For years the BMW roundel has graced the tank of the adventure rider’s motorcycle of choice. The Bavarian marque’s commitment to capabilities in both the middleweight and open-class ADV categories — especially in off-road conditions — was oft regarded as second to none; an applaudable benchmark to some, a target to others. With the 2015 Tiger 800 XCx, Triumph not only hits the Bavarians’ mark, it pushes the standard to a whole other level.

The Tiger’s previous model’s missteps landed solely in off-piste conditions. Suspension issues, a high center-of-gravity, added weight and twitchy fueling were the main culprits. To address these lapses, the Hinckley-based builders put their middleweight on a diet — it’s 33 pounds lighter — and turned to technology and an industry leader to tame the Tiger’s wilder side. KTM-owned WP Performance Systems was tapped to sort ride quality and their components (including 43mm front forks and a remote-reservoir mono-shock rear unit, in manually adjustable form) have worked wonders for instilling confidence in rugged terrain. Progressive damping and a high ground clearance (coupled with a 21-inch front tire) turn obstacles into playthings. Throttle inputs are micromanaged by an all-new algorithmic interface complete with programmable rider modes to deliver some of the smoothest right-wrists on the planet. The combination of these two upgrades alone have given the Tiger a true dual-sport identity that all but conquers what physics shouldn’t allow.

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Best of all, these changes have also improved the plucky Brit’s already impeccable on-road manners. The Tiger’s trellis-framed chassis and torquey, 94 horsepower triple had always made it a riot on road. Thankfully, there were no sacrifices made here — this kitty still loves to hunt apexes. But the strength remains that what had always been areas of compromise plaguing the Tiger’s status in the wild, Triumph has now morphed into to competencies. And in doing so, they deliver one of the most capable and enjoyable adventure motorcycles to date.

$13,499+


Engine: 800cc Inline Three-Cylinder
Horsepower: 94
Torque: 58 lb-ft
Transmission: Six-speed
Curb Weight: 487 pounds