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TRIUMPH ROCKET 3 (2020-on) Review

Published: 19 November 2019

Updated: 26 November 2019

Lighter, sharper and packing even more firepower, the new Rocket 3 is indulgent excess done right

Riding the Triumph Rocket 3

Lighter, sharper and packing even more firepower, the new Rocket 3 is indulgent excess done right

  • At a glance
  • Read more about the TRIUMPH BONNEVILLE range.
  • 2458cc  -  165 bhp
  • 35 mpg  -  138 miles range
  • Low seat height (773mm)
  • New: £19,500

Overall Rating 4 out of 5

The 2020 Triumph Rocket 3’s gigantic 2.5-litre engine might be the bit that grabs all the attention, but it’s the night-and-day overhaul of the rest of the bike that really impresses.

2020 Triumph Rocket 3 video review

Suspension, steering and stopping are all worlds ahead of the previous Rocket III, and as a result it now feels like a laughably large but comprehensively capable motorcycle, rather than a cartoon cruiser caricature.

First impressions might be dominated by the Rocket’s vast proportions and the curiosity factor of cramming a motor larger than a typical family car between two wheels, but after a day spent studying the quality details, experiencing the meticulously managed power and appreciating the enormous improvements in refinement, you walk away feeling thoroughly impressed. The new Rocket 3 is exciting, eye-catching, attention-grabbing and pulse-raising, yet avoids straying into feeling frivolous, ridiculous or pointless.

Ride Quality & Brakes 4 out of 5

Forget the previous Rocket III’s cumbersome bulk, heavy-handed handling and basic running gear; the new Rocket 3’s chassis is totally different. A cast aluminium spine frame replaces the old twin steel tubes, helping contribute to an incredible 40kg saving over the previous bike, while steering geometry is sharper and the wheelbase is shorter.

As a result the Rocket now has a proper appetite for corners the old bike couldn’t dream of. Turn-in is easy, holding a line mid-corner needs little inside bar pressure, and flick-flacking from full-lean left to right (and still ending up where you intended) is absurdly accurate for a bike with a fuelled weight north of 320kg.

Suspension is by Showa, with 47mm adjustable upside-down forks up front, and an adjustable monoshock monitoring the shaft drive. No electronic adjustment though – the clickers are all manual.

A front-end view of the Triumph Rocket 3

The front’s set pretty firm, meaning you can haul hard on the flagship Brembo Stylema front brakes (even the rear brake is a four-pot radially mounted caliper) to generate huge stopping force without the bike trying to tie itself in knots.

Ride quality is generally good, though the short-travel shock (just 107mm) has to work hard and can feel bouncy. Drive hard and you can clearly feel the rear end of the bike jack up though, a result of the torque reaction from the shaft drive being unchecked by any kind of parallelogram setup.

The Rocket 3 comes in two flavours, roadster R and touring GT, with the main difference being riding position. The R has a higher seat, mid-set footpegs and narrower bars, giving a more aggressive streetfighter stance, while the GT’s lower seat, feet-forward controls and wider, higher bars give a relaxed, cruiser feel. Everything is transferrable between the bikes, meaning you can create whatever kind of muscle-power-touring-cruiser you like.

Engine 4 out of 5

Into the bin goes the Rocket III’s 2294cc triple, replaced by this all-new, gruntier, smoother, cleaner, stronger and smaller 2458cc engine. Huge 110.2mm pistons eclipse the old 101.6mm items, while stroke is significantly reduced (down from 94.3 to 85.9mm) allowing Triumph to make a shorter motor.

Peak torque is identical to the previous Rocket III Roadster, at 163lbft, but the new motor holds onto that grunt for longer as revs climb. Where the previous Rocket’s torque curve fell away sharply above 2500rpm, the new motor has a much fatter, flatter delivery. As a result, headline power is up to 165bhp.

But as ludicrous as that might sound, the reality is that it’s immensely easy to use. All that prodigious power is carefully controlled by the ride-by-wire throttle and predictive, lean-sensitive traction control, while output is restricted in lower gears and top speed is electronically limited to 138mph. It’s a beast, but one of those big, fluffy, gentle, cuddly chaps from a Disney film.

The colossal torque spread means you can ride it however you like. Plonk it in one gear and dip into the immense grunt from 2500 to 5500rpm if you’re feeling lazy, or chase the 7000rpm redline and work the new sweet-shifting six-speed gearbox for maximum thrills. There’s even an optional two-way quickshifter in Triumph’s accessory catalogue, if you like changing clutchlessly.

Build Quality & Reliability 4 out of 5

It’s a completely new machine from nose to tail, so only time and miles will deliver a verdict on reliability. Service intervals are set at a car-like 10,000 miles, suggesting the motor is in a fairly mild state of tune and Triumph have confidence in it.

Looking over the bike in the metal, everything appears high quality (as you’d expect for £20k). The exhaust headers are a particular highlight – the welds look neat, while the hydroformed curves are apparently a huge pain to produce.

Everything seems tucked away neatly – there are no vulgar cables or hoses dangling about anywhere, and wiring runs inside the handlebars. Details like the Monza-style petrol, coolant and oil filler caps are pleasing, while the clever flip-out pillion pegs are a neat design.

The Triumph Rocket 3

Insurance, running costs & value 2 out of 5

Clearly it’s not a cheap bike, though an ultra-capacity extreme muscle cruiser never was going to be. The Rocket 3 R is £19,500 on the road – that includes almost all the gadgets, apart from the two-way quickshifter and the heated grips.

The GT version, which includes the heated grips, a flyscreen and a pillion backrest, is £20,200. Both are roughly on a par with Ducati’s Diavel 1260 S (£20,041). A Harley-Davidson Fat Bob 114 starts at £15,825, but doesn’t have a fraction of the Triumph’s tech, torque, pose or poise. If you want to go properly left-field, a Moto Guzzi MGX-21 is £19,999.

Running costs probably won’t be any kinder on the wallet. Triumph claim the motor returns 41mpg, but our test ride suggests it’s closer to 35mpg. That 240-section, 16-inch rear tyre isn’t cheap either.

The Rocket 3 has with a high-spec electronics package as standard, including TFT clocks (taken from the Scrambler 1200), an IMU giving cornering ABS and traction control, multiple rider modes, keyless ignition, cruise control, hill-hold control, and nose-to-tail LED lighting.

There’s also a 12v DIN power socket above the clocks, as well as a USB charging socket inside a foam-lined cubby hole for your phone beneath the seat. Heated grips are an option on the R, but standard on the GT. A two-way quickshifter is an accessory for both bikes too, as is a set of (fairly small) Givi panniers.

Turning on the Triumph Rocket 3

Triumph are also in the final stages of signing off a Bluetooth connectivity module and smartphone app. Between them, they’d give the ability for you to answer your phone or control music with the bike’s switchgear, receive turn-by-turn sat-nav directions (powered by Google) on the clocks, and even control a GoPro action camera.

What else could a bike possibly need? Curiously, there isn’t a fruitier exhaust in Triumph’s accessory catalogue yet. A keyless filler cap would be handy too, given the keyless ignition and steering lock.

Facts & Figures

Model info
Year introduced 2020
Year discontinued -
New price £19,500
Used price -
Warranty term Two years
Running costs
Insurance group -
Annual road tax £91
Annual service cost -
Performance
Max power 165 bhp
Max torque 163 ft-lb
Top speed 138 mph
1/4-mile acceleration -
Average fuel consumption 35 mpg
Tank range 138 miles
Specification
Engine size 2458cc
Engine type Liquid-cooled, 12v, triple
Frame type Cast aluminium spine
Fuel capacity 18 litres
Seat height 773mm
Bike weight 291kg
Front suspension 47mm Showa forks adjustable for rebound and compression damping
Rear suspension Single Showa rear shock, fully adjustable
Front brake 2x320mm discs with Brembo four-piston calipers
Rear brake 300mm single disc with Brembo four-piston caliper
Front tyre size 150/80 x 17
Rear tyre size 240/50 x 16

History & Versions

Model history

2004 Triumph Rocket III – Triumph decides the best way to crack the lucrative American cruiser market is to go all-in, and then some. Three 4-inch pistons (the same diameter as a Dodge Viper V10) combined with the biggest crank throw Triumph could physically manufacture creates a 2294cc triple pumping out 140bhp. The world gasped at the largest production motorcycle engine, while the clutch trembled at the task of transmitting 147lbft of torque to the 240-section rear Metzeler.

2006 Triumph Rocket III Classic – Even more chilled-out version of the Rocket gains footboards rather than pegs, new pulled-back handlebars, and new silencers. Engine and chassis otherwise unchanged. 

2009 Triumph Rocket III Touring – Third version of the Rocket targets long-range comfort and convenience, with its huge screen and pair of hard panniers. Significant changes include a retuned engine (power down from 140bhp to 107bhp; torque up from 147lbft to 154lbft), plus a new frame, wheels and bodywork. Triumph claims the only parts shared between the original Rocket 3 and the Touring version are the rear light and mirrors.

2010 Triumph Rocket III Roadster – The Rocket turns from cuddly cruiser into a moody musclebike. Shuffling the catalytic converters around in the exhaust, boosts torque from 147lbft to an astonishing 163lbft, while power climbs from 140 to 146bhp. ABS is added for the first time, and ergonomics are totally overhauled with sportier mid-position footpegs, a higher seat, and a shorter reach to the handlebars. Best-handling Rocket yet, but still a physical challenge in corners.

Other versions

The bike is available in two versions; roadster R and touring GT.

Owners' Reviews

No owners have yet reviewed the TRIUMPH ROCKET III (2020-on).

Review your TRIUMPH ROCKET III (2020-on)

Photo Gallery

  • Riding the Triumph Rocket 3
  • The Brembo brakes and the Triumph Rocket 3
  • Cornering on the Triumph Rocket 3
  • Exhausts on the Triumph Rocket 3
  • Cornering left on the Triumph Rocket 3
  • A Triumph Rocket 3 engine plaque
  • The rear wheel of the Triumph Rocket 3
  • A side view of the Triumph Rocket 3
  • A static view of the Triumph Rocket 3
  • Riding the Triumph Rocket 3
  • Turning on the Triumph Rocket 3
  • Triumph Rocket 3
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