Triumph 1200 Explorer Review

Welcome to the Adventure Motorcycle Traveller Reviews. Touring expert Paul Yarrow has covered over 45,000 miles on three generations of Triumph Tiger 1200 Explorers, here’s his review…  

35-furkajoch pass (1761m)

Contents

By Paul Yarrow

By Paul Yarrow

Expert motorcycle tourer

Quick info

  • Bike:
  • 2014 Gen1 Triumph Explorer 1200, £13,157 (including £1,392 extras)
  • 2016 Gen2 Triumph Explorer XCA 1200, £16,202 (including £473 extras)
  • 2017 Gen3 Triumph Explorer XRT 1200, £15,949 (including £625 extras)
  • Miles:
  • Gen1 – 18,000 miles
  • Gen2 – 13,000 miles
  • Gen3 – 14,000 miles
  • Engine: Three-cylinder, liquid-cooled, 1215cc, FI
  • Power: 137 bhp
  • Torque: 91 ft-lbs
  • Kerb weight: 244kg
  • Seat height: 837mm
  • Tank capacity: 20 litres
  • Tyres: 19 and 17
  • Front suspension: 48mm, fully-adjustable WP (semi-active option)
  • Rear suspension: Single rear WP, fully-adjustable (semi-active option)

Prep

Why this bike?

At the time, I was doing two good mileage European touring trips per year, so ergonomics, comfort and power were essential. Prior to buying the 2014 Gen1 Triumph Explorer 1200, I tested the BMW GS1200, Aprilia Caponord 1200, KTM 1190, BMW 1000XR and Ducati Multistrada 1200. I’m glad I took the time to test ride several similar motorcycles, back-to-back on the same days to give me a winner and a loser. They all offered different strengths and weaknesses, including the Triumph. However, the commanding riding position of the Explorer, the ergonomics and the silky, powerful triple gave me my ‘winner’.

 

silvretta pass

Modifications

I fitted my first Gen1 Triumph Explorer with SW-Motech Trax panniers. Fortunately, Triumph have continued to use the original frame on the Gen2 and 3 models which has allowed me to swap the pannier rails between each model. When I purchased my current Gen3 model, I added a top box to the setup and leave the side pannier rails and top box in place throughout the year.

Luggage

I use pannier inner bags for convenience. It’s so much better than dragging a wet and dirty bag or pannier through a hotel’s lobby!

Depending on the trip, I sometimes use a small tank bag for easy access to those essentials like visor cleaning products, sunglasses, Peage or ferry tickets etc.

Travel

Reliability

Fortunately, they have all been 100% reliable with no breakdowns, issues, or even punctures (lucky, eh?). The only issue I’ve experienced has been a faulty keyless fob when it went in for it’s last annual service.

Servicing, maintenance and comfort

The service intervals are at either every 10,000 miles or annually. I always use a Triumph dealership for servicing and haven’t had any issues so far. And as for long distance, it’s all-day comfortable on tours for me (I’m 5ft 11inches). 

22-myself & wayne onthestelviojune2019

Good and Bad

What's good?

Comfort; Riding Position; TFT Display; Engine Power; a ‘Planted’ feel that allows you to make progress; Powered Screen; Semi-Active Suspension; Up/Down Shift Assist; Fuel consumption is 45-50mpg. I have run multiple pairs of Michelin Anakee 3’s tyres and found them very stable, with good turn-in, regardless that some people report that they find them noisy.

What's not?

As everyone knows, the Triumph Tiger 1200 Explorer carries a little ‘timber’ and because it sits high in the frame, it makes it difficult to ‘paddle’ around a car park. So, you develop a mindset of overly pre-planning every junction/parking spot and avoid gravel.

Tip: You should consider adding an enlarged foot peg stand to provide more stability when parked, plus it raises the bike a little, so when fully loaded with panniers etc, you can lift easier!

Improvements?

The only change I’d make is the WEIGHT, WEIGHT, WEIGHT! Ideally, I would like Triumph to produce an up-to-date version of the old Triumph Tiger 1050. It would be an absolute hit. 

The Tiger 1200 keyless fob is an absolute pain because a key is still required to open the fuel filler cap…Grrr!

Verdict

The Triumph Explorer is way too heavy as a round-the-world bike. What it is though, is an economical, all-day comfortable, touring and weekend bike that has taken me to North Africa and many European Countries over the last six years with 100% reliability. It’s the best motorcycle for my needs and is the reason why I’ve had three generations of them. The 4th Generation Tiger 1200 is expected to be released before the end of 2020 and potentially in showrooms early 2021, so that must be worth a test ride too… If you’re after a reliable, comfortable and excellent touring motorcycle for road-based adventures, then the Triumph Explorer is perfect! 

12a-leutasch, tyrol, austria

About the author

Paul Yarrow

Paul Yarrow is based in the UK with 40 plus years touring experience of the UK and Europe. Two years ago, he started filming his trips and created a growing YouTube channel, plus social media pages to share his trips, photos and routes with other motorcyclists.

You can follow Paul’s travels here:

Greece and North Macedonia Motorcycle Guide

Read more on Motorcycle Reviews 

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6 thoughts on “Triumph 1200 Explorer Review”

  1. As one who bought a Gen 2 XRT for 2 up touring here are a few points to add to Paul’s apparent solo review.Like Paul, my bike has covered over 10k of almost trouble free miles in 3 years of ownership.
    – The Gen 2 bike is heavier its successor because it cam as standard with engine bars & Givi manufactured, Triumph pattern pannier rails which are a complete disaster for “petite pillions”. Givi’s own rails resolve this problem. When launching the Gen3 model, Triumph removed the previously price inclusive bars & rails, claimed an 11kg weight saving, & then charged £600 to refit them as accessories!
    – Much is written about the “no speed” maneuverability which must haunt salesmen in showroom demos but, once on the move, the TSAS suspension is a complete revelation (imo far superior to BMW’s standard weedy springs) which adjusts to self level with all loads, resulting in excellently predictable handling. Potential owners should note however, that the self adjusting ride height does not “settle”, & can be a problem for anyone who is “vertically challenged”. Like Paul, I am 5’11”, so there is no problem. Triumph must have realised this in developing the “low” models, but then removed the very important centre stand (my opinion) in order to increase the reduced ground clearance.
    – I am also a great fan of the electrically adjustable screen (never knew I need one!), but rather critical of the fuel range simply because I would prefer another 40 miles between stops.
    – “Enthusiastic” riders should be prepared for “voracious” front tyre wear (weight distribution?),fast wearing rear brake pads (linked brake balance?) & rear caliper pins which are prone to seize, incorporate countersunk hex heads made of “monkey metal” & can be a real (expensive) pain to repair.
    – As for Triumph dealers, the quality of service & value for money can be variable but as “a rule of thumb”, the independents are more reliable than their (car based) multi-outlets.

    Reply
    • Hi Richard, thanks very much for the additional information.
      That’s incredible regarding removing the bars and rails, claiming a weight saving and then charging for them to be added! Good to know about all these other issues as well.
      All really interesting and valuable info. Many thanks!

      Reply
  2. Thanks for your comment, it makes all my grumbling worthwhile!
    My argument with Triumph was based around the following:
    1. The pannier rack was price inclusive “original equipment” fitted by Triumph to the Gen 2 XRT/XCA models.
    1.1 At the 2017 Birmingham show I had a long discussion with the after sales customer service manager & demonstrated the problem on one of the display bikes & he appeared to agree with my observations. As requested, I made a written complaint which was then rejected on the grounds that the Triumph design was better at high speeds:- but what good was that to me if my pillion didn’t fit?
    2.A year later I met the “accessory product manager” (a young graduate) at the following show. She admitted that the design of racks for Gen 3 bikes had been modified, but then claimed Triumph manufactured them in house! As one who has been using Givi equipment since the 1990’s & worked in engineering for most of my life, I think I can recognise Givi’s manufacturing (& tooling ) styles.
    Great bike spoilt by poor product support!

    Reply
    • Hi Richard,
      Well yeah, that does sound pretty poor on Triumph’s part – and a shame really. I wonder how many other manufacturers pull similar tricks!?
      What bike are you riding now out of curiosity?
      Cheers

      Reply
  3. It’s hard to say how many manufacturers pull stunts like this until you are one of their victims. Being very old & now on bike #67 on the “My Bikes” spreadheet, I live in hope that “The next bike will be the best one”. Today the Explorer is still here for “2 upmanship” & is accompanied by a Triumph Street Triple 765RS suitably blinged up for geriatric solo riding.
    Regards

    Reply

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