TRIUMPH ROCKET III (2009 - 2017) Review

At a glance

Owners' reliability rating: 4.5 out of 5 (4.5/5)
Annual servicing cost: £200
Power: 146 bhp
Seat height: Low (29.5 in / 750 mm)
Weight: High (809 lbs / 367 kg)

Prices

New N/A
Used £9,000 - £11,500

Overall rating

Next up: Ride & brakes
4 out of 5 (4/5)

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. In 2020 this bike was replaced by the third generation Triumph Rocket 3.

Ride quality & brakes

Next up: Engine
4 out of 5 (4/5)

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

Next up: Reliability
4 out of 5 (4/5)

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.

Reliability & build quality

Next up: Value
4 out of 5 (4/5)

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."

Value vs rivals

Next up: Equipment
4 out of 5 (4/5)

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

Equipment

4 out of 5 (4/5)

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.

Specs

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

Mpg, costs & insurance

Average fuel consumption 27 mpg
Annual road tax £101
Annual service cost £200
New price -
Used price £9,000 - £11,500
Insurance group 17 of 17
How much to insure?
Warranty term Two year unlimited mileage

Top speed & performance

Max power 146 bhp
Max torque 163 ft-lb
Top speed 136 mph
1/4 mile acceleration -
Tank range 170 miles

Model 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 for the TRIUMPH ROCKET III (2009 - 2017)

8 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: 4.2 out of 5 (4.2/5)
Ride quality & brakes: 4.1 out of 5 (4.1/5)
Engine: 5 out of 5 (5/5)
Reliability & build quality: 4.5 out of 5 (4.5/5)
Value vs rivals: 4 out of 5 (4/5)
Equipment: 4.4 out of 5 (4.4/5)
Annual servicing cost: £200
4 out of 5 Rocket Roadster
05 December 2022 by Keith Day

Version: Roadster

Year: 2010

Annual servicing cost: £400

Dose what it says on the tin

Ride quality & brakes 4 out of 5

Brakes could do with more feel can do a full tank 200 miles fill up and go again

Engine 5 out of 5

Just amazing

Reliability & build quality 5 out of 5
Value vs rivals 4 out of 5

Great service at York triumph total trust in them

Equipment 5 out of 5

Replacement pipes geat sound

Buying experience: Dealer that I purchased from was poor but changed to York for service very good

5 out of 5 Very Special Rocket 111
31 October 2022 by Martin Ward

Version: Roadster

Year: 2017

If you want to feel like the king of the road, this is the bike for you - because you ARE king of the road. Yes, it's heavy -but once rolling you don't notice it. Unparalleled grunt more than makes up for any shortcomings. After three bikes during 15 years of Rocket ownership, still - nothing comes close to giving you that grin factor (not even the new one).

Ride quality & brakes 4 out of 5

It's at it's best on big sweeping corners, like touring in Spain. I use mine for everything, including blatting around Welsh mountains with the IAM on Sunday mornings. It does take a different riding style to get the most out of it, but like most bikes I can do 2 hours before I need a break, generally you need fuel by then anyway !

Engine 5 out of 5

Stunning. Absolutely stunning. There is a big aftermarket supply of performance parts available, and quite a few specialists that look after Rockets. A few minor additions make it spectacular.

Reliability & build quality 5 out of 5

My 2017 model is one of the last made, and lots of minor little bits & pieces have been uprated over the 13 years of production. A few of the earlier models have suffered a 4th gear problem, as did my second bike at 38,000 miles. I did 30,000 miles on the first bike (54 reg Classic), 60,000 miles on the second one (Roadster), and 4,000 miles so far on the third one - that 4th gear being the only issue.

Value vs rivals 4 out of 5

I've always serviced it myself, it takes a lot of oil - and I only ever use the best. Tyres are expensive, and both tyres and brake pads need replacing every 5-6,000 miles. The point is - you don't buy a Rocket as a cheap run-about !

Equipment 4 out of 5

The standard Metzeler tyres are terrible. Very hard, and poor in the wet. Avon Cobra are a much better option, and the later Cobra Chrome are excellent in both the wet and dry conditions. Wet performance goes off in the second half of their life however. Because of the weight, increasing the front tyre pressure to 40psi make a massive difference to the handling, the tyre seems to keep it's shape better - and goes where you point it. Quite a few owners (like me) fit the long-ride pillion seat, and both rider and pillion backrests. They take all the strain off your lower back, especially at motorway speeds.

Buying experience: I bought my Rocket from the Triumph dealer in Stratford (who were very courteous), it was 2017 and had 1036 miles on it with two owners. After I bought it, it turned out that it was the one of the final batch (destined for India because on 01Jan18 the wouldn't pass the new euro exhaust regulations) and this one was allegedly the last one registered in the UK on 31Dec17. The second owner had been a collector, but the first owner turned out to be friends of ours, and I'd seen this particular before ! It was just fated to be.

4 out of 5
25 July 2021 by Lynn Korte

Version: touring

Year: 2009

needs a much better detent spring,,perhaps one that fits better to its joining ends so it catches itself when it breaks instead of dropping into the engines oil sump in two pieces and you then have problems that dealers just love to fix for $$$$

Ride quality & brakes 5 out of 5
Engine 5 out of 5
Reliability & build quality 4 out of 5

detent spring broken at 29k

Value vs rivals 4 out of 5

parts are slow to get at times,,,needs better dealer support here in the usa

Equipment 5 out of 5
4 out of 5
23 January 2021 by Alan Symes

Version: tourer

Year: 2011

Annual servicing cost: £50

When Triumph first bought out the Rocket111 I loved it straight away. I read the statistics and thought wow it was sort of like you know when you were a kid and you liked a certain popstar yeh i know and to cap it all I was 56 at the time. do I have moan? I wish I could take the luggage off a bit easier (the frames) would I recomend it to a friend definitely.

Ride quality & brakes 4 out of 5

I have never had anyone on the back as for the bike I want get the seat altered (i'm a short ass) it is fairly comfortable though I have not done any real long journeys with it.

Engine 5 out of 5

I like the performence when I'm on a run somewhere its hard to take the stupid grin off my face.

Reliability & build quality 5 out of 5

I keep the bike in the garage so there is very little rust on it i have to clean the pipes now and then never broken down nothing failed.

Value vs rivals 4 out of 5

When I first got the bike there was 3000 miles on the clock now Ithink its about 5000 it gets a bit juicy sometimes if I don't watch the speed.

Equipment 4 out of 5

I like the seating position and the handlebars though I wish the seat was a little lower. Tyres well I'm happy with them so far.

Buying experience: I had a Suzuki 1400 at the time of purchase which I traded in and so got a couple of grand off for that. The bike was actually up for 11grand at the time I miss the 1400 though.

5 out of 5 A beautiful British Bulldog of a bike!
04 September 2020 by Jon Durward

Version: Roadster

Year: 2011

Annual servicing cost: £219

An incredible British built beast of a machine. Completely unique. Buy one, you will not regret it.

Ride quality & brakes 5 out of 5

Compliant ride that is not overly firm yet allows sharp steering for a bike that weighs over one third of a ton. Pillions love the large rear seat and you don't even know they're there.

Engine 5 out of 5

Incredible torque and relentless acceleration. You can pull away in 5th! Perfect bassy growl of an engine note that could wake the dead.

Reliability & build quality 5 out of 5

Beautiful build quality. Everything feels massive and completely solid.Starts first time, every time. It's a huge engine with a huge battery so needs to be turned over or trickle charged to ensure it starts without regular use.

Value vs rivals 5 out of 5

Reasonable running costs for the size of the bike. Annual servicing is just over £200 at a main dealer. Valve clearance check is £90.

Equipment 5 out of 5

Range to empty, gear indicator and clock. Well equipped with Triumph Datatool 4 alarm/immobiliser. Metzler tyres are supreme and inspire confidence.

Buying experience: Bought from a dealer for a reasonable price. These machines hold their money incredibly well so a worthwhile investment.Buy one, I promise you won't be disappointed.

4 out of 5 Rocket to the Moon
19 May 2016 by Del

Year: 2013

Annual servicing cost: £200

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.

Reliability & build quality 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 vs rivals 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

Year: 2014

Annual servicing cost: £150

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
Reliability & build quality 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 vs rivals 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
Reliability & build quality 4 out of 5
Value vs rivals 2 out of 5
Equipment 3 out of 5
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