Triumph Rocket III Touring | First Ride

Hinckley Builds The Bagger We've Been Waiting For ICBM With Hard Bags

Photography by Tom Riles, Brian J. Nelson

There's got to be more BBQ out there somewhere..." It's the Rocket III Touring talking to me again in that torquey whisper. "Those ribs were good, but that's Texas-style; what about Memphis-style? Or that pulled pork up in North Carolina?" I'm thrusting Triumph's new touring-flavored triple around Texas Hill Country, but it wants more.

It had me at the engine. In 2004, when Triumph unleashed the powerhouse Rocket III cruiser, all I could think was that this big, bad-ass package was a perfect touring platform. Turns out the Brits were thinking similarly: The Rocket III Touring was already in the design stage at that point. Three years later it's ready to ride long circles around its boulevard-bustin' namesake. Except for taillights and mirrors, the tourer offers an entirely new chassis, each detail tweaked for comfort and ease of use. The ripped, 12-valve longitudinal-triple had its volume turned down-from 140 horsepower at 5750 rpm to 106 at 5400-to crank the motor's legendary torque rating to nearly 154 lb.-ft. at a mere 2000 rpm. It's a tugboat of steroidal proportion, only now with classically styled, quick-release, color-matched bags and multiple windscreen options.

On the road, the R3T is amazingly deft for its size. It channels Boss Hoss with that picnictable- sized tank, but on the back roads it handles amazingly well-easy at slow speeds, plant-and-go in corners, without dragging bits like most cruisers. The tourer has received a new shrouded fork and preload-adjustable twin shocks that smooth the ride considerably. The new 25-spoke aluminum wheels take slightly smaller rubber up front and a narrower- though still phat-180mm meat out back.Bridgestone's Exedra performance-oriented touring tires are the rubber de original, and they do a fine job of keeping the monster cruiser from skating out from under itself.

In the saddle, hunting BBQ, I find the bike offers the features I'd expect from a bagger, not the plush amenities of the luxurytouring set. There's no frame mounted wind protection, trunk, onboard computers, stereo and so forth.To the contrary it's a minimalist package, with the dash display giving only time, two tripmeters and range to empty. There are nicely styled and roomy floorboards for both rider and passenger, and handsome new hand and foot controls. The seat is deeper than the original bike's and thoughtfully incorporates gel padding for the passenger.

The Rocket III Touring comes stock with a quick-release, mid-height windscreen that I, at 5-foot-10, had no problem looking over or tucking behind. I tried the optional flyscreen and found it nice-looking but noisy-it directed turbulent wind straight at my upper body and head. and the optional taller screen is a wall of plastic you'd have to stand on the seat to see over. Stick with stock. I dig the Ultra glideinspired saddlebags, which are intelligently designed, well-finished, spacious and surprisingly simple to release from the bike. They just don't provide handles for toting, so you'll end up using bag liners to haul up to your hotel room.

Although I'm fully sedated from my BBQ lunch and riding like an old fart, I still don't appreciate the lazy feel offered by the twin four-piston front brake calipers. I mean c'mon, this is one burly sucker and I want to reel it in fast! Instead, the first time I grab the lever hard I think for a second maybe Triumph sneaked a linked system onto the bike and didn't say anything. Speaking of defi- cient equipment, owners will probably want to put a pipe on their bikes. The Rocket III engine needs to have a voice, and the stock exhaust simply mutes it too much. Thank the EPA.

For a day chasing my tail in Hill Country, the stock saddle was comfy enough, but for a longer trip I might opt for the accessory gel touring saddle, and maybe a backrest. If you're into customizing, you'll love Triumph's list of available goodies: There are sissy bars, mirrors, trim kits, pegs, badges and lights galore-certainly enough do-dads to make this a Rocket of your own.

Then, all you'll need is the open road-and an empty stomach.

Tech Spec
Evolution
The long-haul version of Triumph's massive 2300cc triple that's still the largest capacity production motorcycle in the world.

Rivals
H-D FLHX and FLHT, Kawasaki Vulcan 2000 Classic LT, Star Stratoliner and Suzuki Boulevard C109RT.

Tech
Price: $16,999-$17,299
Engine type: l-c inline-triple
Valve train: DOHC, 12v
Displacement: 2294cc
Bore x stroke: 101.6 x 94.3mm
Compression: 8.7:1
Fuel system: EFI
Clutch: Wet, multi-plate
Transmission: 5-speed
Claimed horsepower: 106 bhp @ 5400 rpm
Claimed torque: 154 lb.-ft. @ 2000 rpm
Frame: Tubular-steel twin-spine
Front suspension: 43mm Kayaba fork
Rear suspension: Twin Kayaba shocks with adjustable spring preload
Front brake: Dual Nissin four-piston calipers, 320mm discs
Rear brake: Single Brembo two-piston caliper, 316mm disc
Front tire: 150/80-R16 Bridgestone Exedra
Rear tire: 180/70-R16 Bridgestone Exedra
Rake/trail: 32.0/7.3 in.
Seat height: 28.9 in.
Wheelbase: 67.2 in.
Fuel capacity: 4.9 gal.
Claimed weight (tank full/empty): 817/788 lbs.
Colors: Black, Black/White, Black/Red, Two-Tone Blue
Available: Spring
Warranty: 24 mo./unlimited mi.

Verdict
Just as outrageous as the original-and comfy, too.

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