Triumph Rocket III

Last updated

Triumph Rocket III
Rocket 3b.JPG
Manufacturer Triumph Motorcycles Ltd
ProductionSince 2004
Successor Triumph Rocket 3
Engine 2,294 cc (140.0 cu in) DOHC liquid-cooled straight three
Bore / stroke 101.6 mm × 94.3 mm (4.00 in × 3.71 in)
Top speed145 mph (233 km/h) [1]
Power 127.1 hp (94.8 kW)
(rear wheel) [1]
148 hp (110 kW)@ 5,750 rpm (claimed) [2]
Torque 144.6 lb⋅ft (196.1 N⋅m)
(rear wheel) [1]
163 lb⋅ft (221 N⋅m)@ 2,750 rpm (claimed) [2]
Transmission Gear (Primary) / Shaft (final drive)
Tires 150/80 R17, 240/50 R16
Wheelbase 1,695 mm (66.7 in)
DimensionsL: 2,500 mm (98 in)
W: 970 mm (38 in)
Seat height740 mm (29 in)
Weight797 lb (362 kg) [1]  (wet)
Fuel capacity24 l (5.3 imp gal; 6.3 US gal)

The Triumph Rocket III is a three-cylinder motorcycle made by Triumph Motorcycles Ltd. At 2,294 cc (140.0 cu in) it had the largest-displacement engine of any production motorcycle [3] until the release of the Triumph Rocket 3.


The name "Rocket III" is derived from the 1968 BSA 750cc pushrod triple, the Rocket 3, which was a badge-engineered version of the original "Triumph Trident."


The Rocket III Project started in 1998 led by Triumph Product Range Manager Ross Clifford and started with a lot of research – especially in the US, where big cruisers were selling well. [4] The main competitors were the Harley-Davidson Ultraglide and the Honda Gold Wing so the initial idea was to develop a 1,600 cc performance cruiser.

The in-house designer was John Mockett, [5] designer of the Hesketh V1000, the Tiger and the new "retro" Bonneville. He started work with David Stride, Gareth Davies and Rod Scivyer working around an in-line three cylinder engine. At the start of the project an in-line four and V6 engine configurations were looked at but the longitudinally mounted triple design led to the design concept code named C15XB Series S1.

Mockett experimented with 'futuristic' styling that included "raygun" mufflers and a large chrome rear mudguard, but consumer focus groups did not like it. 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.

Part of the reason for the secrecy was competition from other manufacturers. Yamaha had launched the 1,670 cubic centimetres (102 cu in) Road Star Warrior in 2002, and Honda had launched the VTX1800, so Triumph decided to up the ante and go for a displacement of 2,294 cc.

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 specification of twin spark plugs per cylinder and multi-hole fuel injectors by Mark Jenner (fuelling, ignition and emission design engineer) allowed the Rocket III to meet the Euro IV emissions limits at launch. 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 1,500 W starter motor on the Rocket III puts out as much power as the engine on the very first Triumph motorcycle, Siegfried Bettmann's 1902 1.75 horsepower (1.30 kW) single. [6]

The final design of the S3 prototype had a large tubular steel twin-spine frame, designed by James Colbrook. [7] Andy Earnshaw was responsible for designing the gearbox and shaft drive to a 240/50ZR16 bike specific rear tyre. High specification front brakes were Daytona 955i twin four-piston callipers with 320 mm floating discs and the rear brake, developed specifically for the purpose, was a single twin piston calliper and 316 mm disc. Ride handling is controlled by purpose built rear shocks and a Triumph first, 43 mm 'inverted' front forks. [6]

2004 NEC Motorcycle show launch Triumph Rocket III 2004 NEC launch2.JPG
2004 NEC Motorcycle show launch

In 2003, the prototype was renamed the 'Rocket', following market research, continuing the heritage of the BSA Rocket 3/Triumph Trident motorcycles. It was unveiled in the US on 20 August 2003, in San Antonio, Texas. [8] The Rocket's European launch was at the International Motorcycle Show in Milan, Italy on 16 September 2003. Sold in the UK from the spring of 2004, it was awarded 'Machine of the Year' by Motor Cycle News at the 2004 NEC Motorcycle Show. The Australian launch was in Sydney in August 2004, with 230 deposits taken before any had been shipped into the country. [9]

Triumph Rocket X, ridden around the world by Mark Holmes. Triumph Rocket X.jpg
Triumph Rocket X, ridden around the world by Mark Holmes.

In 2018, Mark Holmes, known for long distance motorcycle riding became the first person to circumnavigate the world on a Triumph Motorcycles Ltd Rocket III. Mark rode a limited edition Rocket X, number 190 / 500, departing from London on 1st. April 2017, and returning on 22nd. August 2018. He covered nearly 39,000 miles, over 5 continents, in 506 days. [10] [11] [12]


Despite extensive market research, the Rocket III has had difficulty finding its niche. Originally intended to break into the US's lucrative cruiser market, the Triumph struggled to find acceptance among Harley-Davidson's ultra-traditional riders, who have barely come to terms with Harley-Davidson's own V-Rod. [13] The 2009 Thunderbird competes more successfully with Harley-Davidson bikes. [14] Triumph is spreading its focus: the Rocket III is now in the "musclebike" and "streetfighter" market, where the Yamaha V-Max has found success, [13] [15] while the Rocket III Touring is making inroads to the market for large touring machines. [14]

"Motor Cycle News" said of the Rocket III: "It is the biggest, most bad-ass motorcycle money can buy. The Triumph Rocket III is an incredible experience and bravo to Triumph for making it. Compared to a Harley, the Rocket III is a steal. It’s better braked, faster, handles better and it’s British. Secondhand values remain high and providing you keep to 3-4000 miles a year it won’t depreciate faster than a Harley, either". [16]


Rocket III

The original model was released in 2004. This model trim is no longer available. The Rocket III Roadster is now the only version available. 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. [17] 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 (mufflers) and 'pullback' handlebars. More colour choices were added and the pillion seat was modified to improve comfort.

In June 2007, Triumph used 'viral marketing' to promote the Rocket III Classic by posting a well-made spoof production video to YouTube and bike enthusiast websites, [18] As of September 2012, the video had more than 1.2 million views. [19]

Rocket III Roadster

Rocket III Roadster Triumph Rocket III Roadster.jpg
Rocket III Roadster

The 2010 Roadster is the most powerful bike in the Rocket III line-up, with a claimed 163 lb⋅ft (221 N⋅m) torque and 146 bhp (109 kW) power, as well as a dual exhaust, one per side, instead of the previous 2 and 1 layout. Triumph calls it "the ultimate muscle streetfighter". [20]

Rocket III Tourer

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

Rocket III Touring

Rocket III Touring (2008) Triumph Rocket III Touring 2008.JPG
Rocket III Touring (2008)

Triumph began developing the Rocket III Touring version in February 2004 following the launch of the original model, to target the large cruiser market which represents 50% of all US motorcycle sales. [21] As well as a new design for the steel frame and swinging arm, the Touring model has more torque at lower revs – 150 lb-ft at 2500 rpm, but less horsepower at the top end 106 hp (79 kW) @ 6,000 rpm (claimed). [2] The Touring had a smaller 16" front wheel and standard type forks (instead of the upside down type of the Roadster New features include tank mounted instruments and a scrolling switch on the handlebar to set the clock and indicate fuel ranges. [22] The five-spoke design used on the Rocket III was replaced with billet aluminium slotted wheels and narrower tyres were specified to improve steering with a 180/70 x 16 rear tyre to make it easier to fit detachable panniers that come as standard, together with a removable windscreen and Kayaba rear shock absorbers. The Rocket III Touring was discontinued in 2017.

See also

Related Research Articles

Harley-Davidson American motorcycle manufacturer

Harley-Davidson, Inc., H-D, or Harley, is an American motorcycle manufacturer founded in 1903 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Along with Indian, it was one of two major American motorcycle manufacturers to survive the Great Depression. The company has survived numerous ownership arrangements, subsidiary arrangements, periods of poor economic health and product quality, and intense global competition to become one of the world's largest motorcycle manufacturers and an iconic brand widely known for its loyal following. There are owner clubs and events worldwide, as well as a company-sponsored, brand-focused museum.

Indian Motocycle Manufacturing Company Motorcycle manufacturer

Indian Motorcycle is an American brand of motorcycles originally produced from 1901 to 1953 in Springfield, Massachusetts, United States. Hendee Manufacturing Company initially produced the motorcycles, but the name was changed to the Indian Motocycle Manufacturing Company in 1923.

Buell Motorcycle Company American motorcycle manufacturer

Buell Motorcycles is an American motorcycle manufacturer based in Grand Rapids, MI and was founded in 1983 by ex-Harley-Davidson engineer Erik Buell. Harley-Davidson acquired 49% of Buell in 1993, and Buell became a wholly owned subsidiary of Harley-Davidson by 2003. On November 17, 2006, Buell announced that it had produced and shipped its 100,000th motorcycle.

Honda Shadow Honda cruiser motorcycle

The Honda Shadow refers to a family of cruiser-type motorcycles made by Honda since 1983. The Shadow line features motorcycles with a liquid-cooled 45 or 52-degree V-twin engine ranging from 125 to 1,100 cc engine displacement. The 250 cc Honda Rebel is associated with the Shadow line in certain markets.

Triumph Triple

The Triumph Triples are a family of modern DOHC inline three-cylinder motorcycle engines made from 1990 onwards by the Triumph Motorcycle Company at their Hinckley, Leicestershire factory. The inspiration for the later triples was the pushrod Triumph Trident, produced from 1968 to 1974 at the Triumph factory at Meriden Works.

Victory Motorcycles

Victory Motorcycles was an American motorcycle manufacturer with its final assembly facility in Spirit Lake, Dickinson County, northwestern Iowa, United States. It began production of its vehicles in 1998, and began winding down operations in January 2017.

Motorcycle engine Engine that powers a motorcycle

A motorcycle engine is an engine that powers a motorcycle. Motorcycle engines are typically two-stroke or four-stroke internal combustion engines, but other engine types, such as Wankels and electric motors, have been used.

Types of motorcycles Types of motorcycles

There are many systems for classifying types of motorcycles, describing how the motorcycles are put to use, or the designer's intent, or some combination of the two. Six main categories are widely recognized: cruiser, sport, touring, standard, dual-purpose, and dirt bike. Sometimes sport touring motorcycles are recognized as a seventh category. Strong lines are sometimes drawn between motorcycles and their smaller cousins, mopeds, scooters, and underbones, but other classification schemes include these as types of motorcycles.

Honda VTX Series

The Honda VTX series is a line of V-twin Honda cruiser motorcycles inspired by the Zodia concept shown at the 1995 Tokyo Motor Show. The Honda VTX 1800 was launched in 2001 as a 2002 model. At the time this bike was introduced the Honda VTX engine was the largest displacement production V-twin in the world, but that distinction would be short-lived as the VTX1800 was superseded in 2004 by the 2.0-liter Kawasaki Vulcan 2000. Nevertheless, the VTX 1800 still produced better 0-60 mph and 1/4 mile times.

Harley-Davidson Sportster

The Harley-Davidson Sportster is a line of motorcycles produced continuously since 1957 by Harley-Davidson. Sportster models are designated in Harley-Davidson's product code by beginning with "XL". In 1952, the predecessors to the Sportster, the Model K Sport and Sport Solo motorcycles, were introduced. These models K, KK, KH, and KHK of 1952 to 1956 had a sidevalve engine, whereas the later XL Sportster models use an overhead valve engine. The first Sportster in 1957 had many of the same details of the KH including the frame, fenders, large gas tank and front suspension.

The Triumph Bonneville is a standard motorcycle featuring a parallel-twin four-stroke engine and manufactured in three generations over three separate production runs.

The Harley-Davidson Twin Cam are motorcycle engines made by Harley-Davidson from 1998 to 2017. Although these engines differed significantly from the Evolution engine, which in turn was derived from the series of single camshaft, overhead valve motors that were first released in 1936, they share a number of characteristics with nearly all previous Harley-Davidson engines. Both engines have two cylinders in a V-twin configuration at 45°, are air-cooled, and activate valves with push-rods. The crankshafts have a single pin with a knife and fork arrangement for the connecting rods. These are sandwiched between a pair of flywheels.

Cruiser (motorcycle)

A cruiser is a motorcycle in the style of American machines from the 1930s to the early 1960s, including those made by Harley-Davidson, Indian, Excelsior and Henderson. The riding position usually places the feet forward and the hands up, with the spine erect or leaning back slightly. Typical cruiser engines emphasize easy rideability and shifting, with plenty of low-end torque but not necessarily large amounts of horsepower, traditionally V-twins but inline engines have become more common. Cruisers with greater performance than usual, including more horsepower, stronger brakes and better suspension, are often called power cruisers.

Harley-Davidson VRSC Harley-Davidson cruiser motorcycle

The Harley-Davidson VRSC, or V-Rod, is a line of V-twin cruiser motorcycles made by Harley-Davidson from 1999 until 2017. They are often called muscle bikes for their relatively high power output. The V-Rods are the first Harley-Davidson street motorcycles with double overhead camshafts (DOHC) and liquid cooling.

Triumph Thunderbird (2009) British motorcycle

The Triumph Thunderbird is Triumph motorcycle made in Hinckley, England, and sold since June 2009. The name "Thunderbird" is revived from a previous Triumph three-cylinder 885 cc bike. The name was previously applied to a single carburettor version of the 650cc twin Bonneville produced in the mid-1960s for police work. The final iteration was the Thunderbird Sport, last made in 2004.

Wayne LaVar Moulton was a motorcycle designer called "the father of the Japanese cruiser" after introducing specific designs for importers to the lucrative US motorcycle market. The custom/cruiser market continually occupies one of the biggest slices of the important large displacement US motorcycle market.

Triumph Scrambler

The Triumph Scrambler is a British motorcycle made by Triumph Motorcycles. Launched in 2006, it was the last Triumph styled by designer John Mockett, who had begun working with the small factory team at Triumph in 1989, rationalising existing models based on a very successful modular design plan, including the concept and styling of the unfaired Trident triples for their 1990 IFMA launch. Mockett subsequently served as principal stylist for most of the bikes introduced up to 2006.

Harley-Davidson KR

The Harley-Davidson KR or KR750 was a 45.125 cu in (739.47 cc) displacement V-twin engine racing motorcycle made by Harley-Davidson from 1953 through 1969 for flat track racing. It was also used in road racing in the KRTT faired version. When the KR was first introduced, it dominated motorcycle racing in the United States. In 1970 it was replaced by the long-lived and US race-winning Harley-Davidson XR-750.

The Pan America is a motorcycle announced by Harley-Davidson in 2018 for the 2020 model year, alongside the streetfighter-styled Bronx. It will be powered by the all-new liquid-cooled 1,250 cc 60 degree Revolution Max V-twin engine and feature adventure motorcycle styling. Industry analysts said it was most likely to compete with street-oriented adventure tourers like the BMW R1250GS.

BMW R18 Cruiser motorcycle of BMW Motorrad

The BMW R 18 is a cruiser motorcycle manufactured by BMW Motorrad and was officially introduced in April 2020 and launched in September 2020 in Germany. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, an official introduction at the BMW dealers was not possible, therefore it was presented virtually on the internet.


  1. 1 2 3 4 "Performance Index Winter '12/'13 Edition" (PDF), Motorcycle Consumer News , Bowtie Magazines, January 2013
  2. 1 2 3 "Rocket III Roadster". Triumph Motorcycles Ltd . Retrieved 1 January 2017.
  3. "2010 Triumph Rocket III Roadster / Touring". 3 March 2010. Retrieved 23 September 2010.
  4. Motorcycle Industry Council 1998 Archived 12 June 2008 at the Wayback Machine
  5. moto-sprocket-gp (john mockett design and illustration) Archived 17 April 2008 at the Wayback Machine
  6. 1 2 "2005 Triumph Rocket III First Ride". Motorcycle USA. 10 June 2004. Retrieved 1 January 2017.
  7. Earnshaw, A; Colebrook, J (16 May 2006). "Design of the Triumph Rocket III Motorcycle" (PDF). The Manchester Association of Engineers . Retrieved 16 September 2018.
  8. Triumph 2004 Rocket III Announced Archived 17 April 2008 at the Wayback Machine
  9. Triumph Rocket III – Motorbike Review – BikePoint
  10. "Mark Holmes - Mark Holmes".
  11. "Motorcycle Circumnavigators of the World".
  12. "Rocket man's 'new beginning' - For The Ride".
  13. 1 2 "TRIUMPH ROCKET III (2005-on) Review" . Retrieved 21 February 2017.
  14. 1 2, RedLeg Interactive Media, Cambridge -. "Triumph Rocket III – Classic Motorcycle Review –" . Retrieved 21 February 2017.
  15. "TRIUMPH ROCKET III (2009-on) Review" . Retrieved 21 February 2017.
  16. "TRIUMPH ROCKET III (2005-on) Review" . Retrieved 21 February 2017.
  17. "Cruising Rider's 2005 Bike of the Year: Triumph Rocket III". Cruising Rider. 1 May 2005.
  18. "Viral marketing for new Triumph motorbike" . Retrieved 25 September 2008.
  19. Triumph Rocket III manufacture on YouTube, viral marketing video produced by Triumph, last accessed 5 September 2012
  20. "Rocket III Roadster – The ultimate in big capacity thrills". Triumph USA. Archived from the original on 1 September 2010. Retrieved 30 May 2011.
  21. "First Ride: 2007 Triumph Rocket III Touring" . Retrieved 7 September 2008.
  22. "2008 Triumph Rocket III Touring Review" . Retrieved 7 September 2008.