Is the Triumph Tiger 660 Sport a worthy upgrade as an adventure bike?

With much cheaper competition in the form of the Kawasaki Versys 650 and Suzuki V-Strom 650, price may not be the baby Tiger’s game, but the excitement is.

Is the Triumph Tiger 660 Sport a worthy upgrade as an adventure bike?
Is the Triumph Tiger 660 Sport a worthy upgrade as an adventure bike?

I am an old-school motorcyclist who loves cruisers and prefers a steady pace down the highway as a weekend ride. However, call it a mid-life crisis or just lust for metal on two wheels, I have been eyeing many adventure motorcycles lately, trying to pick just the right one as an all-round bike – one that can commute to work, do a quick breakfast run or even be saddled up and ready for a cross-country tour.

I recently got my hands on the Triumph Tiger 660 Sport for a weekend and I wanted to see if it was the ideal upgrade for me. My current ride is a 2019 Royal Enfield Interceptor 650, which I love to bits for its simplicity and joy of riding, despite its idiosyncrasies. Make no mistake, I love the torquey parallel twin, the ability to cruise at three-digit speeds alongside much larger motorcycles and its one size fits all appeal. Could the baby Tiger sway me? 

She’s got the look

First, the design of the Triumph Tiger 660 Sport. It’s not really a “Tiger” from the Triumph family and instead shares its underpinnings with the naked Triumph Trident 660. But Triumph has tried to make it look a little like its older siblings, with the beaked faring, twin LED headlamps and tall, adjustable windscreen. Placed side by side with a Tiger 900, the 660 Sport is decidedly a midget, but one that’s much less of a handful for an average 5’8″ rider like me. Given its 206 Kg kerb weight it’s also really light, and that makes it easy to handle. 

Visually, the Tiger 660 Sport is a pretty good-looking bike, but yet not one that stands out in a crowd. I like its meaty 180/55 R17 rear tyre and nice clean mono-shock, minimalist rear design. The front too is simple, with everything neatly tucked into the faring. There’s not much to choose in terms of colours, although I can’t understand why Triumph charges a Rs 13k premium for the red paint shade. The blue and the grey are fairly nondescript. 

As far as ergonomics go, the riding position is upright and the handlebar is tall and wide enough for a comfortable stance, even when standing on the pegs. The rider triangle is perfect, with a slight sporty stance, allowing you to hug the tank easily with your knees. For the pillion rider, though it’s not comfortable – the seat is too small, narrow and tall, with hardly anything to hold on to. This is comfortable for one only.

Also read: Triumph Tiger Sport 660 vs Trident 660: What are the differentiating factors?

She’s got the moves

What is really appealing about the Triumph Tiger 660 Sport is the engine. The three-cylinder motor is a rev-happy motor, yet immensely tractable with its linear torque curve. It’s got about 80PS of power and 64 Nm of torque. The six-speed gearbox is quick and easy to shift, while the optional quick-shifter makes light work of running through the gears when taking off from a traffic light. The clutch feels a bit firm and has a long reach (I wish the bike offered adjustable levers). 

Start it and the buzzy motor is a treat to listen to. The underbelly exhaust may be invisible but it makes itself felt with the soundtrack. This motor has been derived from the one used on the Triumph Street Triple and has a kind of primal note that appeals to an inner child. The Kawasaki Versys (parallel twin) and Suzuki V-Strom are really quiet in comparison. You’ll find yourself unnecessarily revving past 7,000 rpm before shifting up just for auditory pleasure.

The bike feels incredibly stable while riding. The meaty tyres (Michelin Road 5) add to the confidence on turns. Being light, it’s easy to flick from side to side and I found myself filtering through traffic with ease. The brakes – dual 310 mm front discs and single 255 mm rear disc, equipped with dual channel ABS – are pretty strong. One needs to be gentle on the brakes, as they tend to bite quite hard. It wasn’t a bother for me, as I enjoy downshifting, with a bit of throttle blipping to slow down, rather than depending only on the brakes. In terms of vibrations, there are a few that creep in at high rpm on the pegs and the handle, but it’s not that bothersome.

Ground clearance may not be that great for an adventure motorcycle, because of the underbelly exhaust, but it was adequate. The 835 mm seat height was just fine for me. 

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The bike has two riding modes – rain and road – and I used the former quite a bit, as the weekend I had the bike, was one of the wettest weekends New Delhi has seen. I did take it out to the expressway for a short ride and it delivered as expected. The adjustable windscreen was easy to raise with one hand on the go, although it does feel a bit flimsy. 

She’s loaded

The Triumph Tiger Sport 660 has all the essential features one would expect from a middle-weight adventure motorcycle. The all-digital instrument console is easy to read with a digital speedometer and tachometer. It also has a gear indicator, fuel guage and multi-trip meters built in. One can also connect to a bluetooth navigation system through it for turn-by-turn navigation (which is an optional extra). It gets self-cancelling indicators too. The rear shock absorber has an adjustable pre-load setting, but the front 41 mm shocks are non-adjustable.

Watch Video | Triumph Tiger Sport 660 Walkaround:

A worthy upgrade? 

Now for the deciding factor – the price. At Rs 9 lakh ex-showroom, the Triumph Tiger Sport 660 clocks in at about Rs 11.5 lakh on-road with just some essential accessories. Go the whole hog and you are looking at another Rs 1 lakh. In comparison, the Kawasaki Versys is about Rs 7.6 lakh ex-showroom and will come in fully loaded at under Rs 9 lakh. Size-wise the Versys appears bigger (and hence more value-for-money) than the Tiger Sport 660. The Suzuki V-Strom is closer in price to the Triumph Tiger Sport but doesn’t have a strong enough proposition for itself. So it’s a toss-up between head and heart here – the Versys appeals as a practical choice, but the buzzy little Tiger makes one feel young at heart, albeit at a bit of a premium. Tough call, really.

Also read: Triumph Tiger Sport 660 launched in India at Rs 8.95 lakh: Details

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