Triumph Rocket III – Yahoo Voices –

22 Mar 2015 | Author: | Comments Off on Triumph Rocket III – Yahoo Voices –
Triumph Rocket III

The Overkill Motorcycle from Great Britain

The weather is simply outstanding. For the last few days it’s been mostly sunny with fluffy, bright white clouds drifting lazily across the sky.

The temperature has ranged between 65 and 72 degrees Fahrenheit on any given day. The pavement, thanks to the previous few weeks of constant downpours, has been washed clean and traction is optimal. This past weekend was one of the finest meteorological stages ever set for getting out and cruising on two wheels.

I spent most of it lying on my back staring at the ceiling, and none of it riding. The nature and root cause analysis of my back injury is fodder for a funny story (for those of you who are not feeling my pain) to be told at a later date.

Yesterday I crawled out of bed, spent an hour and a half instead of my usual 30 minutes getting ready for work, and limped in excruciating pain to the Dodge Magnum R/T for the drive to the office, tortured by the wonderful weather and the fact that I have a gorgeous 2300cc monster of a motorcycle being neglected in my garage.

I’ve been pining for years to own another bike, and I always told myself anything that was dependable, had two wheels, and would reach 100 mph would do.

Somehow I ended up with the ultimate power cruiser, and with only one solid road trip under my belt so far I’m missing the best riding weather you could ever hope for in the Texas prairies and lakes region due to a badly injured trapeze muscle in my back.

Might as well write a review of the Triumph Rocket III since I can’t ride.

Back in May of this year (2009), Robin and the federal government both made announcements regarding cigarettes. The feds announced that they were once again hiking taxes on cancer sticks, and Robin announced that that was the last straw. She told me that smoking had become so expensive, we would be able to afford a motorcycle if we both gave it up.

One condition: I had to have six months smoke-free under my belt before I could purchase a bike.

That was 28 weeks and 2 days ago, and that’s how long I’ve been smoke free.

If Robin had stuck to her conditions, I would be buying a bike in just under 15 days from now. Fortunately for me, Robin gave in to my pleading when I stumbled upon a great deal at EuroSport Cycle in Fort Worth.

But let me back up and explain how I ended up looking at British bikes in the first place (queue weird cyclical music and special visual of a spinning spiral wheel to let the viewer know we are travelling back in time):

The day Robin and the feds made their announcements I began scouring the web sites of Harely-Davidson, Victory, and Yamaha.

Harley-Davidson because it simply would be unpatriotic not to consider the most iconic American motorcycle brand of all time, especially when searching for a cruising bike.

Victory because they are new kids on the American producer block and have some really unique bikes of reputed outstanding quality.

Yamaha because the ancient Japanese piano company produced both my first loves when it comes to two-wheeled mechanical road-burners: My father’s RD350 two-stroke twin and my own four cylinder XS1100. The RD350 seemed like a giant powerhouse back when I and my brothers first learned to ride; today it appears almost comically tiny compared to the bikes I’ve grown accustomed to. The speed and torque of the little machine were always impressive for its size.

My old Yamaha XS1100 probably lit the fuse of doom for my first marriage (I purchased and hauled her home from California without consulting my wife at a time when we could barely afford formula and diapers), but the mutually destructive relationship I had with the that bike (we tried to dismantle each other multiple times) and the ease with which the front wheel would levitate off the pavement like a 747 three-quarters down the runway will always have a special place in my heart.

In my quest for test rides I contacted Rick Fairless’ Strokers of Dallas ; a Harley, Victory, and custom chopper shop. I let Robin know I had scheduled a test ride on a Victory Eight Ball cruiser for later that week.

Robin was discussing my search for a motorcycle with a good friend, co-worker, and former boss of ours the following day, a fellow named Tom.

Tom is fond of spaghetti rockets.

When I say fond of spaghetti rockets, I mean Tom has multiple operable Ducatis parked in his garage. I believe Tom also has multiple Ducatis stored in pieces and parts in his garage as well. Tom’s idea of a relaxing Sunday morning ride is dragging one knee or the other in a perfect arc for a few hundred yards around a 45 mph posted farm to market road curve at 160+ mph somewhere in the vicinity of Justin, Texas.

This I have seen with my own two eyes while I lumbered along hopelessly on a rented low-clearance Harley Fat Boy with its foot pegs unexpectedly scraping the pavement in the slightest lean.

I digress. Robin was trying to remember what brand of motorcycle I had told her I was going to test ride. When she told Tom the brand name had something to do with being a winner he naturally asked Triumph? since Ducati fanatics will always assume motorcycle quizzes must start with Europeon brands.

Of course Robin said, Yes, Triumph!

Well, said Tom, Tell Tim to go see Tony at EuroSPort Cycle in Fort Worth if he wants to look at Triumphs. And tell him to let Tony know I sent him.

That afternoon Robin relayed the information to me, but by that time she had somehow reverted to the correct brand name of Victory.

I have heard of plenty of Harley-Davidson/Triumph dealerships, so I assumed it wouldn’t be too awful strange for a Europeon shop to also carry Victorys. I went to the Eurosport Cycle web site and started browsing.

I fond no Victorys there, but what I did find I initially thought must be a hoax.

All these years I had assumed Triumph was still barely hanging on producing a few Bonnies each year with a limited set of paint schemes and accessories. I had no idea they’d gone utterly insane and built the largest muscle cruiser ever made.

The pictures of the Rocket III were simply too large for life. I did more research and found a viral marketing video about the manufacture of the Rocket III. which only reinforced my suspicion that the beast didn’t really exist.

I emailed Tom and told him I wanted to test ride the thing. fully expecting him to laugh and tell me I’d fallen for a clever myth. Instead, Tom told me the following Saturday Eurosport was having a big demo day and I could ride over to Fort Worth with him to try one out.

Upon arrival that Saturday I stepped out of Tom’s pick-up carrying a helmet he’d loaned me. I made my way to the line under the pavilion and signed up to test ride the Triumph Rocket III. A group had just left, so over the next 45 minutes I browsed the rest of the bikes the shop had for sale.

Ducatis, Benellis, Moto Guzzi, Aprilias, and of course a full range of Triumphs including super sport bikes and the latest incarnations of the Bonneville lineage, the America and Speedmaster.

Finally the time for my demo ride arrived. As I swung a leg over the black Rocket III demo bike my hands were trembling and my heart was pounding. The sheer audacity of the machine was intimidating. I had only weeks earlier ridden a motorcycle again (that rented Harley Fat Boy) after a ten year hiatus.

Here I was about to ride a motorcycle hosting the largest mass production bike engine on earth. I just knew I would end up dumping it.

I barely had time to get a grip on my nerves before we were off, a band of two dozen bikes of various styles and displacements, me near the back of the group terrified to twist the throttle. The Rocket III stayed upright easily, with minimum tail braking and clutch pressure as I negotiated the slow-speed turns out of the lot and into the street.

In the first few hundred yards I was convinced that for its size the Rocket III was finely balanced. It complied easily with my every desire via the handlebars and throttle.

After the first turn I gained a little confidence and opened the throttle a bit more experimentally as I shifted into second gear. The bike launched instantly forward as if released from a catapult, and I felt that it could easily stretch my arms to twice their length if I gave the throttle more than a quarter-turn. The massive triple produced so much tangible power I was sure it was leaving some sort of physical torque residue on the pavement behind me like the trailing ectoplasm from a passing poltergeist.

My brain submerged itself in a sea of fear and I eased off the throttle, hoping simultaneously for the test ride to be over and to never end.

Arriving back at the dealership, I only had a vague animalistic memory of riding the Triumph Rocket III. But the impression that stayed with me, and grew over the next few hours to overwhelm everything else, was the brute strength of the machine. The Rocket III was the bike I had to have.

Over the next few weeks I searched diligently for a used Rocket III. I spent most of my lunch breaks haunting the Triumph dealership in Lewisville and various other used bike shops in and around the Las Colinas area where I work. It became a weekly routine for me to call Robin (my hot minister of finance) and request concurrence to make a low-ball offer on some used Rocket I would come across in these treasure hunts.

Every time the dealers would refuse flat out. I discovered that there just weren’t a lot of these machines available, and resale value was not far behind new retail. The dealers simply refused to counter offer.

Triumph Rocket III

I kept trying, knowing that if I could strike the right deal Robin would let me purchase one early because of the savings.

Some days I would make the drive to EuroSport Cycle in Fort Worth just to torture myself with the impossible dream of buying a brand new Rocket III. I would marvel at the turbo-charged used R3 that was parked in front of the dealership and ponder the response Tom had given when I told him I couldn’t imagine why anyone would be compelled to add turbo to a Triumph Rocket. Well, Tom replied, you just don’t have the right imagination.

Typical Ducati owner response. It’s all about the go fast to those guys.

On one of those seemingly hopeless journeys I walked into the showroom to behold a large green sign taped to the windscreen of a new 2008 Rocket III Classic. It was a sale tag that I had a hard time believing.

After speaking with Tony for a bit to ensure I’d done my due diligence in the grand American tradition of haggling over the price of a big ticket purchase, I called Robin to inform her that I had discovered the best deal we were ever likely to find on a new Triumph Rocket III. a R3 Classic, no less, which included a couple thousand bucks worth of accessories. I illustrated to her my fear that at any second someone would likely walk in and buy this bike right out from under me.

I told her how the same bike would likely cost millions of dollars if we waited until November to purchase one. This was the deal of a lifetime, but we had to act now.

Robin knew I was exaggerating, but she also knew I really was onto a pretty good deal.

I was utterly shocked when she told me to go for it. By 6 PM on July 17, 2009 I was the proud owner of a Triumph Rocket III Classic and dancing like Homer Simpson over a new doughnut flavor in anticipation of taking delivery. I spent a sleepless night imagining myself blasting down the highway on that stellar machine.

The following evening Robin and I showed up at the dealership to sign the final paperwork and I rode my new bike home for the first time. I was no longer nervous about the size or power, having read various owners forums and reviews, as well as morbidly studying every bike crash I could find on Youtube to refresh my memory about the stupid mistakes you can make on two wheels along with the devastating consequences.

As I traveled home I knew I had made the right decision. The trip there was peppered with the jealous stares and drooling of car and pick-up drivers who cruised along the highway beside me. I basked in the warm glow of their envy.

With it’s sheer mass and the added sparkle of chrome exhaust pipe covers, a huge chrome bear claw over the intake, and the unique triple silencer configuration, the bike was a pure head-turner.

Over the next several weeks I had to get used to being held up for impromptu interviews about it when I was mounting or dismounting. I was approached by strangers who said they used to own a Triumph, people who said they’d never seen a Triumph, and people who thought my bike was some custom built machine. These conversations almost always included an estimate from the inquirer about the price of the machine that was double the reality.

The Triumph Rocket III came straight out of the box with a 100% satisfaction score on looks, performance, and handling. The realms of disappointment were the lack of sound (she’s way too quiet when she should be growling like a gargling Titan) and a minor failure in quality I discovered as I was adjusting the mirror one day on my ride to work. It came off in my hand, leading to my discovery that the stock mirrors not only look like mouse ears and seem to not fit the bike’s style; they are made of cheap chrome plated plastic.

A set of Kurakyn eclipse mirrors resolved that issue, and eventually a set of performance pipes will give my precious the throaty growl she should have had from the start.

The only other issue arose from my familiarity with the lean angle of every other motorcycle on the planet while on a kickstand. The Rocket III doesn’t lean much when it’s on its kickstand, I discovered to my dismay one afternoon as I was washing my bike in the driveway. As I leaned against it to dry off the side panel on the opposite side I managed to push her right off the stand.

I had time only to curse my own stupidity for not having it in gear as the beast rolled forward a few feet and fell onto it’s side. Again, that is fodder for yet another story that will be much funnier in the telling than it was in reality.

Damage was minor, and I’m still loving every moment I get to spend scraping the foot boards in the curves or just blasting straight down the slab on this British asphalt inhaler.

Recently Triumph announced the Rocket line’s new 2010 Rocket III Roadster with more focus on sport configuration including elimination of the forward control position. The Roadster is set to be the only available option in the Rocket III model line up other than the Triumph Rocket III Touring henceforth. It will be available in two colors: Black or blacker.

Gloss or matte.

The Rocket III standard and classic are now out of production, which means resale value on my baby should be well maintained for at least the near future. There are still some new 2008 and 2009 models left if you want one.

Better hurry, though. I’m sure someone is on their way to Tony’s to buy yours right out from under you.

Tim is a freelance blogger and creative writer living in Grapevine, Texas. He enjoys riding his Triumph Rocket III, woodworking, and making his Grandson, Jade, giggle. He and his wonderful wife, Robin, ha. View profile

Triumph Rocket III
Triumph Rocket III
Triumph Rocket III
Triumph Rocket III
Triumph Rocket III

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