Paint it black: Triumph take the Rocket 3 to the dark side with two limited-editions

1 of 4

Triumph have kept the steady trickle of new 2021 models going with two special-edition Rocket 3s. Based on the sporty R and the more relaxed GT, the R Black and GT Triple Black are designed to be the ultimate answer to the question: does it come in black?

There’s a long list of changes but first, let’s look at what stays the same – the insane powerplant.

Related articles on MCN

At the heart of both bikes is the 2500cc triple carried over from the standard Rocket 3 models, which pumps out an impressive 165bhp @ 6000rpm. But the Rocket is really all about torque, with that gigantic engine producing a tarmac-tearing 146.5lb.ft at just 4000rpm. Then again, it is the largest production motorcycle engine so far.

Wired to this huge motor is an impressive electronics suite that includes everything from the latest safety aids, such as cornering ABS and lean sensitive traction control, to luxury creature comforts such as cruise control and smartphone connectivity.

The whole bike has been blacked out

The R and GT are largely the same machines, the R coming with a marginally more aggressive riding position, while the GT comes with a screen and pillion backrest for better touring capability. So what’s new about the black editions? Pretty much everything else.

For a start the engines have been completely blacked-out, including the exhaust headers, heat shields and the intakes. The details have been blacked-out too including the badges, headlight bezels, fly screen surrounds and radiator cowls as well as the seats and rear bodywork.

Pretty much everything that’s anodised has been turned black including the levers, yokes, bar clamps, foot controls, heel guards and pillion footrests. Lastly, both models come with a carbon fibre mudguard – in black, naturally. Triumph are making just 1000 of each model, and to prove someone hasn’t just gone mad in the accessories catalogue, each black edition will come with certificate of authenticity.

So what does all this moodiness cost? There’s a £1000 premium over a standard Rocket for the black versions, which means the Rocket 3 R will cost you £21,000 while the Rocket 3 GT Triple Black will set you back £21,700. Both will be available from mid-April.

Triumph Rocket 3 2020: the story so far

First published on August 14, 2020 by Jordan Gibbons

Riding the Triumph Rocket 3 R

The new Triumph Rocket 3 is a big beast with its massive 2.5-litre engine dwarfing most car motors, but under the skin of that power-packed hunk of metal lies lots of tech.

Our test team has ridden the new bike now, so click here for the 2020 Triumph Rocket 3 review on MCN.

Triumph say the evolution of the Rocket 3, from the original model 15 years ago, shows just how much the company have learned about engine design.

Jump to

Revs are rising

The Rocket has always been a big bike, weighing in at a whopping 362kg when it first appeared in 2004, and at 2294cc was already the largest-capacity production bike in the world. The new model is a ground-up technical redesign, which has allowed Triumph to shed weight, gain power and turn it from pure muscle bike into a modern performance cruiser.

When Triumph launched the Rocket, they weren’t in a position to cast their own crankcases, which meant they ended up heavier than they would have liked. Now they can, so the cases are lighter, which goes a long way towards an 18kg saving. Triumph have also converted to a dry sump and added new balancer shafts. They’ve also introduced lightened internals which has helped raise the rev limit to 7000rpm. Peak power is now an arm-stretching 164bhp.

Dynamic shapes

To help save weight and space, the Rocket 3 has an all-new frame. It’s now made from two aluminium sections that are bolted around the engine, rather than welded. The central core is hollow, which allows Triumph to use the central spine of the bike as an airbox, just like Ducati did with the 1299.

The exhaust is also a big step forward for Triumph. The previous model had a standard system, with the pipes just exiting straight downwards, something which didn’t suit the new model’s sportier style. To create the new shape, Triumph have used hydroforming to create a shape that’s visually arresting, while also helping to deliver improved gas flow into the catalytic converter.

"Very early on a lot of effort went into creating something that swoops round and looks dynamic, but to do that we had to investigate manufacturing techniques that we hadn’t used before," said Steve Sargent, Chief Product Officer at Triumph. "Hydroforming is a really specialist thing; there’s not that many suppliers in the world that can do it, and we had to learn a lot about how to design a header that can be hydroformed. There’s so much engineering that went into it to get it right."

Prices haven’t been confirmed yet but the new Rocket 3 is expected to cost between £19,500 and £19,950 when it arrives in dealers in September.

Triumph Rocket 3 unveiled - and there's two of them!

First published July 31, 2019 by Jordan Gibbons

There are two versions of the standard Triumph Rocket 3

After months of teasing with the limited edition (and already sold-out) £25k Rocket ‘TFC’, Triumph have finally unveiled the production version of its all-new Rocket 3 and, better still, there’s a pair of them...

Dubbed the R and GT, the new models are big, bold and brash performance cruisers that take everything Triumph have learned over the 15 years since the original Rocket III was launched and raised the bar even higher.

Rocket power

The 2500cc in-line triple at the heart of the new Rocket 3 is the largest engine fitted to any mass-production motorcycle. The jump in capacity from the old bike’s 2300cc sees peak torque rise to a stump-pulling 163ftlb, the highest of any motorcycle currently on the market by some margin.

Triumph have also managed to shed 18kg from the engine with the reduction in circulation mass enabling them to push the redline up to 7000rpm so releasing a new peak power figure of 164.7bhp – up 11%.

That figure may be a little less than the TFC – mostly due to it being fitted with special Arrow exhausts – but the stock models are also considerably cheaper, with both expected at under £20k.

Helping keep the wheels in a straight line is a new electronics package supported by an  Inertial Measurement Unit (IMU) by Continental, which allows the new Rocket to come with cornering ABS and lean-sensitive traction control as standard.

There’s also a new ride-by-wire throttle and four riding modes including Road, Rain, Sport and a fourth user configurable one.

Devil’s in the detail

Another big change is with the chassis, which uses the engine as a stressed member. The new main frame is made from aluminium with a central spine that bolts around the engine. The spine itself is hollow and doubles up as the airbox.

The result is a 22kg weight saving, which, together with the lighter engine, makes it over 40kg lighter than the old Rocket.

A new suspension set-up from Showa comprises 47mm adjustable forks and a fully adjustable monoshock at the rear with a piggyback reservoir. With serious stopping power needed, there are Brembo Stylema monobloc calipers while Avon Cobra tyres are used including a fat, 240-section rear.

On top of all the performance elements are plenty of luxuries including hill hold control, cruise control plus Triumph’s second generation full-colour TFT dash as first seen on the Scrambler 1200, which gives multiple screen modes and the option of full Bluetooth connectivity, including GoPro control via the switchgear.

There will be two models available when the new Rocket 3 goes on sale – the R and the GT. The R is the naked roadster model, aimed at competing head-on with Ducati’s Diavel, and which has a sportier riding position – although all the bits that differentiate the two new models are fully interchangeable.

The R version is expected to cost £19,500 when it arrives in dealers this December.

Triumph Rocket 3 GT

Two-up on the Triumph Rocket 3 GT

As well as the R, Triumph have also unveiled a GT version aimed at those who want to share their Rocket addiction.

The majority of the bike, engine, frame and suspension, is identical although there are small tweaks in the finish. But the GT’s handlebars are more ‘pulled back’ (by 125mm) which, combined with more forward foot controls, gives a more relaxed riding position.

The GT’s twin seat is also 23mm lower, making it easier to get your feet down, while the passenger pad has a small backrest to help the pillion feel more secure. The GT also comes with a small screen and heated grips.

Paint options are different (Phantom Black and Silver Ice) and the GT’s wheels forgo the R’s machined highlights. There’s also a huge list of accessories (for both) which includes a ‘Highway Inspiration Pack’ comprising luggage rack, semi-soft panniers, quickshifter/blipper and full connectivity for the dash including Google Maps.

Prices are yet to be confirmed but it’s expected the GT model will be slightly more expensive than the R, at £19,900.

Production Triumph Rocket 3 GT spotted!

First published April 17, 2019 by Jordan Gibbons

Triumph Rocket 3 GT spied in testing

You're looking at the Triumph Rocket GT - a full production-spec version of Hinckley's most powerful bike ever. And it's probably not the only model in the range...

Spotted by reader Igor Skunca in Croatia today, the image shows a bike equipped with a , short screen, grab rail, pillion seat and pegs, and a set of standard forks. It's wearing numberplates and looks for all intents and purposes ready to hit showrooms.

However, behind the GT you can see another version with a solid short screen that hints at a more focused performance effort. A touring edition could follow with a different rear subframe, big screen and luxurious seating. Think Bobber-to-Speedmaster transformation...

Production Triumph Rocket 3 spied!

Triumph Rocket 3 ready for production

The picture above, captured by an eagle-eyed MCN reader last week, is proof that Triumph are working on a new production Rocket.

Latest news: Spied! Production Triumph Rocket 3 GT

Until now the Hinckley firm have only suggested that they were planning a special edition 'TFC' (Triumph Factory Custom) model. But this shot of a Triumph test rider, captured on the road near the factory, suggests a standard production bike is in the pipeline, too.

At its heart is a heavily-reworked version of the Rocket’s whopping three-cylinder, longitudenally-mounted engine which we understand is now 2500cc (from 2300) and puts out in excess of 180bhp and an earth-spinning 170ftlb of torque. The TFC version is also likely to have freer-flowing pipes just like the Thruxton TFC, which could increase those figures.

Another giveaway that this is a regular production model is the addition of a pillion seat – until now we’ve only ever seen images of single seaters. The subframe looks similar although we wouldn’t put it past Triumph to have adopted a modular approach that includes a larger ‘touring’ subframe like we’ve seen on the Bobber and Speedmaster.


The rest of the bike’s spec looks similar to that of the TFC although there are some exceptions. The fork bottoms are silver, as is the front brake lever, suggesting Triumph may be testing slightly lower spec options for the standard model.

The indictors are also conventional as seen on the rest of Triumph’s modern classic range rather than the LEDs on the TFC. While the switchgear and the back of the dash is just about visible, both suggesting the Rocket will get the second generation, full-colour TFT display Triumph first unveiled on the Scrambler 1200.

Triumph have already said they’ll unveil the limited edition – there will be 750 bikes – Rocket TFC on May 1. But we expect this standard bike will be unveiled in November as a spring 2020 release.

Spotted: All-new 180bhp Triumph Rocket

Triumph Rocket 3 in testing

After we revealed a concept illustration two weeks ago (see below), spy shots have now emerged of the new Triumph Rocket being tested, seemingly confirming that a new model is in the pipeline. The old model fell at the Euro4 wayside but the new one is much more than an update – it’s a completely new bike.

One thing has remained a constant though and that’s the massive inline triple. The old Rocket III had a 2.3l engine that produced 145bhp and a whopping 163 ftlbs of torque but we’re expecting the new one to be bigger still.

It’s believed the new engine will be 2.5l and power will be in excess of 180bhp. To tame this, we expect the Rocket will come with the full suite of modern electronics including lean sensitive traction control, cornering ABS, rider modes and a quickshifter plus the usual creature comforts such as heated grips, cruise control, flyscreen and LED lighting.

On top of that the Rocket appears to have the full colour TFT dash from the Scrambler 1200, so it’s likely it will have the same Google maps and GoPro integration. Compared to the old model, it’s a technological revelation. There’s a big update in the handling stakes too.

Spy shots of the Triumph Rocket 3 engine

The new Rocket has almost no real frame as we know it. Instead the headstock appears to bolt to the front of the engine, while the subframe attaches straight to the back of it. Up front the Rocket has huge fully adjustable USD forks, that hold a huge balloon front tyre and a set of Brembo monobloc stoppers.

At the back the shaft drive remains albeit on a single sided swingarm held up by a giant monoshock. That, combined with the curvy single seat, makes it plainly obvious that the new Rocket is targeted to go after the Diavel. While the Diavel will almost certainly have the edge on weight, the huge torque of the Triumph should make it a thrilling ride.

Visible Rocket 3 updates

  • Footloose: This model has forward controls but the sketch had mid controls. Mounts suggest they may be interchangeable
  • Going solo: This model has no pillion provision but a second subframe like the Speedmaster may be an option
  • Three, one, three: Exhaust headers divert into single huge collector behind the engine before exiting via three end cans; two on the right side, one on the left
  • Torqueing to me? There’s no torque arm visible, so how Triumph have prevented shaft jacking is a mystery for now
  • Weight of the world: The lack of frame should help save bulk. Essential as the old model was nearly 130kg heavier than a Diavel
  • Getting clocky: The dash appears to be straight off the Scrambler 1200, meaning colour second-gen TFT with app-based turn-by-turn satnav and GoPro integration, as well as multiple screen modes and Bluetooth connectivity for music, phonecalls, and messages.

MCN revealed all-new Rocket 3 two weeks ago!

Spy shots revealed the Rocket at a conference

This official Triumph design sketch was revealed to dealers at Triumph’s annual conference in late October 2018, swiftly followed by a pre-production test mule being briefly ridden across the stage.

But despite the firm releasing a raft of new models since, there has been no official public confirmation of the return of the Rocket III. However, MCN has learned that the new bike is scheduled for release in 2019, and will boast class-defining performance figures.

When revealed to dealers at the closed-door event in October, Triumph claimed the new Rocket 3 would deliver in excess of 180bhp from its new 2.5litre inline triple engine - which we expect to then be rolled out through a whole range of new Rocket models.

In addition to the monstrous power output, which looks likely to exceed Ducati’s new Diavel by a clear 21+bhp, it has also been suggested that the torque on offer will exceed 170lbft at under 3000rpm - that’s about 80% more than a Diavel, delivered at half the revs.

Performance cruiser

Move past the headline power and torque figures, and it’s clear that the new Rocket III is intended to be more than just a straight-line traffic light hopper.

The wide fat-bars will provide great leverage over the beefy triple clamps and huge forks, residing at the bottom of which are a set of Brembo M50 calipers gripping what look to be 330mm floating discs attached to an all-new design of cast alloy wheel.

The rear wheel is also new, and now sits on a single-sided swingarm in readiness for a Diavel-busting style battle, with the three-into-two exhaust exiting through twin stubby slash-cut silencers.

A deep scalloped seat

The seat also looks familiar, with a deep scalloped rider’s seat aimed at preventing an unwanted rearward exit under maximum acceleration, and a pillion pad that you’d have to be exceptionally brave and small of bottom to perch on.

While the rear light is located high in the tail, the stubby unit is further cleaned up by the swingarm supporting the numberplate hanger and indicators.

The seating position is clearly mid-peg on the sketch and the test mule, but the sketch appears to hint at a secondary mounting position that could make a feet-forward peg position possible - something that will help its evolution into XDiavel and bagger/tourer territory.

Tech revolution

In addition to heavy engineering and brute force, the Rocket III is likely to be bristling with IMU driven tech. Traction control, high-spec cornering ABS and multiple rider modes are a given. In addition, we'd expect a full TFT dash with multi-mode displays, and Bluetooth connectivity with GoPro and Google Maps enabled.

All the lighting will be LED with a DRL headlamp, while keyless ignition is certain to feature, along with cruise control and we may even see launch control. While Triumph have refused to confirm or deny the new Rocket III, we believe an announcement will be made early in 2019, with the bike arriving for Summer.

Triumph Rocket family ties

Knowing Triumph, this new Rocket III performance cruiser will be the start of a whole new family of models based on the same chassis and engine platform.

An older Touring model Triumph Rocket 3

The previous Rocket III family included cruisers, roadsters and tourers – and Triumph are highly unlikely to go to all the effort of developing a whole new Rocket platform without having a complete family of models designed in at birth.

That means a bagger and a full-dress tourer are likely to follow in 2020, and with their new Triumph Factory Custom division being launched, who knows - we might even see a special version produced.

The X model rocket was a special edition

Read the latest stories causing a buzz this week in News…

Jordan Gibbons

By Jordan Gibbons

News Editor, owns some old bikes. Should know better.