Less than a year after bringing its third-generation Tiger 1200 to dealerships Triumph Motorcycles is offering a “low” APR finance rate along with £900 in clothing or accessories to encourage riders to make the adventure tourer their own. And one can’t help but wonder why.
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Such incentives, of course, are designed to help get bikes off showroom floors and into individual garages and sheds. They’re a common tactic employed by almost all manufacturers – some a little too consistently. Generally, incentives are used for one of two reasons: 1) sales of the incentivized model are low, or; 2) a manufacturer is eager to clear out stock to make room for an updated model.
In recent memory, Triumph has always employed the tactic for the latter reason; within months of a deal being offered on a model the cover will have been pulled off a new version. For example: the 0-percent financing offer on Street models that tantalized riders late in the summer. A short time after that deal was offered, new Street Twin and Street Scrambler models were announced at Intermot.
But with the third-generation Tiger 1200 having only just arrived at dealerships in January it seems pretty unlikely that a newer new Tiger is just around the corner. So, one assumes the incentives are coming as a result of sluggish sales.
Specific statistics on sales of the Tiger 1200 are difficult to come by, but here’s what we do know: registrations of all Triumph motorcycles are generally down this year from 2017, whereas the overall state of the industry is OK. The most recent statistics from the UK’s Motorcycle Industry Association (MCIA) show year-to-date registrations of bikes and scooters are collectively up 1.7 percent from 2017.
Looking through the MCIA’s monthly statistics for 2018, Triumph has never achieved better than third place in UK sales charts, more often than not failing to even make the top five. The Tiger 1200 has never shown up as a month’s best seller in either its style or displacement category, whereas the BMW R 1200 GS has made regular appearances (the R 1200 RT, by the way, has never left the top spot in the Tourer category, perhaps adding fuel to the fire for those of us who question the wisdom of abandoning the Trophy SE).
These stats don’t necessarily mean the Tiger 1200 is selling poorly, but they arguably show it’s at least not a huge hit. And if that is the case, I’ll admit I’m not surprised. I got a chance to spend a fair bit of time with the Tiger 1200 earlier this year and had a lot of good things to say, but also noted that the improvements within the third-gen platform weren’t enough to make me consider giving up the second-gen bike (Tiger Explorer) that I already owned. Extrapolate from that and you’ll see an argument for buying a high-spec, good-condition used second-gen bike over paying (too much) more for a brand new one.
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And, perhaps also contributing to riders’ lack of enthusiasm is the fact that few moto magazines/blogs/etc. are willing to support Triumph’s marketing of the Tiger 1200. It is a superb touring bike – comfortable and durable – but it is for touring on pavement. Yes, more skilled riders than myself can ride it off road but I would argue that the Tiger 1200 is, in fact, worst in its class when it comes to off-road ability. Compare it against a BMW R 1250 GS, a Ducati Multistrada 1260 Enduro, or a KTM 1290 Adventure; what person not in the employ of Triumph would honestly choose the Tiger 1200 over those others for rocky/muddy trails?
For long-haul road use, however, I’d choose it over both the Ducati and KTM if not simply because for the shaft drive – not to mention its excellent cruise control system. Smooth and luxurious on long motorway slogs, while being a hoot on more engaging roads, I would go so far as to argue that the Tiger 1200 is a better touring bike for tall guys than a number of the more expensive touring rigs I’ve had the pleasure of riding over the years. The Harley-Davidson Ultra Limited, for example – the Harley has (a hell of a lot) more character and prestige, obviously, but if I were living off my bike for a few weeks I’d prefer the relative comfort and versatility of the Triumph.
Anyhoo, Triumph’s offer lasts until the end of this month in the United Kingdom.
On a partially related note, I am increasingly concerned that Triumph will be dumping the excellent Tiger Sport soon, which is a damned shame.