The revered British Triumph motorcycle marque has created a first, by breaking the two-litre barrier with a production motorcycle.
The potency of this remarkable new motorcycle is captured perfectly by its name - the Rocket III. Despite the three cylinder motor producing a whopping 140bhp it is tuned so that it produces prodigious amounts of torque at low revs. The Rocket III makes 147 ft.lbf of torque, almost double the torque of any other production motorcycle, and it does so at just 2500rpm. Indeed, at 1800rpm, it makes almost 90 percent of that figure, ensuring it will snap through the gears at a stunning rate, regardless of the size of the load.
Not surprisingly, the big triple is aimed at the American big-iron heartland and the throaty, characterful beat of the triple-cylinder exhaust was first heard in public at the company's annual American dealer conference in San Antonio, Texas, yesterday. Customers played an integral role in the development of the bike according to Triumph. Focus groups from around the world, and particularly the US, confirmed that in the power cruiser world "bigger is most definitely better." But they also made three other demands, one: the Rocket III had to be unmistakably a Triumph and not a clone of more conventional formats; two: it must be grounded in the real world rather than a flight of fancy, with the substance to back the style; and third: it had to have presence.
"The Rocket III is the ultimate power cruiser and gives Triumph an undeniable presence in the cruiser market," explains Triumph's Product Manager Ross Clifford. "It breaks the mould and will appeal to those riders seeking a unique but real riding experience. It's the sort of bike that enthrals the rider completely, engaging all their senses."
As alluded to by its name and alone among the cruiser fold the Rocket III is powered by a three-cylinder engine, an engine format that Triumph has very much made its own. Its fuel-injected, longitudinally-mounted, in-line three-cylinder engine has a cubic capacity of 2294cc 140 cubic inches and uses the same size pistons as a ten-cylinder Dodge Viper.
Usability is a core belief at Triumph and an element close to the heart of every Triumph rider, so built around the Rocket III's motor is a chassis that's more than a match for its monstrous output.
A tubular steel spine frame houses the motor while maintenance-free shaft drive lays power to the massive, 240/50-section rear tyre. The front brakes are twin four-piston calipers mated with floating 320mm discs and provide awesome stopping power. The rear brake is a single twin piston caliper and 316mm disc. Just as remarkable as the engine's sheer motive force is the balance that's been struck between power and control, making the Rocket III a surprisingly easy-to-manage machine according to Triumph.
The standard machine is fitted with a detachable pillion seat and comes in Jet Black or Cardinal Red. There is also is a whole range of Triumph accessories available for those who want to add a touch of their own personal style.
First shipment of Triumph's Rocket III is due to arrive in Australia around April/May 2004. A recommended retail price has not yet been announced.
The last motorcycle to bear this name, the 1960's BSA Rocket 3, although badged as a BSA was powered by the very first Triumph triple engine. Triumph's own version of the same machine was the 1969 Trident.