Bikes we love

What I want: Triumph Tiger Sport

W’hey, it’s been a while since I’ve done one of these posts. To some extent, that speaks to how busy I’ve been lately. I’ve been getting a lot of work from RideApart and –– living the dream.
But also it speaks to how happy I’ve been with my trusty Suzuki V-Strom 1000. The thing is a comfortable, fun, do-everything workhorse that –– ever since I installed a Givi AirFlow screen –– has been pretty close to perfect. 
Pretty close. I would really like cruise control.
So, I have to admit, it’s primarily that feature that draws me to the new Triumph Tiger Sport. Well, OK, that’s not the only reason. If cruise control were really so make-or-break for me, I would have bought one of those cruise control kits from Australia (does anyone know if those things actually work?).
There’s also the fact that the Tiger Sport is a sport-tourer with adventure-style ergonomics but no pretense of off-road ability. And its 1050-cc inline triple delivers something close to 130 hp.
The Tiger Sport has been around in one form or another since 2007. It was sold for a while in the US as the Tiger 1050, but apparently Americans couldn’t wrap their heads around the concept and it hasn’t been available Stateside since its last update back in 2012. This new version won’t be available in America, either.
Ever since the Strom taught me that it’s possible to appreciate an ugly bike I have had my eye on the post-2012 Tiger Sport, and I even toyed with the idea of getting one a few months ago when Triumph was offering £1,200 of free accessories as part of the deal. I didn’t bite, though, because I didn’t like the idea of giving up traction control, a feature on the Strom that has helped keep me upright on at least two occasions.
Now that the Tiger Sport is equipped with traction control, and multiple rider modes and that blessed cruise control, I am very interested.
So interested, in fact, that I find myself able to develop mild appreciation for this bike’s aesthetics. It certainly helps that I (unlike seemingly everyone) actually like the gigantic Megaman-cannon exhausts that are showing up on bikes as a result of Euro 4 regulations. I think they look cool.
I like, too, the single-sided swingarm, and that bellypan/sump guard thing. The front end is a little too Kawasaki Versys for me (whereas seemingly everyone else in moto-journalism loves the Versys, I hate it), but you don’t really see a bike when you’re sitting on it.
This looks like a motorcycle that can handle every task I currently put to my Strom, but with the added benefit of being more powerful, having better residual value, and, of course, cruise control. Plus, the scuttlebutt is that this particular model will be assembled at Triumph’s plant in England. I can’t find any information either way, but, if true, it would speak to my sentimental patriotic side.
The voice of reason
Having said all that, I’m not sure my reasons for wanting a Tiger Sport are all that strong. I mean, effectively I like this bike because it is –– I assume, I’ve not test ridden it yet –– like my Strom but with the addition of cruise control and a Triumph badge (which earns more street cred in Britain).  Is that enough reason to get rid of the Strom? The fact that the Tiger Sport’s got more power than the Strom doesn’t factor into things because I have never use the full of the Strom’s 100 hp.
So, just two reasons. Are those enough to justify getting a more expensive bike? Probably not. Especially since those features already exist on the less-expensive Tiger 800 XRx.
And that speaks to another concern I’d have about the Tiger Sport. I’m not entirely sure that Triumph motorcycles are as high-quality as the company would like to believe. 
If you’ve read my review of the Tiger 800 XRx, you know that its gearbox was one of the worst I’ve ever encountered. I’ve since been told by a number of folks that I was unlucky, and that, in fact, the gearboxes are fine. Meanwhile, if you’ve read my review of the Tiger Explorer you’ll know that I experienced wobble above 75 mph. And, again, I’ve since had Triumph riders since tell me that I was unlucky, and that, in fact, Tiger Explorers are perfectly stable.
I don’t think anyone is lying to me –– maybe I have just been unlucky with Triumphs –– but my experiences have made me question Triumph’s quality control. I’m not sure I’d want to spend my own money and risk being unlucky again.
Maybe I’ll just write letters to Suzuki, asking them to add cruise control to the Strom.