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Text and Photography: Sundeep Gajjar (Sunny)
Three cylinders and three chromed spitters, that’s where the obsession with the number three stops for the highest capacity production motorcycle in the world – Triumph Rocket III.
When Triumph engineers were asked to develop a flagship motorbike for the company, little they realized it would be this behemoth, however absurd and unreasonable the bike may seem. It is not only the iconic bike for Triumph, but it is often used to settle which man has the bragging rights on the beer table for riding the heaviest and the meanest cruiser (cum superbike, as it has earned its reputation) around.
The thing is such huge chunk of metal mass that it might well possibly be inducing a magnetic field of insane properties while accelerating from naught. The rapidly reacting speedometer needle might suggest the same to the rider.
I had first seen the Rocket II I in Delhi way back in 2006 or so. I could not believe that the motorcycle could run without leaving breadcrumbs of tyre depressions on the pathetic quality roads that we have. Fast forward to 2008, I was again standing in front of what seemed like a satellite of Jupiter that had crash landed at India gate. The radiator up front seemed capable of cooling a jet plane, the tank seemed big enough to hold a year’s Carlsberg supply for those who want to make a make-do pub under the shade of a roadside tree on an inter-continental journey. Whoever designed the bike, his preoccupation with everything big will be go down in history and confirmed! The bike godamn growls in a husky voice to rest of the bikes (and four legged beasts) on the road – get aside you malnutritioned pathetic hyperactive mosquitoes, big daddy is here!
The bike whose development started in 1998 was unveiled in USA in 2003 – making it the next big thing after Pamela Anderson for the Americans.
Have a look at its specifications, comparing it with other heavy production bikes:
Triumph Rocket 3: 200Nm @2,500 rpm!
Kawasaki Concours 14: 100.30Nm @6200rpm
Yamaha MT-01: 150.3Nm @3750rpm
Suzuki Intruder: 160Nm @3200rom (more torque than the Mt01 at lower rpm!)
Hero Honda Karizma: 18.40 Nm @6000rpm
Triumph Rocket 3: 140Hp @6000rpm
Kawasaki Concours: 155 Hp @8800rpm
Yamaha MT-01: 88.77 Hp @4750rpm
Suzuki Intruder: 125Hp @6200rpm
Hero Honda Karizma: 17Hp @7000rpm
Triumph Rocket 3: 2294 CC
Kawasaki Concours: 1352 CC
Yamaha MT-01: 1670 CC
Suzuki Intruder: 1783 CC
Hero Honda Karizma: 223 CC
I was thoroughly impressed with the Intruder’s torque figures in my first impression, but the Rocket 3 seems to have enough pull to actually pull it’s weight away from earth’s gravitational field and into the orbit. Make sure you have titanium reinforced elbow sockets with Kevlar tendons when you decide to wring the throttle of this heavyweight. Obviously a thing as a big was this on two wheels would need big pockets and big roads, the latter is of which is of a very rare breed in India.
I was graciously given a ride to the machine and I whole heartedly accepted it. I was later told that my 5’10” medium built structure made the bike look huge under me, and made me look handsome and strong, ready for a bar fight, or lead the Republic Day parade, dare I say. The bike does not have the husky note to match the beast it is at the heart. The handlebars seemed very wide and I felt like an emperor sitting on his throne. Thanks to its 240 rear it does add to the confidence while navigating on loose gravel. I gave it a twist on an open stretch and it went like a cheetah stung in the bum. For me a U-Turn manoeuvre is the benchmark of handling a bike. It somewhat felt as if I was steering a sedated 6 ft tall bull with huge horns, consciously reminding myself that this was a 300+ Kg machine with enough torque to carve out a mini grand canyon if I managed loose twist the throttle while turning.
As far as I was concerned, I would choose a Suzuki Intruder anyday, that was one beautiful machine with loads of presence and power put down to use effectively. I would be more happy to admire the Rocket 3 being ridden beside me rather than to be the rider. However, since this is just a first impression, I would like to reserve a space in my virtual garage for the future when I someday put on more mass and more money.
A short review by the Rocket 3 owner, Pranab, who is one guy who actually used the bike it is supposed to be:
My first motorcycle was an RD 350 in 1986. I got back on the saddle in 1999 when I got my Harley – the Sportster 883 Hugger. Last year I upgraded to the Intruder M1800R but after 20,000 kms and three burnt clutches decided to move to the Triumph Rocket III.
The first thing you notice about the Rocket III is that it is a very large motorcycle which is not made in the cookie cutter mould of v-twin cruisers. The large inline triple dominates the proceedings and the asymmetrical triple pipes look great but sound anemic. First upgrade is the pipes and if you want it even louder (and you’re not out of money yet) try the cat bypass. You’ll get a wonderful throaty exhaust that sounds like no other bike. Starting from the wide handlebars to the huge tank and finally the 240 phat tail this is one muscular machine. A set of dresser bars fore and aft are essential add ons to protect your pride and joy in the case of a low speed tip over. If you choose to go the tourer route you could bolt on a screen and some leather panniers but it will cost. In fact the stock Rocket III is a very basic stripped down bike and everything is an optional extra. Fuel gauge, clock, distress lights, flash to pass, and a whole lot of stuff that comes as standard in a Japanese metric cruiser has to be bought separately and it all add$ up.
Riding the Rocket III is an unique experience. The 147 ft lb of torque is available at just 2,500 rpm. The torque band is so wide that I’m almost always on 5th! The handling is quite neutral for a bike this size and slow speed maneuvers are a breeze. The seat height is not bad but for my limited inseam length I’d prefer it an inch lower. The brakes are well modulated with good feedback but you do need to use the rear brakes sometimes. Clutch action is relatively light but in stop and go traffic it is a workout of sorts. Fueling is OK but you can stall it sometimes by running the wrong gear. I’d prefer the foot pegs a bit more forward but that means more $$$.
The sweet spot for this bike is around 150 kmph but is composed at 200 kmph when you can find the road. But there is not much above that with 140 bhp at 6,000 rpm. You can also ride it at 50 kmph on 5th without riding the clutch but just about. The suspension is a bit hard on some of our roads (what roads??). But in spirited cornering you need the taut suspension.
But the most fun I have is chugging along at 80 kmph on 5th and still dust some boy racer in a Camry at full throttle with a twist of the wrist and a burst of torque from the 2300 cc mill.