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Review: Triumph Rocket III Classic, Size Matters

February 23rd, 2010
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After two weeks of riding Triumph’s Rocket III Classic I’ve walked away grinning and for once not wanting more. Anyone that says size doesn’t count is either small or hasn’t ridden a Rocket III Classic.

Unlike the other guys in the PressPortal garage I like my engines massive, the bigger the better. Forget turbos, blowers, chips, octane booster and NOS, you cannot substitute cubic capacity. I like high-revving power, but I love my torque, and fortunately for me the Rocket III Classic serves up plenty of both.

I must admit approaching the Triumph Rocket III was a bit intimidating, I’ve ridden all sorts of bikes, big ones and small ones, fast ones and really fast ones but there is something about the Rocket that demands respect.

The sheer size of the bike is, to say the least, breathtaking, at 2500 mm in length and 970 mm wide it’s a no brainer that the Rocket III Classic weighs in at a heavy 320 kg. Triumph first conceptualised the idea of the Rocket in 1999 and six years later they were on the assembly line at the Hinckley factory.

The Rocket III Classic is designed for comfortable cruising and is perfect for the short Sunday ride with your mates or a journey across a state. The seating position is at a comfortable 740 mm.

Triumph Rocket III Classic

Three is definitely not a crowd when it comes to this bike, it’s a party! Three cylinders smoking through three nicely chromed exhaust pipes ensures it probably wasn’t hard convincing management to call it a Rocket.

Make note, this motorcycle’s engine capacity is 2300 cc with truck loads of grunt. When we talk engines of this size we talk litres or cubic inches, therefore it’s a 2.3 Litre or for the older guys and yanks it measures in with 140 cubic inches. I know, I want one too!

You’re probably thinking “there are cars on the road that have smaller engines than this bike”, and you’re right, but what this bike provides is versatility. Imagine a hotrod for a daily driver, that’s exactly what the Rocket II Classic is.

A five speed manual gearbox with a wet multi-plate clutch changes gears with ease, going from first gear to neutral required a bit of soft toe movements but being a brand new bike this would surely loosen up over time and over the 2 weeks we did see an improvement.

During our time riding the Rocket III Classic we put the bike through all sorts of conditions and were thoroughly impressed with how it came out. The only difficulty we found is maneuvering at very slow speeds and round-abouts need to be approached with caution.

Sitting on the Rocket III Classic you feel securely fastened, the wide leather seat is very comfortable and your feet are forward and secured on the large footboards where the gear changer provides a heel and toe shifter. The rear brake pedal is car-like in size and has a nice feel to it.

The handle bars are positioned towards the rider which I always prefer and they are wide at 970 mm. On paper this may seem excessively wide, but sitting on the large and somewhat heavy Rocket, the wide handle bars make slower maneuvering that little bit easier.

Triumph Rocket III Classic

Pillions sit comfortably on a seat almost level with the pilot, just one thing, tell them to hang on tight.

Riding around the city and suburbia sedately you won’t get any complaints from the boys in blue or your neighbors, the note from the three exhaust pipes won’t deafen you or anyone nearby. When I opened the throttle all the way on a nice stretch of road I had to look down because the 2.3 Litres makes you feel like hell is opening up beneath your leathers. Our photographer said when I rode by and gave the throttle a nice squeeze he looked up because he thought a fighter jet was approaching, and that was with stock pipes.

On the open road is where the Rocket really shines, the 200 Nm of torque enables you to accelerate effectively without the urge of downshifting like you would on an equivalent bike. Talking of torque, the figures produced seem pretty impressive and might even make a dyno look twice, the 200 Nm of torque is reached at a low 2500 rpm. So off the line the Rocket III Classic will accelerate quicker than most stock sports bikes on the road, not that we tried it.

The acceleration is surprisingly responsive for a bike of this size, the throttle provides hours upon hours of entertainment. Just a short twist of your wrist and you’re off like a Rocket, just be sure to hold on, the acceleration is constantly pulling until such time when another cog is needed and then you’re off again.

The suspension set-up is for cruising, the front 43mm forks are an up-side down configuration and the shock absorbers are on the stiffer side, providing a more agile experience. The rear is a standard twin shock set-up with an adjustable preload. The steering is light to medium when it comes to maneuvering meaning handling is quite simple.

Braking is not a problem on the Rocket III Classic but it does mean easing off the throttle, a good majority of brake bias can be applied to the rear due to the weight distribution. When hard braking is required, the twin front discs do their part and pull up safely in conjunction with the rear. The front discs are 320 mm and have four pot calipers, with the rear having a single 316 mm disc with two pot calipers.

The rear tyre is so wide, with as much rubber as a condom factory, with probably just as much protection and causing just as much fun. The front wheel is a 17 inch 5-spoke alloy with a 150/80 tyre. The rear, as mentioned is a smaller 16 inch with a 240/50 tyre.

Triumph Rocket III Classic

The 24 litre fuel tank is a good size and will boast at least 300 km before you have to fill up again. Not bad for a muscle X sports bike with an engine on steroids.

There are not too many motorcycles that get a second look by the average Joe on the street, beside this one. The two-tone paint with Cherry Red and New England White reminds me of the Corvettes from the 50’s, and that’s a damn good thing. The acres of chrome matched to the paint job and the large radiator will provide owners with a contemporary looking bike that will age gracefully but not peacefully.

Triumph have competitively priced the Rocket III Classic at $24,790 and with a 2.3 Litre three cylinder engine punching out 104 kW and 200 Nm of torque this is sure to impress the missus, or at least the mates.

Rating: 3 out of 5 stars

Competitors:
Harley-Davidson V-Rod
Honda VTX1800C
Suzuki Boulevard M109R
Yahama Roadliner


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