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This is a Tonka toy:


It is indestructible and bloody brilliant fun if you are little.

This is Stretch Armstrong:


He too is indestructible and bloody brilliant fun if you are little.

But what do you do when you grow up? How do you recreate the days filled with dangerous fun and larks? How do you push boundaries and tickle your very soul?

You have a simple choice: cocaine sex with hookers like George Osbourne (our incredibly intelligent and highly competent Chancellor) or you get yourself a Triumph 900.

Mine was so butch, so rugged, so tough that I had to ensure a cute pussy draped itself over the bike whenever I parked up.


*Warning* they say *not for off-road use*

I plucked it from 3x in Dorset in exchange for my Cali EV. I'd not sat on one or done anything other than prod the hazard lights button. I liked the idea of a bike with hazard lights - I could see myself at the scenes of accidents and disasters: Tiger on sidestand, hazards flashing away and me doing stuff in a rugged and statuesque fashion.

I filled in the paperwork, the trail of oil marked where the EV had been led away and they brought out the step-ladders. My giddy aunt this bike is tall. Imagine, if you will for a minute, K2 (the mountain, not the dog from Dr Who - that was K9)...well, if you park a Tiger900 next to K2 and hike for a week and a half to the summit it is possible to hop from the peak straight onto the Tiger's seat.

From that lofty perch you are master of all you survey. At traffic lights you can lean into the cabs of trucks or peer down through an open car sun roof. Unless, like me, you are fat. The long suspension crunches up and suddenly you are riding a squat little number which holds the road way better than it should although the wheels still lead you to wonder what is happening on the road.

Changing the style of riding is imperative - this is no BMW GS1100, there were no rave revues about how this beast conquered roads. But it did pop straight over massive curbstones as if they were pebbles. It would have soaked up pot holes on green lanes too had I been mad enough to take it up one, what with it being as challenged in the weight department as I was. The dual-cross tyres would have been up for it too but I wasn't.

I bought a wing-rack fitting kit, popped my Givi boxes on and headed for the continent. This bike marked the final days of the wife coming on the back of me. Travelling to Belgium for a long weekend we discovered that the screen created a region of low pressure behind me. This would, if she sat in the right (wrong) position suck her helmet into mine, then drag it back, then repeat.

It was like being married to Woody f-word Woodpecker.

Our marriage survived due to me paying for her training, test and ER5 in full. There are those who suspect that the airflow and pressure pockets created by the screen might have been slightly exaggerated!

Apart from that, it was comfy for runs from Southend to Clermond Ferrand in one hit - and returned a magnificent consumption figure - often into the 60mpgs.

The engine had a slight triple whine - some like it, I don't. It reminded me of a load of nuts and washers being swirled around a metal dish. The exhaust was muted but I was never springing for an aftermarket.

Chain tensioning was a breeze with the concentric winders and was possible on the side stand. Chain and sprocket replacement a doddle. The engine was as tough as old boots for the 26K that I rode it for before buggering off to South America, and then served the mate I sold it to for years on end.

If I'd never left the country I'd never have sold this bike. Would I have another - hmm, that is a tough question and best answered in this fashion:

This is a girly doll:


It is not tough and it is not a lot of fun. It is pretty similar to every Tiger produced after the original 900. I think it and they are crap.

The old 900 is too old for me now, the ones still running have huge mileages on them and I'm not in the market to fettle one...but the new 800XC? That is the nearest Triumph have come to getting back to what this 900 was all about - only better. I rode one the other week and was smitten, I want an 800XC! 8-) :D

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