Triple XL: The biggest production motorcycle on Earth is back, and it's got bigger
Fans of sheer largeness, pour yourself a bucket of champagne. The biggest, baddest production motorcycle in the world is back, and it's bigger then ever before. The new 2.5-liter Triumph Rocket 3 TFC is a trailer-pulling beast of a thing that'll dwarf anything this side of a Boss Hoss.
I still remember the first time I saw a Rocket III. It was 2005, and I was walking back from lunch. Some dude had just bought a gleaming black brand new one, and he was showing his friend in a driveway on a busy boulevard. A small crowd began to gather, folk just gasping at the sheer presence and monstrous 2.3-liter engine on this thing.
"Piston bores so big you could punch a fist down 'em," said the proud new owner of what was then the largest production motorcycle on the planet, and all were mightily impressed, and the stage was set for an epic smoky burnout exit and this man's crowning as the coolest man on Earth.
And then he couldn't work out how to start it. And we stood there watching as he impotently thumbed the starter, fiddled with the kill switch and the ignition, and the crowd began to murmur and dissipate along with any Fonzie points this hapless chap was hoping to gain.
"Perhaps it's like a Suzuki," I offered, "maybe it needs the clutch in to start?" And lo, it was so, for it seems Triumph did not trust its neutral switches, and the great beast was duly thumbed into life with a low growl so the smoky burnout and triumphant exit could proceed and the owner could escape with most of his dignity.
I was a minor hero that day, folks, I won't lie to you. And while I've never had the pleasure of riding one, the Rocket III has always had a special place in my heart. I had a vague plan to buy one around the time I learned of the concept of peak oil. "If petrol is going to become scarce," I reasoned, "I want to put as much of what's left as I can through a motorcycle engine, and the best way to do that has to be through the giant fist-bores of a Rocket III."
My thinking has evolved substantially since then, I'm glad to say, but this morning's press release still sends a shiver through my root chakra. The Rocket is back, and it's bigger.
The new engine is both bored and stroked out, each cylinder having a bore of 110.2 mm and a stroke of 85.9 mm, so a wider fist can go even deeper into this bike's guts. Up to three fists will fit, because there are three cylinders, so you and two friends can roll your sleeves up and get in on the action. We're not recommending this course of action, just pointing out your options. What you do with your Rocket is your own business.
Riders will now have a 2,458cc engine between their legs, which is more than twice the displacement of some of the hapless cars you'll roar past on the highway. Torque is thus boosted to somewhere over a gargantuan 221 nm (163 lb-ft), which is substantially more than anything else that's not electric or built to order, and something like 70 percent more than anything else in the mega-cruiser segment. Peak horsepower is somewhere over 170 ponies, which is starting to approach Yamaha VMAX levels of straight-line lunacy. Power and acceleration will not be an issue, ask and ye shall receive.
The rest of the bike looks nice, too. Despite the capacity leap, the Rocket 3 TFC (Triumph Factory Custom) is at least a whopping 40 kg (88 lb) lighter than the old Rocket III thanks to new aluminum designs for the frame and the single-sided shaft-drive swingarm, as well as the fact that all bodywork is carbon. While Triumph won't give us an exact weight just yet, the old one weighed 362 kg (797 lb), so you're still looking at a motorcycle of substance, with a giant 240-section rear tire that frankly gets swallowed up by the rest of the bike's bulk.
It's also undergone a thoroughly modern electronic makeover with goodies like a gorgeous TFT dash, cornering ABS and traction control, four riding modes, an up/down quickshifter, tire pressure monitors, keyless ignition, hill start assist and an optional Bluetooth connectivity module that handles phone stuff, navigation stuff and even control of a connected GoPro action camera. That's if you're not bothered by the fact that you'll basically be collecting evidence against yourself everywhere you ride.
Triumph has learned its lesson from the chorus of bleating that accompanied every Speed Triple launch after 2010, and retained the Rocket's signature twin round headlights. They look better than ever, in a new LED format with daytime running lights as standard. And as comfy as the new bike looks, it'll be even comfier on long rides thanks to standard cruise control.
Brakes are Brembo Stylemas – the superbike choix du jour – and fully adjustable suspension is from Ohlins. Buyers will get not one, but two seat units with the bike, one with pillion accommodation and one for lone wolves.
As a limited edition, only 750 of these beauties will be made for an as-yet-undisclosed price, and your only color choice will be black on carbon black. That's the correct color for this bike, and I won't hear you argue otherwise. Everyone who buys one will be treated to a numbered form letter signed by Triumph CEO Nick Bloor, as well as a numbered plaque on the instrument mount, a set of baby photos as your particular bike goes through the production process, a leather rucksack, and a Triumph TFC indoor bike cover.
It looks like a profoundly excellent motorcycle, and I'd desperately love to ride one. For gentlemen like myself with, shall we say, broader rear aspects, many motorcycles can simply look and feel too small. This will not be a problem with the Rocket 3 TFC, which will engulf my lardy proportions and dare me to eat more donuts. And I will eat those donuts, oh yes.
It is, however, the wrong bike to go for if you want to sacrifice as many hydrocarbons as possible to the motorcycling gods, because Triumph says it'll sip fuel, British-style with pinky out, at just 5.2 liters per 100km (45 mpg). Not the way I want to ride it, it won't.
At 170-plus horsepower, this becomes the single most powerful motorcycle Triumph has ever made. I'm not sure that's anything to be proud of, chaps, when are we going to see a superbike? But this two and a half liter beast is most certainly something to be proud of, and we hope a de-carbonized version for the masses is soon to follow.
Lots more pics in the gallery. Or you can watch a video below that adds nothing but lighting effects and dramatic music.