Triumph Unveils 2020 Tiger 900

A ground-up redesign makes the Tiger more purposeful than ever.

900 Rally Pro
The 2020 Triumph Tiger 900 Rally Pro. Somewhere in Africa.Triumph

As the calendar year comes to a close, and we thought we’d already identified all the bikes we can’t wait to ride in 2020, Triumph pulls a rabbit out of the hat. Well, a Tiger actually. From the look of things, the 2020 Tiger 900 has all the ingredients to be a worthy successor to the popular Tiger 800, a bike that’s won the hearts of thousands of ADV-touring riders since its introduction in 2010.

And make no mistake, Triumph hasn’t merely given the 900 a face-lift and a Euro 5-compensating displacement boost. The 2020 Tiger 900 GT and Rally models are the next generation of Triumph’s adventure lineup, and feature all-new electronics, chassis, suspension, brakes, and engine.

Triumph 86’d the XR and XC model designations, and replaced them with the GT and Rally names, respectively. But as before, the lineup comprises six models—the base-model Tiger 900, GT, a low seat-height GT, GT Pro, Rally, and Rally Pro.

Tiger GT Pro
2020 Triumph Tiger GT Pro.Triumph

The change in nomenclature is intended to highlight the more distinct identities of the GT and Rally families. Brandon Keller, Triumph USA’s operations manager, says, “What we’ve really tried to do is separate the Rally and GT versions out so that the GT is way more of a road bike and the Rally is way more of an off-road bike to really make it not feel like they’re basically the same things but with different wheels.”

Before we get into the differences between the Rally and GT models, here are a few headlines: Triumph claims the 888cc engine is good for 94 hp at 8,750 rpm and 64 pound-feet of torque at 7,250 rpm. It also has a revised 1-3-2 firing order that provides what the company describes as a twin-like feel low in the rev range (consider our interest piqued). The boffins back in Hinckley were able to reduce overall weight by a claimed 16 pounds (depending on the model) and the lighter tubular chassis has a bolt-on aluminum subframe. The whole range also gets high-end Brembo Stylema Monoblocks, a new six-axis IMU developed with Continental, a large 7-inch TFT dash (on all but the base model), and the top-spec models get up/down quickshifters.

Tiger jumping
Suspension is all-new. Triumph has replaced the previous generation’s WP units with ones from Marzocchi on the base model, GT, and GT Pro. It went for Showa units for the Rally and Rally Pro. Off-road fans should be pleased to see that the Rally models have nearly an inch more travel than on last year’s XCX and XCA, with 9.5 inches of travel in the front and 9.1 inches in the rear (compared to 7.1/6.7 inches on the GT). While the base model has only preload adjustability in the rear, on the other versions, suspension is fully adjustable (except for the lack of compression damping in the rear). The GT Pro even has an electronically adjustable rear shock, with nine damping and four preload settings.Triumph

The more on-road-focused GT models have 19/17-inch cast wheels, “sportier” ergos, and shorter-travel Marzocchi suspension, while the off-road-biased Rally lineup has spoked 21/17-inch wheels, off-road-oriented ergos, and longer-travel Showa suspension. Ride modes are also model-dependent.

Triumph tiger seat
The Tiger 900, 900 GT, and 900 GT Pro have a seat height adjustable from 31.9–32.7 inches. The 900 Rally and 900 Rally Pro’s seat height is adjustable from 33.5–34.3 inches. The low ride height GT model is adjustable from 29.9–30.7 inches.Triumph

Triumph redesigned the steel trellis frame and moved the engine 1.6 inches forward and 0.8 inch down in the chassis to improve low-speed maneuverability, and to give it an even narrower waist. Swinging a leg over the new Rally Pro, you will find the Tiger 900 definitely feels slimmer through the seat. Ground clearance remains the same, thanks to a redesigned oil sump. There’s also an all-new swingarm that’s pretty enough to make you want to hang it on your wall.

LED lighting
Fit and finish is typical Triumph, which is to say, industry-leading. High-quality details abound, like the brushed aluminum headlight surrounds and LED lighting.Triumph

Triumph’s three-cylinder engine remains unique in the ADV world, and on the Tiger 900 there appears to be even more to recommend it. The most dramatic change is the unique firing order: The first cylinder fires followed 180 degrees later by the third cylinder; 270 degrees later, the second cylinder fires; and 270 degrees later it starts all over again. In addition to the new crank, the engine has new cams, Nikasil-plated cylinder liners, new pistons and rods, and magnesium engine covers. If not a clean-sheet design, it’s certainly pretty close.

Tiger dash
Check out the size of that dash. With a new six-axis IMU to manage cornering ABS and traction control, Triumph can pit the Tiger 900 against other flagship ADVs. Wait, I thought the Tiger 1200 was Triumph’s flagship ADV. Available ride modes depend on the model. The Rally Pro has Rain, Road, Sport, Off-road, Off-road Pro (which turns off TC and ABS), and a customizable mode.Triumph

It was only two years ago that I was in Morocco riding the brand-new Tiger 800 through the falling snow and muddy trails of the Atlas Mountains, looking for something bad to say about it. I couldn’t really think of anything. To make sure my estimation was accurate, I took it on the Mid-Atlantic BDR for a couple thousand miles of back-road flogging. I loved the thing.

Since then, the competition has gotten more aggressive, with the likes of the KTM 790 Adventure blowing the minds of our off-road-loving testers. If you ask me, the Tiger has always been for the rider who knows spec sheets tell only part of the story. As a sublimely refined package, the Tiger 800 was one of the easiest bikes to ride on all-day blasts on the street, and was friendly and predictable off road. It was a flattering motorcycle that made riders of average skill feel good about themselves.

Tiger Gas tank
There’s a larger 5.3-gallon tank to help compensate for a slightly thirstier engine. The new windscreen is adjustable. Pro models get illuminated switch gear. The Rally Pro and GT Pro models get up/down quickshifters, heated grips and seats, a tire pressure monitoring system, “My Triumph” Bluetooth connectivity, and a host of other features.Triumph

With the Tiger 900, Triumph is forcing the average rider to pause for a moment of self-reflection. Do you need the off-road capability of the Rally, or are you going to spend less time in the dunes and more time on the pavement, maybe with a passenger aboard? Let existential quandary commence (“Who am I?!”).

We’ll have to wait to ride them before we cast any judgment, but we can foresee the Tiger 900 GT giving the Ducati Multistrada 950 S hell on the twisties and the Tiger 900 Rally giving the Honda Africa Twin 1100 and KTM 790 Adventure a run for their money when the pavement ends.

Brembo Stylema brake calipers
Triumph excels at giving buyers bang for their buck. Brembo Stylema brake calipers are the province of high-end superbikes (see: Ducati Panigale V4 S), so it’s pretty rad that Triumph puts them on a “middleweight” ADV bike that costs half as much. It also uses stainless steel braided brake lines, which many high-end superbikes omit.Triumph

H2: 2020 Triumph Tiger 900 Pricing And Availability

If you’re itching to get your hands on the new Tiger, there’s good news. In spite of the vastness of the update, the base model 900 has an MSRP of $12,500, only $500 more than the 2019 Tiger 800. The GT starts at $14,300, and the Rally starts at $15,000—expect them to show up in dealerships in April. Pricing on Pro models has not yet been released, but expect a March arrival at a Triumph dealer near you.

LED fog lights
The Rally Pro features LED fog lights, an aluminum sump guard, and crash bars.Triumph

The hard part may be deciding which one is best for you. Anyone else feel an existential crisis brewing?