Triumph Tiger 850 Sport: Less is More
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Triumph Tiger 850 Sport: Less is More

By JeffWare - 02 August 2021

Words: Jeff Ware Photography: Heather Ware

The Tiger 850 Sport costs $17,890 Ride Away and shares the same engine as the 900 range with a claimed power reduction of 7.5kW less up top and 5Nm less of torque.

Mild cornering is fine on the bike but try to ride it at too fast a pace and the suspension soon calls enough.

The Sport is a road oriented soft adventure bike with basic electronics (non-cornering ABS and TC), cast alloy wheels (19in front and 17in rear) and slightly reduced suspension travel compared to the off-road versions of the 900. It hasn't got cruise control and that is not an option, it hasn't got a quickshifter either or heated grips, but it does have a 5in TFT display and two Riding Modes (Road and Rain).

Basic switchgear, no heated grips or cruise control. 

It also features RbW throttle, switchable TC, LED lighting with DRL and an adjustable screen, adjustable seat height (810mm - 830mm), adjustable handlebars, Brembo Stylema calipers and meets Euro5 emissions regulations. It also has ample luggage hook areas, rubber footpeg inserts, span adjustable levers, and replaces the Tiger 900. The forks are basic Marzocchi 45mm inverted non-adjustable items and the shock, also Marzocchi, only has preload adjustment.

It’s a handsome bike that hasn’t changed all that much since 2010. 

So, although the Tiger 850 Sport is the basic version, it also has some nice spec on it, including a 12V charge point. A centre-stand would be nice as standard though and I was surprised it hasn't got one.

There are 50 listed Genuine Triumph Accessories available, and the centre-stand is one of those, but it should be standard for the price point. Other extras available include luggage options, crash bars and various protectors, comfort seats, hand guards, heated grips and more.

Trail braking into corners can overwhelm the soft Marzocchi forks.

The Tiger 850 Sport isn't so sporty on the road, but it is capable enough for some decent fun in the twisties. The limitations are the 19in front wheel and soft suspension. Ground clearance is pretty good though.

I tested out the Rain and Road Modes, with the Rain Mode great for the conditions, which was wet, cold, and slippery. The Rain Mode softened the throttle response and dulled the acceleration and would be great for the more inexperienced riders in particular. The modes don't change any ABS or TC settings as there is no IMU on the bike.

Having an affordable entry level to the more expensive 900s is a good move. 

The engine and gearbox are smooth and the clutch action moderately heavy, with a smooth take-up. The throttle is a tad choppy off closed, so some clutch slip is needed to make for smooth progress around town.

At 187cm I found the seat-to-peg gap on the limit for me (with the seat at the highest level) and I started to get some leg discomfort. It is cramped for those with longer legs but would be great for many riders. The seated reach to the handlebars (also adjustable via roll) is spot on and the seat firm but comfy enough.

The Michelin tyres are OK on the road but there are better options on the market.

One thing I noticed pretty quickly is how busy the dash is to read and how complicated it is. It is originally from the Street Triple RS and has multiple display options.

With a full 20L tank of premium unleaded, the Tiger 850 Sport is also quite top heavy, particularly noticeable around town and exaggerated with the taller seat setting and soft suspension. It's not an issue, really, but something to keep in mind for shorter riders, less experienced riders and with luggage or a pillion added, could make the bike a handful, although that is typical of adventure bikes in general.

Awesome 888cc T-plane crankshaft three-cylinder engine.

On the motorway at 110km/h the bike is smooth and has plenty on tap for passing, but cruise control is missed. The screen is fantastic, and I found it easy to adjust with one hand while on the move. There is an accessories bar behind the screen for your phone and or sat nav that is nice and close the charge point, so that is handy for the long rides and for town. Overall, the highway ride is good but above 120km/h towards 130km/h there are some slight vibes through the bar and pegs.

Non-adjustable Marzocchi 45mm upside-down forks.
Remote rear preload adjustment knob. 

Flowing and often bumpy country roads are where the Tiger 850 Sport finds its sweet spot. The super plush suspension glides over the biggest of bumps and comfort becomes high level. I added some preload via the easy access remote adjuster knob and that gave some extra support (I'm 95kg, was not carrying luggage at the time), however not having an option of increasing rebound control meant I didn't want to go too far on the spring preload, otherwise the bike would start to kick back.

The 888cc triple has plenty of grunt for wheelies!

Upping the pace on some tighter, smooth twisty sections, the Tiger 850 Sport handled as predicted. It has typically good Triumph geometry and steers accurately and quickly for a bike with a 19in front wheel and a lazy, stable steering angle. The ground clearance is good and I was soon touching-down my boots and having a good old crack, however, it didn't take much more than 7/10ths to find the limits of the low specification suspension that this price point has dictated.

Span adjustable clutch lever, cable actuation.
Rubber footpeg inserts for road comfort. When you stand you get the benefit of the teeth off road.

Braking is a strong point on the Tiger 850 Sport and one area where costs have not been trimmed. The Brembo package is top rate but with twin 320mm rotors I did expect more initial bite and power. Still, there is more than enough stopping power on offer and the soft forks give in way before the limit of the braking power can be found.

19in front cast alloy wheel, Brembo Stylema calipers and twin 320mm rotors.
17in cast alloy rear wheel, touring oriented overall gearing.

Trail braking into turns is easy and off road there is good feel at both ends for braking on slippery surfaces. Overall a good package even with the basic ABS, which can be disabled for off-road use.

Off road the 850 Sport falls short to more dedicated adventure versions, not a surprise given its road bias. The up-side is that very road performance... With reduced travel and an awkward riding position when standing, I found the 850 just didn't make sense in a lot of situations, particularly low speed trails. Cruising on flat, relatively smooth and medium paced dirt roads, the bike is fantastic. It is comfy, communicative and the electronics don't even need to be off. But push its limits further and things get more difficult...

Stand up off-road riding position is odd, only suitable for shorter riders. 

I found it impossible to get enough weight forward, plus the bars are super low, meaning I had poor bike control in areas where I really needed to stand to get through safely and smoothly.

In terms of suspension limitations, it is a good compromise and sure, bottoms out on the big hits but generally won't have to deal with those anyway. The Michelin hoops are good on hard packed dirt, offering road like traction, but as soon as there is any sign of mud or clay they become slick and extremely loose, so anyone planning majority off-road may want to update them to more off-road designated rubber.

Complex, old fashioned looking and hard to read dash.

In conclusion, the 850 Sport is a bike well worth considering for anyone after a good value for money soft roader. It comes in way under the Tiger 900 variants, some three grand less than the GT, five grand less than the Rally and six grand less than the GT Pro.


Price: From $17,890 Ride Away

Claimed Power: 62.5kW@8,500rpm

Claimed Torque:82Nm@6,500rpm

Dry Weight: 192kg

Fuel capacity: 20L

Claimed consumption: 5.2L/100km

Service: 10,000km/12-months

Engine: Liquid-cooled, 12-valve, DOHC, inline three-cylinder, 888cc, four-stroke, 78.0mm x 61.9mm bore x stroke, 11.27:1 compression, multipoint sequential electronic fuel injection, stainless steel three-into-one exhaust, system, stainless steel silencer, six-speed gearbox, O-ring chain, wet, multi-plate, slip and assist clutch, cable actuation.

Chassis: Tubular steel frame, bolt-on aluminium rear sub-frame

Rake: 24.6° Trail: 133.3mm

Suspension: Front – Marzocchi 45mm upside down forks, non adjustable. Rear – Marzocchi rear suspension unit, preload adjustment.

Brakes: Front – Twin 320mm floating rotors, Brembo Stylema monobloc calipers, ABS, radial master-cylinder. Rear – Single 255mm rotor, Brembo single piston caliper, ABS,

Wheels & Tyres: Front – Cast alloy, 19 x 2.5in, rear – cast alloy, 17 x 4.25 in. Front tyre – 100/90R19, rear Tyre – 150/70R17, Michelin Anakee.


Length: 2248mm

Width (Handlebars): 830mm

Height Without Mirrors: 1410-1460mm

Seat Height: 810-830mm

Wheelbase: 1556mm

Instruments & Electronics: 5in TFT Dash, ABS, Traction Control.nd. Upgrade to more adventure bias hoops, throw on some bar risers, luggage and maybe fork springs and even then you have room for new riding gear. Personally, I don't mind not having the full-blown electronics suit of the GT and Pro versions, so I am happy without an IMU. If that is you, go test ride a Tiger 850 Sport...

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