Triumph Tiger 1050 racks up the miles

There’s something about seeing a bright orange tank in your mirrors that makes car drivers move over. Is it the imposing size of the triple-cylinder beast , enhanced with hard panniers that is hard to ignore? I think it has something to do with it, for sure.

After a 200-mile round trip up north to fetch them, the pair of official Triumph hard cases were worth the hassle of the trip. Facebook marketplace came up trumps (again, as that’s where I bought this Tiger for a song) with a set of pristine panniers AND the required rack for the bargain price of £140 – the rack alone is worth that. The only problem was that they were the wrong colour, but how hard can it be to wrap?

Do it all on a Tiger 1050. And yes, that includes trackdays, though it does deck out…

With a sheet of carbon vinyl wrap off Amazon, a pair of scissors, scalpel and hair dryer I was ready to get to work. Half an hour later I’d concluded that I’d made a pig’s ear of it and promptly gave up. I’ll eventually get an adult to do it but in the meantime I’ve covered it in black gorilla tape. Strangely, it kinda suits the mildly battle-scarred, utility workhorse nature of the Tiger and it’s protected them from a couple of boot scuffs already. Anyway, I’ll stick to digital modifications in Photoshop for the time being!

As welcome as the panniers are for those longer trips (as well as the weekly food shop) they are silly wide. Wider than handlebar width and I’m noticeably more paranoid when filtering. I’m mildly reluctant to do the despatch rider thing and remove one as the asymmetry (the fact that one is much smaller than the other due to the high level exhaust design is troubling enough) will conflict with my designer OCD. First world problems eh…

I’ve been using an old Oxford Products tailpack and although it’s expandable upwards I could do with more capacity. I also use a Kreiga rollpack 40 and as sturdy as it is I’m missing having outer compartments. A window shopping session later and I’ve acquired a SW-Motech 1680D Rackpack. Expandable from 32 to 42 litres in capacity it is riddled with well thought out touches; Little tabs to keep zips from flapping about and coming loose; reflective tabs; sturdy loops to use as bungee points; inner zipped compartments; additional waterproof inner bag (in a downpour everything stayed dry even without it), and a handy shoulder strap. It attaches via four straps that I’ve left on the bike – no more bungees required.

In use it’s been perfect. Super stable, and due to the robust construction it holds its form even when there’s nothing in it. It’s made from durable ballistic nylon, and feels like it’ll handle any abuse I can chuck at it. In a previous life working on RiDE magazine (which specialised in product testing) I had the opportunity to try out a range of tailpacks and I have to say, this is the best one I’ve ever used. It’s a worthy investment and will likely serve me well for years to come. I costs £196.99 and you can get it from Motohaus in the UK here.

The SW Motech 1680D Rackpack in all its glory

On the subject of soft luggage and carrying capacity I’ve been using Kriega products for many years and while the initial purchase price might seem salty they’re the perfect example of you-get-what-you-pay-for. My R20 backpack is almost 20 years old but it’s still in 100% useable condition, it’s still waterproof, all the zips still work, it’s as comfortable as the first day and it’s the perfect size without the bulk to use with the Rackpack on the bike too. It costs £139 and you can get the Kriega R20 here.

I’m five winter months and 2000 miles into Tiger ownership and still very much impressed. A 400-mile trip in the worst winter rain was shrugged off by Tiger and the heated grips, hand shrouds and screen extender really came into their own. Plenty of torque, all-day comfort, go-anywhere ability… what’s not to like? I had originally bought the bike as a toe in the water to something other than a sportsbike or naked bike, and it’s become my go-to ride. Why Triumph aren’t building these things anymore I have no idea, but I wish they would as I’d be well up for a road-biased Tiger 1200 with 17” wheels. So much so I made a concept of one, let them know in the comments if they should bring it back.

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