Large adventure bikes have been around for a long time – just look at BMW’s big GS. While not exactly nimble in the trails, the big adventure bike (usually about 1200 cc) has established itself as a class, offering riders the ability to tour in comfort but still veer off on a gravel fire road without fear of putting a rock through the crankcase.
Triumph joined the big adventure class in 2012 with the introduction of the 1200 Explorer model, offering a unique-for-the-class inline triple over the usual twin format. Initially, the British bike maker had introduced only a basic Explorer model, equipped with cast wheels, but then followed up one year later with the Explorer XC, which boasted more off-road capability thanks to tubeless spoke wheels, crash bars, a skid plate, auxiliary lighting, etc.
I attended the launch of the XC in a rather cold and wet Scotland back in 2013, and although I found the bike made an excellent sport tourer, its harsh suspension hindered its off-road abilities. Triumph had hinted that electrically adjustable suspension and selectable ride modes might show up on future generations of the machine. They now have.
For 2016 Triumph has made several improvements to the Explorer, while introducing new technologies. Changes to the new Explorer should improve its on-road capability, and more importantly for hardcore adventure tourers, the off-road capability on the XC models.
All Explorer models use the same 1,215 cc triple, which the manufacturer claims has more power, though current specs claim it now produces 137 hp @ 9,300 rpm and 90.7 lb-ft of peak torque @ 6,200 rpm. It includes a new, light-effort mechanically assisted clutch, and there’s a new exhaust system.
The company has also expanded the number of model variations to five (there are six variants in other markets, but the base XC model will not be available in North America), which still makes for a somewhat confusing array of deviations – I’ll be riding the XCa model which is the top-of-the line model with a penchant for dirt, and is equipped with spoke wheels of the tubeless variety.
It comes with all the possible options in one machine, including crash protection, cruise control, semi-active suspension, lean-sensing traction control and cornering ABS, plus heated seats and hill hold, which will prevent the bike from rolling backwards during a hill start. There is a more basic XCx which is sans heated seat and Hill Hold and has a low-seat version too.
I’ll be riding the new bikes tomorrow, and will have an update shortly.
UPDATE – we just find out that the base XC version is not going to be made available and have edited the copy to reflect that.