Triumph Rocket III

Triumph Rocket III

Infobox Motorcycle
name = Triumph Rocket III

aka =
manufacturer = flagicon|UK Triumph
production = 2004 - present
predecessor =
successor =
parent_company =
platform =
engine = 2,294 cc DOHC liquid-cooled inline three-cylinder
transmission = Gear (Primary) / Shaft (final drive)
rake = 32 degree
trail = convert|152|mm|in|abbr=on
wheelbase = 1,695 mm (66.7 in)
length = 2,500 mm (98.4 in)
width = 970 mm (38.2 in)
seat_height = 740 mm (29.1 in)
dry_weight = 302 kg (704 lb)
wet_weight = 350 kg (772 lb)
fuel_economy = 42 mpg
fuel_capacity = 24 litres (6.3 gal US)
related =
similar =
torque = 200 N·m (147 ft·lbf)
@ 2,500 rpm
power = convert|140|bhp|abbr=on @ 6,000 rpm

The Triumph Rocket III is a British motorcycle made by the Hinckley Triumph factory and has the largest displacement engine of any mass production motorcycle in the world (as of September 2008), at 2,294 cc. The shaft driven Rocket III produces 200 N·m (147nbsp;ft·lbf) @ 2,500 rpm and convert|140|bhp|abbr=on @ 6,000 rpm. Despite its size and weight of convert|704|lb|abbr=on dry, it is described as having good balance and "light and easy steering" even at low speeds.

Prototype development

Market Research

The Rocket III Project started in 1998 led by Triumph Product Range Manager Ross Clifford and although a few images were leaked the prototypes were developed in relative secrecy. It started with a lot of research - especially in the USA where big cruisers were selling well with growth of 18% [ [,%20CARB%20news Motorcycle Industry Council 1998] ] . The main competitors Harley Davidson's Ultraglide and the Honda Goldwing so the initial idea was to develop a 1,600 cc performance cruiser. The brief was to come up with a flagship for the Triumph brand.


The in-house designer John Mockett [ [ moto-sprocket-gp (john mockett design and illustration) ] ] had designed the Hesketh V1000, the Tiger and the new 'nostalgia' Bonneville. He started work with David Stride and Rod Scivyer, building on the unusual configuration of the Speed Triple's twin headlights, working around an in-line three cylinder engine. At the start of the project in-line fours and a V6 were looked at but the longitudinally mounted triple design quickly took hold and the design concept code named C15XB Series S1 was born. Mockett experimented with ‘futuristic’ styling that included "raygun" mufflers and a huge chrome rear mudguard, but consumer focus groups didn’t like it - although the concept was generating a lot of interest.

The S2 model was a simplified version with a more traditional rear mudguard and several features that were to make it through to the final design. Once again, the feedback from market research was that it was still too radical so the lines were simplified and smoothed out to create the Series S3. This was agreed as the final look and with a few refinements, the project started in earnest.


Part of the reason for the secrecy was competition from other manufacturers. Yamaha launched the 1670cc (badged as a 1700cc) engine in 2002 with the introduction of the Road Star Warrior and Honda launched the VTX1800, so a decision was made to go for a displacement of 2,294 cc to see off the competition.

Engine Development

The first engine was built in summer 2002 and tested in the autumn. Twin butterfly valves for each throttle body were used to increase control and allow the ECU to vary the mixture flow and ignition map according to the gear selected and speed. The torque curve is modified for each gear ratio, enabling over 90% of the engine’s torque output at 2,000 rpm, giving the high levels of flexibility that the designers needed. The 1500W starter motor on the Rocket III puts out as much power as the engine on the very first Triumph motorcycle, Siegfried Bettman's 1902 1.75hp single - and when the development team were dyno testing the prototype engine it had so much power the whole exhaust system was glowing red [ [ 2005 Triumph Rocket III: First Ride - ] ] .

Frame and Drive

The final design of the S3 prototype had a large tubular steel twin-spine frame, designed by James Colbrook and Andy Earnshaw [] was responsible for designing the gearbox and shaft drive to a 240/50ZR16 bike specific rear tyre. High specification front brakes were twin four-piston calipers with 320 mm floating discs and the rear brake, developed specifically for the purpose, was a single twin piston caliper and 316 mm disc. Ride handling is controlled by purpose built rear shocks and 43 mm 'inverted' front forks.

Road Testing

Road tests proved that the 0-60 mph (0-97 km/h) time was quicker than most sports bikes and the weight distribution, low centre of gravity and geometry made handling easy with acceleration up to convert|135|mph|km/h|abbr=on. In 2004 the Rocket III set the world land speed record for a production motorcycle over 2000cc reaching its electronically set limiter of 140.3 mph [ [ Triumph Motorcycle History Timeline Overview ] ] .


In 2003 the prototype was renamed the 'Rocket' following extensive market research - and continuing the successful approach of linking back to the heritage of famous British motorcycles. It was unveiled in the USA on August 20, 2003 in San Antonio, Texas, during the annual US dealer conference [ [ Triumph 2004 Rocket III Announced ] ] . The Rocket's European launch was at the International Motorcycle Show in Milan, Italy on September 16, 2003. Sold in the UK from the spring of 2004 it was awarded 'Machine of the Year' by Motorcycle News at the 2004 NEC Motorcycle Show. [ [ International Bike Show - Birmingham NEC 2004 ] ] The Australian launch was in Sydney in August 2004, with 230 deposits taken before a single bike had been shipped into the country [ [ Triumph Rocket III - Motorbike Review - BikePoint ] ] .


Rocket III

The original model was released in 2004 and has remained in production with only minor modifications other than a change of engine colour from silver to black in 2006. This model was awarded Motorcycle Cruiser magazine's 2004 Bike of the Year, Motorcyclist's 2004 Cruiser of the Year, and Cruising Rider magazine 2005 Bike of the Year [Citation | last = Bass | first = Eric | author-link = | last2 = | first2 = | author2-link = | title = Cruising Rider's 2005 Bike of the Year: Triumph Rocket III | newspaper = Cruising Rider | pages = | year = 2005 | date = 2005-05-01 | url = ] . In 2006 a black finish to the engine was introduced and new colour choices of Graphite and 'Scorched Yellow' were added to the original colours of Jet Black and Cardinal Red. Special edition 'Tribal' colour schemes of Caeruleus Blue Flame and Mulberry Red Tribal were also released at an extra cost of over £1000. In 2007 the colour schemes were changed to Phantom Black and Mulberry Red and in 2008 to Phantom Black and Claret. This model is the newest exhibit at the UK National Motorcycle Museum.

Rocket III Classic

Introduced in 2006 the Classic version has rider floorboards, different shaped silencers and 'pullback' handlebars. More choices of two-tone paint schemes of Cherry Red/New England White and Jet Black with Sunset Red were made available and the pillion seat was modified to improve comfort. Further two tone colour schemes were added in 2007 of Phantom Black/Tornado Red, Phantom Black/Sunset Red and Pacific Blue with New England White. The 2008 colour schemes were two-tone Pacific Blue/Aluminum Silver and Cherry Red with New England White.

In June 2007 Triumph used 'viral marketing' to promote the Rocket III Classic - by posting a well made spoof production video to YouTube [cite web|url=|title=Viral marketing for new Triumph motorbike|accessdate=2008-09-25] and bike enthusiast websites (it had 578,904 views as at September 2008)

Rocket III Tourer

The short-lived 2007 Tourer Limited Edition Model was just a Classic Model with the addition of a windshield, panniers (saddlebags), backrest and luggage rack from the factory - and a choice of two-tone paint schemes

Rocket III Touring

Triumph began developing the Rocket III Touring version in february 2004 following the launch of the original model, specifically to target the large cruiser market which represents 50% of all US motorcycle sales. [cite web|url=|title=First Ride: 2007 Triumph Rocket III Touring|accessdate=2008-09-07] As well as a new design for the steel frame and swinging arm, the Touring model has more torque at lower revs – 209 Nm @ 2,025 rpm - but less horsepower at the top end. New features include tank mounted instruments and a new scrolling switch on the handlebar to set the clock and indicate fuel ranges. [cite web|url=|title=2008 Triumph Rocket III Touring Review|accessdate=2008-09-07] The five spoke design used on the Rocket III were switched out for billet aluminum slotted wheels and narrower tyres were specified to improve steering with a 180/70 x 16 rear tyre that makes it easier to fit large, detachable panniers that come as standard, together with a removable windscreen and Kayaba rear shocks for a softer cruising set-up.

In 2008 the colour schemes were Jet Black and the two-tone options of Eclipse Blue/Azure Blue, Jet Black/New England White and Jet Black with Sunset Red.

ee also

*BSA Rocket 3


External links

* [ Official Triumph website]
** [ Rocket III]
* [ Rocket III forum]
* [ Rocket 3 owners club site]
* [ community]
* [ Review of Rocket III]
*youtube|HKEuzxC4eGc|Triumph Rocket III manufacture, viral marketing video produced by Triumph

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