Used Rocket III: Biggest and best?
Big, bold and bonkers but should you buy one used?
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.webbsmotorcycles.co.uk
Triumph’s Rocket III pauses before finding more Harleys to terrorise…