Latest Rocket III Review


Mar 8, 2006
Body:West Central Missouri, Mind: Yes I are.
MD First Ride: 2006 Triumph Rocket III Classic
Story By Tor Sagen
Photography by: Claire McHug

When Triumph launched the majestic Rocket III in 2004 it was to be the most spectacular flagship model since Honda's Gold Wing. The inevitable has happened and the Rocket III has evolved into a Classic version with a comfortable seat and big footboards. It still packs almost as much torque as two 999Rs, so don't let the cozy cruiser looks deceive you.
The Rocket III sounds quite boring and more like a car when on idle. Put it next to the mega twins from Kawasaki, Yamaha, Harley and Suzuki and you wouldn't raise an eyebrow from the sound. Despite the fact the Rocket develops 200Nm (147 footpounds) @ a ridiculously low 2,500rpm, it's when you really spin that huge 2.3 litre engine up that you start thinking about Nirvana. Three enormous pistons move up and down at breakneck speed and produce a sound unique in motorcycling. This is where the Rocket III becomes addictive. The monster torque curve just slings the 320 kilo machine forward, and when it starts revving with all that torque and 140bhp activated there is not a thing in the world that could stop it -- truly a rocket on two wheels. The momentum is unbelievable, and you start praising those very decent double four-pot front brakes mounted on an USD fork and the gigantic rear brake. A huge 240mm rear wheel takes care of all that power and torque and allows the Rocket to out drag any litre superbike up to at least 30-40mph. I could only imagine if this bike was chain driven with the opportunity to alter the gearing further…

That huge 2.3 litre engine is agricultural in size and is held in place by some serious frame tubes. On the move, the riding position is laid back, with a double touring seat and stretched handlebars. The powerful engine squirts the massive bike forward as if it was a 160 kilo sportsbike (did I say that already?). In the bends it is a different story, and the Classic features footboards that limit ground clearance even more than the standard Rocket III. You are not really bothered when riding the Rocket, as all that thrust is entertainment enough.

The brakes need to be really good as a stop-and-go style is what counts on the winding roads. So a bit of braking and acceleration is necessary to keep up with your mates where there are loads of tight bends. The solid upside-down fork allows heavy usage of the front brake alone, but for optimal deceleration it's always best to stomp the right foot down as well.

On the A roads and motorways the Rocket III Classic is an absolute delight. There is plenty of torque to pass cars and lorries on low revs and the directional stability is impressive. Like a bloody freight train as a matter of fact. The giant windscreen protects from the worst of the wind, but some buffeting from a little turbulence does happen at higher speeds.

The Rocket III Classic seems to have a limiter in top gear that stops acceleration above 130MPH. Not that it matters, as it is much more pleasant to cruise at legal speeds and ride the monster torque curve. Curious as I am, I always seem to try though.
Rocket III Classic comes as standard in a fairly basic form despite its touring emphasis. The only extras compared to the standard Rocket III are footboards, double touring seat and pull-back bars. Our test bike was fitted with about £1500 worth of extras ranging from the £350 windscreen to the £600+ leather panniers (I say + because you have to pay extra for the dresser rails and emblems). The panniers house 28 litres each and are fitted with a quick release system hidden under the leather straps. The sissy bar and luggage rack are also extra, but very handy if you carry a pillion. The Rocket III is perfect for pillions with the sissy bar, and with all that torque, you hardly notice the added weight of the pillion.

Few bikes get as much attention as the Rocket III. Particularly, the Classic as there are lashings of chromed parts everywhere. Not even pure muscle bikes come close to the mixture of power and cruising ability the Rocket III possesses. It can be whatever you want it to be in a straight line, but reminds you of its cruiser chassis in the bends. It is not bad in the bends, just heavy with limited ground clearance and a huge 240mm rear tyre. There are not many other bikes that can give owner satisfaction at this level. A true flagship model!
Big powerful engine
Did I mention the engine?


Type Liquid-cooled, DOHC, in-line 3-cylinder
Capacity 2294cc
Bore/Stroke 101.6 x 94.3mm
Compression Ratio 8.7:1
Fuel System Multipoint sequential electronic fuel injection
Ignition Digital - inductive type - via electronic engine management system
Primary Drive Gear
Final Drive Shaft
Clutch Wet, multi-plate
Gearbox 5-speed
Cycle Parts
Frame Tubular steel, twin spine
Swingarm Twin-sided, steel
Front Wheel Alloy 5-spoke, 17 x 3.5in
Rear Wheel Alloy 5-spoke, 16 x 7.5in
Front Tyre Front 150/80 R 17
Rear Tyre 240/50 R 16
Front Suspension 43mm upside down forks
Rear Suspension Chromed spring twin shocks with adjustable preload
Front Brakes Twin 320mm floating discs, 4 piston calipers
Rear Brakes Single 316mm disc, 2 piston caliper
Length 2500mm (98.4in)
Width (Handlebars) 970mm (38.2in)
Height 1165mm (45.9in)
Seat Height 740mm (29.1in)
Wheelbase 1695mm (66.7in)
Rake/Trail 32°/152mm
Weight (Dry) 320kg (704lbs)
Fuel Tank Capacity 24 litres (6.3 gal US)
Performance (Measured at crankshaft to DIN 70020)
Maximum Power 142PS (140bhp) at 6,000 rpm
Maximum Torque 200Nm (147ft.lbf) at 2,500 rpm
Cherry Red / New England White, Jet Black / Sunset Red

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.020 Over
May 11, 2006
Lake City, FL
Looks exactly like mine DID, before the cager ran me off the road :mad:
One thousand miles on it, I hadn't even made the first payment.
The only changes I'm making in the re-do are the Kuryakin elliptical mirrors, and the rivco highway bars instead of the factory ones (factory bars flexed like mad, Hopefully, the rivcos
look a little firmer. But the article is spot on; anyone know if Tuneboy or PCIII will let you get past that 130 mph ceiling? The bike sure has the power for it.