Manufacturers sometimes make peculiar choices when naming motorcycles. Despite its name, the new-for-2021 Triumph Tiger 850 Sport has the same engine size (888cc) as the Tiger 900 GT and Tiger 900 Rally. And even though it has “Sport” in the name, the 850 actually makes less horsepower. On Jett Tuning’s dyno, the Tiger 850 made 82.1 horsepower and 58 lb-ft of torque at the rear wheel, which is 7.6 horsepower and 1.4 lb-ft of torque less than the Tiger 900 Rally Pro we tested last year.
Designed to be the most accessible Tiger in terms of power, torque, specification, and price, simply calling it the Tiger 900 probably makes more sense. With a base price of $11,995, the Tiger 850 Sport costs $2,705 less than the Tiger 900 GT and $3,405 less than the Tiger 900 Rally. Its main competitors are street-oriented adventure bikes like the BMW F 750 GS (which is actually an 850; base price, $10,995), the BMW F 900 XR ($11,695), and the KTM 890 Adventure ($13,099).
Triumph detuned the Tiger 850’s engine to comply with A2 licensing requirements in Europe. It was able to hit a lower price point by foregoing an Inertial Measurement Unit (IMU) and multi-mode cornering-optimized ABS and traction control in favor of a more conventional non-switchable ABS and switchable traction control setup. The Tiger 850 Sport has fewer riding modes (only Road and Rain) and the Marzocchi suspension adjustability is limited to rear preload. Other nips and tucks include a 5-inch TFT display instead of the 7-inch TFT the Tiger 900s, and there’s no cruise control, quickshifter, self-canceling turnsignals, or centerstand.
The Tiger 850 Sport is hardly a bargain-bin special. It’s equipped with premium Brembo Stylema monoblock front calipers, a radial front brake master cylinder, a slip/assist clutch, a dual-height seat (31.9/32.7 inches), a hand-adjustable windscreen, full LED lighting, a 12-volt power outlet, and a luggage rack. Its curb weight is a manageable 474 pounds, and we averaged 219 miles of range from the 5.3-gallon tank.
Inline Triples are a signature feature on Triumphs as diverse as Tiger adventure bikes, the Speed Triple naked sportbike, and the Rocket 3 muscle cruiser. The Tiger 850 has what Triumph calls a T-Plane crankshaft with a 1-3-2 firing order. After cylinder 1 fires, the crank turns 180 degrees, cylinder 3 fires, the crank turns 270 degrees, cylinder 2 fires, the crank turns 270 degrees, and so on. The irregular firing sequence gives the engine the feel of a Twin down low and the character of a Triple from the midrange on up.
Power increases linearly to 7,000 rpm then plateaus at around 80 horsepower until the 10,000-rpm redline. There’s a broad spread of torque, with 80% or more of peak torque available between 2,400 and 9,100 rpm. A balancer shaft quells most of the engine’s vibrations, but overall it feels more coarse than some of Triumph’s other Triples. Rain mode dulls throttle response, but in Road mode the right grip delivers precise throttle inputs with no stutters or hiccups. Other than a fair amount of heat felt on the left side, there’s little to complain about with the Tiger’s engine.
As I’ve written in previous reviews, Triumph’s design and engineering philosophy imbues its motorcycles with a user-friendliness that makes its bikes – even those I’ve never ridden before – feel familiar and intuitive. The Tiger 850 Sport is no exception. Its ergonomics are comfortable, its fit and finish are at a high level, and its handling strikes a good balance between agility and stability. Response and feel at the front brake lever are excellent, the slip/assist clutch is light and smooth, and the transmission shifts with minimal effort. The fork dives under hard braking, but generous suspension travel and comfort-oriented damping settings provide good ride quality in a range of riding conditions.
The Tiger’s 19-inch front wheel, Michelin Anakee Adventure 90/10 tires, and decent ground clearance allow for some light-duty off-roading, but the ABS doesn’t have an off-road mode nor can it be turned off at the rear wheel. What makes the Tiger 850 Sport most appealing is its versatility as a streetbike, serving as an able commuter or errand-runner during the week, a canyon carver on the weekend, and a comfortable tourer for as many days as you can take off from the grind. Given its budget-friendly MSRP, buyers should have some money left over to tailor the bike to their needs. Triumph offers various luggage options and other accessories such as heated grips, handguards, a centerstand, crash protection, comfort seats, a low seat (31.1/31.9 inches), and more.
The Tiger 850 Sport is a well-sorted adventure bike. Its engaging engine, quality components, and sensible feature set make for an appealing overall package. And if red isn’t your thing, it also comes in blue.
Its name may be a bit misleading, but the Tiger 850 Sport is a great value for an impressively versatile European motorcycle.
2021 Triumph Tiger 850 Sport Specs
Base Price: $11,995
Warranty: 2 yrs., unltd. miles
Type: Liquid-cooled, transverse inline Triple, DOHC, 4 valves per cyl.
Bore x Stroke: 78.0 x 61.9mm
Compression Ratio: 11.3:1
Fuel Delivery: EFI w/ throttle-by-wire, 44mm throttle bodies x 3
Lubrication System: Wet sump, 3.3 qt. cap.
Transmission: 6-speed, cable-actuated wet slip/assist clutch
Final Drive: O-ring chain
Frame: Tubular-steel trellis w/ engine as a stressed member, cast aluminum swingarm
Wheelbase: 61.3 in.
Rake/Trail: 24.6 degrees/5.2 in.
Seat Height: 31.9/32.7 in.
Suspension, Front: 45mm USD fork, no adj., 7.1 in. travel
Rear: Single shock, adj. spring preload, 6.7 in. travel
Brakes, Front: Dual 320mm floating discs w/ 4-piston radial monoblock calipers & ABS
Rear: Single 255mm disc w/ 1-piston floating caliper & ABS
Wheels, Front: Cast aluminum, 2.50 x 19 in.
Rear: Cast aluminum, 4.25 x 17 in.
Tires, Front: 100/90-19
Wet Weight: 474 lbs.
Load Capacity: 491 lbs.
GVWR: 965 lbs.
Horsepower: 82 @ 8,400 rpm (rear-wheel dyno)
Torque: 58 lb-ft @ 6,700 rpm (rear-wheel dyno)
Fuel Capacity: 5.3 gals.
Fuel Consumption: 41 mpg
Estimated Range: 219 miles