Motorcycle Reviews

2006 Triumph Rocket III Special Edition

Written by  October 31, 2006

The 21st century motorcycle market offers many choices. Options range anywhere from sport bike to cruisers to power cruisers—metric and American made.

We have seen motorcycles evolve over the past few years where displacement is matched with style and grace as well as cost. The newer models on the market today excite me! Norman Jones, owner of Engle Motors, Inc. showed me the newest Triumph flagship and the first thing I noticed was the massive radiator and gas tank. My first thought was “How many miles can I go on that before I look for gas?” The other thing that threw me was the massive 43-mm inverted forks, which is a common standard today. I asked myself, “Is this a Triumph?”

I knew Triumph had been making some serious motorcycles these days, so why not take on the big metric cruiser lines? The Rocket III is an awesome machine with all of the reliability from sequential fuel injection, shaft drive and a reliable digital ignition. The throttle response of this new 3-cylinder is accurate and crisp.

The weight ratio is perfect in any lean angle. When riding I felt like I was riding a mid-size cruiser that packed quite a punch. The 5-speed transmission is a perfect fit for this 709-pound bike. When I test ride newer bikes I listen to the engine, transmission and final drive for noise. Overall, the Triumph Rocket III is very quiet and the only thing I heard was some minor valve train noise. The engine at the time of the test had only 100+ miles, so don’t let this discourage you. The motor was very quiet at all rpms and the torque when applied listed to the right when revved, which I have not felt since the CX500 Honda days. The engine redlines at 6500 rpm and you will be in the triple digits at the rpm. At cruising range I noticed that in the tallest gear, roughly highway speeds, the bike had plenty of power to pass.

The front braking system is supported by the massive front 320-mm floating rotors with 4-piston calipers. This does extremely well in stopping or with during aggressive braking under extreme conditions. The rear braking system is a 316-mm full floating rotor with 4-piston caliper. The front brake stops the bike quickly and efficiently with almost no lock-up, even in damp, wet road conditions. This bike handles extremely well with a dual shock set-up and the inverted front cartridge forks. I was able to throw this bike around with ease and grace.

The rake is 32 degrees and the trail is a whopping 152 mm, so this bike is long, but has excellent front geometry for tight turns in slow conditions. The overall length of this bike is 98.4 inches, which makes for a stable ride. The seat height is 29.1,” so a friend of mine who is around 5’ 2” had a difficult time trying to touch flat-footed. Therefore, vertically challenged riders may choose to lower the rear shocks to eliminate this issue.

Cruising range can is extended due to whopping 6.3 gallon gas tank. Rumor has it that this bike averages around 50 miles per gallon, so you do the math! The frame is made up of a tubular twin spine design and looks very nice in the black powder coat color. The wheels have a nice mag design with a bold front tire (150/80 R 17) and a huge rear tire (240/50 R 16), which really holds the pavement. When I test rode the Rocket III, the roads were slick and cold, and it didn’t feel unsafe even under heavy throttle twists.

The handlebars are pulled back to a comfortable position with easy control boxes and switches that are easily selected for left and right handed people. Dash gauges are clean and easy to read in all light conditions. The model I tested had a small windshield, which pushed the air over my helmet, which would be a plus in rainy conditions. The headlights are retro and bright and no other cruiser has this dual headlight setup.

With of the great style and horsepower, the Triumph Rocket III is a great power cruiser that has really stepped up to the plate, and with its 3-cylinder sound, it’s truly in a class of its own.

In summary, I truly appreciated the ride, the suspension and horsepower this cruiser offers. The cost of this motorcycle is very inexpensive considering the power at the rear wheel and there are several parts and accessories to dress it up even more. If you’re looking for a different type of cruiser that is comfortable for you and your passenger, take a test ride on Triumph’s new Rocket III. You will not be disappointed.

I want to thank Norman and Bobby Jones of Engle Motors, Inc. and all of the staff who helped get me suited up and ready to test ride Triumph’s flagship bike.

B-safe out there!

Dave Miller