Meet my 2016 Triumph Tiger XCX. In the three years I have had it, it has done 30,000km in addition to the 12,000km it has had already clocked when I picked it up. I learnt to ride off-road on this thing and as anyone who has ever taken a big adventure tourer off the beaten track will tell you, it is not the ideal bike to learn off-road riding on. It’s a bit too big and a bit too powerful and a wise man will carry a spare pair of pants along the first few times because soil them he will.
It’s just not the pants that get spoilt – given that you will drop it off-road and the fact that these ADV’s aren’t cheap to fix, one of the first few things I invested in was protection.
Now, the XCX comes factory fitted with a rather hefty bash plate (I know because I’ve bashed the shit out of mine) and crash protection bars for the engine. I’ve invested a bit more – protectors for the headlights, protection for my hands and protection for the auxiliary lamps. To be totally honest, I got the Hepco & Becker headlight grille because it reminds me of the early Paris Dakar bikes and the rally grilles over their lights and I wanted a similar look for my Tiger despite the fact that it has never been near Paris or Dakar. Turns out I fitted it not a moment too soon because on the way home that day, a truck chucked up a big stone that clanged loudly off the grille. Given that a new headlight costs a kidney and something, my bank balance breathes a sigh of relief each time that loud clang happens.
The next bit of lights protection I got was for the Baja Designs Squadron Pro auxiliary lamps I have on the bike. Well, I actually got them because, a while ago, the Kerala RTO went on this huge drive to catch anyone with modifications to their cars and bikes. Now, I use these aux lamps mostly when I go trail riding at night at The School Of Dirt’s (an off road riding school I run in Kerala) night training program and when I go fun riding on my estate roads. It is impossible to convince a cop on a mission that I don’t use them on the road and that’s when the black aux lamp covers came in. They really helped the lamps slip under the cop radar and the scratches on the covers also point to how many times they have saved the lenses from flying stones.
Next up, the Barkbusters handguards. The most sphincter tightening trail at The School of Dirt is lined with thorn brambles and despite wearing knuckle protecting gloves, the odd thorn used to work its way into my hands. It isn’t a nice feeling and the Barkbusters stop this from happening. That’s not all – last year I crashed at 120kmph. A dog ran across the road and with no time to react, I hit it and went down in an instant. When the dust settled, I noticed that the Barkbusters super strong aluminium backbone had taken the brunt of the impact when the bike went down and slid down the road and therefore, saved a lot of the more important, more expensive parts of the bike from breaking. Phew! There’s more protection I require like the tank protection bars but I am undecided on them so far. I feel the tank bars add weight high up on an already top-heavy bike and therefore, make it more of an effort to handle the bike off road. If you ride on road most of the time, they should be a must fit because they really help protecting the tank from damage if you do have the bad luck of laying the bike down.
Overall, I’m happy with the protection I have on my bike. I’d say without any doubt that they have been well worth the investment
About the Author:-
Ouseph Chacko is a career automotive journalist. He was road test editor at Autocar India and then assistant editor at Evo India and over the course of 14 years in the industry, he’s driven and ridden everything from the Nano to the Aventador and the Splendor to the Busa.
Somewhere along the way, he decided to jump ship and work as a Scuba Divemaster and that’s what he did for a year before he went back home to help his parents with their company. These days, when not under lockdown, Ouseph claims he is an excellent delivery boy for his folks’ pickle and jam company (all those years of driving fast cars came to good use says he) and also runs The School Of Dirt, an off road riding school based in Kerala.