Today, Triumph is perhaps best known for its retro-looking bikes like the Bonneville and the genuinely off-road-capable Scrambler. But the British bike company has a long history of impressive, if not always reliable, machines. Continuing the former tradition is the updated Triumph Rocket 3, a bike with an engine bigger than some cars have. But, as Jay Leno found out, the record-holding engine is just part of the bike’s appeal.
Triumph Rocket 3 specs
Although some bikes have been built around car engines, officially, the Triumph Rocket 3 holds the production-bike record for the largest engine, Cycle World reports. Previously, the bike had a 2.3-liter three-cylinder engine. However, for the 2020 redesign, Triumph upgraded both the engine and the bike overall.
The 2020 Triumph Rocket 3 comes with a 2.5-liter three-cylinder, making 165 hp and 163 lb-ft. Not only does the larger engine make more power, Motorcylist reports it’s actually lighter than the previous one. Triumph cut about 25 pounds from the Rocket 3’s engine and 88 pounds in total from the whole bike. Originally, Triumph claimed the Rocket 3 could go 0-60 in 3.0 seconds. But, in a demonstration of how difficult 0-60 tests can be, RideApart reports a Triumph factory tester managed to do it in 2.73 seconds.
Triumph also updated the Rocket 3 elsewhere. The transmission is now a 6-speed and comes with a ‘hydraulic-assist’ clutch, Revzilla reports, for easier takeoffs. The bike comes with hill hold assist standard, and offers an optional shift-assist system that lets the rider shift at speed without the clutch. Cruise control, traction control and ABS are also standard.
In addition, the Triumph Rocket 3 now offers a configurable TFT digital display, and 4 selectable riding modes: Road, Rain, Sport, and Rider-Configurable. Bluetooth is standard, as is a USB charging port and keyless ignition.
The Triumph Rocket 3 is available in two trims, R and GT. The R is more of a bobber/standard motorcycle, with mid-mounted foot controls and a slightly higher seat. The GT is closer to a cruiser, similar to the Ducati Diavel, with more-forward foot controls and a seat-back for the passenger seat. The GT also has standard heated grips, while on the R they’re an optional accessory.
The Triumph Rocket 3 R starts at $21,900; the R starts at $22,600. Triumph overs numerous accessories for the bikes, including a tire-pressure monitoring system, GoPro controls, and turn-by-turn navigation.
Jay Leno rides the Triumph Rocket 3
Jay Leno owns several classic British motorcycles, and particularly enjoys his 1964 Triumph Bonneville. But he enjoyed riding the new Rocket 3 R as well.
Arguably what Leno enjoyed most was how comfortable and well put-together the bike was. Although the large engine emits some heat, it isn’t uncomfortable; and the exhaust’s design and position mean it throws no excess heat, either. The mirrors didn’t vibrate, the bike itself was stable, and both the seat and seating position were perfect for long-distance rides or short-distance blasts. Jay preferred the R’s mid-controls and slightly higher seat over the GT’s riding position.
Jay Leno found that, although the Rocket 3 isn’t necessarily light, it carries its weight low, meaning it’s still fairly maneuverable, even at a standstill. The 2.5-liter engine is designed for low-end torque, meaning the bike can pull hard even at low speeds. And the shaft-drive makes regular maintenance easier.
Jay Leno’s only real complaint was fairly minor. The standard tachometer display can be difficult to read, as the numbers are somewhat small and the needle is the same color as the dashes. However, you can configure the display to put the tachometer in the center, where it’s enlarged and easier to read.
The Rocket 3, then, is more than just about its enormous engine.
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