The 2021 Triumph Tiger 850 Sport Is Made for On-Road Adventures

For those looking to combine off-roading with long on-road rides, the usual motorcycle of choice is an adventure bike. However, while there some fairly affordable models available, these bikes can get pricey quickly. That’s the issue that Triumph is trying to tackle with its new Tiger 850 Sport.

The 2021 Triumph Tiger 850 Sport is the brand’s new entry-level adventure bike

A rider on a red 2021 Triumph Tiger 850 Sport
2021 Triumph Tiger 850 Sport | Triumph

Despite its name, the Triumph Tiger 850 Sport is part of the Tiger 900 adventure bike range. And while the Tiger 900 lineup was updated for 2020, starting in 2021, the 850 Sport is the new base model, Rider reports. That’s a good thing for riders on a budget, as the Triumph Tiger 850 Sport starts at $11,995. In comparison, the cheapest Tiger 900, the GT, starts at $14,300.

While the 2021 Triumph Tiger 850 Sport’s name may suggest that it has a smaller engine than the 900, that’s not the case, Cycle World explains. It has the same 888cc three-cylinder engine found in the other Tiger 900 models. However, it has a retuned ECU for more low-end power and torque as well as a more linear power delivery. The tune also lowers the engine’s output from 94 hp and 64 lb-ft to 84 hp and 61 lb-ft.

The front view of a rider on a red 2021 Triumph Tiger 850 Sport
2021 Triumph Tiger 850 Sport front | Triumph

The engine isn’t the only thing the Triumph Tiger 850 Sport shares with the outgoing Tiger 900, ADVPulse reports. It has the same chassis and bodywork and even the same 423-lb dry weight, RideApart reports. The 850 Sport also comes with a Marzocchi inverted fork and rear mono-shock like the Tiger 900. And it has Brembo brakes with ABS, a slipper-assist clutch, adjustable seat, adjustable windscreen, a 12V outlet, and a TFT display.

However, Triumph did make some upgrades when it turned the Tiger 900 into the 850 Sport, Ultimate Motorcycling reports. The entry-level adventure bike now has LED front and rear lighting, as well as Michelin Anakee Adventure tires.

The Triumph Tiger 850 Sport won’t go far off-road, but it isn’t meant to

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The 2021 Triumph Tiger 850 Sport doesn’t have all of the bells and whistles found on pricier Tiger 900s. Its fork isn’t adjustable, for example, and its TFT display is smaller. It also lacks a quick-shifter. But it does have traction control and two riding modes (though the 900 models have 5 modes).

Also, the entire point of the Triumph Tiger 850 Sport is to be an approachable, affordable adventure bike. As Cycle World points out, many ADV riders use their bikes as commuters. At which point, all that extra hard-core equipment becomes a bit unnecessary—not to mention expensive.

2020 BMW R 1250 GS Adventure
2020 BMW R 1250 GS Adventure | BMW

And it’s not like the Tiger 850 Sport is the only adventure bike designed with on-road travel in mind. Triumph’s US operations manager stated that the Tiger 900 GT is designed to be “’ way more of a road bike,’” Cycle World reports. BMW shares a similar perspective: its range-topping R 1250 GS Adventure is both an excellent ADV and a great touring bike.

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And while the Triumph Tiger 850 Sport is primarily designed for on-road travel, it can handle a bit of off-roading. It has 7.1” of front travel and 6.7” of rear travel, ADVPulse reports. And while its Michelin tires aren’t the most rugged choice, they offer better dirt performance than the outgoing Metzeler sport-touring tires, Ultimate Motorcycling reports. Though off-road riders may want to upgrade the plastic guard for a real metal skid plate.

Is it worth considering over other ADVs?

Although the 2021 Triumph Tiger 850 Sport is the cheapest adventure bike the British brand offers, there are cheaper ADVs on the market.

Several color variants of the 2021 Royal Enfield Himalayan
2021 Royal Enfield Himalayan | Royal Enfield

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For example, you can get 2 Royal Enfield Himalayans for the price of one Tiger 850 Sport. And it comes with a skid plate, crash bars, and slightly more suspension travel.

However, its 411cc single-cylinder engine makes less than 1/3rd of the 850 Sport’s horsepower. And while it’s a good commuter, Cycle World reports it’s better on back-country roads rather than long highway slogs. It’s arguably the Tiger’s equal or better in terms of off-roading, but it’s not as good at the touring aspects of adventure riding.

A blue-tanked 2021 Yamaha Ténéré 700 adventure bike power-sliding in the desert
2021 Yamaha Ténéré 700 | Yamaha

A closer rival to the Triumph Tiger 850 Sport is the $9999 Yamaha Ténéré 700. Its 698cc parallel-twin makes 72 hp and 50 lb-ft, which is less than the Tiger 850 offers. But once you factor in fluids, the Yamaha is likely lighter than the Tiger. And Road & Track describes it as handling like “a big dirt bike.” Plus, it has a skid plate, more suspension travel, and its ABS can be disabled.

However, the Yamaha lacks traction control and switchable multiple riding modes. And while its windscreen is adjustable, its seat isn’t. Plus, the Triumph Tiger 850 Sport has a lower seat height, which is a boon for shorter riders.

The side view of a silver 2020 Moto Guzzi V85TT on a beach
2020 Moto Guzzi V85TT side | Moto Guzzi

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Finally, there’s the $11,990 Moto Guzzi V85TT. With a 459-lb dry weight, it’s heavier than the Triumph Tiger 850 Sport. And its 853cc V-twin ‘only’ makes 79 hp and 59 lb-ft. Plus, its TFT display is slightly smaller.

However, the V85TT roughly matches the Tiger 850 Sport in terms of suspension travel, Revzilla reports. And even the base model features an aluminum skid plate, traction control, cruise control, three riding modes, and handguards.

So how do you pick between them? The best way is to take a test ride and see which adventure bike is most comfortable for you. But if your adventures include a lot of paved-road travel, the Triumph Tiger 850 Sport isn’t a bad place to start.

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