The ground clearance is good and I was soon touching-down my boots and having a good old crack, however, it didn’t take much more than 7/10ths to find the limits of the low specification suspension that this price point has dictated.
The ground clearance is good and I was soon scraping my boots and having a good old crack…
The 850 started to wallow, wobble and not track online when grip and speed went up. Not much can be done, but it was clear the bones are there with a good chassis only held up by suspension and wet weight would be well over 200kg.
Braking is a strong point on the Tiger 850 Sport and one area where costs have not been trimmed. The Brembo package is top rate but with twin 320mm rotors I did expect more initial bite and power. Still, there is more than enough stopping power on offer and the soft forks give in way before the limit of the braking power can be found.
Trail braking into turns is easy and off-road there is good feel at both ends for braking on slippery surfaces. Overall a good package even with the basic ABS, which can be disabled for off-road use.
So in short, the Tiger 850 Sport can be ridden hard as long as you are prepared to wobble, bottom out and weave on the brakes, which is all bloody good hoon fun anyway. Just don’t expect high support and pin sharp steering like on some of the premium Tiger versions… It’s still great fun, though!
Off-road the 850 Sport falls short to more dedicated adventure versions, not a surprise given its road bias. The up-side is that very road performance… With reduced travel and an awkward riding position when standing, I found the 850 just didn’t make sense in a lot of situations, particularly low speed trails. Cruising on flat, relatively smooth and medium paced dirt roads, the bike is fantastic. It is comfy, communicative and the electronics don’t even need to be off. You could ride all day on dirt roads on this bike, in complete control. But push its limits further and things get more difficult…
As a taller rider, at 187cm not out of the ordinary though, I found the Tiger 850 Sport standing off-road ride position to make no sense at all. The reach to the ‘bars is impossibly far, the shape of the fuel tank meant I could not grip it at all with my knees, which kept sliding down to the seat, and the footpeg position is rearward, so there is not enough weight over front to ride with any confidence.
In terms of suspension limitations, it is a good compromise and sure, bottoms out on the big hits but generally won’t have to deal with those anyway (it’s not an enduro bike). The Michelin hoops are good on hard packed dirt, offering road like traction, but as soon as there is any sign of mud of clay they become slick and extremely loose, so anyone planning majority off-road may want to update them to more off-road designated rubber.
What I found with the Tiger 850 Sport, a lot like any soft adventure model is that if you ride within the limits of the bike, it is exceptional, however, it is easy to get drawn into pushing like a full blown ADV model simply because of the ‘family’ it belongs to in the range, the looks, the ergo’s and the 19in front.
In conclusion, the 850 Sport is a bike well worth considering for anyone after a good value for money soft roader. It comes in way under the Tiger 900 variants, some three grand less than the GT, five grand less than the Rally and six grand less than the GT Pro. That is serious coin and even if you factor in the Shift Assist, Heated Grips and Hand Guards you are still only adding a grand. Upgrade to more adventure bias hoops, throw on some bar risers, luggage and maybe fork springs and even then you have room for new riding gear. Personally, I don’t mind not having the full blown electronics suit of the GT and Pro versions, so I am happy without an IMU. If that is you, go test ride a Tiger 850 Sport…
Triumph say the 850 sport has been developed from the latest generation Tiger platform, with all of the dynamic poise and agile handling that the Tiger is known for, combined with a new ‘tailor-made’ performance and specification set-up, designed to deliver an even more manageable, accessible and intuitive road-focused adventure riding capability.
The new Tiger 850 Sport shares the same innovative T-plane crank as the latest generation Tiger 900 range, with its own unique 850 tune. Designed for a more accessible and manageable delivery of usable power and torque, Triumph say the new 850 delivers enhanced all-round easy-riding versatility for commuting, touring or just having spirited two-wheeled fun at the weekends.
The T-plane triple crank and its 1-3-2 firing order give the 850 triple an improved tractability at low rpm, which translates into an enhanced connection between the rider and the rear wheel, and responsive and intuitive road-riding performance. Peak power comes at 85hp@8,500rpm and peak torque is 82Nm@6,500rpm, with a smooth and linear power and torque delivery available from low engine speeds and across the rev range.
Triumph say the new Tiger 850 Sport features a dedicated, high specification chassis and equipment package, specifically tailored to maximise the new Tiger 850 Sport’s all round versatility and accessibility. From the category leading Brembo Stylema brakes, to the high quality Marzocchi suspension, adjustable screen and comprehensive electronics package, with 5in TFT instruments, all LED lighting, 2 riding modes, ABS, and switchable traction control, the new Tiger 850 sport has been optimised for accessible road-focused adventure fun.
The Tiger 850 Sport features the popular Brembo Stylema brakes for great stopping power. These are lightweight, compact, carefully sculpted and high performing calipers, with reduced volume around the pistons and brake pads, reducing the internal space occupied by brake fluid, and delivering a more immediate braking response. Increased airflow around the brake pads also helps the calipers to cool them off quicker and avoid fade.
The Tiger 850 Sport has a high performance suspension set-up, with premium Marzocchi components front and rear. 45mm Marzocchi upside down cartridge forks, with 180mm travel, combine with a gas pressurised monoshock rear suspension unit with manually adjustable preload and 170mm rear travel.
Featuring the new generation Tiger’s modular frame with bolt on aluminium rear sub-frame and bolt on pillion hangers, the new Tiger 850’s combination of lightweight frame, light weight engine, high specification suspension and premium Brembo brakes ensures the new model has plenty of manoeuvrability and stopping power.
The Tiger 850 Sport features a high contrast 5in full TFT display, for excellent visibility in all light conditions. The two riding modes, Road and Rain, adjust the ride-by-wire throttle response and traction control settings for enhanced control in all riding conditions. The traction control is switchable and may be deactivated independently via the instrument menus if required. Also equipped is a 12V socket that allows mobile devices to be charged while riding.
Triumph say the bodywork has a focused and aggressive adventure style, with a narrow stand over width, visually light front end and dominant fuel tank design and size. The new 850 Sport comes in two exciting paint options, Graphite and Diablo Red or Graphite and Caspian Blue, each incorporating contemporary new Tiger 850 Sport graphic schemes.
A range of over 60 genuine Triumph accessories are also available . There are two luggage range options available, both created in partnership with Givi, with the Trekker side-opening panniers with 52 litre twin helmet top box, and the Expedition top-opening aluminium panniers, with matching 42 litre top box. Additionally, the Tiger 850 Sport accessory range covers options for added comfort, protection, capability, style and security.
2021 Triumph Tiger 850 Sport Specifications
Price: From $17,890 Ride Away
Claimed Power: 62.5kW@8,500rpm
Dry Weight: 192kg
Fuel capacity: 20L
Claimed consumption: 5.2L/100km
Engine: Liquid-cooled, 12-valve, DOHC, inline three-cylinder, 888cc, four-stroke, 78.0mm x 61.9mm bore x stroke, 11.27:1 compression, multipoint sequential electronic fuel injection, stainless steel three-into-one exhaust, system, stainless steel silencer, six-speed gearbox, O-ring chain, wet, multi-plate, slip and assist clutch, cable actuation.
Chassis: Tubular steel frame, bolt-on aluminium rear sub-frame
Rake: 24.6° Trail: 133.3mm
Suspension: Front – Marzocchi 45mm upside down forks, non adjustable. Rear – Marzocchi rear suspension unit, preload adjustment.
Brakes: Front – Twin 320mm floating rotors, Brembo Stylema monobloc calipers, ABS, radial master-cylinder. Rear – Single 255mm rotor, Brembo single piston caliper, ABS,
Wheels & Tyres: Front – Cast alloy, 19 x 2.5in, rear – cast alloy, 17 x 4.25 in. Front tyre – 100/90R19, rear Tyre – 150/70R17, Michelin Anakee.
Width (Handlebars): 830mm
Height Without Mirrors: 1410-1460mm
Seat Height: 810-830mm
Instruments & Electronics: 5in TFT Dash, ABS, Traction Control.
2021 Triumph Tiger 850 Sport Gallery
The Verdict | Review: 2021 Triumph Tiger 850 Sport