Held in conjunction with the Triumph Owner’s dinner in Bukit Tinggi, Pahang, Triumph Malaysia launched the 2018 Triumph Tiger XCx and XRx adventure bikes, priced at RM74,900 and RM69,900, respectively, including GST, but excluding road tax, insurance and registration. Calling the pair merely face-lift models would be inaccurate, as over 200 changes were made to the inline-three cylinder engine and chassis.

So, what’s changed? Are the changes merely skin deep, or is there a reason to go Tiger hunting? During the launch, Malaysian media were allowed to take the Tigers out for a short spin, a whetting of the appetite, shall we say, before allocation for full-on reviews.

As we found out during the media launch of the 2017 Triumph Street Triple 765RS in Spain last year, the boys from Hinckley have a knack for taking an existing motorcycle from their range, and simply making it better. In the case of its Tiger series of adventure bikes, Triumph has listened to owners, and implemented a slew of improvements and upgrades.

On the day, there were two of Triumph’s adventure bikes available for a romp up and down the roads of Bukit Tinggi. We had a go first on the Tiger 800 XCx, before swapping over to the Tiger 800 XRx.

As per the previous models, the astute reader will surmise the XCx is Triumph’s more off-road centric model, while the XRx is designed more for the rider who wants a two-wheeled long-distance mile-muncher without the added heft of a litre-plus machine.

While still outwardly resembling the last generation Tiger 800, the new Tiger 800s now sport LED DRLs and a five-position adjustable windshield. Nissin brakes are standard, clamping twin 308 mm diameter floating discs in front.

Other upgrades include the WP 43 mm upside-down forks, adjustable rebound and compression damping and 220 mm travel for the XCx, and Showa 43 mm upside-down forks with 180 mm travel for the XRx. Both Tigers now come with three riding modes – Road, Off-Road and Custom – while traction control and switchable ABS is standard.

In terms of equipment, the XCx and XRx both come with a centre stand fitted, along with cruise control and hand guards. Inside the cockpit, the rider will find a TFT-LCD colour instrument panel, similar to the unit found in the Triumph 765R and RS, and the Triumph 1050R and RS, which displays a wealth of information and setup menus, all controlled with a five-way joystick on the left handlebar pod.

As for the power plant, both the Tiger 800 XCx and XRx share the same mill, a three-cylinder, liquid-cooled, 12-valve, DOHC engine displacing 800 cc and putting out 95 hp at 9,250 rpm and 79 Nm of torque at 7,850 rpm. The fuel injected triple is carried in a tubular steel trellis frame and power gets to the ground via a six-speed gearbox.

Where the Tigers start to really differ is in wheel size, the XCx rolling on a 21-inch spoked wheel in front, and a 17-inch spoked wheel in the rear, while the XRx uses cast aluminium 10-spoke wheels measuring 19-inches and 17-inches, front and rear respectively.

Seat height is necessarily different, with the off-road oriented XCx putting rider 840 mm to 860 mm above the ground on the two-position adjustable seat, while the XRx has a seat height of between 810 mm to 830 mm. Additionally, there is a Low Seat Height version of the XRx, which has a seat height of 760 mm to 780 mm, while the optional accesory low seat for the XCx has a height of between 820 mm to 840 mm.

Both the Tiger XCx and XRx are near enough identical in the weight stakes, the XCx weighing 200 kg, and the XRx coming in at one kilogramme more. Fuel for both adventure bikes is carried in a 19-litre tank, and handlebar width is 845 mm for the XCx and 795 mm for the XRx.

Riding both the XCx and XRx around, both adventure bikes placed the rider in the usual upright, arms-level riding position, with knees comfortably bent and feet resting on the mid-mounted foot pegs. Escorted by a marshal, we were not allowed to do any real speed through the corners, but we could try out the mid-range acceleration, and yes, the engine delivered more mid-range torque than before.

Handling through the corners was found to be easier on the XCx than the XRx, which is an issue deserving of more in-depth investigation when we get both bikes for a proper review. In terms of sure-footedness, both the XCx and XRx tracked straight and true, and the long-travel suspension soaked up road bumps and irregularities easily, giving a smooth, gentle ride without giving away any feedback.

Obviously it is not possible to form a real impression of any motorcycle with a short ride, but the taste we got of the 2018 Tiger 800 XCx and XRx indicates that these are two very capable adventure touring machines designed to go the distance. While we wait to get our hands on the review Tiger 800s, test rides are available at the Triumph Concept Store in Petaling Jaya.

GALLERY: 2018 Triumph Tiger 800 XCx