The motorcycle nobody knows they want
I was eating lunch at a Thai restaurant in south Atlanta with Adam of Triumph North America, working my way through a plate of chicken satay in peanut sauce. We’d had the 2022 Tiger Sport 660 in the Road Dirt garage for a couple of weeks already, and I was very much enjoying the bike. I asked Adam, “How would you sum up the little Tiger’s reception so far this year in the North American market?” After a moment of reflection, Adam replied, “It’s the bike nobody knows they want.”
2022 Triumph Tiger Sport 660, with accessory side cases.
Intrigued, I was reminded of a conversation I’d had with Eric of Triumph when I first picked up the bike for a long-term review. Eric had quipped, “Dealers are telling us that rarely does someone ever come into their showrooms looking specifically for the Tiger Sport 660. But nearly every time a salesperson directs them to it, and they have a chance to test ride one, they buy it or lay down a deposit for one.” The diminutive Tiger is becoming a hit in the market over here, as riders are becoming aware of it.
All-day riding pleasure.
Based on the wildly popular Trident 660 we sampled last spring, currently Triumph’s top-selling motorbike in the world, the Tiger 660 Sport shares the Trident’s triple cylinder mill, slightly retuned for “sport adventure” riding. Aimed at the perennially popular midsize street/adventure category dominated by Suzuki’s “Weestrom” VStrom 650 and Kawasaki’s Versys 650, the Tiger 660 Sport is more street than dirt, as are the competitors in the class. Yet the Tiger will claw its way down a dirt/gravel road all day if you need the little cat to. We’ve ridden some local dirt roads in our area already, and the baby Tiger tracks true.
Ready to road trip.
Ours came kitted out with Triumph accessory hard bags as well as a top case, all of which are lockable and removable with the single ignition key. They’re quite roomy too, as well as waterproof. Good luggage setup, and all nicely integrated. We also liked the up/down adjustable windshield, which came in handy at highway speeds where we found it’s highest setting knocked wind buffet and noise down a fair bit. At 5’8” tall, many ADV bikes are a challenge for me to get comfortable on, but I found the Tiger Sport 660 very well suited to my size and build. It’s 32.8” seat height let me (mostly) flat foot at stops, which I’ve never been able to do on other ADVs save the Royal Enfield Himalayan. And with a 4.5 gallon tank, the little Tiger has decently long legs for road tripping, easily logging 225 (+-) miles on a full tank.
My road trip pals- (L-R) Darin, Lyle, Savannah, and Mandy (off-camera).
So road tripping I did, with my old childhood chum Lyle. Accompanied by his son Darin, daughter-in-law Savannah, and Lyle’s wife Mandy in the “grocery wagon”, we set out for the Southern Appalachians and a few days of curve carving in the north Georgia mountains. The 660cc inline triple powerplant the Tiger borrows from the Trident absolutely howls for its small-midsize displacement, when throttling and clicking up and down through the 6-speed gearbox. Sure, it’s not a barn burner like the Triumph Street or Speed Triple models, or even its stablemates in the Tiger ADV family, but like the Trident we sampled last year, this engine in this bike is extremely fun to ride. I’d take this Tiger over its larger siblings, all day. It’s that good.
Rolling through the north Georgia hill country.
We carved around well-known and beloved roads like the “Baby Dragon” Hwy 129 (the Georgia leg), “Twisty” 60, and Hwy 180, among others. These all are a combination of tight, well-cambered curves for miles, interspersed with beautiful overlooks and vistas out across these ancient summits and valleys. Diving the Tiger 660 through this landscape was an absolute joyride, as the little cat is so easy to throw side-to-side through curves, and effortlessly up/downshift in the hilly terrain. There’s a reason the bike is called “Sport 660”, as its supremely sport bike-oriented when called upon. Grippy tires, plenty adequate Showa suspension fore and aft, and pinching on Nissin brakes front and rear, the Tiger Sport 660 is definitely SPORT adventure, as I dove it through the high country roads of the Georgia Smokies.
Light, flickable, fun to ride.
The Triumph Tiger Sport 660 utilizes a super smooth slip-assist clutch, sports switchable traction control, non-switchable ABS, and runs on only two ride modes- Road and Rain. The multi-function TFT display is similar to the unit on the Trident sibling, so is easy to read, navigate and make adjustments. The small sport ADV carries its weight low in the frame, which helps the bike feel and act supremely flickable. The Tiger 660 makes 79 HP peak, with 47 ft lbs of torque, all delivered very smooth and linear when rolling up through the cogs. It’s both fun and easy to ride.
Plenty of clearance for curve carving.
I’m partial to triples, I must admit. I’ve owned a Triumph Sprint 955i ST, and have ridden many others over the years. Their power, sound, and general feel make them one of my favorite engine configurations. Triumph has a winner in the 660 triple mill, derived from the old 675 Street Triple motor but refined for a broader scope of riders. The Tiger Sport 660 version weighs in at 455 lbs wet, 38 lbs heavier than the Trident, but with nearly a gallon more fuel capacity. You get a lot of bike for the buck, at right around $9500 for a base model. What you don’t get is a quickshifter and cruise control, which would suit this bike very well, being a great longer distance sport adventure machine.
A pause for refreshment. Turner’s Corner, outside Dahlonega, Georgia.
This is the motorcycle the Street Triple 675 should have been. Broader, more linear powerband in each gear, butter smooth ride-by-wire throttle, comfortable upright ergos, nice ground clearance, and a fun, grunty mill that howls when winding up the RPMs in each gear. All in a naked sport bike meets adventure tourer design package. What’s not to love?
Booger Hollow. Only in North Georgia.
I had to break for home a day early from Lyle and his crew, winding my way south through my favorite twisties before descending into the suburban sprawl that is the Atlanta metropolis. I got in some soaking rain for a short spell, toggled into Rain Mode, and let the Tiger 660 do its thing as I “rode the storm out.” As of this writing, we still have the diminutive Tiger, and I’m still riding it every chance I get, whether blasting down the rural roads beyond our NE Atlanta home, grocery running for the wifey, or just out throttling around town fulfilling daily “to-do” lists. It’s that good as a general all-rounder.
Where to next?
With the burgeoning adventure touring market, coupled with it’s approachability and affordability, the Triumph Tiger Sport 660 may just be the ideal mid-size sporty ADV many new, younger, smaller, and returning riders are looking for. Heck, I’ve never really considered myself an ADV/dual sport guy, but I’d buy this bike and use it for everything, no doubt. Commuting, day cruising, errand running, and road tripping, Triumph has a fantastic offering in this motorbike. Little wonder dealers are selling them so rapidly. We hope it tracks for Triumph like the Trident is selling. The little Tiger deserves it.
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