The Triumph Rocket 3 has no place in the modern motorcycle industry. That is if you bring things like logic and sense into the equation. Yet the gang at Hinckley seems to pay no heed to such silly notions, and we as the biking community would like to thank them for that. They took the largest engine of any production motorcycle, made it even bigger and proceeded to shoehorn it into an exquisite motorcycle: the Triumph Rocket 3.
Triumph recently launched two versions of the Rocket here in South Africa, the R and the GT. Both models share the same mechanicals but differ slightly in your riding position. The GT puts your feet forward and the handlebars sweep back to make this a luxurious cruiser. The R has a slightly higher seat and the footpegs are mounted toward the middle of the bike, putting you in a more sporty position. Even before I sat on either of them, I opted to take the GT. It is more my style of bike.
The Rocket has a 2500cc, three-cylinder engine mounted longitudinally in the frame and power is transferred to the rear wheels via a shaft. The bike has an extremely low stance and with the mirrors being the bar-end variety it has no attachment than can add height to the bike. What it lacks in height it makes up for in girth. Although every effort was made to make this bike as compact as possible, that gigantic powertrain does not make it easy.
Like all Triumphs, the devil is in the detail. Every piece that went into the Rocket has purpose and function and Triumph managed to shave 40 kg’s of weight from the old model. The triple exhausts exit the engine gracefully and on the other side of the bike, the intake ports are also elegantly packaged. The twin headlights mirror the design of the previous model but they are of the modern LED variety. Even the passenger footpegs fold away neatly to make them completely inconspicuous. It is this level of detail that makes me study any Triumph motorcycle from every angle before I even swing a leg over.
When I got on the bike and settled into the plush seat, the bike felt smaller and lighter than I had envisioned. At just shy of the 300 kg mark, this is a heavy bike but lifting it off the side stand hardly required any effort. The switchgear is from the Triumph parts bin, and the dash is lifted from the Scrambler, so Triumph riders will feel right at home.
Pushing the ignite button, the Rocket rumbled into life and settled into a soft drone. When I pulled out of the dealership, I was aware of the 221 Nm of torque that lurked in the engine, but when I opened the throttle I did not expect what was served to the rear wheel. As the massive rear tyre scrambled for grip, I had to tighten my own grip on the bars. The acceleration is just relentless!
The gearbox has a quickshifter for both up- and downshifts. Quickshifters work best when the throttle is wide open, so while my intestines were still at the robot, the Rocket was a 100 meters away and surging forward. You can get seriously addicted to all this power so I switched the cruise control on at the speed limit and just marveled at the engineering under me.
Corners take a fair bit of convincing the Rocket to change direction. It is not entirely against the idea but my line through a corner took a slightly wider arch. It is something you get used to quickly but it made me sweat a bit the first time I attacked a corner.
The Triumph Rocket is a marvel of engineering and there is simply nothing that can compete with it. I would not hesitate to ride it down to Cape Town just to take a leisurely ride over Chapman’s Peak Drive. And when I’m done, I would ride it back. It’s just that kind of bike.