Triumph would have us believe the new 2010 Rocket III Roadster is a bareknuckled, body- slammin’, street fightin’ hoodlum; only hooligans need apply. That’s what I was hoping for when I climbed aboard for a test ride. But I have some serious questions that demand answers.
If I wanted a bad boy persona, why would I need three pieces of chrome on the front fender alone? What’s with the chrome lollipop mirrors? Gimme some flat black bar end mirrors. Why a passenger seat? Why such a long rear fender? Why not have some flat-bend, dirtbike/streetfighter handlebars? In my opinion, there’s way too much chrome on this Rocket, if a menacing look was actually what Triumph was after.
Maximum power has increased over the original Rocket III, with torque up by 15 percent. And the exhaust was said to be changed for this street-bound ruffian. Yet, when I met an enthusiast who commented that he wanted the Roadster exhaust for his older Rocket III, I started this bike for him, and we both agreed that the exhaust on the Roadster didn’t sound much different than any other Rocket we’d ever heard.
I find the Roadster tall and heavy, a bike for a big man. The sidestand requires an outstretched leg and pointed foot to extend and retract. I also feel the Roadster should be lower to the ground overall; in its current form, it’s not a well-handling road machine, taking effort on the part of the rider to run with other roadsters on a long stretch of twisties. And even with the input and rear drive shaft counter rotating against the crankshaft, I still felt shaft drive torque reaction, causing the rear of the bike to rise and fall.
Not without its merits, there are nice VDO gauges featuring analog tach and speedo, with LCD info screens inset. And I do like the big mode button on the left gauge. Huge broad chrome handlebars and big fat tires front and rear imply some heft. The Rocket Roadster never failed to draw stares and comments, more so than the Rocket Touring did.
And I will give credit to Triumph’s sophisticated antilock braking system that’s fitted standard to the Rocket III Roadster, the first time that an ABS system has been specified to any Rocket III. Floating rotors up front and a rear brake developed especially by Brembo eliminated the rear wheel lockup I sometimes experienced on the Touring version.
So, you’d think that a bad boy, hooligan, or what Triumph corporate is billing as the ultimate streetfighter version of its biggest, baddest bike would have real cred to back up the talk. I say Triumph wimped out. Merely taking a current cruiser, moving the pegs to a mid-set position, and trimming a little fat does not a bruiser make. Sure it’s more edgy than its full-size Rocket sister ships, but not nearly as cool or fun as it could be. My offer stands, Triumph: send me one to play with and I’ll show you what a real bad boy the Rocket Roadster has the potential to be. RB — by Steve Lita