So I took my Bobber Black to the first service today, and got a Tiger 1200 to waste some time until they were done with the service.
I spent almost one and a half hours with it.
Biggest issue: my legs are too short, **** it. I'm a bit over 180cm, have a tall upper body but short legs and short arms. It's a problem getting clothing, it's a nightmare flying economy class, and I'm not quite compatible with adventure bikes. Almost dropped a friend's Africa Twin about 20 years ago when there was a small pothole, luckily I was still in gear and reacted quick :-)
Getting onto the Tiger was kind of OK, I could stand on tip toes with both legs - or ball of the foot when leaning to either side. Manageable, but didn't feel too safe.
Started her up (keyless go), put her in gear (****, that lever is far to the front) and off I went.
Amazing how stable she is, even at low speed. More stable than any other bike I've ridden. And the gear ratio is reasonly short, not as long as on the Bobber.
Very smooth throttle control. Auto-shifter works as expected though 1-2 is something that went a bit rough, especially in city traffic. Still amazing.
Went to a gas station first, fill her up. Got my right leg stuck at the rear seat when getting off, did not look very elegant. Anyway. Paid. Put helmet back on.
Police cruiser pulling up behind me, waiting to use the pump. And what happens? I could not get on the ****ing bike... tried twice, didn't make it
Used the curb next to the pump as help and finally got back on. Embarrassing.
Took her on a 100 km ride then. Amazing power (141 hp), quiet when cruising but fantastic Triple exhaust note (Arrow exhaust) when opening the throttle a bit more. Fantastic sound and feeling when you (almost) rip open the throttle in 2nd gear and flick through the gears with the autoshifter. The suspension works excellent, it covers each and any bump while keeping a good feeling for the road. I ended up being too fast in almost every curve because the ride was so smooth. Shocking first because I totally was not used to the high center of gravity, but after some time and building confidence, I was impressed by how agile she is. It's insane how fast you can go through serpentines and how well she handles.
Upshifting with the auto-shifter required rather much force, a bit less would have been comfortable. I tried smoother/less forced upshifting but then ended up finding a neutral between 3rd and 4th and hitting the rev limiter. Makes sense since this is still a normal transmission, so the feeling was very close to clutchless upshifting with a regular bike, except for not having to close the throttle.
Downshifting was amazing and absolutely smooth. Very nice and easy to use the engine brake, even in city traffic. Even going 2-1 in front of a red traffic light. Amazing.
The seat and sitting position are great. My knees started to hurt towards the end of the ride, but that might have been because I spent 1.5 hours on the Bobber before. The windshield did a good job, but even in the upmost position, it was too low for me. The air stream hit the top of my helmet, so it got pretty noisy and uncomfortable above 100 km/h. Like I said, tall upper body... :-(
And, as I have short arms, I would have loved to have the handlebars a few cm (1-2 inches) further back. I felt inreasing tension in my shoulders after about an hour of riding.
So much for the "technical" experience. What about the emotional one?
I was riding the same route I had ridden with the Bobber before, and I realized how quickly I got from one town to the other - without remembering the road or details in between too much. Lots more impression from the landscape, I saw more things because of the higher position and because I didn't have to care about riding, the bike just did its job. Just like I didn't have to look out for potholes or adjust my course because of the suspension.
Is that good? I guess it confirms this bike is great for touring. It's really comfortable, but that also means you are missing out on a lot of riding experience. Like the Bobber's torque hammering the whole bike when accelerating. The Bobber's sound note. The looks you get when you pull up to a traffic light.
It's hard to put this in words, but I was missing something. Riding my Bobber home, I realized how good the wind protection on the Tiger actually was. And how great the Tiger suspension was. How little it vibrated. The ride back home on my Bobber was painful, after a few hours on bikes. But it felt different, in a way I cannot put in words.
Still love the Tiger and I would definitely get one if I had the money and would have time to go on longer tours. Effortless cruising, soaking up the landscape. For a quick spin in the evening or daily commuting, my Bobber is a lot more fun, though.
Anyway, it has been a great experience, and I totally loved getting to ride the Tiger while waiting for my Bobber.