My constant traveling companion for 7,541 miles on the ride was my 2011 Triumph Tiger 800XC ABS.
I tend to hang onto my primary street bikes for quite awhile so really haven't rotated through that many, but I have owned a lot of different motorcycles and have had the chance to ride a lot of stuff and without hesitation am still confident this is one of the best all around motorcycles on the market today.
If you haven't had a chance to ride a Tiger 800, find one to throw a leg over.
* The Motor - really the crown jewel of the bike, not too big, not too small, torquey, very willing with what I've always called a "lusty" demeanor and a great sound when you're putting the whip to it (hey, all just like The Girlfriend
* Works good everywhere - great highway bike and does ok off road. Great neutral handling in the twisties. Decent, balanced suspension from the factory. Not something I want for single track off road of course (although I know guys take them into some pretty rough stuff) but really works good as long as you remember what you're riding. I did the entire Trans Wisconsin Adventure Trail on it two summers ago and do light-duty dual sporting around here. I have an XR650L for anything too adventurous and a Woods Weapon YZ125 for getting racy so don't have to make the Triumph get "too" dirty in general.
* Lots of options for farkling and customizing into what you want.
* Personally, I like the lack of bodywork. I've finally got myself to be "ok" with just letting it be dirty and riding. It is a big dirt bike anyway.
* Big alternator, good fueling, ABS works well, great headlight, comfortable for passengers, lots of adjustment for rider size, runs fine on 87 octane, 2 year warranty and it's been very dependable.
* Fuel Mileage - my number one gripe would be gas mileage. Around Iowa I get a pretty steady 40mpg (before and after I put the pipe on it, with the windshield and the panniers). On this trip, 40 was still my average. It dipped down to around 36 on some days of a lot of high speed riding into the wind and I saw 50+ a few times with slower riding at upper elevations. The bike has a 5 gallon tank. I never got close to running out but there's some long stretches between stations where I was riding at times so I was extra cautious and filled up regularly.
* Engine Heat - not a problem on this trip at all, but in the hot and muggy summers in the midwest it'll put off some signifiant heat, more bothersome if I'm just wearing jeans. Truthfully though, I think the heat actually helps quite a bit in the spring, fall, and winter for riding so might complain if it wasn't there as well...
* Gearbox Ratios - it's a nice, slick shifting 6 speed tranny, but it's a close ratio box. To me, first should be lower for super technical situations (how am I going to get out of this hole?) and I think it could easily pull a taller 6th which might help with mpg. The way it is, you have 2-3 gears for nearly every situation and find yourself shifting a lot just to get from 1st to 6th and back. More work than it needs to be for the utility it provides.
* Tube-type tires - I've been lucky and never had to change a tube on the road. I've changed hundreds of dirt bike tires so it's not a skill thing. Plugging a tire is just so much easier on the road. The rear rim on the Tiger has a crazy-wide bead area that makes it a nightmare to breakdown. Based on swapping tires at home, I'm simply not sure if I'd get it broke down without this tool: http://www.motionpro.com/motorcycle/...ro™_tire_tool/
At least now I'm confident I could get it changed along the road. I do carry a tent stake hammer with me to use with the bead tool. Would be hard to really get the tool down in the bead w/o a hammer. Sure which Triumph would have went with the GS-style spoked tubeless type wheels.
Really happy with my current set-up. Took some trial-and-error to get here, especially since I bought it in May of 2011 when the aftermarket was just getting up-to-speed on the bike. Here's what I've throw at it and had stick... more or less in what I'd call 'priority order' if I was doing it over again.
Givi monokey mounting plate for top box (on a home brew rear rack/platform). Can't remember what top box that is.
Triumph center stand
HyperPro heavier shock spring
Twisted Throttle 20mm bar risers
Barkbusters hand guards with Storm shields
Triumph heated grips (would try Oxford's if I was doing it again)
Arrow slip on exhaust (with matching factory fuel map)
SW Motech skid plate
Triumph engine case guards
Bags Connection Daypack(?) with tank ring and map case (great set up, doesn't touch the paint, super easy on-off for gas stops)
Home brew intake pre-filter
Fenda Extenda - front fender extension
Airbox mud flap - home brew using a universal Acerbis part
Shinko 705 tires
Kaoko throttle lock
Dang, that's a lot of crap...
Motorex USA has been a sponsor for my riding and racing endeavors for several years. Their products are outstanding. When I first switched over to Motorex in my XR and my at-the-time Suzuki Bandit 1200... I had to adjust their idle speeds down slightly... I think it lets a motor spin that much easier. Never had any issues with clutches. I run Motorex oils in everything I own with two wheels. I'm also a big fan of their chain lubes. I use their Off-Road lube on the Triumph chain and after 21,000 miles, it's still on the original chain and sprockets with only one very minor adjustment over the 7,500 mile trip. It's not the cheapest products, but they're one of the best IMHO.