its own weather. Wind is the number one enemy, and rider
protection becomes just as important as suspension or
handling. The Triumphs allowed their riders to tuck in and
hold on. That kind of speed is also exhausting. You constantly fight the lifting principles that make airplanes fly. If
a rider just relaxed, he would quickly find himself 20 feet in
the air, watching the bike ride away without him.
In the end, it wasn’t speed that proved to be the biggest
problem for the team. It was a lack of it. When the bikes
got into tight, slow canyons, they were geared too high
and too heavy to manhandle, resulting in clutch problems.
Both bikes actually completed the entire course, but one
had a clutch failure in a special test that took it out of the
results. The other finished relatively intact but a full 10
hours behind the leader.
AFTER THE FACT
Afterward, with Mexican dirt still covering the yellow
Tiger, we took it for a local ride in the hills of Southern
California. What an amazing bike. It looked tired and beat,
but it was still capable of wicked acceleration, screaming
like a Formula One car. The mousse inserts were somewhat worn out, and that made the Conti TKC tires soft and
tacky. The bike actually had great traction.
We made the mistake of filling the main tank with gas.
That’s a lot of weight. When you combine that with the
sheer size of the bike, it is intimidating. A stock 800 is big
enough, but when you add the oversize tank and all the
navigation equipment on top, you feel like you’re a mouse
whispering instructions in an elephant’s ear. At first, we
The road to Cabo is
fast but not smooth.
The NORRA course is
essentially the same as
the long version of the
SCORE Baja 1000.
Safari and the
tank, the Triumph held 10
Mark Tilley flying Triumph in the U.S.