Triumph Rocket III Roadster – Cycle Torque Magazine

1 Jun 2015 | Author: | Comments Off on Triumph Rocket III Roadster – Cycle Torque Magazine
Triumph Rocket III Roadster


Launch report by Nigel Paterson

THE photo on the cover wasn’t nearly as intimidating to make as I had imagined. Take one Triumph Rocket III Roadster, apply front brake and twist throttle. If I wasn’t an atheist I’d have been praying the thing didn’t get away from me.

The Rocket III, though, is a gentle giant. Sure, it’s big and heavy and has heaps and heaps and heaps and heaps of grunt, but it doesn’t require a delicate touch – a long wheelbase, relatively low centre of gravity, wide ’bars and linear power delivery see to that.

Although this is a seriously quick motorcycle, it isn’t anywhere near as intimidating as you’d expect of a machine weighing around 350kg and boasting 220Nm. And it can do 11-second quarter mile times. For the rider who can never have too much – power, torque, bulk – the Rocket III Roadster delivers.

For 2010 the Roadster is available in Henry Ford colours – any colour you like as long as it’s black, but at least you can choose between Phantom (gloss) and matt finishes.

On the strip

The Australian launch of the new bike saw a bunch of bike journos cruising out of Melbourne the back way to Heathcote drag strip. Six journos all put in times from low to mid 12-second passes.

Kel Buckley was the fastest of the journos, and any suggestion she won because she weighs less than her leathers is sour grapes: she’s quick! It was my first time on a dragstrip and it was heaps of fun.

The video of the launch includes footage from a couple of practice runs, courtesy of a camera mounted on the tank: check out to see that.

The upgraded clutch and transmission from 2010 copped a hammering on the strip, but without any problems.

Although the Rocket III puts out gobs of power and torque, it was easy to get off the line cleanly. Three factors help here: a rear tyre which isn’t prone to wheelspin (unless you’re ham-fisted), a long wheelbase (which means no wheelies) and lots of bulk.

Although a Rocket III wouldn’t be my choice of drag bike, it sure was a heap of fun doing the quarter-mile, so don’t be afraid to take yours to a strip if you get a chance.

The changes

The Rocket III has been with us for some time now, with Triumph describing the model as very successful, having sold over 17,000 of the 2.3-litre monsters.

Triumph’s research has also indicated owners are happy with their bikes and bought them for their performance and styling.

I believe the old forward-controls cruiser-ish riding position maybe wasn’t so popular – for the Roadster Triumph has moved the seat forward (14mm) and the pegs back (122mm) and down (23mm) to give the bike a much more conventional riding position.

Now you can even stand on the footpegs if there are bumps you can’t avoid… It’s a vastly improved riding position as far as I’m concerned, but if your desires are more for the raked out riding position, you’re out of luck.

Triumph has discontinued the Rocket III Classic, too, leaving only the Roadster and Tourer available.

Internally there aren’t too many changes. There’s revisions to the clutch and transmission to make gear changes easier and strengthen both the clutch and shaft drive.

Other changes include new instruments which are classically styled but have many modern functions, ABS as standard equipment and softer shocks. Triumph claim the change to softer springs was driven by requests from owners, but now the springs are too soft.

All the demo bikes were set up with suspension on its hardest setting (only rear preload can be adjusted) and I still found the rear units unforgiving, transmitting too much road imperfections through to the rider. Too much of their meagre travel is consumed by the weight of the rider.

Triumph claim the shocks are 20 per cent softer than before, so it’s surprising every journo on the launch was using the hardest setting and most wanted them stiffer.

The front end which runs a set of fat, non-adjustable upside-down forks is pretty good though. There are also a new set of pipes, the three into two units housing a catalytic converter in each muffler.

On the road

The Rocket Roadster feels at its biggest when you’re climbing aboard. The ’bars are very wide, the tank looks huge, the bulk is noticeable when hauling the beast up off the sidestand.

Thumb the starter and motorcycling’s biggest mass-produced engine growls into life. Blip the throttle and you can feel the strength of the engine through the sound, vibration and the way it pushes on your leg, a characteristic of most bikes with a crankshaft which runs in line with the chassis rather than across it

In traffic the Roadster is surprisingly nimble – it’s no Bonneville, but the riding position gives you more confidence to slip through the traffic than you’d expect on such a big bike.

Having ABS is another confidence boost, because there’s an awful lot of weight to pull up if you need to do it in a hurry, and Triumph should be applauded for making it standard and not bumping the price in the process.

With 221Nm of torque (up 10 per cent on the old Rocket) and 148PS of power (up about seven per cent) there’s grunt everywhere.

I accidentally rode away from a set of traffic lights in third once – when it bogged down I just slipped the clutch the tiniest amount and it accelerated cleanly away: it was a real shock to discover I was in third.

The Rocket gets to highway speeds very quickly and easily, but you won’t want to ride this bike at high speeds. There’s a little bit of wind blast protection from the low seat and high instrument cluster, but it’s still a naked with an upright riding position.

If you find it tiresome, check out Triumph’s optional screens.

Pillion accommodation looks good, the motor is so understressed it feels like it’ll last forever and the ride is very pleasant indeed.

Who’s it for?

The Roadster is for anyone looking for the ultimate in road presence, power and style. Priced at $22,990 plus on road costs, you get an awful lot for the money, and let’s not forget the standard ABS is at no extra charge this year.

Add a few items from the extensive accessory catalogue – like heated grips ($319), leather panniers ($1522.50), Classic Touring Seat ($629.99) and the Roadster Screen ($892.51) and you’ve got yourself a touring bike.

Or you could dress up the bike and have a very distinctive Roadster. Either way this is a bike for the long haul – in riding, longevity and ownership.

can see many owners keeping their Rockets for a decade or more, and I can see resale values staying very high.

Distinctive, capable and desirable, the Rocket III is a motorcycle many will lust after and luckily, many can afford.

If the concept excites you, I really doubt you’d be disappointed in the execution.

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