Off-Street Cred: 1993-1998 Triumph Tiger 900

Comparing the Triumph Tiger 900 with the other big adventure bikes of its day, theBMW R100GS and Cagiva/Ducati 900 Elefant.


Triumph Tiger 900

Years Produced: 1993-1998
Power: 85hp @ 8,000rpm
Top Speed: 130mph (period test)
Engine: 885cc (76mm x 65mm) liquid-cooled, DOHC, 12-valve triple
Transmission: Straight-cut gear primary, 6-speed, chain final drive
Weight/MPG: 455lb (dry), 38mpg (avg.)
Price then/now: &9,895 (1995)/$3,500-$8,000

It took quite a while for us on the left side of the pond to catch on to adventure bikes: it’s fair to say that the U.S. motorcycle market was about cruisers, dirt bikes and street standards until the late 1990s. Though Honda’s Africa Twin, Yamaha’s Super Tenere and BMW’s R100GS were all top sellers in continental Europe, only the Beemer ever made it to the U.S. So when the first generation 650cc Cagiva Elefant arrived in 1984, U.S. testers couldn’t get their heads around it — especially its weight: “twice that of a 250 motocrosser,” said Cycle magazine in December 1985, noting, “when 454lbs of motorcycle gets away from you, the chances of snatching it back are slim.”

But by the early 1990s, there was some indication that the U.S. market might catch on. The 1993 Triumph Tiger (shown) was aimed squarely at German and French buyers, and it wasn’t until 1995 that the Tiger made it to these shores.

The new Triumph company also had a steep hill to climb to dispel conventional Triumph lore about oil leaks, flaky electrics, marginal reliability and poor finish. Perhaps because of this, the first-generation Hinckley Triumphs were substantially overbuilt, while adopting well-proven technologies, quality components and fastidious quality control. The machines were assembled in a brand-new factory built on a green-field site with the latest machine tools and production methodology. Fortunately, Triumph owner John Bloor had deep pockets.

Though with a very different stance and styling, the Tiger was still based on Triumph’s modular motorcycle concept introduced in 1990. It used essentially the same 885cc 3-cylinder, liquid-cooled, DOHC 12-valve engine with 6-speed transmission as the 900 Trident, Sprint, Daytona and Speed Triple, but was retuned for torque.

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