TRIUMPH ROCKET 3 GT | GRAND SLAM!

Over 600 miles in a fast 11 hours, Roothy puts the Rocket 3 2500cc GT suffix to the test.

Roothy’s big tour on the Triumph Rocket 3 GT.

Frankly? II read the reports, talked to the testers, heard all the good jokes and yet, to me, the Rocket 3 looked like something Pixar had drawn for Buzz Lightyear Does Drugs. This big rear wheel floating at the end of a handlebar, a front like a boxers nose, solid trunk, hard on the eyes for someone whoI’ve been riding since bikes have suspended seats.

And they call this one a GT? Ha! Grand Tourer? As in the long days, the great kilometers, the comfort and the capacity of the luggage. Flying backwards on a wheelbarrow was reallyt gonna break the GT thing.

Maybe I talked too much because Triumph put out a demo and said go find out. Hey, thatthat’s your $35,000 plus the sickle, II will try anything. ThisIt’s the one thing we 70s survivors do well.

Disclosure, I drove a 1972 Norton to pick up the Rocket 3. It’st one of those cherry wood restorations, itit’s outdated shit that squeaks, pops, rattles and leaks – wewe have so much in common. I love the old girl, but no wonder the new GT feels svelte and instant everywhere by comparison. However, for something so foreign, it felt so familiar, partly because its the same noticeably minimalist instrument pod as the Triumph Scrambler Id tested last year, which meant doing computer things was easy. And maybe because the dimensions are nott out there in the semi-trailer world like so many modern touring items, it was as easy to paddle as the Norton. No need for electric landing wheels here.

Two lights on the front and three pipes on the side are about the only familiarity it retains with the original Rocket. This one was easy to shift, first gear clicked cold and by the time we were home, I loved it. The sheer balance of a brilliant handling and braking package wrapped around so many muscles is breathtaking.

An hour later II have a beer in the hangar looking at this Rocket ship with stars in its eyes. Visually itIt is one of the most integrated pieces of engineering of all time. Thethere is nothing on it thatt do any work. TheThere’s nothing on it anyway, just a seat on a huge powerhouse with a spring-loaded wheel on each end and monster stuff that stops. In my shed full of minimalist motorcycles, the Rocket was at home.

It was damn hard to find somewhere to hang the ocky straps the next morning. Eventually I found the passenger footpegs fold out and wedged a bag between them and the grab bar. With a sheepskin thrown in for a backrest, she was tight, neutral, click that cute side stand and press the button. The speedo flashes a digital turn and the motor turns on.

Thes two of my old Harleys squeezed into three cylinders under that glorious tank but theres only a hint of vibration. Triples are notoriously slick. No chance of waking up the neighbors either, the exhaust note is pathetically intact. At the time when were in the hills south of Brisbane II suck in the induction roar and pass a few trucks on the bends to Cunninghams Gap, which is incredibly easy. Thisis not just linear power, itIt’s the security of great suspension controlling all that soft greasy rubber on the road. I hit harder in lazy S turns and the Rocket leans in and loves it.

Theits stability here thatIt’s so much more than the new aluminum frame with its short, thick Showa forks and the massive single-sided swingarm locking the wheels in-line. II’ll go out on a branch and say therea gyroscopic effect continues with all that metal spinning – crankshaft, gears, driveshaft, all in a straight line. Either way, the Rocket holds a line like a torpedo cutting through waves.

It also feels like piloting a torpedo. The solid, sculpted mass of the power plant and tank dominates everything from the riders view with the handlebars just there to hold onto. I know some peopleDon’t like the forward controls, but they work well, keeping your back straight so the hands fall straight to the controls. Morning traffic suggests the speedos under reading of 10 percent or more.

Warwick flashes at about the same time as the fuel light and the screen says weI have 60km left. It only takes about 12 liters though, slowly, with a few drops thanks to a baffle plate thatis too close to the lid. The tank is a work of art in terms of shape, the kind you fall in love with, but it has to have plenty of airbox and ducting because 18 liters isn’tlots of fuel. This time I set the odometer and sure enough 180km later near Glen Innes I get the 60 kay distance again.

That’s about when I realize that II drove five hours with only a few short steps to pay for fuel. The Rocket 3 GT swallows up the miles so easily its make the ride a joy. II drove a BMWs R 18 and Ducatis XDiavel, possible contenders, and the GT nail both with its one-two punch and stability.

Midweek traffic in New England tends to be light, and soon therea pattern. The cruise control, concise thanks to a mountain of engine braking, is set around 115 km / h for rides between overtaking at full speed. I didI don’t see the highway patrol car near Armidale, but there isno cry. Cruise, squirt, flirt, remembering that it sometimes has gears through cities – this massive engine makes world domination easy. And it never seemswork, never. It’s what elevates the Rocket 3 above the pack – itit’s just too easy. Even the brakes provide massive stopping power with minimal effort. The rear brake alone has more stopping power than all my bikes combined but comes with full control.

So I met Kog for dinner, and a day later we picked up Gibbo on the road. My friends from the old UNEMC, we were heading to the Rabbit Trap Hotel to meet Sydney and Victorian flares. As usual, it was about exploring the back roads for days peppered with pub lunches and nights remembering how good we were.

The return trip was straight up the Newell Highway and up the hill near Toowoomba. I covered 980 km in 11 hours, with five fuel stops and an hour break for lunch. It was done with the clockwork precision that the Rocket 3 achieves so easily with the on-board computer averaging 112kph at the last garage before Brisbane. It was easy, maybe a little stiff on the butt the last few hours, but thereis nothing difficult to maintain miles on a Rocket 3. ThisTrue proof of its ability to tour, it passes states as easily as speeds.

But is it a Grand Tourer? That might take it down a notch. For some of us the Triumph Rocket 3 GT is more like donning an Iron Man suit. Thisit’s a game changer.

WORDS & PHOTOGRAPHY // JOHN ROOTH

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