TRIUMPH ROCKET 3 (2020-on) Review
At a glance
|Owners' reliability rating:|
|Annual servicing cost:||£60|
Overall ratingNext up: Ride & brakes
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 & brakesNext up: Engine
Forget the previous Triumph Rocket III’s cumbersome bulk, heavy-handed handling, basic running gear and Romanesque name badge: 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.
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.
EngineNext up: Reliability
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.
Reliability & build qualityNext up: Value
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.
Value vs rivalsNext up: Equipment
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.
Why does it make so little power?' - Your questions answered
First published 5 June 2020 by Jon Urry
In terms of sheer presence, Triumph’s Rocket 3 R rules the roads. A performance roadster like no other that boasts a 2458cc inline triple, it’s a bike whose headline figures dominate the show but so does the price.
The R, which is the sportier model compared to the more relaxed GT, costs £19,500 (2020 pricing). Happily, as well as a hell of a lot of metal for your money you also get a host of electronic assists as standard.
With an established fanbase thanks to the previous Rocket III model, there are plenty of riders wanting to know more about this British bulldog. We put the shout out across MCN’s social media feeds and here are the questions you most wanted answered.
How far will it travel between fill-ups?
MCN recorded economy figures of 38.6mpg on a Rocket 3 R during a mix of riding conditions, which gives a theoretical range of 152 miles from its 18-litre tank. The fuel warning light came on at 129 miles.
The R is perfectly comfortable for reasonable distances and you can add higher bars, forward pegs, a sports screen and touring/comfort seats from Triumph’s accessory range. Or just buy the GT, which has them as standard.
Why doesn’t it kick out more power?
A 2458cc triple that 'only' makes a genuine 145.42bhp does sound a little lacking, but with 146.53lb.ft of torque, the Rocket 3 R has the most grunt of any bike MCN has ever put on a dyno. And the bulk of that is between 3000 and 5500rpm.
We hit a quarter-mile in 11.07s at 126.06mph and recorded a top speed of 138.46mph. This is actually artificially low as Triumph have restricted the Rocket’s top speed (MCN discovered it won’t rev-out in fifth or sixth gear).
With all those cubes, why does it sound so damn anaemic?
The Rocket 3 R’s engine (you can hear it run on Triumph’s website) is Euro5-compliant. These are the latest emissions regulations and require a stack of catalytic converters to hit the targets.
The original Rocket III only had to conform to Euro2 (which came into force in 2004) before Euro3 in 2006 and finally Euro4 in 2016.
With each increase in standard, the bike’s engine becomes more strangled and therefore quieter. At the moment there are no aftermarket exhausts available for the new Rocket 3 and Triumph say they won’t be adding one to their official accessories range in the near future, but it won’t take long for someone to build one. It is worth noting it does have a lovely burble on over-run with the standard exhaust fitted.
Will Triumph ever release the R with a comfortable passenger seat?
There is an official Triumph comfort pillion seat and also a touring pillion seat, which both cost £165 and will fit to the R. The GT (£20,200 - 2020) comes with rider and pillion touring seats as standard as well as a pillion backrest, which also fits the R.
How well does it compare to the Ducati XDiavel S?
MCN tested the Rocket 3 R against a Ducati Diavel 1260 S, which has a slightly more powerful 2020-spec DVT engine than the XDiavel S (with chain, not belt drive) and has Öhlins suspension where the X S doesn’t. Both Ducatis have lightweight wheels, Brembo brakes and a similar electronics package.
Back-to-back the Diavel lacks the authority on the road the Rocket’s size generates, and its engine can’t match the R’s thrust, meaning you need to change gear more often. In bends, however, the Ducati’s 89kg weight advantage makes it far more agile, to the point you forget you are on a cruiser when riding the Diavel and instead assume it is a naked roadster – not something that can happen on the huge Rocket.
Price-wise, the XDiavel S is £995 cheaper than the Triumph (2020 pricing).
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.
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.
|Engine type||Liquid-cooled, 12v, triple|
|Frame type||Cast aluminium spine|
|Fuel capacity||18 litres|
|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|
Mpg, costs & insurance
|Average fuel consumption||35 mpg|
|Annual road tax||£93|
|Annual service cost||£60|
How much to insure?
Top speed & performance
|Max power||165 bhp|
|Max torque||163 ft-lb|
|Top speed||138 mph|
|1/4 mile acceleration||-|
|Tank range||138 miles|
Model history & versions
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.
The bike is available in two versions; roadster R and touring GT.
Owners' reviews for the TRIUMPH ROCKET III (2020 - on)
3 owners have reviewed their TRIUMPH ROCKET III (2020 - on) and rated it in a number of areas. Read what they have to say and what they like and dislike about the bike below.
Summary of owners' reviews
|Ride quality & brakes:|
|Reliability & build quality:|
|Value vs rivals:|
|Annual servicing cost:||£60|
Annual servicing cost: £65
SO DISAPPOINTED, the bike is so small compared to the original. At 6 ft 5 it was impossible to get comfortable on the standard bike, so went for the GT which just about works - This bikes been built for boys with “Small Man Syndrome” and could never ride the original or for Women to look cool!
Brakes awesome, quality is good but time will tell - Doubt the finish looking as good after a few years.
Not got the bark of the original, and you cannot get aftermarket pipes - the bike just feels so restricted and sound it too.
I have on one of the original rockets and although the quality on this bike is good compared to many in the market now, it’s no match for the quality or feel of mightiness of the original
First Service only but like any Triumphs now your going to to be tied to the dealers for the software updates and £100hr + labour rates.
Just hope nothing goes wrong when the warranty expires!, however the tech is miles ahead of a Harley D.
Buying experience: Managed a bit of a discount, but only because I walked away and ignored the dealers calls for a week.
Smooth as silk.
A world beater!
In truth, too early to comment on reliability but the quality is first class
OK it’s expensive BUT it is an extraordinary piece of engineering.
Buying experience: As ever, Triumph dealership were exceptional.
Version: Rocket 3R
Annual servicing cost: £50
Unbelievable torque, great handling (boots already need new toe protectors), fantastic brakes, looks incredible, very comfy. Only thing I'm disappointed with is the fact that it doesn't really make itself heard till about 5,000rpm. I think the aftermarket exhaust makers are going to make a fortune out of these. And you can't get the Arrow system for the TFC unless you actually own a TFC. You have to be able to prove it!
Braking hard will make your eyes hurt!
165bhp and 221Nm of torque! If the planet ever stops turning they can use a load of these to get it going again.
Only picked it up at the beginning of April.
Only picked it up at the beginning of April.
Multifunction TFT dash is brilliant. I specced mine with the screen and the heated grips off the GT. The grips are fantastic, I live just north of the Highland Boundary Faultline and I'll be commuting on it all year round.
Buying experience: Brand new so bought it on PCP at Triumph Glasgow.