Most people use motorcycles to commute to office, at least in India. Some people use motorcycles to ride for fun. When it comes to riding for fun, highways are where all the fun happens. No traffic, cool breeze and its just you and the bike. Its meditative, therapeutic and fun.
There are different types of bikes that serve this purpose. Some people take their commuter bikes to the highway – which is fun, but not THAT fun. Bigger, powerful and more capable motorcycles let you have more fun. Motorcycles like the Triumph Tiger 800 XR is also extremely safe with it’s ABS enabled brakes and riding posture.
Many people think of cruisers when it comes to riding for fun and riding on highways. Harley Davidson and Royal Enfield are two such brands which make & sell cruisers in India. Other companies sell cruiser models too but they are not known for cruisers.
There is a big problem with cruisers. Indian roads are not made for them. Though the road conditions have been improving over time, Indian roads are still unpredictable. Harley Davidsons are perfectly suited for US and other international roads. You can have a blissful riding experience without worrying about the road. But cruisers in India don’t provide such experience. One has to be extra careful on the road. Even a small pothole can throw you off track and might risk your life.
The riding posture of cruisers also makes it hard to do emergency braking and bring the motorcycle to halt without losing balance. Harleys rarely meet with accidents, but if they do, they are major ones. Many accidents happen due to road conditions and not necessarily due to collisions with other vehicles.
Just like sedans with low ground clearance are not fun in Indian roads, cruiser bikes are not suited for Indian roads. We have a long way to go before India has pothole free roads that are safe.
So how can one have fun on Indian roads? Introducing adventure tourers…
Adventure / Touring Motorcycles
Adventure tourers come with high ground clearance, have an upright sitting position and can handle Indian roads.
They are the SUVs of the motorcycle world. Many SUVs sold in India can handle a bit of off-roading and are mostly suited for on-road travel as well. People who buy SUVs in India hardly use it on off-road, but many roads in India look like off-road paths.
These motorcycles are kind of made for off-road use but most people won’t use it all off-road. It is perfectly suited for Indian roads. 70% of your riding will be on good tarmacs, 20% on bad roads and 10% on non-existent roads.
The classification and segmentation has overlaps and some call it just adventure bikes. Some call it touring bikes with adventure capabilities. Some call it sports touring motorcycles.
If you look at Triumph’s website, the Tiger 800 is classified under adventure & touring.
And they call it an adventure bike to be specific:
Whatever the road, whatever the distance, whatever the challenge, the latest Tiger 800 range has been built to excel as an Adventure Bike. Featuring a host of rider focused technology such as the standard fitment of Triumph Traction Control and ABS, the latest Tiger with its powerful and fuel efficient 95PS triple engine is up for any task.
I had rented Tiger 800 for 2 days. I went to Salem from Bangalore and came back on the bike. It was an amazing experience. This is one of the best handling bikes ever.
Even if I ride the bike on rough paths, the stability is awesome. I felt like the road was railed to the road. Also, the ABS was so awesome that I could come to a stop in a very short distance if I wanted to.
The only downside that I felt was that the engine was not as smooth as the Japanese counterparts. Though the Kawasaki Versys 650 cannot be compared to the Tiger 800 directly, I feel that Versys would be my other option. Versys’s engine is so smooth and it feels like an electric motor on the highways. No sound and no grunt. Absolutely no vibrations. I will post a review of Versys separately.
I would absolutely love the Tiger 800 if it had a smoother and a refined engine. But apart from the minor engine grunt, everything else about the bike is perfect. The price is a bit on the higher side though. If you are looking for a value for money adventure / touring bike, the Kawasaki Versys would fit the bill easily.