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Old 07-07-2011, 08:24 PM   #35
Burren Rider OP
Aussie Adventurer
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Joined: Aug 2003
Location: Northern NSW
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Originally Posted by DRTrev View Post
This is exactly what I've been looking for Danny. I'm trying to make a decision about a Tiger 800 XC but with a DR650 and DRZ400 in the garage, and only just competent on them, I hoped I'd find a down to earth rider who can properly assess a Tiger for me.

Very interested in your feeling of it on dirt because that was my area of concern. Is this your first BIG dirt bike?
G'Day Trev,

I have been fortunate to spend time on a few big dirt bikes in the past and I used to own a DR / DRZ combo at one time so hopefully I can help. My interest primarily lies in the dirt and after dabbling with a used road bike years ago (a Katana restoration project), I decided that any road orientated bike of mine needed to run dirt tyres to actually get used. So, after a string of singles (I racked up over 200,000km's on various DR's) I decided to try something different and buy a DL1000. I liked that bike and as a road orientated adventure bike it was very good but I found myself getting lured back towards the dirt.

Getting nostalgic, I figured that a DR650 had been a very capable dirt tourer for many years in the past so why not just return to the fold. I set one up for the long haul and figured that it would be my adventure bike and the DRZ my dirt bike.

At about that time we had an addition in the household and all of a sudden I didn't feel as inclined to dissappear on the really big trips.

While I really liked the DR (and think it is probably still the best choice for overland travel) I ended up selling it as the two Suzuki's were so versatile that they ended up crossing over a bit for my purposes.

Going back to one bike freed up some funds and I was fortunate to take a couple of extended trips on BMW hire bikes. The first was a trip from Darwin to Perth on a 1200GS and while it handled everything we threw at it, the front end just felt vague and I never really bonded with it in the dirt.

The next excursion was a trip to NZ on an 800GS. While it was a great ride through some amazing countryside, once again I walked away from the BM feeling less than enthused. I don't really know why, it just didn't do anything for me.

I bought a DL650 and really bonded with the bike. While not nearly as capable as a DR in the bush, it combined well with the DRZ and was so much fun on a winding dirt road. Whereas the DL1000 (and to a lesser extent the 800GS) would be really quick to flick sideways on loose gravel, the power delivery on the 650 V-Strom was just right and allowed you to steer with the throttle and do awesome controlled power slides (to be honest this is one of the major attractions of big dirt bikes for me ).

I appreciate this is all a bit long winded but I figure it helps to put the Tiger into context. What I was really looking for in the Tiger was a capable, dirt orientated adventure bike. Something that is competent in the bush, fun to ride and still comfortable on the road. A DR will tick these boxes but having enjoyed the thrill of multi-cylindered dirt bikes on a winding dirt road in the past, I think I may have been corrupted. Likewise the DL is a very comfortable, surprisingly capable on easy dirt and really good value. Having said that, there are places where I turned around on the V-Strom and I really wanted something that gave me option to continue on without damaging the bike (or myself). Not asking much really, just after a smooth, fast bike that can handle the dirt and pull a good slide with a gumby like me on board.

I think I may have found it though.

While it is early days it seems to be what I am after. The suspension is really good, it rolls over most trail obstacles without hesitation and tracks like an arrow. There was early speculation based on the dimensions that it would be fidgity but that has not been my experience. The overwhelming impression of the bike on decent trails is one of stability and precision. I don't know how much of this is down to tyres but it is so much more confidence inspiring than the DL in the soft stuff it's hard to compare them. While you learnt to trust the DL, it still rolled around in anything loose and certainly made you concentrate on the task at hand. The 800XC steers with purpose in this stuff and feels planted. Ground clearance is good (although not brilliant by dirt bike standards) and with a decent bashplate I don't see it as being overly exposed. The motor is a real positive for dirt work too. It almost feels docile down low when you first ride it and this really aids traction in the soft stuff. Looking for more challenges earlier in the week, I found myself on a rocky hill climb. While pretty sedate by dirt bike standards it would be enough (for me at least) to turn around many of the bigger adventure bikes and yet the Tiger just idled up it like it wasn't even there. Later in the day, it tip toed through a soft sand beach entry before letting rip with an almighty power slide when it hit the tidal area. It is an incredibly flexible motor that is also as smooth as silk on the highway.

There is work to be done to refine the package and that is largely the purpose of this thread. You can see little area's where it could be improved on for adventure / dirt use but I guess this is true of most bikes you buy these days. My first ride highlighted a few of these and it was only when I did another run in more technical terrain that I went 'yep, this is going to be worth the effort'. It is definately not a technical single track bike but I think that most forestry roads and trails could be tackled without too many drama's. I haven't had a crack at prolonged periods of deep sand yet but it handled some sloppy mud with a steady hand so I think it will be Ok?

Now, the big qualifier is that the bike is only new. It's been a while since I have ridden something completely different and liked it, so the possibility exists that this is the honeymoon period and in twelve months things may change. I hope this isn't the case though, I really like the bike and I think it may well be what I have been after all these years. The boys seem to like it too

With a faithful DRZ in the shed for the tricky dirt, I think this bike will cover the rest of the spectrum I am likely to ride.

Hope all of this helps and if you are still sitting on the fence, maybe we could have a chat about it on the TK Memorial ride in August (if you are heading up for it).



Burren Rider screwed with this post 07-07-2011 at 08:33 PM
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