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Traffic in Pune, where we live, is becoming nuts. There are traffic snarls and hold ups for no bloody reason and what really gets my goat is while I sit in my car fuming at the total lack of sensitivity and empathy of other road users, a lane in the middle of the road remains unused — blocked off for BRT busses but held up (for three years!) due to litigation. Then the other day I saw a couple of bikers pottering past in that lane and that convinced me, I need to go back to a bike for my daily commute.
Not any bike though. There’s one bike I’ve had my eye on for a long time, ever since I went on a Sunday morning ride with the Triumph boss a year ago and got smitten. Say hello to the Tiger XCA.
Looks gorgeous doesn’t it? I love the purposeful stance; the way it means business. This looks like a big boy’s bike and astride it you end up feeling like the king of the road. But, I must warn you, it takes some time getting used to it. The Tiger is a heavy bike, really heavy, and the Adventure spec of our bike means it is also very tall. I’m not short but my feet barely make it to the ground and swinging a leg over needs some dexterity. Actually I’ve figured out that the side stand is so strong you can jump on the pegs and swing a leg over, which makes life so much simpler – and also looks rather cool.
Speaking of cool, the XCA gets LED auxiliary lamps which look fantastic and throw a brilliant spread of light. The other stuff is unnecessary though, at least on my Pune commute – heated grips and heated seats.
It took me a day to get used to the size and weight of the Tiger but once I was over that hill it dawned on me, this is the perfect commuter bike. Not only is the riding position so comfortable and easy going but the ride quality is excellent. Everything that you’d need to slow down for – potholes, speedbreakers, the big mound of dirt at the opening of the BRT lane to keep away bikes – you just stand on the pegs and fly over it. It’s brilliant. You don’t have to touch the brakes, just carry on no matter what. My office commute is reduced by half; it’s so quick I get there even before I start to sweat. And when you whack it open on the fresh, dusty, unused concrete of the BRT lane the traction control cuts in and saves your hide. I love it.
And I seem to have company. The day I posted pics of the bike on Twitter, I got five invites for a Sunday morning ride – everybody I know has a Tiger! Even a very close friend, who is under five feet tall has one, even though his toes just about touch the ground. I went riding with him to Veer dam on the outskirts of Pune and it was a lovely ride, the easy-revving 800cc triple hitting over 200kmph on some stretches, lots of torque to keep it in top and cruise, and great manners on the last dirt patches leading to the dam.
Dirt. That’s why I got the Tiger. I love driving on dirt, love putting cars sideways, but I scare myself witless when a bike starts to slide around me. My target this year then is to learn to ride on dirt, get comfortable with a bike sliding around me. I’ve already signed up for the next Tiger Training Academy in Pune – wish me luck!
Date acquired: March 2015
Duration of test: 1 month
Total mileage: 2,951km
Mileage this month: 1,248km
Overall kmpl: 15.2kmpl
Costs this month: Nil