1 Feb 2016

2016 Triumph Tiger 800XCx - 400 Miles On A Motorcycle In January

Modern cars don't need running in. My Volvo XC60 will go in for its first service soon - at 12,000 miles and 12 months old. Modern motorcycles, with their higher revving and higher performing engines, do need running in.

My new Triumph Tiger 800XCx needs running at half revs for the first 600 miles after which it will head to the dealer for an oil and filter change.

For the first couple of weeks after taking delivery I was frustrated that I hadn't ridden the Tiger that much and I was frustrated that when I did I could only use the first 6,000 rpm.

So I decided to take it on a road trip. I called my brother, who lives 200 miles away, to see if he was free for me to pop at the weekend. He was. I prayed for clear weather.

Saturday arrived and the sky was clear. Being late January this also meant all the warmth had escaped from the surface of earth. The bike told me it was 4°C. Very cold for riding a bike.

I had strapped a tail pack to the rear seat and stuffed a change of clothes and my tooth brush in it. I dressed in leathers, rather than full waterproof gear, because my leathers are more comfortable than my ancient waterproofs.

I wore thick socks in my boots and a thick fleece under my jacket. It was 11am and it was damn cold when I fired up the Tiger.

The bike has an electronic display with all sorts of information. You can choose trip 1 or trip 2 and within those you can select miles covered, average mpg, average speed and time on the road. The bike also tells you which gear you are in, what the temperature is, how many miles until the tank is empty and what speed you have set the cruise control.

Yes, cruise control. I had never ridden a bike with cruise control before.

The Tiger is a big bike. I have to really swing my leg over the seat and with a tail pack on this is even more difficult. Once on the bike and rolling it feels much lighter and agile than it actually is. Within a few miles I felt confident in it and in my ability to control it.

I was also feeling pretty cold. The first few miles were 30mph country lanes but then I was on the M4 followed by the A34 it was 80mph cruising.

God I was grateful for the heated grips and hand guards. In the past I've come off a bike and not been able to feel my fingers for half an hour afterwards but on the Tiger my hands will always be toasty. This was something of a revelation.

My feet were also warm, due to the hiking socks I was wearing. Unfortunately the rest of me wasn't quite so warm. In fact the cold air rushing around my neck and into my helmet felt a lot colder than 4°C - that's wind chill for you.

Otherwise the bike was great. Even though I could only use half revs it had plenty of power and the cruise control was amazing. It works just the same as in a car but when you disengage it it does jolt the bike a bit, something I learned to anticipate.

100 miles passed smoothly and I stopped at a service station for fuel for the bike and for me. Due to the bars being wider than I was used to and the fact I wasn't bike-fit I my shoulders were aching. I necked a chocolate cake for calories and a hot chocolate for warmth and set off again.

My core temperature was lower than I would have liked but the second half of the journey passed without event. When I got to my brothers I fell off the bike and drank a gallon of tea.

The next day I headed back home. This time the weather was warmer but wetter. Maybe I should have worn waterproof gear. My brother had an all in one waterproof over-suit but it wasn't quite big enough for me and I felt it would have hindered my riding so I didn't use it.

It was drizzling when I left. I had filled up with fuel at the end of the previous day so had a full tank which would be good for around 150 miles.

The rain didn't stop but with the screen, hand guards and bits and pieces of plastic fairing it was only really my lower legs and shoulders which were wet.

After an hour I realised I was really enjoying the journey. The previous day had been dominated by cold and getting used to the bike. Now, with experience and a slightly higher temperature, I was able to focus on the bike, my riding and all those things a biker enjoys on a ride.

After another hour I stopped for fuel and lunch and chatted with a fellow biker. He was wearing a bin bag under his leathers. He had ridden 200 miles on Friday but his clutch cable had snapped on the journey and he'd been stuck by the side of the M6 in the pouring rain waiting for a recovery truck. All his gear was sodden, even two days later. Poor bugger.

On the rest of the journey I continued to enjoy the bike and the ride and my confidence increased to the extent I was able to ride just as I had on my old Street Triple.

I arrived home three hours after leaving and having covered almost 400 miles in two days. I was exhausted but elated. Riding a motorcycle in January isn't the most sensible thing to do but the Tiger had made it bearable, and even fun.

And now it is run-in. It will be serviced next weekend and then I'll be able to rev it right the way up to the red line and enjoy all that power.

Can't wait.

By Matt Hubbard