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20 years of Triumph Rocket 3 – we ride the old and the new

BikeSocial Web Editor. Content man - reviewer, road tester, video presenter, interviewer, commissioner, organiser. First ride was a 1979 Honda ST70 in the back garden aged 6. Not too shabby on track, loves a sportsbike, worries about helmet hair, occasionally plays golf and squash but enjoys being a father to a 6-year old the most.

Posted:

24.01.2024

Celebrating 20 years of Triumph Rocket 3_01
Celebrating 20 years of Triumph Rocket 3_02
Celebrating 20 years of Triumph Rocket 3_03

 

The meanest, lairiest, most bad-ass production motorcycle ever built is without doubt the Triumph Rocket III, later to become the Rocket 3. It’s not even subjective. It hosts the largest production engine of any motorbike with the largest pistons… and it handles too.

The current vintage has a 2.5-litre, three-cylinder engine that boasts the highest torque of any production motorcycle with 221Nm @ 4,000rpm. It even set a 0-60mph time 2.73-seconds, and I can testify that each ride feels momentous, offering a sense of occasion that only few other bikes can get close to.

2024 marks the 20th anniversary of this beautiful behemoth straight outta Hinckley, it has been an incredible chapter in the company’s existence, and not only do we look back at how the original bike came to live, we talk to Stuart Wood, Triumph’s current Chief Engineer – a stalwart of over 36 years – he himself a Rocket 3 owner and part of the original development team, plus Project Manager, Ross Clifford, but we also get the views of several BikeSocial members who own the current version. Oh, and I get to ride a 2005 example back-to-back with the latest GT model.

Wood himself says, “We were looking for a bigger bike, we were already offering bikes in the American market and we were trying to grow that market but when we started we had no idea it would be this big!”

What started with influences from the US custom bike scene with a 240-section rear tyre and enough torque to justify it, ended up as an out-and-out British muscle bike to take on that scene and dominate.

 

 

History of the Triumph Rocket 3

In 1983, over 40 years ago, John Bloor bought Triumph Motorcycles, and by 1999 he’d formed a project team to develop the Rocket III alongside Wood and Clifford among others, and here is the model’s history:

  • Development of the Rocket III began in 1999, conceived for the US muscle-cruiser market as rival for Harley and Japanese bikes. Its initial sub-2-litre capacity was increased early in design to ensure it would out-cc its competition

  • As a result of exhaustive market research, extensive testing and unique production requirements (miniature cranes were needed to assemble the engine), the Rocket III was in development for four years before being unveiled in August 2003

  • Its name was taken from the BSA Rocket 3/Triumph Trident of the late 60s and early 70s, a legendary three-cylinder road bike built jointly by BSA and Triumph (under shared ownership)

  • At 2294cc, the transverse triple was the largest-capacity mass-produced motorcycle engine in the world, and the heaviest; its crank alone weighed 17kg and it carried five litres of oil

  • It was also the torquiest bike engine in the world, producing a claimed 147 lb.ft at 2500rpm. Shaft drive robbed it down to 138 lb.ft – still more than any other bike. Horsepower was 140bhp at 5750rpm (120bhp measured)

  • Triumph wrongly claimed the Rocket made twice as much torque as any other motorcycle. They also famously hinted its pistons were shared with the Dodge Viper V8 muscle car – the engine had the same bore diameters, but not the same pistons

  • The styling team included John Mockett, who also designed the original Speed Triple and drew the ‘Sprocket’ cartoons in various motorcycle magazines in the 1980s

  • The first engine prototype was assembled at Hinckley in 2002. Tech spec was fairly standard, just larger: fuel-injected, Euro4, four-valve, DOHC, shim-under-bucket, pistons spinning smoothly on a 120° crank (input, balance shafts and output shaft to a shaft drive all contra-rotate, reducing torque reaction from the massive crank)

  • The Rocket was actually in a low state of tune; 64bhp/litre – a Honda CB500 is making almost 100bhp/litre

  • Speed-tested, the Rocket did 136.3mph flat out, a standing quarter in 11.92s at 115.6mph, 0-60 on 3.45s and averaged 30.4mpg from a 24-litre tank. It cost £11,999 in 2005, the equivalent of £20,228 today

  • In the first year on sale in the UK, 508 Rocket IIIs were sold, the 38th best-seller (behind Bonneville, Tiger 955, Sprint ST and Daytona 600 – Hinkley’s best-seller that year). In 2005 it dropped to 443 bikes. In the US, sales were disappointing, and in 2009 the 1700cc parallel twin Triumph Thunderbird cruiser proved more popular

  • Model variants quickly followed – the Rocket Classic in 2006, a laid-back cruiser style with feet-forward boards and swept-back bars, and Rocket Touring in 2007 with large screen, less power, more torque, multiple chassis and ergonomic changes, and saddlebags. In 2009 the Rocket Roadster replaced the base model with stripped-back roadster ergonomics, more power and torque, many chassis and trim tweaks, less weight and £1000 cheaper.

  • In 2020 Triumph released the all-new Rocket 3 R roadster and GT tourer. A new, bigger, six-speed 2458cc motor (still transverse triple) made 165bhp and 163 lb.ft, with an all-new frame, new suspension and brakes, and high-tech engine management – and significantly less weight. The roadster was now a surprisingly usable power-cruiser, aimed at Ducati’s Diavel rather than a US-style custom bike, with more ground clearance and an almost sporty handling dynamic – as well as scarcely believable engine performance. The ‘touring’ GT had a screen, cruiser-style ergonomics and trim, and saddlebags. A special tuned TFC (Triumph Factory Custom) version came with 180bhp, weighed 290kg dry and added Triumph accessories with a £25,000 price tag. 750 bikes were built and they sold out immediately.

 

Celebrating 20 years of Triumph Rocket 3

We ride the original and a new model plus talk to Triumph’s Chief Engineer about this giant’s history.

 

Triumph Rocket - the full story: A feat of engineering

Let’s get into the specifics of where the idea stemmed from by firstly looking at the state of the business before the Rocket was considered. Stuart explains, “When I joined (in 1987) it was 4 years before we were in production with anything. At that point we were working on what was our T-300 bikes, a modular approach: 750 and 900cc triples, 1000cc and 1200 fours, with three chassis styles, and that’s what we launched in 1991. We were very much trying to just get off the ground with a range of bikes aiming at what was clearly selling and what people wanted. In many cases that was across-the-frame four-cylinder, but because we were looking at modular to get a bigger range of bikes, we were doing four-cylinder and three-cylinder, and interestingly that was a very good thing to do! We were looking at an evolution of where European bikes had been, and a lot of that evolution over the last 10 years had been in Japan.”

But was there a moment when someone from the team said, ‘how about we put a 2.3-litre, 3-cylinder engine on two wheels?’ Mr Wood continues, “We were looking for a bigger bike, we were already offering bikes in the American market and we were trying to grow the American market, and one of the things that was quite clear was that we needed a larger capacity for some of those customers.

“The engine was a big measurable thing that you needed bigger capacity to compete with the main sellers in America but you needed a cruiser style. You needed something that people would want to ride, and this was the bulk of the market. Obviously sportsbikes were selling in America as well but we already offered that, so we tried to get into the mainstream American market.”

Was bigger better? “Definitely, but when we started we had no idea it would be this big. It wasn’t a light bulb moment that said, ‘ah, you’ve got to have a 2.3-litre bike to compete in America at all’, it was an evolution of an idea getting bigger and bigger. But also seeing custom bikes being built where cruisers were being taken and given performance including 240-section rear tyres that looked ridiculous in a great way, and why wouldn’t you, and that was one of the big influences in what the Rocket became – starting with that really huge imposing statement tyre and then giving it enough torque to justify it.

Ross Clifford, a Project Manager with Triumph at the time, and part of Mr. Bloor’s Rocket Launch crew, recalls, “Initially we were thinking around 1,800c. But we kept pushing that we had to be the biggest, baddest bike, funnily we got very close to locking in on 1,998cc with the view that each cylinder was 666cc, if you’re going to be the baddest then 666 gets you there! At the time there were rumours that the new VN Kawasaki was going to be a bike engine and the last thing you want to do is be so far down the development curve that you get pipped for a few CC’s and it’s too late to change. At that time, it felt like cruisers were in a bit of a CC arms race and sizes were growing every launch.”

At what point did that project team go to the Triumph bosses and suggest that a 2.3-litre muscle cruiser would be the best way to accelerate this new era of the revised business? “It wasn’t a conversation like that at all. John Bloor was involved in every conversation about this bike. Every single one. He initiated it, actually, certainly at the point when we were looking at a 1200 across-the-frame-thee and then a 1500 across-the-frame-thee and then realised maybe we wanted a bit more, and change configuration. He was involved in every step of it,” says Stuart Wood.

Mr Clifford confirms that alternative numbers of cylinders were considered, “With that size it was clear an across-the-frame layout wouldn’t work, we debated whether we had to build it as a V-Twin to win in America but that just didn’t fit the brand, so we pretty early decided on a longitudinal triple. We did discuss very briefly (for an hour in one meeting!) a V6 but the engine cost alone would have been way too prohibitive. Sorry Wikipedia, but we never debated a 4-cylinder, we just knew the characteristics would not fit a cruiser.”

Why settle at 2.3-litres? Stuart says, “That was the absolute maximum at that time. There was a self-imposed engineering limit of 101.6mm (4”) bore that we’d see work effectively in American muscle cars, and the stroke limit was literally at the point where we couldn’t make modify our machine tools to make it a bigger stroke crankshaft! It was really Triumph America pushing for more and more capacity. So each time we looked at it and said there’d be a possibility of doing an update, they said we needed it at the start, so we stopped jacking that up at the point we couldn’t go any further.”

Playing down the impact on the other areas of the bike that could be impacted by the size, power an torque, such as suspension and frame, Stuart explains, “It’s ok because it’s all engineering. We can design a motorbike to work with any engine capacity or power, it’s not scary. What is tough is keeping all the requirements in place, for instance, you want a clean, efficient burn engine, you need to make it reliable, durable and easy to use. It’s got to be homologated. This isn’t about building a special in any way at all, you have to have all that diligence in the background while still allowing it to be this huge character of brutal motorbike.”

Ross Clifford tells us the tale of the riding the first prototype on the road, “One very memorable moment was winter probably 2001-2. As you can imagine very cold and wet. As it was the first bike, the calibration was rideable but no way refined. Just before going out, Andy Earnshaw who led the engine development, said, “its making 90NM at tickover, so be careful”. It was easily the lairiest bike I’ve ever ridden, and suffice to say we ended up toning it down by restricting power in 1st - 3rd as it was just too much. It was clear on that day that this was something different to anything out there. Mike Vaughn, then boss of Triumph US, joined us and he loved it, whilst it wasn’t a cruiser he was confident they would sell in the US. And we felt that the EU and AUZ buyer would love the excess of it.”

Production went on for ten years and included the limited edition ‘X’ model but what happened next was yet another feat of engineering because one day at Hinckley a decision was made to create a new, modern-day version… just when you thought the biggest couldn’t get any bigger. Or better.

Stuart picks up the story, “We needed a large evolution of the bike both in terms of tech content –we were already looking at everything from ride-by-wire to corner-optimised ABS/ traction control, all those things you would want in a modern bike you were going to have to go again to a huge degree with the existing bike. One of the other things we wanted was mass reduction, so overall we reduced the mass by 40kg so we had more performance, more capability, better comfort… everything was better plus all the technology, and it’s lighter which helps emissions, fuel efficiency and handling.

“The original Rocket was one of the last truly mechanical motorbikes. Everything is mechanically operated, you’ve not got any electronic help, and electronic help is really, really positive. It’s not all about rider aids to make you go faster. There are things we can do with an engine when you have electronic control that you wouldn’t be able to do when you’ve got manual control. The original engine was big enough that if you didn’t have enough crank inertia and you cracked the throttle wide open you could stall it if it was at low tickover speed, so you want low tickover speed and you want low inertia, so with ride-by-wire when you request wide open throttle, if you know the engine is at a certain speed, you don’t have to give it wide open throttle because you’re not going to get any benefit. It (the electronics) effectively gives you virtual inertia for the crank, and there are other areas where it does that as well. So there’s all sorts of ways you can reduce the mass of a bike, you can make it better, you can make it feel better without feeling like the electronics are giving you any intervention at all.

Riding the 2005 bike and the current GT back-to-back demonstrated plenty of analogue vs digital comparisons but one thing the bike hasn’t lost over its lifetime and transition is its soul. “Absolutely,” says Stuart, “You’ve got to keep that character, you want to keep the urgency, you want to keep that bite, the feel… what I was saying about any intervention with electronics, you just don’t want to feel like you’ve softened the bike. In fact, it allows us to make the bike harder, give it more bite, give it more edge actually, because it’s only one or two small areas where you need to soften it and normally that would degrade the whole offering, and that’s one of the reasons why we didn’t want to keep the old engine and evolve it further, as you evolve it you end up softening the edges, and that’s not what you need, you want to keep that passion.”

As EV, or certainly ICE alternatives threaten motorcycling as we know it, how might the Rocket brand be affected? Will we ever see an eRocket? Surely instant or vast amounts of torque go hand-in-hand with that power source. Stuart plays down my journalistic excitement, “OK, well Rocket is an iconic name, an iconic motorbike and there is every possibility you could have a Rocket that was fully electric at some point when the technology would allow you to have appropriate sized batteries and keep the mass low enough. You could certainly make enough power to give it an electric version of Rocket, and the character if you want but we’re probably way off having the battery technology to be able to offer the same thing. It’s about offering the right things with the right technologies, the Rocket with this petrol engine is pretty damn good – it’s got both the refinement and it’s even more refined that the first generation, but it’s got more performance and more character. I think that’s pretty good, I’d stick with that.”

 

 

2005 Rocket III vs 2020 Rocket 3: road riding comparison

Mick, 65, from London is a member of the West Middlesex Triumph Owners Club and he has a 2005 Rocket III which he’s owned from new and has covered around 50,000 miles in the process. He bought it simply because it was the biggest production bike in the world, and he wanted a cruiser but didn’t get on with the handling of a Harley-Davidson. He owned a first-generation Tiger 1200 XC until a friend offered him a go on his Rocket III and it was love at first ride. He’s fitted Hagan nitro shocks, EBC discs, a colour-coded radiator surround, and has powder coated the wheels in the 13-or-so years of ownership.

And what’s more… he let me have a go back-to-back with the modern-day GT model as I took off for a lap of rural Leicestershire alongside Stuart Wood on an R.

The first 20-miles were mine to acclimatise back into the £23,595 GT’s groove, it’d been a couple of years since I’d last ridden one but memories of its breadth and boundless lashings of go came flooding back. The saddle and the riding position it forms part of is very comfortable for my 6ft frame, its low centre of gravity and gadgets galore make the current model a gift to really enjoy despite the greasy appearance of these back roads. Our photoshoot provided a reminder of how tricky something of this magnitude can be to manoeuvre particularly on this un-kerbed, soft-edged B-road. It’s not like you can paddle backwards with ease. This bright, wintery day still provided plenty of opportunity to enjoy the torque – the Rocket’s thrust is comparable to nothing else, which is part of the bike’s attraction. It is unique. The smooth throttle connection, gearshift and clutch action isn’t what you’d expect, and neither is the handling. Imagine Tyson Fury delicately dissecting a sushi salmon nigiri with a pair of chopsticks. The appearance, rather pleasantly, doesn’t match the application, and that’s been part of the modern-day version’s appeal since its release in 2020. It’s far more capable and dextrous than those who’ve not experienced one would expect, and will cruise, tour and commute with just as much vigour as galloping gleefully around a playground of twisting, hedgerow-shielded back-roads.

A switch to Mick’s 18-year-old model brings familiarity with size and seating, though its table manners are more rudimentary. Fury’s having issues with his Japanese-cuisine cutlery. Obviously, there’s a more mechanical feel, and while I’m extra careful because I’m about to accelerate onto a sketchy B-road while the owner watches on, I’m nevertheless immediately charmed by the nostalgia. That makes it sound like it’s from the 70s!

The difference is night and day, though the spec sheet shows a 24bhp gap, the real-world evidence would be negligible to most riders. We’re comparing old apples with new apples here. The deep, calm, rumbly ‘woosh’ emanating from the stylish pipes of the current model is replaced by the more burbly, grr you’d be expecting, though both demonstrate a regal road presence – I feel as majestic on each as I glide around barely ticking over, as eyes of other road users and pedestrians alike are fixed on this big bear (that’s the bike, not necessarily me!)

I ride knowing the electronic-laden GT model has ride-by-wire and other rider aids that can both come to my rescue and enhance my ability too. The GT is easier to ride, it handles better and of course is more technologically advanced. Mick’s machine is just as powerful in these conditions, and it comes with a romantic warmth via that direct throttle action, a heavy clutch lever, and the clunk as the gear lever engages another cog. The instrument panel and clocks are sentimental in their own way, and some riders would prefer them to the digital versions of today’s models.

Extra weight aside, the relatively short gap between models is on paper, vast. In terms of riding attributes too, yet the feedback and ride value remain equally satisfying. I’d imagine feeling a little more relieved after a 150-mile B-road jaunt on the III vs. the 3. Relieved it didn’t put a Michael-shaped hole in the hedge. The essence of the original project goal hasn’t been lost with the model’s revamp, and development via weight-saving, adding electronics, and utilising modern-day machining is most certainly evident by appearance and rideability, but not necessarily via the way the Rocket makes you feel on the road, and if this is the last chapter in the Triumph Rocket’s emphatic story, then I’m glad to have had the chance to try the first and last back-to-back.

And “when it gets too heavy, I might put a sidecar on it!” says Mick.

Triumph Rocket 3 - Owner Reviews

The most genuine reviews are those of the owners, and I canvassed the BikeSocial members and Bennetts customers who have a Rocket 3 in the garage asking for their opinions, what the good bits are, the not-so-good bits, why they bought one, etc. I was overwhelmed with the response and as much as I would love to show you them all, I could only use a handful for fear of wear-and-tear on your scrolling thumb.

 

  

NAME: Dick from Sleaford

AGE: 60

HEIGHT: 6’2”

RIDING SINCE: 1981

MODEL OWNED: Rocket 3 R Black since 2021 replacing a Speed Triple after MucOff had discoloured the frame.

WHY DID YOU BUY: The Speed was switched out for the Rocket - it didn’t need selling to me - I was instantly attracted to the preposterousness of the machine and the fact there wasn’t likely to be a fully Daytona style Speed superbike anytime soon. My first and only test ride was on a GT and all Andy said was “watch the throttle, the power delivery is like nothing you’ll have ever ridden” How right he is! I rode, and fell in love with the endless power. There was nothing else on my shortlist, there is no competition in the Batbike department.

MODIFICATIONS: GT pillion seat, and I’m considering a tail tidy.

ANY BAD BITS: It is damned heavy, but you don’t notice it when moving. Only when pulling it around. There have been two recalls but I’d rather have that than things falling off (inc me).

 

 

NAME: Simon from Horwich

AGE: 56

HEIGHT: 6ft

RIDING SINCE: 1996

MODEL OWNED: Rocket 3 R Black owned it since new.

WHY DID YOU BUY: I’ve always ridden larger capacity engine bikes up to 1400cc including Honda X4, Suzuki TL1000s, Aprilia Mille V-twin, Suzuki GSX 1400, Aprilla Tuono Racing, Triumph Bobber Black, Triumph Thruxton RS but I wanted the Rocket 3 because of it’s uniqueness, reputation and aura. Nothing else comes close. The R Black is the complete hooligan bike if one wants. It's brutally quick, handles, it cruises when needed, it looks jaw dropping and turns heads. The build quality is second to none. Comments from work... "didn't know you can get the bat mobile for real". At the lights... "what engines in that? I tell them 2500cc... the shock and awe is hilarious plus usual expletives. I like the torque, acceleration, chassis, design, easy handling, head-turning looks, smoothness of throttle and smoothness of quick shift gear change.

MODIFICATIONS: A sprint air filter and custom exhaust system including race collector box. Upgraded Brembo Brake Pads.

ANY BAD BITS: Road muck flings up your back, and the fuel consumption could be better.

 

 

NAME: Phil from Swindon

AGE: 56

HEIGHT: 6’1”

MODEL OWNED: Rocket 3 GT Triple Black

WHY DID YOU BUY: I’ve owned three, my first one was the Roadster in 2016 from a dealer in North Wales, I had really enjoyed a BMW 1200 GS Adventure for the year before that and was specifically looking for a Rocket. Then I had the GT but when the GT Triple Black was released I upgraded solely because of the looks… very smart! The evolution and development even in the last 7 years has been incredible. The newer versions are so much lighter and feel far more sophisticated than my 2016 version. The original felt like a classic bike and the new versions feel very modern. I have used the bike mostly for touring (Portugal, Spain, France etc) but also for limited commuting and it performs really well in all regards. Power to spare and very comfortable to ride. I’ve covered about 6,000 miles on it now.

MODIFICATIONS: In addition to all the luggage options (though it makes me have to dismount like Frankie Dettori!), I have had Shift Assist on it, heated grips and funkier wing mirrors.

 

 

NAME: Brian from Tunbridge Wells

AGE: 58, riding for 40 years

HEIGHT: 5’9”

MODEL OWNED: Rocket 3 GT Triple Black

WHY DID YOU BUY: Ironically my first large cc bike was a triumph trident T160 back in the early eighties - a 3-cylinder derived from the original BSA Rocket 3, things have moved on somewhat since then but I loved that bike. I now have a Harley CVO pro street breakout & the 2021 Rocket 3 Triple Black GT. I have never been a great admirer of the original Rocket III as they always seemed too bulky to me, bit like a motorbike with a car engine in. However, when I first saw the new version originally the TFC I was gobsmacked by the styling & performance. Since mine arrived in 2021 I have absolutely loved it & it always puts a big smile on my face, the torque is ridiculous whilst being a very easy bike to ride for such a large machine due to the excellent handling & braking. I can't recommend the rocket enough & think Triumph have done a fantastic job, won't be selling mine anytime soon.

MODIFICATIONS: just a carbon fender extender on the front to protect the rad & keep the muck off, it already has everything I need.

ANY BAD BITS: There's not too many in my view, there's no doubt it's a big lump of a bike & pushing it around is hard work & slow speed manoeuvres with the big rear tyre can be tricky. Also, the mpg is not great especially when giving it some beans meaning having to fill up approx. every 150-miles which if touring ain't great.

 

 

NAME: Earl from Romford

AGE:

HEIGHT: 6’2”

MODEL OWNED: Rocket 3 R Black

WHY DID YOU BUY: After I test rode the Ducati Diavel 1260 S (what a great motorcycle), what immediately caught my attention was its pure distinctive looks and attention to detail,

My biggest, but most successful, mistake was going for a test ride to experience the torque performance and iconic design. In terms of positive aspects, being 6’2” with long arms,

the Rocket 3 R is incredibly comfortable out of the box. I'm not just riding but gliding through with a smile, experiencing “The Terminator” feeling lol. Secondly, urban riding is packed with fun and giggles, providing an eye-catching and noticeable experience. Everyone wants to talk to you, and the best part of ownership is the support I've received from Triumph East London dealership, which has been amazing. They always have time for me to address any concerns.

MODIFICATIONS:

ANY BAD BITS: Very minor: being a limited edition in all matt and gloss black with aluminium parts, riding through our winter weather and cleaning it afterward can be challenging but rewarding. Otherwise, failing to maintain it may result in corrosion setting in, which is annoying with such an iconic motorcycle.

 

 

NAME: Tim from Truro

AGE: 60

HEIGHT: 5’9”

MODEL OWNED: 2020 Rocket 3 GT, though he also had a 2010 Rocket III.

WHY DID YOU BUY: I’ve always preferred sports tourers since passing my test in 1986 I have had a variety of bikes from CBR1000s and CBR600s, GPZ900r, BMW K1200s, TDM850s, FJ1100, plus a couple of dodgy CB900s and a Z400 (I don’t often mention that and try to forget the experience!). In 2017 I bought a 2015 plate Kawasaki Z1000sx sports tourer and loved the bike, great high-end speed but lacking in torque. I had been reading about the Triumph Rocket iii and the amazing fun factor, plus it had a 2.3litre engine which to me sounded like a challenge to ride! I came into a bit of money in 2018 and bought a local Rocket iii, enjoying 2 very different bikes. What can I say about the Rocket, it was awesome, great fun and I recall with glee burning off an R1 with its incredible torque (although the R1 did eventually come blasting past me at 130mph). I enjoyed the Rocket III but thought it was a bit `agricultural’ and had seen articles that Triumph was redesigning a new model which interested me. After attending a Triumph Rocket open day at Plymouth Triumph, I loved the look of the new model and test rode a 3R.  What a difference! Lighter and more torque plus I loved the new look.  In Sept 2020 I purchased a brand new spanky Rocket GT (I preferred the GT model as I wanted to tour). I sold the Rocket III privately as got a better deal compared to part/ex. The Z1000sx met an unfortunate end when it was ran over in a carpark so I had a bit of insurance money to put towards the Rocket GT (fortunately I was nowhere near the bike when it was ran over).

NEW vs OLD Bigger engine, much lighter and better handling, mod cons like different riding modes, cruise control, heated grips etc and the modifications. I find the GT less agricultural (sorry sounds awful I know lol)

MODIFICATIONS: Yes I had the paniers, tank bag and most importantly the quick shifter which is amazing…! I also fitted an extended screen for touring.

ANY BAD BITS: I’ve had little problems with it other than the infamous back brake issue.  After a recent recall Triumph appeared to have fixed the problem so happy days!

 

 

The coolest Triumph Rocket III ever?

At the back end of 2007, our very own marketeers thought it wise to spend an inordinate amount of budget on a custom-built Triumph Rocket III with the intention of grabbing attention and potentially allowing media to ride what was destined to be the coolest version of Triumph’s Rocket III ever seen. Bike builder, Roger Allmond, was challenged by Bennetts with a project that would “be contentious, that would generate conversation, that would upset some people and please others,” said Allmond.

After six months the build was complete and only the engine, fuel injection, wiring and part of the shaft drive from the bike, donated by Triumph, survived. The aluminium frame, wheel hubs and unique tubular front suspension/steering set-up was all Allmond’s creation. The only outsourced parts were the carbon fibre wheels made by Dymag to his specifications.

The bike was never completed because, rumour has it, Roger refused to let anyone ride it and so deliberately kept some vital parts back once he found out the Bennetts PR team at the time had booked media to ride it at Brands Hatch!

We still believe it can be completed and at least run if not ridden.

 If you’d like to chat about this article or anything else biking related, join us and thousands of other riders at the Bennetts BikeSocial Facebook page.

Triumph Rocket - Technical Specification

 

TRIUMPH ROCKET III (2005)

TRIUMPH ROCKET 3 (2020)

Capacity

2249cc

2458cc

Bore x Stroke

101.6mm x 94.3mm

110.2mm x 85.9mm

Engine layout

In-line triple

In-line triple

Engine details

Liquid-cooled, DOHC

Water-cooled, DOHC

Power

140.7bhp (105KW) @ 5750rpm

165bhp (123KW) @ 6000rpm

Torque

147.5lb-ft (200Nm) @ 2500rpm

163lb-ft (221Nm) @ 4000rpm

Transmission

5-speed, shaft drive

6-speed, shaft drive

Average fuel consumption

43mpg

41.5mpg

Tank size

24 litres

18 litres

Max range to empty

230 miles

160 miles

Frame

Tubular steel, twin spine

Full aluminium

Front suspension

43mm USD

47mm USD

Front suspension adjustment

N/a

Compression and rebound

Rear suspension

Twin shocks

Piggyback reservoir RSU

Rear suspension adjustment

Preload

Remote hydraulic preload

Front brake

2 x 320mm discs, 4-piston calipers

2 x 320mm, 4-piston calipers

Rear brake

1 x 316mm discs, 2-piston calipers

1 x 300mm, 4-piston caliper

Front wheel / tyre

150/80-17

150/80-17

Rear wheel / tyre

240/50-16

240/50-16

Dimensions (LxWxH)

2480mm x 880mm 1150mm

2500mm x 886mm x 1066mm

Wheelbase

1690mm

1677mm

Seat height

740mm

750mm

Weight

320kg (dry)

294kg (dry)

Additional reporting: Simon Hargreaves