Poisk Meets Katyland

Riding Triumph Tiger 800XC off road: log hopping, downhills, hill climbs, crossing creek, and more...

Would like to share a few interesting insights about riding Poisk, a Triumph Tiger 800 XC, on a nice track at Katyland, a special training campground one of my friends shared with me. This is the first time I took the big boy on a bit more advanced offroad practice then before.

Poisk Early Offroad ExperiencesBefore I used to ride Poisk on relatively simple forest roads, grass hills, muddy tracks and gravel roads. I tried a few times to ride it in a more technical terrain but almost crushed my foot when it went under the bike. Luckily I was spared and that taught me a lesson or two. One of those lessons is to always wear protective gear. It's because of offroad motoboots my foot was saved. The rigidity of the boot and, particularly, of it's sole's portion, didn't allow to smash my foot when the bike was laid down going up a steep rocky bank. It still hurt quite a bit for a couple weeks and I was limping during that time.

The other lesson I learned is the fact that I needed to get a lighter bike to learn dirt bike techniques safely. Using an enduro bike could also save up on the cost in case if something breaks down. Using Tiger 800XC as a learning tool can be quite expensive when repairing it. Thus for the following two years I was slowly learning new skills from such top riders as Graham Jarvis and waiting for a great opportunity to pick up tricks from Tim Coleman in May 2016.

During the past two years of learning to be a better offroad motorcyclist I had a great privilege to ride 2013 Honda CRF250L, 1999 Suzuki DR350SE, 1987 Honda TLR200 Reflex, Honda CRF250X and Honda Montesa Cota 4RT 260. Each bike provided its own advantage and had its own set of downsides. Nevertheless, the main goal of learning how to be better in a more technical terrain kept fueling my passion.

Now it was time to test out the "newly" formed skill set on the big boy.

Poisk Meets Katyland

I started to prepare for the upcoming practice the day before. I carefully inspected the bike, checked all the fluids, brakes, clutch, throttle, levers, chain and performed a detailed visual overall assessment. The bike was fit ready. But was the rider ready?

While I was a frequent guest at Katyland,  hoping logs, crossing a creek, playing in a rock garden, the thought of taking Poisk there became a little mental exercise in itself. The two fears I had to struggle with are the fear of breaking my Tiger and the fear of ending up hurting myself again. But my resolve overruled my fears and the next day I was in Katyland ready to take on her challenges.

I took side and top panniers off Poisk and started with an easy bit – riding slowly through a wider area of the single track. Nothing boosts your confidence like the actual act of doing it! So in the next minutes after I finished the first loop I was flying through the track! Poisk behaved beautifully with its Tiger-ness nature and its triple roar and its unqiue fun factor.

Poisk Meets KatyLand or Tiger800XC intro

After riding quite a few loops, my riding spirit took me to the next level by inspiring to go through woods, over logs, over small rocks and passing the creek. Was I surprised how it felt effortlessly to handle the 215+ kilos (470+lbs) machine on a line that I was constantly “discovering” or “laying it down”  while in motion! I guess, there was a part of freeriding after all in my exploration of Katyland!

After hoping over small branches and logs I was driven to try logs with larger diameter to see if I and the machine could do it. While the log hops were far from perfect Poisk didn't let me down. The practice went on.

My final test was to try a relatively steep downhill and a hill climb full of small loose gravel and larger rocks covered with a blanket of the last fall leaves. When that thought crossed my mind, my heart started   racing just like when you saw a girl that you liked for the first time. Coming down was relatively easy task, but riding up the loose gravel and rocks, especially when you don't see them clearly, was quite a challenge. But we made it! In fact, after the first run I didn't believe that Poisk made it without a stop. So, I had to run that section several times to make sure I didn't dream it!

Only when I took a break hydrating and crunching on some TrailMix snack the realization of a very cool aspect came into my mind. During all this practice I never gave a conscious thought of how to handle this big adventure bike at all! How was it possible? I recalled that I sweat quite a lot when I rode Poisk before in a challenging terrain and had to think too much. But this was all gone. In fact there was not even a rider nor a bike. There was only a process of riding, a process directed by the creative spirit and fueled by the riding passion.

The realization of this fact and that all my offroad skills developed and imprinted into my mind and programmed into my muscles on much lighter enduro bikes were seamlessly transferred to the heavy motorcycle overfilled me with joy and happiness! I was exuberant! I was on the seven heavens! It's because of this inspiration and experience I collected I decided to write this post.

When the happiness overfills you, it's hard not to share!


Unlike most enduro bikes and most smaller displacement dual sporters, Poisk is quite heavy. In fact, two dirt bikes may weigh as much as a single Tiger. But what makes it even more challenging offroad is the fact that most of this weight is placed on the front wheel. Though I love, simply love, the pleasant  roar of its triple and it's smoothness, especially when riding long distances on tarmac, having all three cylinders located all the way to the front with all the pistons, dual overhead cams and valves make the bike even heavier when lofting the front wheel. It also raises the center of mass quite sensibly which makes the bike a bit of a challenge to balance when standing on footpegs and at the full stop.

While the weight of the bike of this category is within the acceptable range, you need to offset its more heavy front end if you want to loft the front wheel when going over logs and other obstacles. This part is quite intriguing to me and I am dedicated to learn how to handle it better.

Another side effect of Tiger's heavy front end is its natural desire to plow quickly into a muddy mushy track if you slow down. Thus it makes more sense to keep the bike going at a steady pace when there is a chance the front will sink in. A similar procedure is required when you try to cross a creek with muddy banks on both sides. It's better to do it at a certain safe speed if the climb is long enough. Otherwise, the rear wheel will lose its traction and start dancing around with all chances of laying down the bike on its side and if you are not careful, you may end up under it.

Sometime ago I test rode KTM 900 Adventure and actually felt not as safe as on Tiger, because with a little bit of unintentional more throttle the bike's front-end would easily come up. However, based on the current context I must admit that KTM's geometry and the weight distribution is much better suited for offroad. Also having a V-twin gives much more torque at low RPMs then Tiger's triple which makes Adventure also better fit for offroad.

This noticeable front-end downside of Tiger 800XC turns into a significant advantage when riding in loose gravel at higher or even slower speeds. The Tiger's front is very precise and plows through the loose gravel just like an oceanic ice-breaker ship. Once you point a Tiger it obeys your command and follows through. This contrasts with much lighter enduro bikes where the front tends to “float” quite a bit with a much higher risk of a washout if you are not careful.

Having a heavier front end also makes Tiger a much better sport touring bike. You want course stability in your bike when traveling on highways at speed. I've traveled quite a lot on my full loaded Poisk with a passenger and lots of extra luggage and never Poisk's front end started to float at highway speeds unlike some BMW F800GS riders report.

So there are pluses and minuses to everything. What matters is the prism through which you look and in what context you utilize your bike.


While contributing to the extra weight on the front, Tiger's three-cylinder engine also has a certain impact on its offroad application. Based on its sport bike's heritage, the 800XC power plant is a high revving engine. Having three cylinders also makes the bike vibrate a lot less and hence provides a lot more long range comfort especially when traveling at highway speeds. And like most sport bike engines Tiger's triple doesn't produce a lot of  (or enough) torque at lower RPMs which is highly desirable when riding offroad. According to what I've learned Triumph modified the Tiger's heart to make it more suitable for offroad and moved the torque curve to the left (to a lower RPM range), but the high revving nature is in its genes and this is something you need to account for.

Triumph Tiger 800XC tractionThis high-revving peculiarity became very obvious when I took Poisk through mushy mud and a hill climb full of loose gravel. It became even more obvious when I tried to do a log hop using the traditional (my second nature) log hopping technique. Since the bike's front end is a lot heavier then the  dirt bikes I rode, I had to gas it up a bit more, and having a low torque at low RPMs only meant I also had to gas it up even further to compensate. All this led to a side effect. The rear wheel easily lost its traction and slipped, thus making the log hop process awkward and a few times the bike didn't go in the direction of where I wanted it to go. ;-) I didn't lay it down, but this was an unpleasant surprise.

The traction became a very important aspect during that prolonged hill climb with the loose gravel and small rocks underneath covered by the blanket of leaves. The rear wheel started to dance from left to right and the bike started to slow down thus increasing a chance of a complete stop. The amazing experience was in the fact that I felt the traction very keenly and my body instinctively moved back and forth during that hill climb a few times to give more weight to the rear when it needed. Another aha moment was discovered when my left finger refused to collaborate with me much later during the practice, because it instinctively feathered Poisk clutch by slipping it to “produce” a more torqueye power delivery when RPMs were high.

Feeling the traction, the body movement and the one-finger clutch feathering were all a part of the skills that were seamlessly transferred to Tiger from enduro bikes. I didn't put a conscious effort to think about them during the practice. That felt also great!


Poisk Meets Katyland TiresOnly after the practice I've made some conclusions and summarized some of the lessons learned. One of those conclusions were about tires. I was running Mitas E-07 tires. They were good value, long lasting  tires with the real offroad application 20% to 80% tarmac, or maybe 30/70. Some riders would put it as a 50/50 tire, but I respectfully disagree. 50/50 tire to me would be more like TKC80 or D606. Therefore, if I were to swap my Mitas to TKC80 I probably could gain a lot more traction when doing log hops, climbing a loose gravel hill, and going through muddy tracks.

On another note I would probably need to try to lower the pressure on the rear tire a bit and maybe to  install a rim lock later to lower it even further. It would be definitely worth a try. Who knows, maybe Mitas E-07 or E-09 Dakar with much stiffer sidewalls (and hence can run much lower pressure) can grip a lot better then how they gripped during the practice. In another word, explore,  experiment, enjoy!


During the practice I ran a 15-teeth front sprocket vs a stock 16-teeth one. This was definitely a much needed improvement for offroad. In most sections when riding on the track I used the second gear. I found it to be a bit more practical then the first gear.  Only during log hops and a very slow technical riding around the trees while “composing” my creative lines I would switch to the first. The second gear also seemed to work much better during the gravel hill climb as well. It helped me to keep traction.


While Poisk was a bit unusual weapon for attacking the more technical terrain, it brought a big smile on my face many times. There were some challenges, mistakes made, weak spots in my techniques detected and lessons learned. The main idea is to continue to explore, experiment and enjoy my Tiger 800XC offorad, taking it through new challenges and adapting myself and the bike for them. The key fruit that this practice brought to me is the realization that the relatively recently acquired basic enduro skills were seamlessly transferred to the much heavier bike! And that, my friends, was priceless!


Ride Safe and Seek Adventures!