All the new "big cruisers" are children's toys compared with the 2004 Triumph Rocket III. This mother's powered by a mammoth, liquid-cooled, 2.3-liter (2294cc) inline-triple mounted longitudinally in the tubular-steel frame. Triumph promises that the Rocket III will not only be the biggest cruiser on the block, but the most brutish--as in a claimed 140 horsepower at 5750 rpm, and a staggering 147 foot-pounds of torque at just 2500 rpm!
Bucking conventional "V-twin or die" cruiser wisdom, Triumph built the Rocket III as one of its signature inline-triples. The engine is all new from the ground up, sharing not a single component with previous, smaller displacement Triumph triples. Everything on the Rocket III's engine has been Super Sized--bore and stroke is 101.6mm x 94.3 mm, with the four-inch-diameter (!) pistons rated at 8.7:1 compression. Fuel arrives via a multipoint sequential electronic fuel-injection system controlled by a digital engine-management system.
The Rocket III is built around a beefy, twin-spine tubular-steel frame paired with a two-sided swingarm carrying a 16.0- x 7.5-inch five-spoke wheel and a 240-series tire; the front wheel is 17.5 x 3.5 inches with a 150-series donut. Up front resides a 43mm inverted fork carrying four-piston calipers biting a pair of 320mm discs; twin preload-adjustable shocks, and a two-piston caliper with a 316mm disc take care of the back end. Overall dimensions are appropriately monstrous: Total length is 97.6 inches, 66.5 of these inches falling between the axles; seat height is 29.1 inches and the claimed dry weight a hefty 660 pounds.
Bodywork is post-industrial, nuevo-retro smooth, with an aggressively rakish chrome header on the right side and a dramatic airbox cover dominating the left. We dig the double-bug headlights, a nod to the Rocket III's streetfighter brethren, the Speed Triple and Speed Four.
"It makes 147 foot-pounds of torque at 2500 rpm. What else is there?" CEO of Triumph Motorcycles America Mike Vaughn says.