During the dark of night, these photos appeared in the MO inbox, and we’re trying to make sense of them. From the number of wires, cables, and data equipment visible, the shots appear to be of a Triumph Tiger in the very early stages of development, and from the details we can make out, we think it lies somewhere between the Tiger 800 and the Tiger 1200. Since Triumph appears to be targeting the Honda Africa Twin, we predict a displacement between 900cc and 1000cc, with the lower end being a bit more likely.

The engine’s exterior looks almost identical to the current 800 Triple, but there are a few noticeable changes. For example, the sump looks to be machined from billet aluminum, hinting at the relative one-off nature of this test mule. To our eyes, it looks slightly bigger. The stator cover on the left side of the engine looks to be a prototype, too. Perhaps due to a larger charging capacity. Also of note are the twin radiators delivering more cooling for a larger engine. While the headers appear similar to those of the 800, the three pipes joining into one before running beneath the engine, the muffler is clearly a work in progress. So, we suspect the exhaust is a complete redesign to cope with the added displacement. Given the timing, we think this update to the 800 engine was prompted by the need to be Euro 5 compliant to meet new emissions and noise standards. Given the Tiger 800 basis, we’d expect the power delivery to come in higher than the 800’s 94 hp at around the 100-105 hp range.

With the changes to the engine, the chassis needed to be enlarged to accommodate the twin radiators. We can’t help but note that this is how dirt bikes are typically set up. The swingarm is not single-sided, nor is it shaft-driven, as with the Tiger 1200. However, it is also clearly a different unit from that used on the 800. The billet lower triple clamp is another hint at how early in the development of this bike was at the time of these photos. The inverted fork looks like an Öhlins unit rather than the black WP fork tubes on the current models. We would guess that it is semi-active, but the angle of the photos prevents verification. Similarly, we’d expect a similar caliber shock, but it has a white spring like the current generation’s WP shock. We can say that the shock linkage in the spy photos is clearly different from the current Tiger 800.

Another important chassis change from the 800 is that the subframe looks to be bolted on, meaning that it can easily be replaced should it get tweaked in a crash. Triumph clearly has dirt intentions for this Tiger. The spoked wheels look to be a 21-inch/17-inch pairing, which is a larger front wheel than the current Tiger 800’s spoked wheel setup. This differs from the 21-inch/18-inch combo typically associated with off-road use found on the KTM 790 Adventure R, Yamaha Tenere 700, and dirt bikes everywhere. Also of note, is that the spokes themselves appear to be thinner and fewer on these new wheels. Markings on the rear tire indicate they are Battlax Adventure A41s, Bridgestone’s more street-oriented ADV tire. Typically, Triumph will offer a version with street-focused cast wheels, too. The radial-mount Brembo calipers look to be higher spec than either of the Brembo units on the 800 Tiger.

When it comes to the bodywork, what’s there is quite different from current offerings. The twin headlights are smaller. The windscreen looks to be adjustable. As you would expect, a TFT display resides behind the fairing. While the fairing itself is a similar width around the tank area, the windscreen is significantly narrower than on the previous models.

And that bar hanging off the bottom of the engine? We’re pretty sure that it is for mounting test equipment, as are the aluminum blocks mounted on either side of the subframe and the aluminum cylinders just inside of the rider’s knees.

So, what do we know for sure? Not much, other than Triumph is currently developing a Tiger that appears to slot in between the Tiger 800 and the Tiger 1200 – right in the Africa Twin zone. Given the apparent stage of development, it might be ready for unveiling this fall for a 2020 release.

Got an opinion? Sound off in the comments below.