2019 Triumph Rocket 3 R/GT | First Look Review

Triumph Rocket 3 R and Rocket 3 GT
Triumph has given its Rocket 3 muscle bike a major makeover, with the new Rocket 3 GT touring cruiser (left) and Rocket 3 R roadster (right) both powered by a 2,458cc in-line triple. (Photos courtesy Triumph)

In the late ’90s and early aughts, there was a displacement war going on among cruisers, with engine sizes growing from 1,449cc (Harley-Davidson Twin Cam 88) to 1,510cc (Victory 92C), then up to 1,670cc (Yamaha Star Road Star), 1,795cc (Honda VTX1800) and finally, breaking the two-liter barrier, 2,053cc in the Kawasaki Vulcan 2000, which debuted for 2004.

Triumph Rocket 3 R
Both Triumph Rocket 3s roll on new lightweight cast aluminum wheels shod with Avon Cobra Chrome tires. The rear is 240mm wide.

The following year, Triumph came along and topped them all with the Rocket III, which got its thrust from a massive 2,294cc in-line triple, albeit with an extra cylinder compared to the more traditional V-twins. But, just as a hippopotamus doesn’t have many teeth but the ones it does have are truly impressive, the Rocket III’s 4-inch cylinders were the same size as those in a Chevy 350ci V-8.

Read: 2014 Triumph Rocket III Touring Road Test Review

The Rocket III’s was – and continues to be – the largest engine of any mass-produced motorcycle, and when we strapped it to the dyno back in 2005, it spun the drum to the tune of 127 horsepower and 141 lb-ft of torque – an unheard-of amount of grunt that has only been beaten by a more recent version of the Rocket III. The 2010 Rocket III Roadster made more than 160 lb-ft of torque.

Triumph Rocket 3 R engine
Arranged longitudinally, the Rocket 3’s liquid-cooled 2,458cc in-line triple has three massive cylinders, three hydroformed exhaust headers exiting on the right side and a pair of howitzer-sized mufflers.

Of course, if you’ve been paying attention, then you know that Triumph recently unveiled the Rocket 3 TFC, a $29,000 limited-edition Triumph Factory Custom that was a major reboot for the Rocket 3 platform, and it’s powered by an even bigger in-line triple displacing 2,458cc and making a claimed 168 horsepower and 163 lb-ft of torque. At nearly 2.5 liters, the new Rocket 3’s engine is larger than that of many automobiles. The Rocket 3 TFC is also a much more modern platform than its predecessor (which is probably why the “III” was replaced by “3”), with updated styling, an aluminum frame, a single-sided swingarm, carbon fiber bodywork and a full suite of electronics.

Read: 2019 Triumph Rocket 3 TFC (Triumph Factory Custom) First Look Review

Now Triumph has unveiled two production models, the Rocket 3 R and the Rocket 3 GT, the latter aimed at those who like to travel longer distances, with or without a passenger. Claimed engine output is 165 horsepower and 168 lb-ft of torque, in a package that weighs nearly 90 pounds less than the previous-generation Rocket III.

Triumph Rocket 3 R
The Triumph Rocket 3 R is a roadster with height-adjustable midmount foot controls.

Mass-optimized performance enhancements to the liquid-cooled engine include a new crankcase assembly, a new lubrication system with a dry sump and integral oil tank and new balancer shafts, which makes the new, larger engine 40 pounds lighter than its predecessor. On the right side is one of the Rocket 3’s most eye-catching styling elements – a trio of hydroformed exhaust headers leading to a pair of howitzer-sized mufflers, which Triumph says produce a “unique deep growling triple” soundtrack.

Triumph Rocket 3 GT
The Triumph Rocket 3 GT is a touring cruiser with a lower seat height, fore-aft adjustable feet-forward controls and a standard passenger backrest.

The engine is mated to a 6-speed transmission with a torque-assist clutch, and all that asphalt-buckling power reaches the rear wheel through a stout driveshaft. Throttle-by-wire and an IMU support a host of electronic features, including four riding modes, cornering optimized ABS and traction control, cruise control and hill hold control.

Triumph Rocket 3 R Brembo brakes
Big bikes need big brakes, and the Rocket 3s have a pair of top-shelf Brembo Stylema monoblock calipers up front, and cornering ABS is standard.

Slowing down the Rocket 3 are top-of-the-line Brembo Stylema monoblock front calipers, and its adjustable fork and rear shock are made by Showa. New lightweight cast aluminum wheels are shod with Avon Cobra Chrome tires, and the rear a full 240mm in width.

Triumph Rocket 3 R TFT display
Fully modern in every sense, the new Triumph Rocket 3s have TFT instrument displays and a full suite of electronics. Monza-style gas cap is one of many premium styling touches.

The Rocket 3 leads the way with a pair of round headlights that have been a signature styling feature of many Triumphs since the Speed Triple was introduced in the mid ’90s. Lighting is fully LED with daytime running lights. Other standard features include a TFT display, a USB charging port and keyless ignition and steering lock.

Triumph Rocket 3 R headlights
Like many Triumph models, the Rocket 3s have the distinctive twin round headlights that became iconic on the Speed Triple in the mid ’90s. These are LEDs with daytime running lights.

Both Rocket 3 models feature sculpted rider and passenger saddles, and an accessory in-fill pad makes it easy to switch between two-up and solo seating configurations. Seat height for the rider is 30.4 inches on the Rocket 3 R. At 29.5 inches, it’s even lower on the Rocket 3 GT, which comes standard with a brushed aluminum passenger backrest. As a roadster, the Rocket 3 R has midmount foot controls with two vertical position settings (0 inch / -0.59 inch). The touring-oriented Rocket 3 GT has feet-forward foot controls with three horizontal positions (-0.98 inch / 0 inch / +0.98 inch), and the passenger backrest is also height adjustable.

Triumph Rocket 3 GT with luggage
For the long haul, both Rocket 3 models can be accessorized with soft saddlebags, a tank bag and/or a tail bag.

A wide range of accessories are available for both models, including heated grips (standard on the GT, optional on the R), a quickshifter, GoPro integration, turn-by-turn navigation via the My Triumph app, Bluetooth connectivity, tire-pressuring monitoring, luggage (soft saddlebags, tank bag and tail bag), a sport windscreen and various handlebar and seat accessories.

The 2019 Triumph Rocket 3 R will be available in Korosi Red (shown) or Phantom Black, and the Rocket 3 GT will be available in Two-tone Silver Ice and Storm Grey with Korosi Red pinstripe decal (shown) or Phantom Black. Pricing and availability will be announced at the Rocket 3 press launch, which is scheduled for November.

Read: Triumph Daytona Moto2 765 LE Sneak Peek

9 COMMENTS

  1. Too bad you can’t trust Triumph. The last new Triumph I ordered was a lemon and Triumph wouldn’t fix it because I live in a state (about half are) that doesn’t apply lemon laws to motorcycles. No question it should have been covered by warranty. The two Triumph dealers I took the bike to agreed the defect was from the factory and it should be repaired but Triumph wouldn’t approve the required repairs. No integrity. BTW this was the first year for the new Thunderbird which I pre-ordered. Triumph reliability isn’t what it used to be. Check the forums or google Triumph motorcycle problems and you will see. Choose another brand that will actually stand behind their new bikes.

  2. Looks like Triumph has come up with a contender for the successor to the Vmax, or to do battle with the Diavel, Now if they don’t set the price through the roof they have something, but these muscle cruisers are not known to be huge sellers, but there is a niche market there.

  3. Those dinky size signal lights are downright dangerous. Was tailing a friend of mine and in bright day they are hardly visible. Just enlarge them a little would be a big help.

    • One of the first things a buyer changes are the OEM directional’s, as they’re usually so big and bulbous. If they have quality LED’s, those smaller turn signals can be plenty bright. Chances are, USA DOT specs will likely have them bigger anyways…

  4. Depending price, which I expect to be low to mid $20K, this could be my next bike. It won’t have the canyon carving capabilities of my Yamaha FJR but it will still have plenty enough lean angle and the sheer hp/tq numbers will ensure a smile a mile. That single sided swing arm is a nice touch and really shows off the rear wheel nicely.

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