NEW Triumph Tiger 850 Sport (2021) Review

 

For 2021 Triumph has launched an all-new Tiger, the 850 Sport, which replaces the standard Tiger 900. It shares many similarities with their highly acclaimed 900, including the same 888cc capacity, but Triumph has electronically de-tuned the engine to make it more user-friendly and road focused. And, unlike the Tiger 900GT, the new 850 Tiger Sport can be converted to A2.

Lean sensitive rider aids and the IMU have been removed, replaced by conventional traction control and ABS, while the suspension is no longer multi-adjustable. However, this lower specification is reflected in the price, £9330, which is over £2000 cheaper than the base Tiger 900GT (£11,400). On price alone it’s tempting, and after our first ride I can tell you the words ‘base’ and ‘entry level’ shouldn’t dampen your enthusiasm for this new model. It may just be the most surprising bike of 2021.

It’s just seven degrees outside and I have a ton of jobs to do around the house which I can’t – and shouldn’t – put off again. But instead of knuckling down to some DIY in the warm, I’m trying to find the key to Triumph’s new Tiger 850 Sport and hoping the wife will understand when I’m gone for a few hours.

Like a child with a new toy on Christmas day, I can’t leave the 850 Sport alone, it’s such a great bike and far more satisfying than I was expecting. Yes, it may be a diluted Tiger 900 (which it replaces), but it hasn’t lost any of its spirit. Beer with the alcohol removed?  Bond without a car chase and gadgets? Anything but.

Some in the media, including myself, have used words like ‘entry-level’ and ‘budget’ to describe the new 850 Sport, which is a bit like describing the FooFighters as mildly entertaining middle-aged men in a band: correct but unfair. As soon as I took delivery of the triple I started to smile, and it hasn’t worn off yet. It has been a long time since a sub-£10k bike has been so much fun as well as versatile.

 

For and against
  • Ease of use
  • Sound and character
  • Versatility
  • No centre stand
  • No cruise control as standard
  • Why call it a 850?
Triumph Tiger 850 sport 2021 review price spec_61

 

Triumph Tiger 850 Sport Price - £9300

The Tiger 850 Sport replaces the standard Tiger 900, therefore £9300 is a two-grand saving over the base Tiger 900 GT (£11,400). That’s a hefty amount and enough for insurance, some new kit and a long weekend away touring. Compared to the Tiger 900GT, on price alone it’s tempting. But let's look at the competition.

BMW has the F 750 GS, which, like the Triumph, performs a similar trick of being described as one thing, a 750, when it’s actually another, a (detuned) 853cc parallel twin, an engine that’s also found in the 850 GS. The 750 GS starts from £8600, is similar on spec and torque, but is significantly down on peak power compared to the Tiger 850.

The base BMW F 850 GS has more power than the Tiger 850 and is more desirable than the F 750GS, but its price is just over £10,000 for the base model at £10,185.

Another bike I would throw into the mix is the Suzuki V-Strom 1050. The big V-Strom was updated in 2019 and edges the Tiger 850 Sport on power and torque, although not by much, and the base model is priced at a competitive £9999. The downside of the V-Strom compared to the Tiger 850 is that it’s considerably heavier (and can’t be restricted to A2).

Ducati has the 950 Multistrada at £11,999 and KTM has the 890 Adventure at £10,999, price points that place them in Tiger 900GT territory. Yamaha has the Tenere 700 at £9499, which like the Tiger can be converted to conform to A2, but with a 21-inch front wheel caters far more for off-road riding than the Tiger 850.

 

Power and Torque

The Tiger 850 has the same engine capacity as the Tiger 900 range, 888cc, but has been detuned (electronically) to make the bike more accessible for new or inexperienced riders. Peak power is now 84bhp @ 8500rpm, compared to 94bhp @ 8750rpm on the older Tiger 900, and peak torque is 60lbft @ 6500rpm, compared to 64.2lbft @ 7250rpm on Tiger 900. The 850 is 10bhp down and 4.2ftlb down on torque, but those peak power and torque figures are produced lower down in the rev range, thus making the new bike more usable and rider-friendly.

The A2 restriction kit, which consists of a twist grip and ECU, drops engine output to 47bhp (35 kW) @7000 rpm and 57.5ftlb @3750 rpm. This kit can be simply removed by any Triumph dealer when needed.

 

 

Engine, gearbox and exhaust

The Tiger 850 shares the same innovative T-plane crank as the 900 with a 1-3-2 firing order that gives the British triple a unique sound – a throaty rasping noise – which also adds character. All too many Euro-5-compliant bikes, of which the Tiger 850 is one, sound dull and soulless, but not this one.  I’m unsure how Triumph has managed it, but it sounds terrific for a stock bike in 2021.

As you would expect from Triumph, the throttle delivery is liquid smooth and effortless. At slow speeds the throttle connection is soft, which makes riding a doddle around town, especially when performing tight U-turns. As mentioned, Triumph has moved the meat of the torque lower down in the rev range compared to the 900, and you instantly feel that. There is lovely, useable drive on tap at low speeds, which then builds strongly when accelerating.

While the 850 is 10bhp down on peak power compared to the 900 and noticeably down on torque, that’s only when you’re in the top quarter of the rev range. For the vast majority of the test, I was nowhere near full throttle, so I never felt short-changed by the power drop. With the TC switched off there was still ample power to lift the front wheel in second gear, which might not be a particularly scientific approach to engine testing, but it does show the new Tiger doesn’t want to go to bed at 9pm with a hot chocolate. It’s still a fun and rewarding bike to ride.

Even when I danced around on the smooth gearbox and started to explore the sporty side of the Sport’s handling, I never felt short-changed or underwhelmed. However, I’m below average height and weight for a male, and never rode two-up or with the optional luggage fitted, so I was experiencing the Sport’s power-to-weight at its best. It felt a little buzzy at 90mph, just above 6000rpm in top, which might intrude on long autobahn rides. And I would imagine fully loaded and two-up that you’d miss the extra power and torque of the Tiger 900. But for everyday riding most riders, especially inexperienced riders who the Tiger 850 is aimed at, will find the power more than enough.

There are two riding modes to choose from, Road and Rain, both with dedicated throttle maps and traction control while ABS remains constant in both modes. Rain still produces full power but with softer power delivery and more intrusive TC. Frankly, the power delivery is so soft and forgiving in the normal Road mode that it’s hardly needed, but I guess some may prefer the added security and margins it provides.

 

 

Triumph Tiger 850 Sport Comfort and economy

Comfort is excellent. The screen height is manually adjustable (by 50mm) and just about do-able on the move, while wind deflectors on either side provide just enough wind protection. I spent the majority of the test with the screen set to its lowest settings. The seat and bars are both adjustable, and on standard settings the wide bars, low pegs and comfortable seat were virtually faultless compared to similar bikes in the category. Cruise control was missed, as were heated grips and hand guards on those cold mornings, but we have to remember that £9300 price.

Triumph quote 55mpg, whereas I averaged 47mpg, although this was mainly on country roads and avoiding the motorway while making that triple sing (it really does sound good...). On a well-behaved run I averaged closer to 50mpg, but still not the 55mpg claimed by Triumph. But that isn’t bad, and while the 20-litre tank gives a theoretical range of around 250 miles, it will be at around 200 miles or just below when you need to start thinking about fuel.

200 miles-plus in one stint certainly shouldn’t be a problem in terms of comfort. That high-sped buzz that becomes noticeable at 6000rpm and above is felt primarily through the pegs and increases with the speed. It’s not annoying but is worth commenting on, especially for those who might be embarking on some high-speed touring around Europe later in the year.

 

 

Handling, suspension and weight

As you’d expect, to save costs over the more expensive Tiger 900GT, the 850 has reduced the specification of the suspension, with no adjustment on the front and only pre-load on the rear – though the adjuster is remote and easy to access. As with the engine, I was expecting a sharp drop in performance, but the road-tuned Marzocchi 45mm inverted forks up front and Marzocchi rear shock gave high levels of feedback and support for this type of bike with long-travel suspension. The Michelin Anakee dual-purpose rubber worked well from the off, offering impressive feedback in the cold, damp and dry – a truly universal tyre.

Within a few miles the Sport and I clicked, meaning it felt like my bike, one I’d owned for a year or so, and I was all-too happy to throw on its side to almost peg scraping levels of lean. It made me full of confidence.

Yes, I made the mistake of underestimating the Tiger 850 Sport and how much riding quality it can deliver. The wide bars allow you to throw it around with relative ease, and it remains unfazed by terrible road surfaces and slimy conditions. When I challenged the Sport with poorly surfaced and even unclassified roads, at speed, it remained stable and unfazed.

The higher the road speed, the more front end starts to lift a little and the rear sits, and the more aware you become of the Sport’s adventure dynamics, particularly its long-travel suspension and large 19-inch front tyre. It doesn’t understeer or run wide, but it does take more effort to flick from side to side at speed. At low speeds and around town there’s a nice balance to complement the smooth fuelling plus a natural seating position and ergonomics that make it ideal for less experienced riders. This Tiger isn’t a tiger at all because it’s as intimidating as a kitten. But I guess very few people would buy a bike called the Kitten 850.

Triumph describes the Tiger 850 as a road-focused adventure bike, and despite the dual-purpose rubber, it was never really designed to take on anything too serious off-road, especially with cast alloy wheels. Light off-road work on easy gravel trails is just about within reach, but don’t attempt anything serious. You’ll have to opt for the off-road biased Tiger 900 Rally if you want to take on some real off-road.

 

Triumph Tiger 850 Sport Brakes

Did someone at Triumph tick the wrong box when they were ordering brakes from Brembo? Why have they fitted top-spec radial Brembo Stylema four-piston calipers? Maybe there was a special from Brembo on a Friday afternoon…

I’m not complaining, far from it – the better the brakes the happier I am. Obviously, the same brakes that are fitted to some superbikes haul up less than the Sport’s 200kg (192kg dry), and on the Triumph are far from being too sharp or aggressive; and, no, they don’t throw you over the bars with one finger resting on the lever... Meanwhile, the ABS isn’t intrusive but, remember, without an IMU there is no cornering ABS as there is on the Tiger 900GT.

 

Triumph Tiger 850 sport 2021 review price spec_24

 

Rider aids, extra equipment and accessories

To save on costs, and so the 850 doesn’t compete directly with the Tiger 900, rider aids have been reduced. You still get two riding modes, traction control and ABS – with those outstanding Brembo stoppers – but there isn’t an IMU. What this means is the traction control and ABS are not lean-sensitive, as they are on the Tiger 900.

There are two sides to this argument. One, the Tiger 850 is aimed at a certain type of rider, one who’s not likely to be peg scraping on every apex and chasing a stopwatch. Additionally, the Brembo Stylema brakes are excellent, the standard ABS (just monitoring wheel speed) is also superb, and do you need lean-sensitive traction control on a bike with less than 85bhp and excellent mechanical grip?

The counterargument is that the Tiger 850 is aimed at new riders who would appreciate the safety net of cornering ABS and TC, especially as they are more likely to make a mistake.

Personally, I think the Rain mode is enough to keep new riders safe in tricky conditions. It softens the delivery, increases the traction intervention and the standard ABS is more than enough – but again I’m experienced, and a new rider may be looking at the specs and lack of IMU with a little trepidation.

Considering the new bike's accessibility in terms of price, the switchgear and 5-inch TFT instrumentation are of a high standard. I really like the clocks, the ability to change the style and looks is a nice touch. In fact, the overall finish is a high quality, with the full LED lights and DRL a spec higher than the 900.

There are 60 accessories to select from including a low, 790mm seat option and a range of hard luggage, plus the usual cosmetic trinkets. I think the quick shifter would be a nice touch and possibly heated grips.

 

Rivals

In terms of the lower spec adventure bikes, there’s just as many to choose from as the opposite end of the scale with the big, tech-laden siblings except, of course, these are lighter and lower in power.

 

Rivals

Power

Torque

Weight

Price

BMW F750

57Kw/77bhp @ 7500rpm

83Nm/61ftlb @ 6000rpm

227kg(wet)

£8,600

BMW F850

70Kw/94bhp @ 8250rpm

92Nm/67ftlb @ 6250rpm

229kg (wet)

£10,185

Tiger 900

70kw/94bhp @ 8750rpm

87Nm/64ftlb @ 7250rpm

192kg (dry)

£11,400

Suzuki V-Strom 1050

79Kw/106bhp @ 8500rpm

100Nm/74ftlb @ 6000rpm

236kg(wet)

£9,999

 

Triumph Tiger 850 Sport Verdict

I thought I would feel underwhelmed or short-changed by the Tiger 850 which, put simply, is a de-tuned Tiger 900. But I didn’t; it was a pleasant surprise. The lovely sounding triple has real-world performance and loads of useful torque. It’s fun and lively, even for experienced riders, while the handling, much like the engine, is far more able than I was expecting. The Sport may be relatively basic, but it works and for this type of bike it’s hard to fault, especially when compared to the similar competition.

The Brembo stoppers are top-notch, while the clocks and styling are neat – this is an impressive package at an affordable price. If a friend was looking to come back into biking or had recently passed their test and was attracted to the adventure market, then yes, I’d recommend the Tiger 850 for a test ride without hesitation. It’s a versatile, fun bike, which even has some character to it. It will be interesting to see if new buyers are perturbed by the lack of advanced rider aids. 

 

Triumph Tiger 850 sport 2021 review price spec_65

 

Triumph Tiger 850 Sport Technical Specification

New price

£9300

Capacity

888cc

Bore x Stroke

78 x 61.9mm

Engine layout

In-line triple

Engine details

Water-cooled, 12v.

Power

62.5kw/84bhp @8500rpm

Torque

82Nm/60lbft 6500rpm

Top speed

130mph (EST)

Transmission

6 speed

Average fuel consumption

TESTED: 47mpg (6.0/100km)

CLAIMED: 55.4mpg (5.2/100km)

Tank size

20 litres

Max range to empty

249m (tested)

Rider aids

Riding Modes, Traction Control, ABS – not lean sensitive.

Frame

Tubular steel frame, bolt on subframe

Front suspension

Marzocchi 45mm inverted DLC coating

Front suspension

None

Rear suspension

Marzocchi single rear shock

Rear suspension

Pre-load

Front brake

2x 320mm disc, radial Brembo Stylema four piston caliper

Rear brake

265mm single disc, Brembo single-piston calliper

Front tyre

100/90 R19 on test Michelin Anakee

Rear tyre

150/70 R17 on test Michelin Anakee

Rake/Trail

24.6°/133.3mm

Wheelbase

1556mm

Seat height

810-830mm

Dry weight

192kg

MCIA Secured rating

3/5 stars

Warranty

Unlimited miles / 2 years

Website

www.triumphmotorcycles .com

 

Photography by Joe Dick

 

Triumph Tiger 850 sport 2021 review price spec_01

 

What is MCIA Secured?

MCIA Secured gives bike buyers the chance to see just how much work a manufacturer has put into making their new investment as resistant to theft as possible.

As we all know, the more security you use, the less chance there is of your bike being stolen. In fact, based on research by Bennetts, using a disc lock makes your machine three times less likely to be stolen, while heavy duty kit can make it less likely to be stolen than a car. For reviews of the best security products, click here.

MCIA Secured gives motorcycles a rating out of five stars, based on the following being fitted to a new bike as standard:

  • A steering lock that meets the UNECE 62 standard
  • An ignition immobiliser system
  • A vehicle marking system
  • An alarm system
  • A vehicle tracking system with subscription

The higher the star rating, the better the security, so always ask your dealer what rating your bike has, and compare it to other machines on your shortlist.

 

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