The initial plan had been to do a five-day ride from Johannesburg, through the Eastern Cape, down to the Western Cape and back, navigating a range of terrain from tar to gravel. Having missed the launch of the Triumph Tiger 1200, I figured this was a great opportunity to experience the motorcycle. In preparation for the ride, which eventually did not happen, I was able to take the Tiger 1200 Rally Pro out to Harties, in search of some dirt roads, which I found in abundance.
While I had been pre-warned, the first thing that struck me when climbing onto the Triumph Tiger 1200 Rally Pro was the seat height, adjustable at 875/895mm. Having mainly ridden lower motorcycles, it took me a couple of stops to get comfortable enough, standing on the balls of my feet, gentling bouncing from one foot to the other.
The Tiger 1200 has a 1,160cc, liquid-cooled 12-valve engine with maximum torque of 130 Nm producing 148bhp max power and a six-speed gearbox. The Rally Pro (and Rally Explorer) has an 18-inch Metzeler Tourance rear tyre and a 21-inch Metzeler Karoo Street front tyre on Akront alloy rims. The GT Explorer and GT Pro both have 19-inch Metzeler Tourance front tyres. The Rally Pro I rode comes in the distinct Triumph Matte Khaki. Other colours are Sapphire Black or Snowdonia White.
Standard rider modes are Road, Rain, Sport, Off-Road and Rider with the Rally Pro having an Off-Road Pro mode for more difficult and rocky terrain. It is relatively easy to switch between modes when riding, turning back the throttle to activate after switching the mode on the full-colour 7-inch TFT instrument screen.
For Off-Road and Pro modes, one has to be at a standstill which was a bit of an inconvenience when switching from dirt to road and back to dirt. There’s also what Triumph is calling Active Preload Reduction which drops the riding height by up to 0.78 inches which is great for gravel riding.
Overall, the motorcycle was comfortable and easy to ride on the dirt roads allowing me to confidently focus on the joy of the ride without worrying too much about slipping and sliding. The Showa semiactive suspension also contributed to this comfort.
Instead of doing the long ride, the crew decided on an overnight trip to Sabie in Mpumalanga. We took back roads through Modimolle and Bela Bela to Polokwane. From there we rode to Tzaneen and Graskop arriving in Sabie just after 5pm, having left just after 6am. The weather forecast predicted rain and did not disappoint. We road through varying intensity of rain from outside Polokwane and had to navigate both rain and mist over Magoebaskloof Pass.
Once I pulled on my rain suit, the ride was wonderfully comfortable with the Rally Pro literally sailing through the potentially treacherous conditions. Easy to handle and nimble, even in the rain (on rain mode), it was a leisurely ride despite the weather. The 20-litre tank also ensured that I wasn’t stressed about running out of petrol before the next stop, though I often err on the side of caution when it comes to filling up at every opportunity to do so.
As we got closer to Sabie, with the rain letting up, we pushed a bit to ensure that we could set up camp before it got dark and, in that moment, it occurred to me that the usual lower back pain that kicks in on longer rides was not there. I still had enough energy to traverse the small mud patch that led to the camp site.
Heading back home on the Sunday morning, we rode via Dullstroom and, despite the potholes and being delayed by rain in the town after brunch, I was a little disappointed when I pulled into my driveway. I could have gone for several more hundred kilometres on the Triumph Tiger 1200 Rally Pro.
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