Showing posts sorted by relevance for query Tiger. Sort by date Show all posts
Showing posts sorted by relevance for query Tiger. Sort by date Show all posts

Saturday 7 May 2016

The 1, 2, 3s of why Tigers are Awesome

I've been putting miles on the Tiger and have a developed some ideas about why it's awesome in comparison to what I've come from.  Here they are in no particular order:

1... The tiger growls.  The Ninja had a nice snarl to it with its 270° twin, and the Concours' massive inline four thundered like a Norse god, but the tearing silk growl of the Tiger can be virtually silent (less noisy than the wind) when I'm cruising, or growl like its namesake when you twist the throttle.  It has enough presence to make people jump when you give it some revs - maybe because it's so quiet otherwise.

The 955i Triple (an epic engine) has that same lopsided warble that the Ninja had, but amplified by a third cylinder.  I've had a twin and a four, but now that I've gone triple I don't think I'll ever go back, it feels like the best of both worlds.

2... Lithe tigers are fun tigers.  At 50 kilos (almost 110lbs!) less than my last bike, the Tiger does everything better even though it's taller.  From backing it out of the garage to winding it through corners, I don't miss an ounce of that chubby Concours.  While the Connie hid its weight well in motion, it was always lurking in the background.  There is no substitute for a lighter bike.

3... Hot tigers aren't so hot.  The cowling was nice on the Concours, but the volcanic heat that came off that engine cooked my man parts.  I might be hanging more out in the wind on the Tiger, but that's kind of the point of motorcycling.

The engine barely seems to produce any heat at all and what there is is so well managed that I only occasionally feel a breath of warm air.  Time spent in the saddle is cool and comfortable, and much less like meatballs in hot sauce.  

The one place I'm warmer are my hands.  Between the hand guards and heated grips I've been able to ride the Tiger in near zero temperatures with no issues and without winter gloves.  My legs went from getting cooked to being one of the coolest parts of me when I'm out on the bike.

4... It's not wise to upset a tiger.  Between that radical weight loss and an engine that puts out 7 more ft/lbs of torque 2000rpm lower than the Concours, the first time I wound out the Tiger it almost wookie-ed my arms off.  It's amazing what a small bump in engine grunt and massive weight loss can do to a bike's forward velocity.  The Tiger will comfortably lift a wheel in the first three gears, and it isn't a little bike.

5...  Suspension that soaks up lousy Ontario roads.  Kawasakis have a rep for budget suspensions.  Between that and the barely paved roads of Ontario, I'd often hit bumps that would lift me out of the seat and rattle my bones.  This led to constantly worrying about knocking something loose on the bike.  The long, pliant suspension of the Tiger makes Ontario's wonderful roads ride-able without any such worries.  Another benefit is that I'm able to corner and brake more effectively because the bike is never juddering over potholes, it just soaks them up.

6...  Lucifer Orange is magical.  I've yet to own a bike that a coat of spray paint didn't radically improve, but there is only so far you can go with a can of spray paint.  The clear coated, metallic, red-orange on the Triumph is mind-bendingly brilliant.  Sure, the tiger stripes are a bit over the top, but that paint can manage it. When my eleven year old first saw it he said, 'oh yeah!'.  Pulling up behind a school bus creates an avalanche of kids in the back window giving me thumbs up.  It's the opposite of the too-cool-to-care leather clad biker pirate, but I'd rather give an enthusiastic thumbs up back than sit there trying to look indifferent about everything.

I picked up my first ROOF helmet last summer, and it has quickly become my go to lid.  The combination of an open face or fully safetied close faced lid (most flip up helmets only pass open face standards, the chin guard is ornamental) makes this a brilliant all-rounder.  I got it in orange because I liked the design, but it happens to look splendid and intentional with Triumph's Lucifer orange.  It's a happy accident, but I'll take it.

7... It fits.  Less bend in the knees, my feet just go flat on the floor, less bent forward riding position with no weight on the wrists with a comfortable, upright stance, the Tiger fits like nothing I've ridden before.

Those wide bars mean I let me leverage corners easily and with precision.  Other than keeping you tight to the bike aerodynamically, I'm not really sure why sportier bars are considered better, the wider geometry encourages finer control.

I also look like I fit on the Tiger.  I looked like a circus bear on a tricycle on the Ninja.  On the Concours I still looked like I was too tall for the bike, but the Tiger fits my 6'3" frame like it was made for me.

Ready for my first night ride -
those lights work great.
8... the bad things aren't.  The first owner seems to have addressed every shortcoming on this Tiger.  Last night was my first time out with it after dark and the supposedly anemic headlights were as good as the Concours' lights ever were, and when I hit the highbeams it was like having a football stadium light up in front of me.

The fueling is smooth and perfect, and I haven't even fine tuned the Power Commander on it yet.  The front fork does dive a bit under heavy breaking, but some adjustment seems to have resolved that and made the bike respond to my weight perfectly.  I have no trouble getting the Tiger to chase its own tail around corners.

With the second wing on the windshield adjusted I have at least as much upper body wind protection as I did from the fully faired Connie, so I'm not missing all the plastic of my last bike either.

9... a made in the U.K. success story.  Riding a British bike fills me with pride.  Riding such a good British bike makes it even better.  Triumph's rise from bankruptcy in the 1980s to a multi-million dollar, international success story suggests that British manufacturing is anything but history, and that British habits around manufacturing can change and become competitive in a global economy.  It's nice to ride such a fine machine made in the same place I was.

10... brilliant panniers.  I've enjoyed built in luggage since the Concours, but the Tiger panniers are totally next level.  Unlike the finicky attachments on the Connie, the Triumph panniers slip on and off effortlessly and lock into place as well as locking closed.  They are a good size and look right on the bike.  That they're colour matched is just another bonus.

As you might have gathered, I'm enjoying Triumph ownership so far.

Sunday 22 July 2018

Triumph ATLAK Meet Up

The day after my Kawartha Highlands Loop I made my way north into the fancy cottage country of the Muskokas looking for Triumph's ATLAK tour Southern Ontario stop.  It says Toronto on the poster, but Torrance is over two hours and two hundred kilometres north of that.  

A chance to ride the new Tigers was very enticing so I set off with high expectations.  I'd filled up on the way in to the cottage two days earlier then done the big loop around the Kawarthas the day before.  Just after 11am I set out on hot, July Saturday with the gas gauge just above the empty bar figuring I'd fill up when I came across a gas station on the 140+kms ride up there.

From near Bobcaygeon I made my way through Kinmount and Norland on the twisty Monck Road/County Road 45.  Still no gas in sight, but I was having a good time with the light and frisky Tiger.  By the time I headed north on the 169 past Casino Rama I was astonished that I wasn't stranded yet, and the fuel light still hadn't made an appearance.  I was through Washago and onto Gasoline Alley on Highway 11 and still nothing, but if I ran out of gas on Gasoline Alley it would have made a good story.

I finally pulled into a Shell on the side of the highway just past noon, still with no warning light on.  The 24 litre tank took just over 22 litres, so I still had some wiggle room.  At about 460 kms on 22 litres of fuel, the Tiger, with 250lb me and two panniers with tools and rain gear in them managed over 49 miles per gallon (4.8 litres per 100kms), that's within one mile per gallon of a Prius, and I wasn't riding it gently.  I'm not sure how much fun driving a Prius is, but it's never doing 0-60 in four seconds like the Tiger had been, and the Tiger isn't a black hole of resource production in its manufacture.

I pulled into Clear Lake Brewery in Torrance, just west of Gravenhurst, at about 1:30pm.  I'd missed lunch, but wanted to get there early and get signed in.  There in lay my only mistake on this trip.  I'd foolishly assumed that Triumph turning up with a bunch of Tigers would mean an opportunity to ride them.  I'd done this with Kawasaki previously, so it didn't seem like a crazy idea, and with details like, "Come spend a day at an event highlighting Triumph’s dynamic new ADV bikes – the class-leading Tiger 800 and technical juggernaut Tiger 1200.  Register today for an adventure of epic proportions. can you feel my confusion?  Surely an epic adventure implies an opportunity to ride, no?

After milling around for an hour and half in alternating patchy rain and then extreme humidity while watching Clinton Smout disappear on a variety of different Tigers, I was starting to wonder if I'd misunderstood the intent of this event.  A microphone was set up, but no one was using it.  We'd been handed out wrist bands and a swag bag of Tiger stuff, which was cool, but I was still waiting for someone to pick up that mic and start the thing.  A few people commented on my old Tiger (the oldest there by a decade, easily), but for the most part the majority of people showed up in like new, matching, name brand adventure wear on twenty grand, low mileage bikes and walked right by it.  They seemed happy to stand around talking a good ride, but that isn't my thing.

It was the last weekend of the World Cup on a summer weekend, so the Brewery was packed with people.  Trying to get a table, let alone something to eat (evidently what our wrist bands were for) wasn't likely without a big wait.  I finally overheard one of the organizers say, "it's just a meet and greet with a chance to see the new Tigers and talk about riding opportunities in the area."  The "epic adventure" was a show and tell?  After hearing this I was back at my Tiger in seconds getting packed up.

So close yet so far!
Before I left I figured I'd get some Clear Lake Brewery beer having never heard of it before, but the fridge in the entrance  was empty.  A quick trip  to the toilet and I was ready to make some tracks.  Someone had parked in front of me, but I backed the Tiger up the hill by the handlebars and saddled up.  Getting some Triumph swag and looking at the new Tigers was nice and all, but it wasn't what I thought I was doing that day.  I'm not a big fan of sitting around talking about motorcycles, I prefer to be riding them.

On the way in I'd noticed Muskoka District Road 13 cutting south around the lakes and rocks of the Canadian Shield out of Torrance.  It was well past 3pm and I hadn't eaten anything since that morning, but I knew steak was waiting for me at the cottage so I figured I'd just push on.  13 is a roller-coaster of a thing and a delight to ride.  Like all Ontario roads, some parts of it are so rough you're better off on a long suspension bike just to get over it, but other parts were smooth and very entertaining.  If you're in the area it's well worth the ride.  There's me talking about nice rides in the area for ya.

The highway portion of the ride was only about one exit long and I was back in Washago before I knew it.  I stopped at the massive LCBO off the highway (probably there thanks to Casino Rama being nearby) and finally got some beer, then retraced my route back out of Muskoka and across the Kawartha Lakes, this time with a full tank and no anxiety.  I ended up stopping once in Norland for a fruit filled tart and a small coffee before finishing the ride into the woods and back to the family cottage.

I've got no regrets in making the ride up to Torrance.  It was cool to see the new bikes but baffling to not get to ride them (unless you're Clinton Smout).  The ride up and back was entertaining and the Tiger hat is one of my son's favorites now, so that's a win.  Knowing then what I know now, I'd still probably have made the trip up there anyway, but it sure would have been nice to see how Triumph Tiger state of the art had moved along in the fifteen years since my bike came off the production line.

Sometimes it's the expectations that let you down rather than the thing itself.

Some photos from ATLAK:

The kit on hand had nice details like waterproof zips and looked like it would vent well.  None to try on though...

Toronto in a Toronto is really all of Ontario kind of way.  Torrance is over 200kms north of it...

... and from the ride back down Muskoka Regional Road 13 and home:

About to go flip the Roof's chin and go full face down on Gasoline Alley...
Muskoka Road 13 is a treat, but a bit rough in places.

Norland for a tart and some coffee...

2003 Triumph Tiger 955i Fuel Mileage Details:
22 Litre fill up - still 2 litres in the tank.
Gas mileage is: 21.14 kilometers per liter, 4.73 liters per 100 kilometers, or 49.72 miles per gallon.
Distance traveled since last time is: 465 kilometers. ~49.72mpg...

Monday 23 May 2016

Tiger Chains & Parts

Top gear at 4000rpm has me going
about 100km/hr, so it looks like I have
stock sprockets on the Tiger.
A one tooth more relaxed front sprocket
knocks a couple of hundred RPM off
the bike at 100km/hr and takes the
edginess off low speed throttle.

Chain & Agony: The Return

Now that I'm off a shaft driven bike, I'm back into the black magic that is chain geometry!  A trip to Gearing Commander has me working out the details of an '03 Triumph Tiger 955i's chain and sprockets.  The stock set is a 18T (eighteen tooth) front sprocket and a 46T (forty-six tooth) rear sprocket.  The chain is a 530-50 114.

A number of riders suggested a 19T (nineteen tooth) front sprocket to calm the bike down a bit.  The chain and sprockets are happy right now, but when it finally comes to a change, I think I'll go the 19T way.  Motorbike sprockets run backwards from bicycle ones - the smaller sprocket is attached to the engine, so the more teeth, the bigger the gearing.


The 530 114 chain on the Tiger has a pitch of 5/8 of an inch (the 5 is 5 x ⅛" - a 4 series chain would be 4 x ⅛" or half an inch of pitch).  Five-eighths pitch chains have a  roller diameter of 0.400".    The 30 part of the 530 refers to roller width, which in this case is 3 x  ⅛" or 3/8th of an inch.  A 520 chain would have a roller width of 2 x ⅛", or a quarter of an inch.  If you want to understand chain sizes, get a handle on that rule of 8 (all the numbers refer to eighths of an inch).
The 114 refers to the number of links in the chain (its length).

How to change a chain on a Tiger (video)
Triumph Tiger 955i parts list

<- 520 and 530 chains & sprockets widths compared

Tiger Changes of Oil

A fifty dollar US ($300CDN) magnetic
oil drain plug.
Triumph magnetic oil drain plugs.
(that's a metric 14mm width, 1.5mm distance between the threads, 16 mm long drain plug).

Entertaining Triumph oil drain plug banter (and the idea to put hard drive magnets on your oil filter, which is what I'm doing instead of ordering an expensive custom drain plug from The States).

The Tiger has been using a bit of oil (which is evidently within spec) but I don't know what the previous owner's mechanic put in it - putting in not Mobil 1 Synthetic (which Triumph states is the preferred oil) would be a great way to make money on an oil change.  If I swap in the good stuff, then I know what's in it.

I'm also putting on a K&N oil filter with a higher spec than the stock one and putting a couple of hard drive magnets on the bottom of it to catch any metal shavings dancing around in there.

I did the oil change yesterday. I've done thousands of oil changes (it put me through university).  If that oil was changed last fall I'm a monkey's uncle.  The Triumph filter on it had rust on it, the drain plug didn't look like it had been taken off any time recently.  Either the previous owner didn't do it, or his mechanic lied to him.  The oil was black and punky too, looking like it had been in there a long time.

With that all done I'll now look to see how much oil I'm missing every thousand kilometres (it's 3-400ml at the moment - but goodness knows what was in it or for how long).  The moral here is change the oil when you buy a used bike - you can't trust what happened before it was yours and oil is vital to keeping an engine running well.  I'm looking forward to seeing what new, correct oil does for the bike moving forward.

Other than keeping it shiny and lubricating cables and controls, there isn't much more needs doing.

It's supposed to be a beautiful long weekend.  I'm hoping to get out for some time on my very orange Tiger in my very orange Tiger shirt.

Friday 15 April 2016

Triumph Tiger History

First gen Tiger from the late '30s
I've been finding out the history of Triumph Tigers from various places on the interwebs. The first Tigers were born just before World War 2 and were quickly put on hold when the war started. With rigid rear frames and girder front suspensions, these were 1930s bikes in every sense.

Tigers followed the steady evolution in motorbike technology throughout the Twentieth Century, and also followed some rather silly styling trends, like shrouding the mechanicals in 1950s aero inspired nonsense.

'69 Tiger made in the UK the same
year I was!  Nice high pipes!

Pam Anderson riding
a Tiger!
Things get interesting again in the 1960s, with late '60s Tigers, along with the British motorcycle industry in general reaching a zenith before being crushed by their own weight and a lithe, hungry wave of Japanese imports.

Through the long, dark tea time of the soul in the '70s and '80s (and while my parents and thousands of others fled the country) Triumph went down in flames along with much of British manufacturing.  In '83 John Bloor, a building contractor who was looking into the purchase of the derelict Triumph factory to build more homes ended up buying the brand.  After sitting on it for a while he rebooted it and built a new factory.  

It's one of the best examples of British manufacturing rising out of the ashes of old money and old ideas and embracing a more effective approach to manufacturing.  Without the conservative  establishments of aristocratic ownership and unionized labour Bloor was able to reignite British engineering and give it chance to shine again.  You might think that it isn't properly British if it isn't mired in limited social mobility and the kind of Kafka-esque bureaucracy that makes building something well next to impossible, but that was only a moment in Twentieth Century British history and doesn't speak to the engineering prowess of our little island.

After Triumph rebooted in the early '90s, the Tiger reappeared in '93 during the second wave of model introductions.  An early example of what came to be known as adventure bikes, the Tiger was a tall, long suspension, multi-purpose machine running a three cylinder engine.  

Having tapped into this trend while it was still only popular in continental Europe, Triumph's Tiger line has been a key part of their brand for the past twenty plus years.  If asked what bike I'd want to take around the world tomorrow, the Tiger Explorer is at the top of the list.

Tigers have been around, in one form or another, since before World War Two.  I'm looking forward to getting to know the one I found this month.


Sunday 11 July 2021

Ergo-cycling: Concours 14 vs Tiger 955i for 6'3" Me

 Cycle-Ergo, the motorcycle ergonomics simulator, is a great online resource for getting a sense of what you'll look like and how you'll fit on a bike.  Unlike cars, your options with bikes aren't as easy as sliding your seat back or adjusting the steering wheel.  To make ergonomic changes on a motorbike you need to change hardware and mechanically adjust it to make it fit.

The other day I was out on my trusty 2003 Triumph Tiger 955i.  I came off a Kawasaki Concours 10 to the Tiger and while the Connie was comfortable, it made my knees ache on long rides.  The first time I sat on the Tiger it felt like a bike built by people the same shape and size as me because it is.  I can go for hours without putting a foot down without a cramp on the Triumph.  This got me thinking about the differences between the big Kawasaki that sits next to the Tiger in the garage these days.

Cycle-Ergo gives me a quick way to check out the differences.  Forward lean is much more pronounced on the Concours 14 (12° vs an almost vertical 4° on the Tiger).  Knee angle is the same and my knees aren't bothering me on the Connie but hip angle is 6° tighter on the Kawasaki which explains the cramps I was feeling after today.

I sold a Honda Fireblade to bring the 1400GTR in and that bike had an extreme 'sports' riding position which was basically like doing a push-up on the bike (you lay on it) - it ain't easy on the wrists.  There are advantages to this aggressive riding position.  When you want to get down to business in corners a forward lean gives you a more intimate relationship with the front end, which is why sports focused bikes tend to sit a rider the way they do.  If I lived somewhere where roads were dancing with the landscape instead of cutting straight lines across it I'd have happily kept the Fireblade, but in tedious Southwestern Ontario it didn't make much sense.

Today I did a 200km loop on the Kawasaki and the constant lean does make it tiresome on the arrow straight roads around here (I have to ride 40 minutes to find 10 minutes of curves).  In the twisties the Concours is much more composed than the taller, bigger wheeled Tiger.  The Concours is a 50+ kg heavier bike but you can see in the animation that it holds its weight much lower than the Tiger.  In the bends today the Connie was fine but the SW Ontario-tedium I have to deal with most of the time has me thinking about ways to ease that lean.

There are solutions to this in the form of 'bar risers' which are blocks of machined metal that you slip in under the handlebars to bring them taller and closer to you so you're not stooped.  For me the lean also means I'm putting a lot of weight on my, um, man-parts, which end up pressed against the tank due to the lean.

Here's the difference between a stock
Concours 14 and the Murph's Kit bar
riser modification.
I had a look around at bar-risers.  There are number of people who put them together including some cheaper Chinese options but I ended up going with Murph's Kits C14 bar risers.  Murph is well known in the Concours Owners Group and has been producing Concours specific parts for decades.  His risers aren't quite as tall as some of the others and look to solve the problem without over-solving it by giving too-tall handlebars that spoil the lines and the purpose of the bike.

The biggest ergo-thing I did on the otherwise well-fitting Tiger was getting a Corbin seat for it which makes it a long distance weapon.  I'll eventually do the same thing for the Connie but I think I can make do with the stock seat this year and then do the Corbin over the winter.  That doesn't stop me from mucking around with the Corbin seat simulator though:

By next spring I'll have a C14 that fits but it isn't as easy as sliding the seat back in a car.  In the meantime we've got the Lobo Loco Comical Rally coming up at the end of the month.  That requires a minimum of 400kms travelled in 12 hours and will need more than that if we're going to be competitive.  I'm hoping my bar risers will be installed and I'll bring the good ole Airhawk out of semi-retirement to keep me limber over a long day in the saddle.

If you're thinking, "oh, a long distance motorcycle rally, that sounds like fun, you're out of luck on the Comical Rally, it sold out!  Lobo Loco is doing other rallies later in the summer though.

Saturday 25 July 2020

Triumph Tiger 955i Valve Clearance Check

I just measured the valve clearances on the Tiger.  They're supposed to be checked every 20,000kms, I've put 27k on it since I've had it and who knows when they were done previously, so this was well past due.

Getting to the valves isn't that problematic since I've gotten gas tank removals down to under 10 minutes while I try and trace down this frustrating inability to idle.  Here are the numbers:

Cylinder             Intake                     Exhaust
             .13mm & .10mm       .20mm & .23mm
      2         .13mm & .10mm       .20mm & .20mm
      3         .13mm & .10mm       .20mm & .23mm

Intakes are supposed to be 0.10-0.15mm, so they're all within spec.  Exhausts are supposed to be gapped at  0.15 to 0.20mm, so a couple are on the cusp, though they're a tight 0.23mm (you have to push the spacer in there like you mean it - the .2mm is still snug, just not as).

Turning the engine with the rear wheel in top gear was pretty easy - don't grab the spokes, use the tire, you get more torque and it turns pretty easily.  As you turn the back wheel you get the cams pointing up, which is when you check clearances by sliding a feeler gauge under the cam and above the shim.

This Spurtar 32 blade feeler gauge from Amazon is a nicely made thing that offered me a full range of tapered ends that covered what I needed for checking valve clearances on this 955i Triumph Tiger. 

With the Tiger's timing pretty much to spec valve clearance wise, it suggests that my intermittent stalling problem isn't related to valve clearances.  Working on older bikes (and watching Car S.O.S.) has me well aware of what fails on older vehicles:  RUBBER!  Perished rubbers are Tim's go-to in Car S.O.S. when it comes to restoring an old vehicle - this Tim is thinking that's the issue with this 17 year old Tiger too.

I spent today putting things back together and double checking everything.  The vacuum system that feeds the idle control wasn't plugged in 1-2-3 (I had it 1-3-2).  That's something stupid enough that it might be the culprit.  At this point I don't care what it is, I just want the bike to idle to the point where I can depend on it to not stall on me and leave me hanging.

If I get it all back together and find that I'm still stuck with an intermittent stall I'm going to start systemically replacing all the rubbers in it.  Doing a deep cleaning on the fuel injectors is an idea too.  I ran into an old guy at Canadian Tire who swore by Sea Foam for cleaning fuel systems, so I got a can.  I've got some in the Tiger tank for the rebuild which will hopefully be done by tomorrow.  In a perfect world the Tiger will be back to normal and I can go after the valves in the winter if I'm so inclined.  If it's still stalling out on me, It'll be a perished rubber hunt next.

I'm already on it, replacing things as I find them...

It seemed like an extraneous expense when I got this set from our local NAPA auto parts shop, but having o-ring replacements at hand saves a lot of waiting.

A very shiny valve cover going back together again.  10Nm is all you tighten the valve cover down to.

Replacing the o-rings at the fuel inputs (I replaced the original terrible plastic ones with these aeronautically sound stainless steel ones shortly after getting the Tiger). 

I was hoping to get it all together, but I'm fabricating rubber grommets and trying to look into details as I go, so this is as far as I got in the 35°C heat.