We are simply not getting rid of comparing with the much discussed BMW GS in this test because it is a true icon of travel enduros and the British Triumph itself admits that during the five-year development, they were just gossiping GS to the last screw and learning from it, how it should be done.
Triumph could succeed, he doesn’t have anything missing. It has a powerful engine full of unique character, a secondary drive with maintenance-free cardan and whole army of electronics – so exactly what made GS so popular. The travel enduro class is also on the rise even in this difficult time, so there are many other potential competitors. Triumph has potential. Cool additions, name and character. That should be enough …
It’s pretty huge…
The first thing you immediately notice is its size. Explorer is a huge motorcycle that could scare the pilots of lesser growth at first. Yeah, I confess without torturing – I did not want to sit at his saddle. Today, however, the factories can easily hide weight or rather centralize it where it doesn’t mind. So scared approach is not needed at all.
At first I was frightened by the width of the motorcycle in the tank area, because there is a lot of material around the rider. But by this “suffer” all travel bikes, so do not take it as a big minus. In short – there’s a 1215 cm3 three-cylinder engine that boasts with 137 horsepower and a torque of 121 Nm. All on a decent 259 kilogram of dry weight.
The truss frame is welded from steel pipes, which should aid its stiffness and durability. The chassis is of Kayaba co., the front forks are USD, rear center with a separate oil reservoir – both with a wide range of options of adjustments. With optional equipment, Explorer’s features include heated seats, spotlights, Garmin satellite navigation and tire pressure control. On the other side – you already have a 12V drawer in the standard.
It’s not lacking self-esteem
There are a lot of other addons with which you can play while driving. There is adjustable traction control in few levels, switchable ABS. On the long roads, everyone (and especially me) will enjoy the cruise control – cool peace of gear by the way. The driver’s comfort is ensured by a spacious bonnet, comfortable saddle placed in 860 mm (optionally even 810 mm, which I adjusted right away) or adjustable handlebars.
Explorer does not have to be ashamed even by the chassis, Kayaba’s front fork is very massive (46 mm in diameter, 190 mm stroke), gives good feedback and can be trusted in both the fast ride and the terrain driving. For which was this motorcycle secondarily designed. The brakes were delivered by Nissin, the pair of 305 mm discs on the front are serviced by a standard four-stroke, the rear 282 mm has a double-stroke. ABS can be switched off, thanks god …
When you first start, you will immediately know that this is a quite unique engine. The in-a-row three-cylinder has a splendid sound and you do not mistake it, that’s a huge advantage, because in this class it depends on every detail. It sings like a retired rock singer every time he’s gasped, and it got enough power to hide.
But it’s no explosion of power, it goes absolutely linear, and the RPMs are just little bit over idle. It takes about 3,000 and the most juicy piece is around six thousands – there the 260 kilos of the motorcycle go with an unusual soundtrack behind which will turn a lot of people’s heads.
I liked the gearbox, which is quite noisy, but I appreciated its accuracy. A complete fairy tale is the tuning of the injection. Which does not cut the motorcycle even when the gas is aggressively openned at low RPM, which can be done actually very easily.
Now, the most important thing – comfort. Well, here it is really generous, they were literally wasting space. Even figures with body height significantly above 190 cm will feel well at it! The legroom is maximum, the seat is well padded, although it is quite narrow on the tank.
So, now the handlebars, which are, from my point of view, the biggest weakness of the new Explorer. Respectively their shape and width. They are just too wide, so you have your hands fully streched out while riding. I thought I’d get used to it, but even after day of riding it did not fit me well. It will make you have a straight back, which is undoubtedly healthy. But at the motorcycle you need sometimes to get a bit crooked, what you can’t do here. On the other sie, when riding in the footsteps, you’ll appreciate the shape of the handlebars because they are exactly where they are supposed to be, and you have a feeling of absolute control over the bike.
While driving, you always have something to play with. Everything can be comfortably controlled from the handlebars and you can adjust a lot on the bike without having a screwdriver in your hand. The on-board menu includes three-step traction control. Together with ABS shutdown, automatic shut down of the blinkers or units in which you want to display the clocks. The menu is clear and in a while you will know where and how to reach.
I am a little sad, that if you turn off the ABS or traction control, the engine will “fall” to the default setting when the ignition is switched off, so everything is activated again. But the important is that we have a choice – some motorcycles do not have it in the case of ABS, and I consider it to be a tremendous damage for them … The practical thing is the cruise control that is suitable for long journeys. But I was a little disappointed that it took him a while to settle at the selected speeds.
As has been said, I have a feeling of absolute certainty from the chassis. Triumph Explorer is heavier than the original air-cooled BMW, but it turns neutral, fast and accurate. It is pleasure to send him smoothly into a series of turns. Silencers take a lot and the ride is totally “plush”. The fork is not overwhelmed and the motorcycle “kneels” on the front wheel only in emergency brakes.
At Motorcycles you shouldn’t look very much on fuel consumption, but Explorer is a traveling motorcycle, which have estimated trip to be tens of thousands of miles, so it makes sense here to mention it. Our average was 6.2 l / 100 km, which pleased me. With reasonable use, the Triumph will not be thirsty and will run around five liters, giving some 300 km on full tank.
Explorer is completely different
Our (saddly) short ride showed that Triumph Explorer is completely different from the old air GS. The success of the German icon is legitimate and understandable. GS has always been a bit more comfortable, smarter, lighter, more agile and more fuel efficient than competition. But if German unity is bothering you and you can not tolerate sterile perfection, you have an alternative here.
At Triumph, however, a test ride is absolutely necessary, you will be surprised by the three-stroke and it will be up to you how much will it your hand, how much you get it into your heart. I have the feeling that in evaluation, taking at mind its class, Explorer sits with his attributes exactly between the “reasonable GS” and the “shattered KTM Adventure”.
A plus for Explorer is surelly its space and friendliness for taller riders – it will be one of his biggest trumps. We’ll leave the rest on you, but try it out, the experience is worth it …