‘ The ones with black engines are more refined’
We get quite a few Rocket IIIS in, but they’re only really ever visiting for tyres, brake pads and services.
The early bikes had a silver engine and I think it was 2006 or 2007 that they went to black engines and the colour change coincided with a lot of upgrades to the engine and gearbox to keep engine noise and harshness down and to make them a bit more refined.
There are some things to watch out for on them, and the biggest issue I’ve seen over the years is dodgy ignition switches. You turn the ignition on and if you fiddle with the key the ignition can cut out – we’ve had to change quite a few barrels over the years.
They’re also heavy on rear brake pads, which is to be expected, and heavy on rear tyres, which probably goes without saying.
Some riders complained about clutch slip on really early models, but I remember the clutch springs being upgraded on later bikes.
There were also customers complaining about an oil leak coming from the side of the engine. It turned out to be a preservative that was sprayed on the bike while it was stored. It was cleaned off before sale, but some of it would get trapped behind the side-mounted oil tank. When the engine got up to temperature the preservative would melt and drip down the side of the engine and look like an oil leak. If you see one that’s been sitting up over winter or in a showroom for a long time you might see fork seals starting to leak. But more often than not, all it takes to sort it is to dry it off and go for a road test. The seal isn’t damaged, it just relaxes and allows a tiny weep of oil out, so going for a spin will make it good again.
I’ve never felt a bike so susceptible to tyre pressures. Every bike reacts badly to soft tyres, but on a Rocket III it feels like the wheels are going to fall off. They should be 34psi front and 42psi rear. They’re a problem when the rear tyres are squared off too. Anything wrong with the tyres, the bike will feel horrible.
Overall it’s a pretty troublefree bike. The later you can buy the better. If you stick to the black engines you’ll be alright and if I had to narrow it down I’d say one from 2009 on is the one to go for.
‘If the tyres are too soft it feels like the wheels are going to fall off ’
Tyre pressures are crucial and check for wear. Ignition barrels can fail
ADRIAN CLANCY is Head Mechanic at Total Triumph in Taunton, Somerset