IF you take a look at the wide range of Explorers that Triumph has, it would seem it has all the bases covered - from full-luxury heated everything to bare-bones basic.
But does that mean the basic Explorer XR we’re testing here is any less ‘Explorer’ than the Explorer XCa?
For starters, all of the Explorer range uses the same chassis and engine. What differentiates one from the other is the level of engine management and standard accessories each comes with. When it comes to the Explorer XR, basic doesn’t mean lacking in ability or standard equipment, for what it comes with is enough to satisfy any dual-purpose riders’ needs.
Triumph equips all Explorers with a 1,215cc, 139-horsepower DOHC water-cooled inline triple. That horsepower is developed at 9,300rpm, but the lazy torque tops out at 6,200rpm with 90.7 lbs/ft on hand. A ride-by-wire system enables the use of the traction control, anti-lock braking and the riding-modes. Two modes are available, Road and Rain. However, you can switch TC or ABS off, if you wish. More expensive variants of the Explorer come with additional pre-programmed riding modes, but the XR is more road-oriented than the others and needs nothing more. The XR even comes with Metzeler Tourance radials (a 120/70-19 up front and a 170/60-17 on the rear) on 10-spoke cast alloy rims, further reinforcing its road-centric stance. The torque-assist slipper clutch, single-sided shaft drive and six-speed gearbox are applied across the whole range.
Styling is only slightly updated from its predecessor, with a few chrome flashes and a differently designed windshield, now electrically adjustable for height and rake. The big news is the 10kg weight-loss regime the Explorer has gone through and a shift of balance towards the middle, rather than the front heavy stance of the earlier Explorer. Three kgs have been shaved from the crankshaft alone, allowing a quicker throttle response without sacrificing the excellent power delivery characteristics. The riding position and better balance makes the XR an easy machine to handle at low speeds, making its 245kg disappear as soon as you release the clutch in first.
However, pushing the XR around with the engine off and the 20-litre tank filled to the brim reminds you that the XR is a big and tall bike. The seat height is adjustable from 837mm to 857mm (and stayed at 837 the whole time I rode it) and the comfort is good enough to be able to go from brim-full to reserve without stopping. The XR comes equipped with a USB port and 12-volt power socket, and the clear analogue and digital displays are customisable, controlled entirely from buttons on the left hand switchgear. It takes some time to learn the button sequence (there are three you need to manipulate) but comes easily enough once you get used to it. Resetting the tripmeters seems a bit too complicated, though.
A tubular steel trellis uses the engine as a stressed member and incorporates the subframe as well. WP inverted 48mm forks come with 7.48-inch travel with rebound and compression damping adjustment. The rear WP monoshock has 7.59-inch travel, a rebound adjuster plus a hydraulic preload adjuster. A pair of 305mm discs and Brembo monobloc radial-mount calipers grace the front forks and a Nissin caliper bites the 282mm rear disc, both ends with switchable ABS. The ABS on rear brake seems a bit more sensitive than the front, seemingly activating even at a modest pace but the front brakes are powerful and easily modulated.
The Triumph is road-centric, as I mentioned earlier, and takes to long distance touring like a duck to water. There are no off-road tyres to spoil high-speed handling and the adjustable windshield is fairly effective at deflecting air above your helmet. The accessory risers fitted to this unit also help with comfort while touring but will do no favours if you fancy a bit of green-laning. Standing up on the pegs see the ‘bars too close for effective control on the dirty stuff. A bit of modification (off-road tyres, lower pressures, TC and ABS off and standard handlebars) will see the XR able to handle a bit of off-roading, if necessary. The big fuel capacity and range to empty function on the digital display are helpful on long trips as are the clock (a bit small) and 12V socket for GPS or your ‘phone. There is one long distance tool missing, however; the cruise control. However, it is available on the other models in the range.
All the Explorers can be fitted with hard luggage as well as a dizzying array of accessories. Having the base model helps you save up for more useful stuff that you can bolt on to the XR, from a louder exhaust to engine guards. And with the base model XR with not-so-basic standard equipment available helps you choose the accessories you really need, without breaking the bank. If you do lots of on-road touring and are a fan of dual-purpose styling, the much improved Explorer XR is a perfectly viable choice. Check out the Explorer range out at Fast Bikes, Petaling Jaya.