I bought a new (to me) bike!

Kardesign Rides

Say hello to my Triumph Tiger 1050

Back in 2007, I worked on Performance Magazine and my long-term testbike at the time was the all-new Triumph Tiger 1050 – the bike had only just come out and was met with rave press reviews. It was a comfortable utility bike with a playful, if slightly menacing approach. The triple engine was a marvel, and the increase in capacity over the previous 955cc bike manifested itself in even more bottom and mid-range grunt, raising the 104bhp figure to 115bhp.

It was lighter than the 2006 bike too, but still a heavy beast and you feel that 198kg when pushing the bike around the garage. During my time with the bike I fitted a K-Tech fork kit (heavier springs and compression and rebound valves) and Zard exhaust can. Other than that, the bike remained standard and we clocked up a few thousand enjoyable miles of touring, commuting and the odd peg-scraping trackday.

I’ve got an itch to revisit the Swiss Alps this year so I’ve been toying with the idea of a bike to do the trip on that is going to be comfortable to do the miles, but also flickable for the mountain passes, and something like a Triumph Tiger fits the bill. But can I really justify another bike in the garage if I only use it once or twice a year? The answer is no, but if it could also double as a daily hack, then we could be in business.

2008 Triumph Tiger 1050 – so very capable, especially in the gloomy depths of winter

I had two options: go for a late model with all the luggage options for around £8,000, or test the water with a cheaper, older model. My heart was wanting to splurge on a newer bike, but my head was reining me in. An ad on Facebook Marketplace for a deep orange colour 2008 42,000 miler came up, it had a little MoT left and what seemed like a battery on its last legs. Advertised for £2,199 (previously up for £3,499), the price had dropped over the winter months to just £1,900. I made enquiries and the vendor said he’d just had an offer for £1,700 with a guy coming to seal the deal at the weekend. If I could make it down to Aylesbury before then he’d let it go for the same price. Similar Tigers were advertised on eBay for around the £2,500 mark.

I went down the next day. The seller had bought it from a mate who had used it for commuting, he had plans to ride it as a hack but with multiple other bikes of his own it never really got a look in. It wasn’t a minter by any means, with scuffs on the fairing, missing screen fasteners and corrosion around the engine cases and mirror mounts but it seemed mechanically sound and did have some sensible modifications to it like heated grips, a USB charger, crash bars and a radiator guard.

I took it for a spin and as the bike went well I made a cheeky offer of £1,600, only for him to decline and REDUCE my offer by a further £100. Huh? “You were the only one to show up in the three months it’s been advertised and I need the space!” he said. £1,500 it was, deal done. He also threw in a disc lock and Oxford trickle charger. Result!

A few days later the bike was in my garage, taking up space. A lot of space. There are things that are far from perfect on it like the weak brakes (I don’t recall my first Tiger 1050 being that bad a stopper, they probably need a strip down and clean) and I’m reminded how clunky the gearbox is. The engine however, is an absolute blast, with beastly torque from tickover all the way to the redline, with that typical hair-raising Triumph triple sound as the rev needle spins around the clock. Closer inspection revealed the bike had a Scottoiler installed, though it wasn’t in use and what looks like aftermarket dog bone linkages for the rear suspension. This probably explains why I, being a vertically-challenged 5ft 7” have no problem getting both feet on the ground.

I’ve since installed a little screen deflector I bought for £14 off Amazon which is worth its weight in gold. Adjustable for height and pitch it’s enough to take the edge off the buffeting at high speeds and makes for a quieter ride too. A new battery resolved the starting issues and the bike sailed through the MoT. A 400-mile round trip to Liverpool was tackled with ease, despite some nasty wet, cold and wintery weather along the way. The heated grips and hand deflectors really coming into their own.

A Quad Lock handlebar mount means navigation is a cinch, and the Quad Lock wireless charger means the phone stays topped up with juice, which is especially handy as using Google Maps can really drain a phone battery. The most difficult thing about the Quad Lock install was attaching to the Tiger’s battery as it’s pretty crowded in the compartment under the seat. The swear jar had a good top up at least!

With my faith in Facebook Marketplace restored I had a look for some luggage options and Facebook didn’t disappoint. A two-hour trek up the A1 to Sheffield bagged me a set of near-mint Triumph panniers plus the mounting bracket. They might be white so not colour-matched but for £140 I think I can justify some black vinyl wrap to rectify that.

We’re coming up to 1,000 fuss-free miles already and it’s fair to say I’m loving the Tiger 1050. If push came to shove, I wouldn’t need a newer bike to get me to the Alps – I could just take this…

Have you got a Tiger 1050? Got any tips you’d like to share? Leave a comment!

1 thought on “I bought a new (to me) bike!”

  1. Get a tuneECU app and cable……. you can download and install maps, balance throttle bodies (needs to be done regularly for smooth running), recalibrate the speedo, adjust fan temperature…… handy bit of kit……. I wish it would work with my xr!

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