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TRIUMPH ROCKET III (2009-2017) Review

Published: 09 October 2009

Updated: 15 August 2019

Really big engine meets menacing black styling meets awesome torque

Triumph Rocket III riding shot

Really big engine meets menacing black styling meets awesome torque

Overall Rating 4 out of 5

Triumph’s decision to revamp the original Rocket III into a streetfighter was an interesting one. Why? Because it hardly fits the bill – stripped version of a sports bike with oddball looks – because of its custom-biased specs of long wheelbase and weight, but it works.

Ride Quality & Brakes 4 out of 5

Rear suspension units were softened off over the previous model for a more comfortable ride and the seat height upped by 10mm to 750mm. The best change was the moving of the footrests back by 100mm and down 20mm to make the seating position more natural, read comfortable, than the old custom feet forward style.

The Roadster did a good job of hiding its 367kg (wet) weight and was actually a very easy, nimble bike to ride. Ground clearance wasn’t great, but the footpeg blobs were replaceable. Good brakes, too. ABS was standard on the Roadster and tuned nicely for big braking action before chiming in.

Handling was more machete than scalpel, but it got the job done and was surprisingly capable for a lump that could create its own solar eclipse.

Engine 4 out of 5

The 2294cc triple-cylinder has been around in various guises since 2004 but in 2009 a ruck of mods upped torque to a mighty 163ftlb, and power to 146bhp. The revised exhaust layout including bigger volume silencers was the reason for the power increase – and incredible noise at high rpm.

Forward thinking was crucial along with a right foot that’s poised over the back brake to settle matters down, but that roar as the engine reaches 5000rpm or so was a treat.

Gearbox shift mechanism was updated for sweeter shifts and the clutch and shaft drive were beefed up to cope with the extra output… and tomfoolery the Roadster eggs you into.

Build Quality & Reliability 4 out of 5

There were a few reported niggles with the very first Rocket models e.g. rear shaft drive seal. Chrome finish could suffer if not looked after carefully. 

MCN spoke to Adrian Clancy, head mechanic at Total Triumph in Taunton, Somerset, about living with the Rocket III.

"We get quite a few Rocket IIIs in, but they’re only really ever visiting for tyres, brake pads and services. The early bikes had a silver engine and I think it was 2006 or 2007 that they went to black engines and the colour change coincided with a lot of upgrades to the engine and gearbox to keep engine noise and harshness down and to make them a bit more refined.

"There are some things to watch out for on them, and the biggest issue I’ve seen over the years is dodgy ignition switches. You turn the ignition on and if you fiddle with the key the ignition can cut out – we’ve had to change quite a few barrels over the years.

"They’re also heavy on rear brake pads, which is to be expected, and heavy on rear tyres, which probably goes without saying. Some riders complained about clutch slip on really early models, but I remember the clutch springs being upgraded on later bikes.

"There were also customers complaining about an oil leak coming from the side of the engine. It turned out to be a preservative that was sprayed on the bike while it was stored. It was cleaned off before sale, but some of it would get trapped behind the side-mounted oil tank.

"When the engine got up to temperature the preservative would melt and drip down the side of the engine and look like an oil leak. If you see one that’s been sitting up over winter or in a showroom for a long time you might see fork seals starting to leak.

"But more often than not, all it takes to sort it is to dry it off and go for a road test. The seal isn't damaged, it just relaxes and allows a tiny weep of oil out, so going for a spin will make it good again.

"The later you can buy the better. If you stick to the black engines you’ll be alright and if I had to narrow it down I’d say one from 2009 on is the one to go for."

Insurance, running costs & value 4 out of 5

The Rocket III holds its value well so don't expect to see many low mileage second hand bargains. 

Insurance group: 17 of 17 – compare motorcycle insurance quotes now.

Equipment 4 out of 5

Shaft drive for reliability and low maintenance was good. ABS also good. And heavy use of black coating throughout the bike was okay for the styling exercise. Little details like the addition of digital readouts for fuel range, gear indicator and time of day were also nice touches. To sum up: it’s all there and it works – this includes the biggest production motorcycle engine ever.

Facts & Figures

Model info
Year introduced 2009
Year discontinued 2017
Original price £13,900
Used price £8,500 to £13,000
Warranty term (when new) Two year unlimited mileage
Running costs
Insurance group 17 of 17
Annual road tax £91
Annual service cost £180
Performance
Max power 146 bhp
Max torque 163 ft-lb
Top speed 136 mph
1/4-mile acceleration -
Average fuel consumption 27 mpg
Tank range 170 miles
Specification
Engine size 2294cc
Engine type Liquid-cooled, triple-cylinder four-stroke. Five gears
Frame type Tubular steel, twin spine
Fuel capacity 24 litres
Seat height 750mm
Bike weight 367kg
Front suspension Non-adjustable
Rear suspension Spring preload
Front brake 2 x 320mm disc with 4-piston calipers
Rear brake 316mm disc, 2-piston caliper
Front tyre size 150/80 x 17
Rear tyre size 240/50 x 16

History & Versions

Model history

  • 2004: Rocket III introduced.
  • 2005: Mulberry Red Tribal special edition model
  • 2006: Rocket III Classic introduced
  • 2007: Rocket III Touring introduced
  • 2009/2010: Rocket III Roadster introduced. Original Rocket III and Classic phased out.

Other versions

  • Rocket III Touring

Owners' Reviews

3 owners have reviewed their TRIUMPH ROCKET III (2009-2017) and rated it in a number of areas. Read what they have to say and what they like and dislike about the bike below.

Review your TRIUMPH ROCKET III (2009-2017)
Summary of Owners' Reviews
Overall Rating 4 out of 5
Ride Quality & Brakes 3.7 out of 5
Engine 5 out of 5
Build Quality & Reliability 4 out of 5
Value & Running Costs 3.7 out of 5
Equipment 4 out of 5
4 out of 5

Rocket to the Moon

19 May 2016 by Del

The thing that lets the bike down is the ride I can feel most of the bumps, I have put progressive springs on the front and will change the suspension on the back when funds are available. I know tyre pressures are crucial and they are checked before every ride.

Ride Quality & Brakes
4 out of 5
Probably go about an hour before a break, it's a big saddle but not that comfortable.
Engine
5 out of 5
The Engine is Awesome (the best best part of the Bike) it pulls well in 1st-3rd (that's when it's unrestricted) but it's no more powerful than my K1600GT BMW (and the BMW goes around corners) The bikes engine would probably take you to the Moon and back no problem (I have been told that the Engines are Bulletproof.
Build Quality & Reliability
4 out of 5
It had a top engine casing replaced under warranty cos when I bought the bike with 11000 miles on the clock there was no engine number where it should have been. The Triumph dealer Pure Triumph of Wellingborough have stamped the engine. Number on now,
Value & Running Costs
4 out of 5
The third service is due the dealer said it would be about £200.00 but the next yearly service next year could be £500.00 (ouch) because the Valves have to be done then).
Equipment
4 out of 5
The Equipment is not bad pretty basic but I didn't buy it for it equipment. Could do with Cruise Control (that's a personal thing)
Buying experience

I bought from a dealer - the experience was good. Nina at Pure Triumph in Wellingborough looked after me very well.

5 out of 5

Well Tempered Tennessean Review

14 February 2016 by John

New to Triumph Motorcycles; Best feature is the pull you get right off the line; the brakes are very good as well as the handling. Also, like the spartan rawness of the rocket not a bunch of electronics/worthless junk to distract the rider. Shifting is a little loud but you get used to that as well as neutral could be easier to find. The weight really isn't an issue once it is moving. I can tell you keeping proper tire pressure absolutely crucial especially with this bike. Riding on an off during the winter months you can definitely tell when one or both of tires is low. Also, want to add i got this last year 2015 March for an absolute steal (2014 R3R) for $11,990 with only 53 miles an on it.

Ride Quality & Brakes
5 out of 5
-
Engine
5 out of 5
-
Build Quality & Reliability
4 out of 5
Had to replace crankshaft sensor; thankfully the factory warranty covered the cost. Also from the 1st service your next oil change is not until 10K miles later :)
Value & Running Costs
5 out of 5
premium no ethanol; i can tell bike runs better
Equipment
5 out of 5
ABS is standard on the rocket roadster.
3 out of 5

Oddball

20 August 2011 by Feakster

Quick summary: 1. Needs a 6th gear (it nearly throws you over the handlebars at 140mph!) 2. The handling nearly killed me! It doesn't go round corners... at all! If anything was coming the other way I have no doubt I would be dead. (Heart in mouth, turd in pants 'n' all). 4. The shaft drive's a bit twitchy in the wet and on roundabouts. 3. Otherwise... ridiculous fun. The novelty of the power coupled to the riding position never wears off.

Ride Quality & Brakes
2 out of 5
-
Engine
5 out of 5
-
Build Quality & Reliability
4 out of 5
-
Value & Running Costs
2 out of 5
-
Equipment
3 out of 5
-

Photo Gallery

  • Triumph Rocket III riding shot
  • Triumph Rocket III fork
  • Triumph Rocket III key
  • Triumph Rocket III static
  • Triumph Rocket III tyre
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