Triumph offered this new Tiger 850 Sport for an extended test ride—a couple of weeks, which is a good length of time to get a feel for a bike—but when the paperwork arrived a week before the bike it promised something I wasn’t sure the motorcycle could deliver.

The New Tiger 850 Sport – Road Focused Adventure Motorcycle, tailor made for more manageable and accessible ride capability . . .

I stopped reading and waited for the bike to arrive, unwilling to let the PR create a bias in my personal opinion.

A week later the bike had arrived at a Mesa, Arizona, Triumph dealership, where the staff were happy to show me around the bike and point out a few of its unique features.


Enough of that—let’s ride. Pulling out onto the street I immediately got a flashback to the last Triumph I owned back in 2008, and just how smooth and peppy the triple motor is. I’d actually forgotten. Then at the first light grabbing a handful of front brake, the stopping power was incredible, the Brembo Stylema front calipers are amazing . . . this is going to be a fun couple of weeks.

So back to that first line from Triumph: A “Road Focused Adventure Motorcycle.” Let me take it for a good long road ride in as many different situations as I can get it in and we’ll see if reality meets the promise.

In city riding on the busy streets of Phoenix, I found the clutch to be extremely light and changing gear was very smooth, because this model has a slip & assist clutch.

Don’t be fooled by the name: the 850 Sport has the 888 cc motor of the other 900 Tigers, but wears the “850 Sport” name to differentiate it from the others. It’s very slightly detuned to 85 hp and 60 ft-lb of torque, just a little below the 900’s output, and quick acceleration is easy.

I decided to take it from Mesa to Cave Creek and east to Bartlett Lake, then back to central Phoenix, a big loop of around 150 miles and a great mix of city, rural and freeway riding.

In every situation it felt good. The power was readily available, and roll-on power on the freeway was there when I needed it—but above 75 mph the acceleration was a bit less brisk, even though it was nowhere near its top speed. For adventure touring, though, this wouldn’t ever be a concern.

The stock screen was nice and solid but also nice that I could actually adjust it one-handed while riding, and at its top setting it sent most of the wind over my helmet.

Screen up

Screen down

Levels of adjustment

Around Cave Creek, there is a fair amount of twisties and the 850 Sport felt light and nimble, a lot more like a sportbike than an adventure tourer, albeit a little different feel with the more upright sitting position.

The riding position felt very natural, I never felt I needed to adjust the handlebar, and the controls were easy to use, intuitively positioned, and seemed familiar in no time.

My only gripe about the controls would be with the button for the turn signals, which didn’t have a definite feel to it, so I was never completely sure if I had actually put the turn signal on. I found myself checking the gauge to see if that little green flashing arrow was activated.

With 150 miles done the Triumph was still showing around half a tank of fuel, which from a 20-liter tank is good. Triumph claims 55.4 mpg.

I went out for a little night ride to see what the “all LED lighting” had to offer and it was very good, with a clear solid beam in front. That 5″ TFT screen is incredible in the dark.

I was changing options on my screen at each red light and I don’t think I saw them all, so many different configurations . . . and just below it is a built-in 12-volt socket.

The following day after more riding the low-fuel light popped on with about 45 miles of range remaining. At the pump, I put in 4.3 gallons/16.25 liters, and the dash was telling me I had an average of 52.8 mpg . . . pretty good for mixed riding and a little mild hooliganism thrown in as well.

With a full tank I headed for some mild dirt, graded tracks, fire roads, etc., which is about as aggressive as I presume Triumph expects you to ride the 850 Sport with its alloy 17-inch and 19-inch wheels giving it slightly reduced ground clearance over the taller tiger 900 with 18/21.

The suspension handled everything I threw at it, even though there is no adjustment on the front Marzocchi fork and the rear Marzocchi shock only has a damping adjustment.

There’s not much to think about in the way of riding modes when you do leave the pavement. There are only two: Road, and Rain, but traction control can be switched off.

Again it felt light and nimble on mild dirt, weighing in at 432 lb/192 kg dry, it really doesn’t feel its weight. The adjustable front seat height has you in a position to easily reach the ground from a seated position if you need to, and the rear is an adequate width for your passenger, too.

I put nearly 600 miles on the bike and was very impressed. At a gas stop, another rider came over to ask questions as he’d seen it in a press release about a month ago.

“Does it have cruise control?”


“Does it have a heated seat?” (strange question in Arizona!)


“Does it have heated grips?” (guessing he’s not from around these parts, it was 80 degrees that day!)

No . . . but they are an option.

“Well, I do like my luxuries. And horsepower!”

Would you like to save $3000 to $10,000 on this as a base model and have all that spare cash to go and travel with?

“Where’s the nearest Triumph dealer?” Let me show you the way . . .

So if you are like this guy and want all your extremities nice and warm and loads of bells and whistles, options, and riding modes and 100+ hp then maybe you need to look a little higher up the Triumph line. If you want a great easy-to-ride bike, that still has a large number of options and won’t hit you too hard in the pocket, then maybe you will like this bike.

I certainly did.

If I was looking for something in this engine size and capability this would be very high on the list. It’s definitely worth a comparison with other brands.

Triumph already has a catalog of 60-plus accessories, including luggage. There are two luggage range options available, both created in partnership with Givi, with the Trekker side-opening panniers with 52-liter twin helmet top box, and the Expedition top-opening aluminum panniers, with a matching 42-liter top box.

The Tiger 850 Sport is priced at $11,995 and comes in two color options, Diablo Red and Caspian Blue.

Triumph Tiger 850 Sport Specs


Engine: Liquid-cooled, 12 valve, DOHC, inline triple

Capacity: 888 cc

Bore: 78.0 mm

Stroke: 61.9 mm

Compression: 11.27:1

Maximum Claimed Power: 85 PS / 84 bhp (62.5 kW) @ 8,500 rpm

With A2 restriction: 47.6 PS / 47 bhp (35 kW) @ 7,000 rpm (Market specfic)

Maximum Claimed Torque: 82 Nm (60 lb-ft) @ 6,500 rpm

Exhaust: Stainless steel 3-into-1 with side-mounted stainless steel silencer

Final Drive: O-ring chain

Clutch: Wet, multi-plate, slip & assist

Gearbox: 6 speed


Frame: Tubular steel frame, bolt-on subframe

Swingarm: Twin-sided, cast aluminium

Front Wheel: Cast alloy, 19 x 2.5 in

Rear Wheel: Cast alloy, 17 x 4.25 in

Front Tire: 100/90-19

Rear Tire: 150/70R17

Front Suspension: Marzocchi 45 mm USD

Rear Suspension: Marzocchi shock with manual preload adjustment

Front Brakes: Twin 320 mm floating discs, Brembo Stylema 4 piston Monobloc calipers. Radial front master cylinder, ABS

Rear Brake: 255 mm disc. Brembo single piston sliding caliper, ABS

Instruments: 5″ TFT screen

Seat Height: 810–830 mm (31.88–32.67 in)

Wheelbase: 1556 mm (61.25 in)

Dry weight: 192 kg (423 lb)

Fuel Tank Capacity: 20 litres (5.28 US gal)

Fuel Consumption: 55.4 mpg (5.2 l/100km)

A huge thanks to Phoenix Triumph for helping with the logistics.

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