Used Rocket III: Big­gest and best?

Big, bold and bonkers but should you buy one used?

Motorcycle News (UK) - - This Week - By Tony Hoare TONY HOARE, CON­SUMER EDI­TOR

What we said then

‘The Rocket III is per­fectly happy to trickle through the traf­fic and pose meekly in the High Street. But – and it is a big but – it bug­gers off with the force of a rag­ing rhino when you want it to. By blend­ing an ou­tra­geous en­gine with be­nign man­ners the Rocket III has bro­ken the mould for bikes in its class.’ MCN launch re­port | June 16, 2004

But what is it like now?

There’s no feel­ing in motorcycling like rid­ing a Rocket III. Arms wide, heav­ing on the bars and per­suad­ing bik­ing’s big­gest be­he­moth that it would be for the best if it de­vi­ated from the straight­line path on which it’s so in­tent.

This ex­am­ple, with just 6000 miles on the clock in six years, is a per­fect ex­am­ple of the bruis­ing breed. Within yards of leav­ing the deal­er­ship the en­gine is growl­ing its ap­proval as the throt­tle bod­ies draw their fuel-charged breath and Dodge Viper-sized pis­tons stomp might­ily to­wards 3000rpm.

It’s 10 years since I rode a Rocket III, when I spent a jolly month build­ing up mus­cles and cruis­ing as far as the Assen Mo­togp race. But it all floods back quickly, es­pe­cially at the first round­about. Steer­ing is a mat­ter of per­sua­sion rather than on-de­mand thanks to the weight and mon­strous torque – 147ftlb at just 2000rpm means the slight­est crack of throt­tle brings plen­ti­ful shove.

But adapt to its ways and the Rocket III is a smile ma­chine. For­ward think­ing is cru­cial along with a right foot that’s poised over the back brake to set­tle mat­ters down, but that roar as the en­gine reaches 5000rpm or so is a treat. Han­dling is more ma­chete than scalpel, but it gets the job done and is sur­pris­ingly ca­pa­ble for a lump that can cre­ate its own so­lar eclipse.

This one is from 2010 and rides beau­ti­fully, as you might ex­pect for some­thing with such low mileage. A Rocket III like this would be a bril­liant ad­di­tion to any garage for sunny ac­cel­er­a­tion-fests. Only trou­ble is, there wouldn’t be any garage room left for any­thing else.

Any ob­vi­ous faults?

All is present and cor­rect with this beau­ti­ful ex­am­ple, which is be­ing sold by the dealer on be­half of a cus­tomer. The ig­ni­tion is ro­bust and can’t be dis­rupted (see the me­chanic, right), while the tyres and brakes at the back are in good or­der. I just about find the courage to pull a hard ac­cel­er­a­tion test in each gear to check the gear­box, with no dra­mas( ex­cept­ing sus­pen­sion-dis­rupt­ing bump sin the road ). All seems good with this one.

Or worth­while ex­tras?

What, 367kg of Rocket III isn’t enough for you? As far as our eye can see, the ex­tras are re­stricted to an of­fi­cial Tri­umph alarm. Handy, as the only way to nick one of these is to ride it away (from ex­pe­ri­ence, I can re­port that it takes six blokes to heave one into a van).


Tri­umph have stopped pro­duc­tion of the Rocket now (the un­fet­tered X is the fi­nal edi­tion), but this bike is as­sured of its place in bik­ing folk­lore. Ev­ery­one with a li­cence should find a way of rid­ing one at least once. And this ex­am­ple is a bel­ter.

Q THANKS To Webbs of Peter­bor­ough for the loan of the bike. It’s for sale for £9499. Find them at www.webb­smo­tor­cy­

Tri­umph’s Rocket III pauses be­fore find­ing more Har­leys to ter­rorise…

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