Writing about bikes for 20 years. Published in dozens of titles on five continents. Mildly obsessed with discovering how things work.
We’ve known that the Rocket 3 was in for a revival since last year and it was confirmed in January when Triumph revealed its Rocket 3 TFC as a concept alongside the Thruxton TFC. Now the firm has finally spilled the beans about its plans by releasing full details of the forthcoming production version.
Let’s start with some numbers; after all, that’s what the Rocket has always been about. The first one is the price, which sits at £25,000.
That’s a pretty big sum for any bike, but in the context of the Rocket 3 TFC doesn’t sound unreasonable. For a start, this ‘TFC’ version – it stands for Triumph Factory Custom – is a limited edition. Only 750 will be made, all bristling with the latest in technology and the highest quality materials and parts. And secondly, you get a lot of bike for your money.
The engine shares the same layout as the old Rocket III (note the Roman numerals for the earlier model’s name are replaced with an Arabic ‘3’ for the new one), but it’s a completely new unit. Instead of a paltry 2294cc, as on the original bike, the new model is 2458cc, retaining its position as the world’s largest purpose-made motorcycle engine. At about £10 per cubic centimetre, the £25k price doesn’t seem unreasonable at all.
All those cubes mean that there’s plenty of performance on tap. Triumph hasn’t pinned down a precise power figure but says the new Rocket will exceed 170PS (168hp), making it the most powerful production bike ever to wear the firm’s badge. However, torque is what this engine is all about, and at ‘more than’ 163lb-ft it makes more than any other production bike in the world. Job done on that front, then.
While the old Rocket III also made some big numbers – 148bhp and the same 163lb-ft claimed for the new model (at a thumping 2750rpm) – it was always rather hamstrung by a juggernaut-like size and weight.
In its final Rocket III Roadster form, it rumbled in at a creaking 334kg before you even added fuel or oil, while the more heavily-equipped Rocket III Touring was heavy enough to have its own gravitational field at 358kg dry.
Triumph says that the new Rocket 3 TFC is more than 40kg lighter than its predecessor, which means it should nip under the 300kg mark, at least in ‘dry’ weight. That’s still plenty, but represents an impressive 15% weight loss.
Some of that weight reduction comes courtesy of carbon fibre bodywork, but the real key is the completely new aluminium frame in place of the old bike’s Brunel-like steel design. There’s also a new alloy single-sided swingarm to incorporate the shaft drive, and the engine is now a stressed chassis member to keep the weight down further.
Moving on from the numbers game, the Rocket 3 TFC is well stocked in terms of kit. On the running gear front there are 47mm USD Showa forks and a matching rear monoshock, while the brakes are Brembo Stylema calipers mated to a radial master cylinder with adjustable span. All the lighting is LED, as you’d expect at this price, and there’s a full complement of rider aids including cornering ABS and traction control, four riding modes, an up-and-down quickshifter to make the clutch largely redundant and even a hill-hold feature to stop the bike rolling backwards when you stop facing up a slope.
Cruise control is another piece of standard kit, along with tyre pressure monitors and even an integrated GoPro control system via standard Bluetooth connectivity, which also allows turn-by-turn navigation, music and phone operation from the full-colour TFTG instrument pack when it’s tethered to your smart phone.
From a practical standpoint, the Rocket 3 TFC comes with both single and twin seat setups as standard, with real leather on the interchangeable seats.
On buying the Rocket 3 TFC, you get a special ‘handover pack’ with a numbered letter signed by Triumph’s CEO Nick Bloor, plus a customised build book, a leather ‘TFC’ rucksack and a tailored indoor bike cover. Customers from the UK and Ireland will also have the option of collecting their bikes directly from the Hinckley factory.
However, fabulous though the Rocket 3 TFC might be, it leaves a massive question over what is coming next. Understandably, Triumph is keen to push the high-end, limited-edition version for now, but it’s inconceivable that the firm has created a completely new bike, with a new engine and chassis, simply to sell just 750 examples.
No, it’s certain that there will be a non-TFC, full-production version of the bike coming in the near future, shorn of the exotic carbon fibre trinkets and razzmatazz but built around the same basic structure. Indeed, looking at Triumph’s normal modus operandi, we’d expect several variants of the new Rocket 3 in the course of time: tourers, roadsters, muscle bikes, baggers and bobbers are all surely under consideration.