By now, hopefully you’ve already read our street installation of this two-part test. If not, STOP! Please do check it out because it outlines and dissects each and every bike in great detail, and it very well might answer a slew of questions you might have that aren’t addressed here, in the off-road portion of the shootout.
On a humid and hazy southern California morning our cast of misfits began to stir to life from all stretches of the LA basin. Showers were had (by some), coffee was made and consumed, gear was donned. We seven fortunate souls set out on what would be our first true challenge of the next 72 hours, the first gauntlet that our machines would be subjected to, weekday traffic in Los Angeles with a destination of none other than Starbucks. The unofficial meeting place of adventure riders the world over, yet, for so many, the journey’s end before it ever even begins.
This week you might notice Motorcycle.com being a little quieter than usual. The reason is because most of the MO staff are out riding in our Sorta Annual Big Adventure Bike Shootout. For 2018, we’ve gathered seven of the biggest and baddest adventure machines out there. The plan? To put them through their paces on both the pavement and the dirt. To prove we’re serious about the dirt part, each of the contenders here comes to us with wire wheels, except for one, which we’ll get to in a moment.
Speaking of adventuring, on my way home from flogging this new Tiger all over the mountainside, I was inspired enough to explore a new route: Instead of taking the 210 to the 57 like I usually do, I hopped on 5 South, to the 10 West, to the 710 South! (I had to go to Long Beach to do a bike swap with Ryan.) Was it scary? A little. There are some parts of LA where you really don’t want to have to stop, but the Triumph Tiger 1200 XCa had me feeling all omnipotent. Bring it on!
Pitting the ultimate expression of soccer mom adventurism in the form of Honda’s VFR1200X against the top tier off-roader in Triumph’s ever-increasing line of Explorer models is audacious, if not a little bit irrational. But ever the astute brain trust of intrepid motojournos, we rose to the occasion and Sherlock Holmes’d our way to a few rather elementary discoveries.
Triumph has diversified its 1215cc Tiger Explorer lineup, following the pattern established by its smaller Tiger 800 siblings announced at EICMA last year. Like the 800s, the Tiger Explorer will be available in six trim levels, each offering a different balance between adventure and touring.
There’s a lot to like about Triumph’s Explorer, including excellent comfort, rugged styling and an amiable three-cylinder engine. However, our recent nine-bike comparison test of adventure bikes revealed the Explorer falls short of competing on level terms with the latest and greatest in this rapidly evolving category.