In January, we deduced that the BMW R1200GS Adventure is the best big expensive adventure bike on the market. It seems like only yesterday that we concluded that the new Kawasaki Versys 650 is the best small, (less) expensive one, in our Urbane Adventurers comparison. And just before that, the new-for-2015 Yamaha FJ-09 came out on top of an adventurous pile that included a pair of bigger, more expensive motorcycles. The truth, as they say, is always somewhere in the middle, and if the FJ-09 and its 847cc Triple aren’t right on the epicenter of adventure-bike truth, they’re very close – even if the FJ does roll slightly closer to the streety side of adventuresomeness.

Battle Of The Adventures: BMW Vs. KTM + Video

How convenient, then, that Triumph has just launched its Tiger 800 XRx as a new 2015 model, a bike aimed at the streetier side of life. Triumph’s 800cc Triple-powered adventure bike has been around since its launch in 2011, and it has received a comprehensive overhaul for 2015.

The Yamaha will go where the Triumph does off-road, but the rougher the road gets – and the faster the pace – the FJ exhibits nervousness where the Tiger is all confidence.

The Yamaha will go where the Triumph does off-road, but the rougher the road gets – and the faster the pace – the FJ exhibits nervousness where the Tiger is all confidence.

As standard fitment, the XR and XC models receive traction control, ABS and ride-by-wire throttles. XRx and XCx models come fitted with cruise control (the first in its segment) and three riding modes which enable the rider to control throttle response, traction control and switchable ABS. Triumph claim a 17% increase in fuel economy over last year, and we observed a respectable 46 mpg during our flogging. Triumph recently introduced two other Tiger variants, the XCA and XRT, which represent the top of the Tiger 800 line with upgrades aimed at improving rider comfort for longer journeys.

The XCs lean more toward true cross-countryness, with 21-/17-inch wire-spoke wheels and adjustable WP suspenders. The XRs are focused more on street performance, with 19-/17-in. cast wheels, lower seats, and Showa suspension with less travel.

Above the XR, the XRx (the bike we’re testing!) gets many extra features: advanced Riding Modes, selectable throttle maps, cruise control, an advanced trip computer, comfort rider and passenger seats, adjustable windscreen, auto-cancelling turnsignals, centerstand, handguards, and an additional 12-volt power socket. That small x also jacks the price tag $1100 to $12,499. That’s $2,009 more than Yamaha wants for its FJ-09: Is all that stuff worth it?

Triumph XRs are the streetier versions of the 800, but the bike’s 19-inch front wheel, bash plate and high pipe all help make it a much better off-roader than the FJ-09.

Triumph XRs are the streetier versions of the 800, but the bike’s 19-inch front wheel, bash plate and high pipe all help make it a much better off-roader than the FJ-09.

Our preferred choice for this shootout with the FJ would’ve been the base model XR Tiger, which stickers at $11,399, just $909 more than the FJ. But without one available we had to go with the XRx, giving the Triumph a mighty financial handicap to overcome in our scoring. In true MotoGP analogy, like the time advantage Marc Marquez held over Valentino Rossi at Rio Hondo this year, by the end of shootout the Tiger was doing his best Rossi, looking to pass the FJ. Here’s how our race … er … shootout ended.

And So We Ride

JB says: On the way to meet the other MOrons for a stimulating ride up to Big Bear, California, the Triumph’s comfort seat (adjustable from 31.2 in. to 32.7 in) is highly comforting, as is the ride served up by its Showa suspension. It’s slightly disappointing that the only adjustment is rear preload (easily accomplished via flat-blade screwdriver if you have a firm grip), but we’re also big fans of manufacturers who get the suspension dialled-in at the factory: The XRx provides a perfectly acceptable, just-right freeway ride under my 160 pounds, with excellent ergonomics that let my delicate perineum take full advantage of said comfort seat.

It should be noted that the Tiger’s seat in its low position is a significant 1.4 inches lower than the FJ’s in its low position – an important consideration for short-legged riders. And the seat height comparison is especially noteworthy when one considers the Tiger has almost 2 inches more suspension travel.

The adjustable windshield is really just barely adjustable and a PITA unless you have a 10mm wrench handy, but it’s nice and non-blustery for 5’8” me in its lower position. Handguards are awesome not just on chilly days but for greatly increased peace of mind when heading off pavement: they prevent the bummer that is having to ride back down the rocky mountain road with a busted-off front brake lever, dirt-packed throttle and dislocated pinkie. And then there’s the magic button: electronic Cruise Control. To me, that alone is worth the $1100 premium Triumph gets for the XRx and greatly extends any bike’s range – along with its 5.0-gallon tank and Triumph’s claim of 17%-greater fuel efficiency.

051415-three-cylinder-sport-adventure-YamahaFJ-09-details-8681051415-three-cylinder-sport-adventure-TriumphTiger800XRx-details-8666

Burns prefers the FJ’s gauges (left), but Roderick likes the Tiger’s instrument cluster. There’s a lot more going on with the Triumph, but the Tiger also offers a wider diversity of electronic selections – learning their operations was also a steeper learning curve than was the FJ’s simpler operations.

The FJ-09 has most of the important stuff too, including A, Standard and B throttle modes, handguards and a centerstand – but no cruise control, which is a drag since its switchgear and instrumentation look a lot like they came from the big FJR1300, which does have CC. The FJ also doesn’t quite have the level of creature comfort that the Triumph does: Its seat isn’t so plush/supportive, but is adjustable from 33.3 to 33.9 in., and the FJ’s footpegs are more rearward than the Triumph’s. The FJ rotates its rider forward a few degrees into a more aggressive riding position. Still, if you hadn’t just climbed off the Triumph, you’d love the FJ.

Sport Mode

We were highly impressed with the FJ’s sporting chops last time it beat up on the Japanese liter adventurers. Rolling along on its sportbike-issue 17-inch radial tires and Kayaba suspension (5.4 inches/5.1 in. travel F/R), the only thing keeping it from being a “sportbike,” really, is its height: Fast transitions from left to right take a fraction of a second longer.

If sport-touring, with emphasis on sport, is your thing, the FJ is nothing if not a more comfortable, better suspended FZ-09 with a larger fuel tank and availability of optional hard-luggage. The FJ is lighter and can turn quicker than the Tiger on paved roads.

If sport-touring, with emphasis on sport, is your thing, the FJ is nothing if not a more comfortable, better suspended FZ-09 with a larger fuel tank and availability of optional hard-luggage. The FJ is lighter and can turn quicker than the Tiger on paved roads.

Other than that, Yamaha’s excellent 106-hp Triple has found a good home in the FJ. In “A” mode (aggressive!), the torquey thing leaps out of the blocks while its flattish handlebar pulls you into a near-supermoto riding position that makes you feel fairly infallible (the FJ, too, comes with handguards). All’s not perfect, though, as the FJ’s throttle, especially in “A” mode, feels twitchy compared to the Tiger’s smoother throttle response. We used Standard mode most of the time because it’s smoother and provides similar engine response, but the Tiger’s EFI/throttle is something for the FJ to aspire to.

The differences between the two Triples are felt in each engine’s willingness to rev. The Tiger’s Triple, with its heavier flywheel, doesn’t feel quite as snappy as the FJ’s on the pavement, but in the dirt the Tiger’s power is more manageable via throttle control where the FJ demands more clutch manipulation to keep things smooth.

The Yamaha FJ-09 uses its 48cc displacement superiority to marginally out-grunt the Tiger at low and middle revs, then pull away after 6500 rpm to an eventual 17-horse peak advantage and a greater rev limit.

The Yamaha FJ-09 uses its 48cc displacement superiority to marginally out-grunt the Tiger at low and middle revs, then pull away after 6500 rpm to an eventual 17-horse peak advantage and a greater rev limit.

We’ve already mentioned the Tiger’s cruise control, but in addition to it, the electronics on the Tiger are far more sophisticated than those on the FJ. For example, the Tiger’s Off-Road mode retains less-aggressive front-wheel ABS while disengaging ABS for the rear wheel, and allows for more rear slippage with the TC. The Tiger’s “Rider” mode allows you to mix and match electronic influences to meet your personal standards – another function lacking on the FJ.

051415-three-cylinder-sport-adventure-TriumphTiger800XRx-beauty-8383

+ Highs

  • Sophisticated electronics (cruise control!)
  • Comfy seat and ergos
  • Better all-rounder
– Sighs

  • Toolless windscreen adjustment still requires tools
  • Optional hard bags and mounting brackets cost $1k
  • Slightly heavier, but still heavier

In the braking department both bikes exhibit perfectly acceptable amounts of braking power and feedback, with the FJ producing slightly more initial bite than the Tiger. Both bikes come standard with ABS. The Triumph’s ABS can be set for “Road,” Off-Road” and “Off,” while the FJ has only “On” and “Off” settings.

The FJ’s fairing/windscreen provides decent protection, and I have no complaints about adverse wind buffeting, but wind noise is abnormally loud for some reason. The Triumph’s protection is more than adequate with no excessive noise or wind buffeting. The Tiger’s windscreen has thumb knobs to adjust its position, but the 10mm acorn nuts inside the screen turn too, requiring a wrench to adjust the screen.

051415-three-cylinder-sport-adventure-YamahaFJ-09-beauty-8421

+ Highs

  • Almost a sportbike
  • Very affordably priced
  • If only the FZ-09 had suspension that worked this well
– Sighs

  • Not really an off-roader
  • No cruise control
  • “A” mode remains a little twitchy

At the end of the day, these 800cc Triples really do represent a happy medium. About 100 hp seems like just enough, especially if more power means more weight: 500 pounds is still a lot when the asphalt turns to rocky dirt, but still much easier to pick up than a 570-pound Triumph Explorer or, God forbid, BMW’s 603-lb GSA.

When the numbers were tallied, the ScoreCard reflected how John and I felt about the two bikes. Both of us can justify spending the extra cash on the XRx and that bike won our subjective scoring: 88.3% for the Triumph vs 86.4% for the Yamaha. However, it was the objective scores keeping the FJ in front of Tiger at the end of the race.

Burns and Roderick give new meaning to the word “thrifty,” but both are willing to spend the extra money it takes to purchase the Triumph and the electronic creatures comforts and better off-road performance that money buys. That’s saying a lot, even though the FJ wins the bout.

Burns and Roderick give new meaning to the word “thrifty,” but both are willing to spend the extra money it takes to purchase the Triumph and the electronic creatures comforts and better off-road performance that money buys. That’s saying a lot, even though the FJ officially wins the bout on our ScoreCard.

Even substituting in the base XR’s lower price didn’t put the Tiger into first place; the on-paper performance advantage of the FJ coupled with its $900 lesser price tag being too much for even the base-model Tiger to overcome. You’d then have to factor in the lesser electronics package of the base model XR, meaning its scores in that category would also be lower.

In that light, we’re forced to give the win to the Yamaha FJ. So, no fairytale ending to this shootout for the Triumph. In more of a professional boxing type of split-decision – one in which we may not agree with the outcome, but we’re stuck with anyway – the Yamaha FJ-09 just simply cannot be overcome this time around.

051415-three-cylinder-sport-adventure-FJ-09-Tiger800XRx-thumbs-up

Three-Cylinder Sport-Adventure Comparison Scorecard
Category Triumph Tiger 800 XRx Yamaha FJ-09
Price 83.9% 100%
Weight 95.0% 100%
lb/hp 79.0% 100%
lb/lb-ft 85.9% 100%
Engine 91.3% 92.5%
Transmission/Clutch 88.8% 85.0%
Handling 82.5% 82.5%
Brakes 83.8% 90.0%
Suspension 86.3% 87.5%
Technologies 96.3% 82.5%
Instruments 83.8% 86.3%
Ergonomics/Comfort 90.0% 81.3%
Quality, Fit & Finish 90.0% 82.5%
Cool Factor 87.5% 87.5%
Grin Factor 87.5% 86.3%
Overall Score 88.0% 89.1%
Three-Cylinder Sport-Adventure Comparison Specs
Triumph Tiger 800 XRx Yamaha FJ-09
MSRP $12,499.00 $10,490
Engine Type 800cc liquid-cooled inline Triple 847c liquid-cooled Inline Three-cylinder
Bore and Stroke 74.05 x 61.94mm 83.0 x 60.0mm
Fuel System multipoint sequential EFI; ride-by-wire EFI; ride-by-wire
Ignition Computer-controlled digital transistorized with electronic advance Electronic
Compression Ratio 12.0:1 11.5:1
Valve Train DOHC; 4 valves per cylinder DOHC; 4 valves per cylinder
Emissions EPA, CARB compliant EPA, CARB-compliant
Horsepower 87.0 @ 9100 rpm 104.1 @ 9900 rpm
Torque 54.1 @ 7700 59.8 @ 8300 rpm
lb/hp 5.70 4.50
lb/torque 9.20 7.90
Transmission 6-speed; multi-plate wet clutch 6-speed, multi-plate wet clutch
Final Drive Chain Chain
Front Suspension 43mm Showa fork; 7.09 in. travel 41mm fork; adjustable preload and rebound damping; 5.4-in travel
Rear Suspension Showa single shock; hydraulic spring preload adjustment; 6.7 in. travel Single shock; adjustable preload and rebound damping; 5.1 in. travel
Front Brake Dual 308mm disc; 2-piston Nissin calipers, switchable ABS Dual 298mm discs; 4-piston calipers, ABS
Rear Brake 255mm disc; single-piston Nissin caliper, switchable ABS 245mm disc; single-piston caliper, ABS
Front Tire 100/90-19 120/70ZR-17
Rear Tire 150/70R-17 180/50ZR-17
Rake/Trail 23.9° / 3.64 in. 24 deg. / 3.9 in.
Wheelbase 60.23 in. 56.7 in.
Seat Height 31.9/32.7 in. (31.1/31.9 low seat option) 33.3/33.9 in.
Curb Weight 497 lb. 472 lb.
Fuel Capacity 5.0 gal. 4.8 gal.
Tested Fuel Economy 46 mpg 43 mpg
Available Colors Blue, Black, White Red, Matte Gray
Warranty Two year, unlimited-mileage One year limited warranty

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  • Ducati Kid

    JB,

    You would believe TRIUMPH has analyzed the 800cc Adventure market and determined desired clientele are willing to spend a greater amount for Hinckley ware.

    I expected more from Iwata than a slightly revised, heavier, FZ-09 better intended for ‘On-Road’ light Adventure operation.

    Recall, the ‘FJ-09’ has observed Fueling while fitted with lesser Suspenders.

    However, for the higher price TRIUMPH should feature adjustable Suspension.

    Caveat Emptor …

    • Josh

      As a ’15 FZ (with updated fueling map) owner the fueling “issue” you speak of is really a non-issue. The REAL problem with the FJ is that it lacks cruise control!

      In response to the article, I think the ‘Sigh’ that the FJ wasn’t good off-road wasn’t fair–it isn’t intended to be an off-road adventurer after all.

      Looking forward to your test of the S1000XR! So far looks like it will be a bike worth saving up for. I saw a video the other day of BMW’s ABS PRO (ABS braking while leaned over) system on the S1000XR–it was impressive!

      • 12er

        Right there with ya on the S1000XR, I may go back to the pinwheel after I get done with my current Multi.

        • Josh

          Not to mention up and down blip quick shifter, and electronic / active suspension! Would love to simply push a button to firm up the suspension when the wife comes along for a ride as opposed to the 5 minutes it takes to wrench on the fork caps and shock currently.

    • Scott

      Yes.

      I was aware of the more powerful engine used in the Yamaha and I still bought the Triumph.

      Clearly, Triumph could have adjusted the engine for more HP by upping the compression ratio but they went for fuel mileage at 87 octane.

      Cruise control, more luggage capacity, lower seat, traction control, etc were all factors.

      My range is about 240 miles to empty which is appreciated.

      I did also consider the BMW S1000XR but I don’t need 160 HP any more and the wait may be long.

      • Josh

        Between the FJ and the Tiger I think the Tiger looks best and the ability to run on 87 octane is a nice touch too!

  • Ron Zu

    Warranty should have been factored in to your comparison scorecard.

    • Sloppy

      I take it that you are a company rep. Reliability needs to be factored more heavily.

  • Warren W. Weiss

    I’m surprised the Tiger spots so much HP to the FJ.

    • dustysquito .

      Me too. I thought even the 675 Street Triple made around 100 HP, so this 800 tapping out that early seems weird.

    • Max Wellian

      I’m surprised so many people would rather have a bike with an abrupt throttle and a peaky engine rather than one that allows superior modulation that makes things like cornering and riding off road more manageable. Is everyone a drag racer or something?

      • Warren W. Weiss

        Few people would want an abrupt throttle. I’m just surprised at the deficit.

        I have ridden the Tiger, but not the Yamaha, and I’d have to experience the latter to comment. But, it looks like the torque and HP curves are identical, practically speaking, ’til about 6500RPM. Then, the FJ takes off.

        The article says “The Yamaha FJ-09 uses its 48cc displacement superiority to marginally out-grunt the Tiger at low and middle revs, ” but I wouldn’t even call that difference “marginal.”

      • Kevin Duke

        The FJ has a slightly abrupt throttle in A mode. It’s perfectly fine in Standard, and it’s a pussycat in B. And when an engine has more power than its rival from top to bottom, it can’t be called peaky.

        • Max Wellian

          Sure, it makes more power in the mode A i.e. “Abrupt” throttle mode. Question is, how does the power compare in Standard and Pussycat modes where it’s rideable? Seems to me that would be the better comparison as the Triumph didn’t suffer that particular fueling malady in search of attaining some peak power spec that is near useless in everyday riding.

          • Kevin Duke

            Same output in Standard as A. Only difference is the throttle response.

      • Curtis Brandt

        RE: the “A” mode – someone in Japan forgot that “fast is smooth and smooth is fast”. I put the bike in A mode once, on a sporty road, and won’t ever again. It jacks up everything. I’m almost willing to say “no matter how smooth you are with the throttle”. It’s a waste of a power mode. Even Standard mode could be smoother in the initial pick up, but as the journos seem to agree, it’s “acceptable”. My preference would be the super smooth pick up of B mode, fairly quickly transitioning to the responsiveness of standard mode. Then you wouldn’t need any modes. 😉

        • Max Wellian

          Exactly.
          I just bought a new Versys 1000. The Full Power Mode makes riding anything twisty enough to require closing and opening the throttle a full chassis bucking experience without exceptional wrist control.
          Drop it into Low Power Mode and she scoots around the tight stuff like J Lo at a Puerto Rican block party. Still puts out about 100 hp. At ~500 lbs that’s plenty to get around any road I ride in a blink or three of the eye.
          They should call Full Power Mode “Marketing Mode.”

          • Bruce Steever

            I can’t find my original dyno chart, but most folks are seeing about 108 rwhp in full power mode. 75% of that, as claimed by Kawi in low powr, is about 80 rwhp, which felt about right when i tested the bike.

            That’s one hell of a cork to ride with.

          • Max Wellian

            80 rwhp is plenty to unwind twisty roads. I can kick it up to full power when they straighten out and I’m likely to make passes.

            It would be preferable that they simply mapped the on/off throttle response of LPM to FPM and use that single power mode.

            I think newbies get a thrill out of the arm stretching hit they get when they whack the throttle open in FPM. When they learn to ride, they’ll grow to appreciate that less and less…

          • Bruce Steever

            Throttle response changes like that really require ride-by-wire to fully enact.

            And while i’m not a horsepower addict, with my 100 hp 1200cc twin, you’ve got to at least try something like a Super Duke R once in your life. It’s… well, it’ll make you reevaluate decisions in your life.

          • Max Wellian

            I’ve ridden ZX-10s and V-max and that power does nothing for me. Give me a 100 hp and a 500 lb bike with comfy ergos and good handling and life don’t get much better for me.

          • Bruce Steever

            Works for me… i own a Super Ten, a bike with quite a few pounds per Bee Ach Pee.

  • Old MOron

    Good effort, Gents. FJ for me, please.

  • dustysquito .

    One of the guys I ride with runs a Tiger 800XC, and reliability has been a big problem with his. In the first six months he owned it, it was back in the shop repeatedly for oil leaking out of different spots on his engine. I’m assuming that in the couple years since, they’ve sorted that out, but Yamaha is almost legendary for their reliability. Something to consider at least.

    • 12er

      An authentic Triumph?

      • dustysquito .

        Nah. I think his is a 2013 model. I don’t know anybody else with one, so it could very well be a fluke. I will say that the number of Tiger 800’s I see for sale used here with <5,000 miles is much higher than any other adventure bikes. Where I live, you find V-Stroms for sale with around 45,000 miles and BMW GSs around 25,000 regularly. Tigers of the same years are being sold with well under 10k.

        • 12er

          Just a joke as an old Triumph wasn’t a Triumph without a puddle of oil under it.

          • dustysquito .

            Ah, brain hadn’t fully fired up this morning. Yeah, apparently classic traditions die hard.

    • sgray44444

      Excellent point. I’ve owned one Triumph, and probably won’t own another. One thing it has done for me is to make me appreciate the reliability of my Japanese machines.

  • Ducati Kid

    Apologies to ALL,

    Forgot about this BMW ‘F900GSAM’ Concept motorcycle for Adventure play.

    Based upon the 900cc BMW-Husky-Rotax ‘Red Head’ (a 800cc variant) power plant displaying stellar performance (105 H.P./73.8 Ft. Lbs.) while employing a
    ‘Traction Enhancing’ 315 degree Crankshaft surrounded by Berlin’s ‘GS’ Frame.

    Added novel Stall Free, ‘Automatic or Manual’ Clutch-Shift operation.

    Ever attempt a ‘tough’ section of terrain trying to Clutch, Shift and Throttle?

    • DickRuble

      Nice bike, the BMW. Interestingly enough, Consumer Reports found that BMW’s are the most likely to break down within 4 years of ownership. That’s also one major reason BMW was among the brands owners regretted buying.

      • Ducati Kid

        DR,

        Do assume were discussing the BMW ‘F800GS’ motorcycle?

        ‘Time and Place!’

        With all the hubbub regarding ANY Adventure motorcycle that can actually go ‘Off-Road’ while not costing riders their lives and treasure thus an IDEAL time for a proved worthy BMW ‘F900GSAM’ cycle!

        Remember, it’s based on a slightly revised (Bodywork), existing, ‘GS’ Chassis suggesting a frugal while expedient Engine replacement.

        Again my thanks for commentary indicating BMW has work to do!

  • Andrew Capone

    So is there any man who does not have a delicate perineum? I think not! As for the Tiger 800, it’s a great bike, and the one I choose to ride more than the others in my garage. A fine all- rounder, and while one can split hairs over relative value/ performance equation, it doesn’t lack much. 4 years and no problems, save for the initial re-map back in 2011. I’d buy another in a heartbeat.

    • FreeFrog

      My 800XC will only be replaced by an 800XCx when it wears out or I have extra cash to justify the upgrade. My favorite “all around” bike ever in 30+ years of riding a variety of bikes.

  • Pete Jessen

    You forgot the skid plate and engine protection bars that come with the XRx. Those and the hand protectors add up to about $600 of accessories that the Yamaha should have if ever taken off road. For WIW, I’d never mount the Triumph bags if they were free. Lots of good options out there, most are a bunch more rugged than the OEM bag option.

    • Curtis Brandt

      The Yamaha already doesn’t have the ground clearance to go off-road – I scraped my headers jumping a sidewalk the first day I had the FJ, so it certainly won’t survive the wilds. No room for a skid plate. IMO, best to skip any ideas of off-road adventure on the FJ.

  • Gary

    Cruise control makes all the diff when carpal tunnel intrudes … as it does to a lot of grizzled pharts like me. Gimme the Tiger. I actually rode one as a loaner when my LT was in the shop. And immediately fell in love.

    • Curtis Brandt

      I haven’t ridden the Triumph, but I can’t see how it didn’t get the win just for the cruise control. 😉

  • LavLover

    Gentlemen, I’d be grateful if you’d provide the address of the Yamaha dealer who sells the FJ-09 panniers for $571.

    • http://motorcycle.com/ Tom Roderick

      Mea Culpa. We were under the impression that both hard saddlebags were included in the $400 MSRP. Considering that each bag costs $400, Mounting Kit $94, Lock Set $80, bringing the grand total to $974, instead of the $571, we are retracting any nice things said about the Yamaha bags. At this price they are overpriced for the quality of bag you receive.

  • almazing

    I’ll take the FJ. Plenty of power, inexpensive, and has standard 17 inch size tires(meaning I can put on some race rubber if I wanted to!). Yamaha hit the nail in the head with this one. Yes the stock suspension could be better, but PENSKE makes fork inserts and a rear shock which can be swapped out with ease. Put those on, some PP3s, and you’ll be chasing sportbikes and dragging knees with the best of them.

    • Curtis Brandt

      Thanks for the suspension recommendation. That’ll be my next mod, and aside from heated grips, bags, and another seat, probably my last.

  • Martin Buck

    I saw briefly noted here that the Triumph has a heavier flywheel weight. This is in fact what gives any engine its personality. For the benefit of the young, that is a series of character attributes which together combine to make their company a pleasure or a pain. Triumph deliberately added weight to their flywheel, and REDUCED the horsepower of their engine to make it more tractible and enjoyable in difficult conditions. This is the subjective side of engine performance. Japanese engineers tend to take their design and tuning cues from rider feedback on their test tracks. In other words, objective tests. We do not ride on test tracks, and sometimes where we ride can barely be described as a track at all. In these situations, top end power is utterly irrelevant. A pleasant engine which gives good traction is a balm to the nerves and a pleasure to ride. A twitchy engine that races up the rev range with a bare flick of the throttle demands attention that properly belongs on the road or track in front of you. This is neither relaxing nor enjoyable. Something the Japanese have seldom understood or valued.

    • john burns

      I was surprised how well the FJ worked on fire roads really. “B” mode is for rain, but it dials back the throttle response, and you could lug the FJ down to not much more than 1000 rpm or so also, and cruise along nicely. It’s more the 17-inch front tire that makes it a little harder to maintain direction in the rocky parts. Otherwise easier to ride than I expected.

      • Bruce Steever

        The real question is how hard you can get that FJ going with a skidplate and some knobbies…

        • Curtis Brandt

          Be careful about remaining ground clearance if you fit anything like a skid plate. It’s already deficient the way the headers are routed. Best, IMO, to assume the FJ is for on-road use. Except for graded, hard-packed roads, in which case it’ll work the same as any other bike.

          • Bruce Steever

            Same issues with the latest DL1000, but i’ve had one of those things flying…

    • sgray44444

      I highly doubt a weightier flywheel makes a difference in top-end horsepower on the dyno, though I do agree about it being more tractable at lower RPM. The difference in peak horsepower has more to do with cam duration and head flow; two areas that Yamaha has much more experience in. I doubt the tuning on the FJ is highly compromised as you would suggest. Torque curves prove that the FJ has more down low, but I would be willing to be that you are correct about the flywheel making the Triumph much more of a pleasure to ride at low speeds off road. The FJ isn’t an offroad bike, so it isn’t tuned like one. These triples, in general, are torquey across the board and really are the best compromise of a motor. The wide torque band and good peak horsepower make them an easy motor to ride fast, no matter the situation.

    • liverinringopool

      Fanboy much?

  • Steve C

    I have ridden both, and would be happy with either one, but I lean toward the Triumph, just felt better and fit me well, though I would shorten the handle bars and on the Yamaha I do not like the bar tach reminds me of the one in my old Chevy S-10, keep them round ! I don’t think you can but a bad bike today.

  • Tim Sawatzky

    So glad they did this comparison. I really want one of these two bikes. They are so close for me, FJ has more HP and is cheaper, but the Tiger has cruise control and more character, but is more $. I’m just going to have to ride them myself to decide.

    • Kevin Duke

      Curious which bike you brought home?

      • Tim Sawatzky

        Well I was excited about these bikes, but then I rode the FJ09 and I was very disappointed. I don’t know why, other than the wind protection was bad, it rode great, but I just didn’t connect with it. I haven’t had a chance to ride a Tiger, but it’s out of my price range anyway. They are cool bikes, but maybe they are not for me. I don’t really go off road anyway.

  • Charles Hibberd

    I have owned several Hinckley Triumphs and was talked into a Triumph by our local dealer here in Eugene Oregon many years ago when Triumph was having a hard time selling bikes. I now ride a Tiger and a Sprint, was fixing to purchase the new Tiger next month, however since Triumph corporate has chosen to oust all the small dealers south of Portland, both the Eugene and Medford USA. I and many of my friends are going to have to consider a different brand, Its good to see an alternative choice of a three cylinder engine bike. Going to my local Yamaha dealership in Cottage Grove to see what they can sell me.

  • Steve C

    Having just test rode the Fj I came away impressed, then I rode a Tiger XCX, it just fit me, felt better, throttle was much better so if I was in the market to replace he Uly I would pony up the extra cash and go with the Triumph. Now if they only had the bottom end of my Buell……

  • Taranis

    Love the Tiger but the testers should never have gone off-road on the FJ. It’s not a Adventure bike, never advertised as one…