Rocket 3 R
19 December 2022
Triumph's Rocket 3 has been been an outlier since it was first conceived. The latest iteration is no different... and we love it for that.
Having recently left Triumph HQ and heading north into a cold headwind, I was already missing the comfort of a screen and hand guards. Yes, even at this early stage it was apparent the 2022 Triumph Rocket 3 R is an old-school man's bike. I know, I know... perhaps not the most PC term now-a-days, but I'm old school. And I enjoy a few comforts.
The Rocket is big. Huge even. Long and low with vast wide tyres, few creature comforts and a massive 2.5 litre engine. In keeping with its hairy-chested looks, there are no screen or hand-guards either. Completing the (big) picture are rather cool, superbike spec, 320mm
Brembo Monobloc Stylema brakes, as well as the stunning looking triple exhausts and intake manifolds. The whole machine looks like a work of art with a clearly lovely build quality. This bike has real presence.
Big and bold, the Triumph Rocket 3 R's design impact is gigantic, both visually and functionally. Of course, at this early stage I hadn't truly opened the throttle in a significant way.
However, I could just tell there was menacing thrust lurking only a wee twist of throttle away.
Remarkably, what was most apparent from the ride at this point was the extremely civilised low rev engine response, allowing very relaxed bumper to bumper travel about town; no unruly surges when opening the throttle from closed, all very nice.
The Rocket also felt fairly light to maneuver for such a behemoth, although I was yet to encounter any real turns. Open smooth turns were effortless. Also, it felt firmly suspended and totally planted on the road and the brakes were top-drawer.
But, having only tootled along there was obviously still plenty to learn....A small gap in the traffic near Westgate exposed boat loads of punch, launching the Rocket to police-upsetting pace in about a car length. 221 Nm of torque at 4000pm and 165hp at 6000pm will do that. Yeah, the 2022 Rocket was going to require a respectful learning curve!
The engine is controlled by ride by wire and has four ride modes of Rain, Road, Sport, and rider configurable. Unsurprisingly for a Triumph, the engine is a DOHC, liquid cooled, inline triple. However, it is mounted north/south like most cars of old which is a little unusual, as is the 2458cc.
It has a wet, multi plate torque assist clutch set to allow minimal engine braking. This is a good thing because, without it, rear wheel lock ups when changing down would be common place and perhaps hazardous. Despite the hugely wide and grippy 240/50-16 rear tyre it would have little chance of "back spinning" the massive engine up to speed on a sudden down shift or two. Thanks to the slipper-clutch, chopping the throttle only causes the Rocket to flow into the corners as though the clutch has been pulled in. It's all very civilised and only multiple rapid down shifts bring on some engine braking effect.
Rough maths says the triple has three 820cc pistons - now that's a good-sized piston if it was in a single cylinder machine. So, you'll understand, that while it has 165hp, it's not going to be a high revving sports bike kinda power delivery. No, this engine is about low rpm punch and huge torque. And punch it does. Hard. Launching the Rocket from zero to 100km/h in just 2.79 seconds. A little over 3000pm in top, sixth gear, will have you cruising at 140km/h. It pains me a little to say this, but top end power is not actually that impressive. However, have no fears, the huge torque means there is no need to ever go over 5000rom on public roads. And if you do, you will probably be walking home... the police will do that bit for you.
I rode in Sport mode almost exclusively and found it very manageable and yet very business-like when required. I'd be more than happy to ride in the rain in Sport mode because the power delivery is still very predictable, but also because the nature of the beast curbs reckless enthusiasm somewhat.
TURNING A ROCKET
Sure, it is a bloody rocket in a straight line, but no one will ever call it nimble, light or particularly manageable at speed when you hit real turns. Motorways and open smooth highways suit the chassis best. The tighter the turn the more effort required to negotiate. On open, poorly surfaced roads the wide tyres tend to follow the camber and self-steer the bike a little, it is no big deal, but noticeable.
The combination of over 300kg fuelled and ready to go, wide tyres (the front is wide too at 150/80 17), a very long wheel base and a slow steering head angle means this is not a 'throw it around' kinda motorcycle. It instills a sense of needing to respect the ride... but... despite this, the Rocket defies its looks and can be punted pretty hard. It is certainly a LOT more capable than the previous model I rode some years ago. Cornering clearance is miles better and the suspension, while firm, works well and is not continually bottoming out, although not ultra-plush on our rougher roads either.
There is a fine sense of satisfaction when punting the Rocket along twisty roads. It's rewarding because the challenge is greater.
The suspension is of decent specification. The forks are 47mm inverted items that have compression and rebound damping and 120mm of axle travel. They perform very well and offer good ride comfort. The forks hold up in the stroke nicely under brakes and are quite plush - certainly no complaints. The Showa shock is fully adjustable with 107mm of wheel travel and is adjustable for spring preload, compression and rebound damping. Shock action is decent and quite well controlled, but the mass and grunt of the Rocket along with the rough roads where I live meant comfort was not great. However, having said that, few bikes offer excellent comfort on these poor roads. On open, smooth main roads the suspension action is planted and well controlled and provides great bike composure.
The Ergonomics are somewhat cruiser-like. The seat is a low 773mm from the deck and the foot pegs are more or less directly below it. This made for cramped legs on long rides as they were well bent. The reach to the bars is long, but they're a nice straight-ish bend offering good control which I like.
ROUNDING UP THE ROCKET
Electronic sophistication is, of course, integral to the Rocket's design. Full cornering ABS and rider Mode appropriate traction control has your safety covered. Cornering ABS means the more the bike is laid over where traction is reduced the greater the ABS intervenes reducing the chance of complete traction loss.
Likewise in Rain Mode the power is reduced and TC intervention increased, stopping wheel spin. And with this great thrusting motor that is a real possibility in rain with careless and abrupt throttle opening. Mode adjustment is via buttons on the bars and choices followed on the TFT screen. All lights are LED.
The Triumph Rocket 3 R is an awesome machine. It is not for the faint hearted. It is bloody quick and punchy... but best used in anger in a straight line and respected in the turns. For my tall body, it is only comfortable on short rides, but it is still a lot of fun, exciting and without doubt a stunning head turner. Would I park one in the shed...? Yes, but it wouldn't be for every day riding. JOCK MCLAUCHLAN.
Article kindly provided by: kiwirider.co.nz
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