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Triumph Rocket 3 - mega cruiser

25th August 2003

Triumph has made its mark on the powercruiser market with the largest capacity production machine currently built, the all new Rocket 3

When John Bloor and the team at Triumph decided they wanted to go big, they didn't fool around. They decided that if they were going to create the largest-displacement motorcycle in production - from a major manufacturer - it needed to be more than "a little bigger."

So what does big mean in the world of motorcycle engines? Well up until now it meant 1800ccs of flat-six Gold Wing or Valkyrie /Rune power, V-twin VTX1800 power or something of that nature. This defined where Triumph wanted to go, because being the biggest was of great importance in terms of marketing to the company from Hinkley. So the decision was made to hit a grand slam, not just a home run, and build a 2294cc monster, and yes that does say 2294ccs, 2.3 litres! The Rocket III is built for America, as if that needed any clarification, but the bikes will be sold worldwide. Most Europeans don't drive cars over two litres, so a 2.3-litre bike is surely going to rock some egos.

I'm sure you are wondering how and why Triumph named the bike the Rocket III. Everyone knows the Rocket was a BSA - it was a Triumph-powered BSA. The naming rights holders of BSA don't have a problem with it, so Triumph resurrected the name that in its day screamed performance.

Triumph claims that the parallel-mounted motor pumps out an earth-shaking 147 ft/lbs. of torque and 140hp, and 90 percent of that torque is available at only 1800rpm, meaning that it makes more torque just off idle than the Valkyrie makes at its peak. The motor is a triple - what else would it be? That means that it has some enormous pistons, the size of a 10-liter Dodge Viper's or 101.6mms to be exact. The bike is fuel injected with a bank of three Keihin throttle bodies on the left side of the motor, while the right side of the motor is dominated by the exhaust and the counter balancer's housing. The motor is a dry sump design with a five-litre oil supply. As you can imagine, the crankshaft on the Rocket III is heavy, so heavy in fact that small cranes had to be added to the assembly line in order to lift the 39-pound parts and lower them into the cases. Otherwise the company would be facing a lot of back-related worker's compensation claims. The transmission is like a sideways Yamaha R1 design with the shafts stacked in an effort to keep things small in an engine where figuring out how to pack it into the frame was the design team's biggest headache. All of that monster power is fed to the rear tyre via shaft drive, a first for Triumph.

The rest of the bike isn't too big, unless you count the massive 240/50/16 rear tyre. The engine makes the bike look large by dominating the bike's profile, but it's in scale with any powercruiser on the market. It's wide, and the 6.6 US gallon fuel tank looks huge, but the rest of the bike seems to be relatively to scale. Suspension is taken care of by a pair of pre-load adjustable shocks at the rear and upside-down forks up front. The brake system features twin 320mm rotors with four-piston calipers up front and a huge 316mm rotor out back with a twin piston caliper.

All things considered, the 704-pound dry weight that Triumph is claiming doesn't sound that heavy for such a motor-on-wheels. The chassis is a steel-spine design under which the engine is hung. The left side of the swingarm houses the shaft drive but is completely independent from the engine due to the engine's layout, which places the alternator at the back of the block.

There will be a long list of Triumph accessories available for the Rocket III, everything from saddle bags, windshields, custom-looking paint, and lots of chrome. The bike will be available in two colors, Jet Black, and Cardinal Red. Triumph hasn't released prices yet, and the sad part is that we'll have to wait until the spring to throw a leg over it, and you'll have to wait until next summer to do the same, but if Triumph's Hayabusa-eating acceleration claims are true, it'll be worth the wait.




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