Words/Photos: Bob Pickett
When Motorcycle Sport & Leisure Editor Mikko was in Tenerife for the Rocket 3 launch he said: “The pothole-infested roads of Blighty would surely ask more from the (suspension) units than the smooth Spanish Tarmac.” Which got me wondering – how would it perform on UK roads?
Could you ride it as an everyday bike? Could you use it to pop to the shops/pick up your takeaway on it?
Which is how I ended up on a damp, mizzling morning in January, carefully pulling away from East London Triumph’s showroom…
First test, potholes: I took the Rocket on to a side road I use a lot with a mix of good surface, traffic calming ripples, lumps and bumps and a couple of smallish holes. It just soaked up everything that came its way.
Next, Triumph’s Rocket 3r Takes A Trip To The Shops: Slow riding in congested conditions, constant stops and starts, this needs balance, light clutch (so no wrist ache) and brakes that don’t bite hard immediately (you don’t want to lose balance with 291kg to support).
It did way better than it should. Ok, I created a little lebensraum just in case, but it was much easier than expected, just rolling slowly on those big tyres.
Once there I’d have to park, surely this bike would need a lot of space? Off to my local supermarket. One bike bay only, but I’ve never had to share it… until today. It was EASY. I had to be very careful paddling into space, but another bike could have squeezed in.
That’s a bay, how about my garage? My Vulcan S lives with my wife’s 600 Shadow and a Moto-Morini 350 Sport. So it’s a tight fit. Surely the Rocket would be far too big? I had to take care (turning it on the driveway was a challenge, my three-point turn was more like nine), but it fitted with inches to spare, nothing moved.
Last practical test? Motorways. Don’t know why I bothered really. Just stick it in any gear, settle in and let it get on with it effortlessly.
So, it handled all the typical, everyday (boring) challenges with aplomb.
What about the good stuff? Handling: The PR ‘handles like a sportsbike’ pitch is a tad generous, but the Rocket 3r turns smoothly, easily and yes, much quicker than you’d think a big bike could do. The change of engine note as the revs build (I went for gradual builds – first time I blipped the throttle and it dipped to the left was pant-worryingly scary) is addictive, the brakes could stop planets, but have decent feel and it has geniune presence (comedy moment when a lady came to walk past, looked at the Rocket 3, couldn’t work out how to go round it and headed back from whence she came!).
Could I, hand on heart, have one as my sole bike? It’d be a waste of a £20 grand bike. But it is a far more competent all-rounder than its looks suggest.
To test this bike yourself, contact:
Triumph East London
249 London Road
Essex RM7 9NB
Tel: 01708 752 111
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