5 Things to know about: Triumph's all-new Rocket 3
It's an absolute monster
1: It's bigger, lighter and faster
The old Rocket III was no slouch and at 2.3 litres was still the largest engine to be fitted in a production bike. That didn't stop Triumph from improving on things. The engine is now up to 2.5 litres (still from three cylinders) and has been on a serious diet, shedding 40kg and upping torque to 221Nm at just 4,000rpm. Horsepower is 165 but it's that enormous torque figure (the torquiest production engine ever made) that you should be looking at. More on that later
2: It's got the brains to match the brawn
Triumph's engineers have been hard at work bringing the new Rocket up to modern standards, and then some, it's almost as if the bodybuilder of the bike world has gained a PhD. It features a six-axis IMU that's usually found in cutting edge superbikes. There's no usual cost cutting that you see on bikes of this type either. The front brakes are top-of-the-range Brembo stylema four-pot calipers, and the rear Brembo caliper alone has half the stopping power of a Panigale V4! The power delivery is also super smooth as you can use a higher gear than usual entering and exiting corners, with drive from as little as 1400rpm, all the way up to the 7000rpm redline.
The list of tech on the new Rocket is comprehensive. There's an auto blipper and quickshifter options, heated grips, cruise control, a GoPro connection system, integrated sat nav capability, a USB socket under the seat, traction control, four adjustable riding modes, keyless ignition, hill brake hold assist and more. None of these gadgets interfere with the pure riding experience, they only enhance its usability.
3: It can be Jekyll or Hyde - a relaxed cruiser or a rip snorting muscle bike
The real question is which model to choose? The laid back GT with pillion comfort, forward facing pegs and more relaxed bars, or the R version with a more aggressive stance.
Thankfully you don't have to compromise. Triumph has made the peg positioning interchangeable between both models, so you can have the ground clearance to keep up with the sportsbikes in the corners with the R model, or the laid back cruising style of the GT. Both share the same 2.5 litre three-pot motor, letting you choose between ticking along at 70 with the cruise control set in top gear effortlessly at under 2000rpm - or you can drop a gear and stretch its legs all the way up to 150+ (on a closed road, of course)
Both bikes have a robust lumbar support in the seat that you can wedge yourself into, allowing you to keep riding in total comfort for as long as you care to.
4: It hides its weight better than a fat girl with an Instagram filter
Even though the new Rocket has lost an impressive 40kg, it's still a chunky bit of kit. The main weight saving has been through a lightened frame, crankcases, balancer shaft and a dry sump.
The engine and exhaust system are also Euro 5 compatible, so if you're tempted to buy an exhaust system, there's sure to be more power and an even bigger weight saving to be had by ditching the emissions gubbins.
Suspension hasn't been ignored either. There's no dive or bouncing from either end thanks to Showa 47mm adjustable forks and a fully adjustable Showa monoshock RSU with piggy back reservoir. In the real world it means you can throw both bikes around in the tightest of turns, soaking up the bumps without being too stiff, yet still capable of staying poised on fast bends.
For me the suspension was one of the bike's biggest highlights.
5: It's cheap to run
The shaft drive means less effort and expense when touring long distances, as well as Triumph's increased service intervals, now set at 10,000 miles. The Euro 5 engine also managed a decent 41.5mpg, no doubt aided by long gearing for low RPM cruising and an 18 litre tank.
Avon has designed new tyres specifically for the 2020 Rocket, with a 240 section 16 inch rear and a 150 section 17 inch front. Metzeler also offer the same size fitment so there's no expensive tyre monopoly going on.
So...is it a Diavel beater?
It's the big Italian elephant in the room and each minute I spent aboard the new Rocket, I kept comparing every aspect to Ducati's 1260cc super cruiser.
I absolutely adore the Diavel and if I had to choose one bike to do everything, there'd be one in my garage. The engine makes almost identical power to the new Rocket, but in a very different way.
The Ducati makes 129Nm compared to a massive 221Nm for the Rocket, which makes the riding experience much more effortless. Flat out the Ducati will top 170mph, although if you want to ride at those speeds you're probably in the wrong market.
Both have similar handling characteristics, with the Ducati being the more lightweight and agile of the two. Both are priced very similarly. Up until now the Diavel was in a class of its own, and now it has a big, torquey behemoth to compete with, together with the tech and top-end components to match.
With competition from Triumph, we all end up as winners.