Triumph Rocket 3 sets new capacity standard for mass production motorcycles
Back in 2004, when Triumph first introduced the Rocket ΙΙΙ, its 2.3-liter engine set a benchmark in the world of mass-produced motorcycles. Running uncontested ever since, the British motorcycle manufacturer has upped the ante with an even bigger three-cylinder engine in two newly unveiled Rocket 3 variants, the R and GT.
For almost 15 years the first-gen Rocket III enjoyed its status as the motorcycle with the biggest engine in mass production. Apart from some notable exceptions such as the Boss Hoss customs, even the most eclectic and rare of motorcycles – for instance, the Münch Mammut 2000 or the Hesketh 24 –wouldn't break over the two-liter mark.
As soon as Triumph decided it was time for the Rocket to get an overhaul, there was practically only one way to go. The new Rocket changed the latin III for the Arabic numeral 3 and arrived in May 2019 with a similar three-cylinder engine, longitudinally placed in the frame, now boasting 2,458 cc (150 ci) and a considerable power hike.
Triumph opted to kick off the second generation with the Rocket 3 TFC – as in Triumph Factory Custom – in a limited production run, but everyone suspected that a mass produced version lurked around the corner. The TFC batch of just 750 bikes worldwide sold out in less than two months, setting the stage for Triumph to lift the curtain on the "basic"Rocket 3.
Interestingly enough, the mass-produced model doesn't shy away from the impressive specs and gear of its now unavailable limited-run sibling. It may not be clothed in carbon fiber, it won't enjoy the crunchy sound of the special Arrow exhaust system or those few bits and pieces that make the TFC stand out but, other than these, the newRocket 3 is more or less the same motorcycle.
It rolls on the same fully adjustable Showa suspension, stops with the same Brembo Stylema M4 brakes and, apart from a quick shifter, is equipped with an almost identical electronics package. Which, in tune with the Rocket's raw image, incorporates just the basic systems: cornering ABS, traction control, selectable riding modes and a couple of treats in the shape of hill hold control and cruise control.
Triumph also threw in a specialized software kit for GoPro cameras, incorporated in the Rocket's TFT dash, along with smartphone connectivity via a Bluetooth module – but these were extras even in the high-end TFC Rocket, let alone the standard models.
Producing164.7 hp (122.8 kW) at 6,000 rpm, the basic Rocket 3 bites a bit softer than the 179-hp (133.5-kW) TFC variant; the difference should mostly be attributed to the stock exhaust system, instead of the TFC's Arrow cans. The good news is that, in terms of torque, going from 225 Nm (166 lb-ft) to 221 Nm (163 lb-ft) doesn't really register as a serious loss.
Apart from the beefy gain in horsepower over the previous model's 148 hp (110.4 kW), maximum torque appears to be the same, but now it's achieved at 4,000 rpm, quite higher than the 2,750 rpm of the first-gen engine.
The Rocket 3 will be produced in two versions, the R and the GT. The main distinction points to the riding ergonomics, as the R places the foot pegs in a mid position, whereas the GT puts the feet forward and sits the rider 23 mm (0.9 in) lower; seat height is 773 mm (30.4 in) and 750 mm (29.5 in) on the R and GT, respectively. In both cases the pegs are adjustable, vertically in the R and horizontally in the GT.
Other than that, the GT boasts some extra equipment, such as a slightly higher screen, heated grips as standard (can be optionally fitted to the R) and an adjustable pillion backrest.
The solid black color will be common for both variants, but each will also get an exclusive paint, red for the R and two-tone grey for the GT.
Triumph claims that the new Rocket 3 is some 40 kg (88 lb) lighter than its predecessor, with 18 of them shaved off the engine alone. In fact, that is accurate for the GT version at 294 kg dry (648.2 lb), while the R turns out to be another 3 kg (6.6 lb) lighter.
Pricing is set to be revealed on November 19, 2019, which will be a few days after the EICMA 2019 show draws its curtains. Production should follow.
See both the new Rockets in action in the 45-second clip that Triumph just released, unfortunately without any engine sound.