- Mar 19, 2017
- Perth , Western Australia
- triumph rocket 3 2020 GT
Having lived in Sydney for few months I would have to say you guys have some of the worst roads in the country "pot holes joined with road base " if you are riding with your suspension as factory default i would think you would be getting a major rough ride - check out our video " Col and Zig shock setup " its on the forum and i would be interested on how you go - good write upI was having lunch at a seaside burger joint just before Christmas when I first saw the “Hotwheels” bike that I didn’t recognise. 2 up. Cruising the coast. I was drawn to the bike that turned out to be a 2020 Rocket 3 GT. I was with my girl at the time. As the strangers rode off into the distance I knew this could be the answer. The Ducati Panigale V4s in my garage was not the bike I’d be this far from home with, certainly not 2 up. As far as true touring bikes go, nothing in that genre has ever truly grabbed me. This Rocket thing did.
A month later I test rode the GT and R back-to-back whilst on a trip up north. I also test rode a Diavel on the same day. The GT Rocket did not live up to the dreams I’d been having about the bike. I just wasn’t ready for the feet forward position, I found it un-natural and not in keeping with the true attitude of this heavy naked bruiser. Sure, one could simply “cruise” on the bike if they wished, but I wanted a slightly more “connected” riding position having ridden superbikes for the last decade. I felt every bump on the road (I’m 6ft 4inches, 98 kilograms) and they reverberated up my spine, in fact I felt my spine was part of the primary shock absorption system. The low-down torque, however, was addictive and so unlike my sports bikes which would red-line at 15,000 rpm. It was the torque that led me to test ride the R version. I just had to know if the different riding position on the R would provide answer…
It did. For me.
Immediately I was more sure of myself on the bike, more comfortable, not quite at home, but a lot closer. The bumps didn’t feel as harsh, my back was fine, and I knew instinctively how to handle this beast of a bike. The test rides that day were all 2 up. I didn’t really notice the pillion at all, the weight, size, and torque combine to virtually gobble up your passenger!
At this point the bike is nearly living up to my dream.
Then we rode the Ducati Diavel. Frankly, it’s lighter, faster, easier to ride, familiar, and just awesome. However, I already had a fast Ducati in the garage, and as great as it was I just wasn’t attracted to the Diavel like I was the Rocket. The Rocket has an aura and prescence the Ducati just couldn’t match. The Ducati was more of a sports bike in its torque delivery and gearing. It couldn’t match the low-down grunt and spirit of the Rocket.
I bought the Red Rocket 3R and rode it home on the motorway, in the torrential rain. That was like a spending a first date with gastro. I really wanted it to be a nice experience, but it sucked.
A very good Youtube review by the Missendon Flyer found that the bike really grew on you. The more time you spent the better it got. The same reviewer said the reverse about the Diavel. The more he rode that the less he liked it. Well he was definitely right about the Rocket. Six weeks in, and I love this bike.
Here are some of my early observations after 6 weeks of daily riding. Firstly, the torque delivery is sublime, the riding modes truly useable and exceptionally well executed. I use all 3 pre-programmed modes. When its wet I use Rain mode and it’s awesome. All of that responsive twitchy throttle behavior just disappears and you can take on the low speed tight urban corners in rain with total confidence. When it rains now I lick my lips and I want to get on the bike in the wet. That’s never happened on a sports bike. Dial in road mode for 2 up or any knarly mountain passes where you're not quite sure of yourself and again, you get an absolute brilliant blend of risk and return. When its dry, and on roads I know, its sports mode all the way. Responsive and fun, and totally connected to the road, its an addictiove engaging experience.
A lot of reviews online talk about this bike as being really fast. There’s lots of giggling and screaming when the throttle is opened wide. I was expecting BMW S 1000R-like acceleration (still one of the scariest bikes I’ve riden). It’s just not like that at all. This bike is certainly fast enough, and probably a lot faster than it feels due to its refinement and quiet voice, but it ain’t scary-fast. It just aint. In fact it’s just right. You can open the throttle, in any gear, or move through the gears and short shift and its super responsive and fun. Its just never insane that’s all. And I like that a lot. I can have huge amounts fun on this bike without losing my license or worse..
That said, the first 4 weeks that I rode this bike the weather in Sydney was exceptionally humid. About 2 weeks ago after about 1000 kms on the bike, the weather got cooler and this thing seemed to find another level. My turbo-charged cars have always been completely different propositions in winter months and perhaps this Rocket is more susceptable to the temperature and oxygen content of the air than smaller bikes. All I know is this bike “seemed” 30- 50% more potent in cooler air. The difference seemed dramatic to me. I even got wheel spin in second gear with a moderate throttle opening.
The Rocket is fun fast. It just isn’t scary fast.
The handling is very good. It’s not a sports bike. At carpark speeds it’s a very heavy, and at times a scary proposition, but at rolling speeds it’s very good. I find you can change inputs mid corner and make adjustments no problem at all. The handlebars give you plenty of leverage and you can really wrestle the bike and it seems to like that. I find its less open to being “passively” cornered. You need to keep your wits about you and be involved with every corner, it could run you wide if you don’t pay attention.
Despite the razor-sharp and light handling of my Panigale, I’d simply rather be on the Rocket. It feels substantial, comfortable, safe, incredibly desirable, and just more accessible fun. The Handling is way better than you’d expect, and makes this bike the real deal.
My driveway is steep and narrow – walking speed manouvering is very very sketchy. My heart races every time I take it up the driveway. I honestly don’t know how a small human would cope with this at walking speed. Its very substantial.
Braking is very good. The rear brake is a treat. I trail brake with it and use it regularly. If you are coming in hot and jam the brakes, you will notice the weight, but the Brembos will still do the job with no fuss.
There's been a lot of talk about the voice of the bike. I really like it. Due to the fact that you don't have loud pipes you can hear the induction noises, and you can hear the engine - I really like that. The Ducati is loud, but sounds like a tractor! The Triumph is quieter but sounds like a stealth jet. I'm sure a nice aftermarket slip on will go on one day, and I'm sure that will sound good, but I am not rushing to get one yet!
Fuel economy is just ok. I wish that big tank had a few more litres capacity. Mainly because I'm scared of refilling the thing. It spews fuel all over the tank every time I fill it. After seeing the post of a Rocket in flames at a bowser I just let the fuel trickle in now. I honestly don't know how to fill 'er up. I feel like an idiot every time.
Now the elephant in the room -wind. Theres no other way to say this. If you don’t have a screen, and you intend to ride over 80 kph, your head is going to take a hammering from the wind and fall off. My first real ride was in a storm on a highway. My helmet was being blown backwards, I was so fatigued after an hour I had to take a break and then every 20 mins thereafter. Admittedly the conditions were appalling. That said, this is not a touring bike without a screen, not even close. However I fixed the problem. For 200 Australian dollars I purchased a screen form Turkey (GOPKOMPOZIT.com) that I installed in 5 minutes, that is basically invisible, and has transformed this bike. No buffeting, no wind, no worries. You still get the noise of the wind, but none of the force, none of the fatigue. It’s wonderful.
I’ve also fitted the GT sissy bar, quad lock which works really well, the heated grips go on this week, as does the quickshifter. I’ll provide my feedback on these items once I've really had a chance to test them all out.
Suspension is an interesting one. I read all the posts about it, and to be honest I don’t know much about it. I’m riding the bike in it’s stock suspension settings, its firm, and it seems fine. It doesn’t like big holes or bumps at speed, but I like the feedback I get from the road most of the time so I’ll take the tradeoff.
Visually this bike is stunning. I’m always taking photos of it, I’m always washing it, I sit on it in the driveway, I just want to be on it all the time. I’d sell the Panigale but for ONE major advantage……filtering. I just can't bring myself to filter this 300+ kg beast at low speeds yet. The Panigale is like a needle, it is just so easy to filter on. If time is of the essence, I will jump on the Ducati for that reason alone. I am scared of the Rocket at low speed, I really am.
Motorbikes are flawed. All of them. 2 wheels. No protection from the elements or the public, low luggage capacity. I could go on. The Rocket 3 Rs flaws are there for all to see. Those flaws are so crushingly overwhelmed by it’s beauty, its velvet sledgehammer character, and it’s irresistible aura that on a cold wet day with the skies dumping liquid like a waterfall, if given the choie between the warm leather seat of The Audi RS4, or the pure fun and chemistry of the R3….I’d be running towards the wardrobe and getting the rain gear on.
Engaging, beautiful, and fun.