An easy trip on a TriumphTouring the country by motorcycle is one of the best forms of travel and enjoyment offered to the human race. Yes, dogs and cats and other assorted animals can tour with us; however, we are alone in the choice of direction and mount. Now we are pleased to inform you there is another choice for touring America by motorcycle: the Rocket III Touring from Triumph Motorcycles Limited. We had the privilege to ride the Rocket III Touring a few weeks ago in and around San Antonio, Texas, with a host of other journalists, and sometime before lunch we discovered that we were aboard a great bike. The rest of that afternoon in the saddle only confirmed our discoveries, prior to the full stomach of Texas barbecue.
The Triumph Rocket III Touring is an all-new touring motorcycle bolted to the proven 2294cc Rocket III inline three-cylinder engine. The engine (with 154 lb-ft of torque at 2000 rpm) is "new" to this bike. With this amount of torque at the end of your wrist, you may question why there is a gearbox at all. The bike pulls from 30 mph in top gear smoothly and effortlessly. This seamless power is derived from a multiyear development cycle that saw all-new parameters from no less than eight sensors, feeding data to the engine management system. Vibration is Rocket nonexistent, mainly due to the primary balance of the engine firing 1-2-3 frontto- rear while firmly bolted to the frame as a stressed member. Transmitting power to the rear wheel is a drive shaft that counter-rotates to the crankshaft, eliminating any "twitch" of the bike, except a slight amount at idle. On the road, under power, you can whack the throttle as hard as you want without feeling any heave to the right.
The new, steel, twin-spine frame, designed to lower the center of gravity and the rider's seat, is stout. Wheels and tires are also new, with a 150/16 up front and a 180/16 out back. The wheels are 25-spoke cast aluminum and are housed under all-new sheetmetal. The 180 rear tire is there to allow for maximum traction without sacrificing saddlebag capacity and while not making the bike too wide from the rear view.
Now as far as capacity, there is never enough on a touring bike ... until now. The Rocket III Touring carries 10 gallons of gas and features a generous pair of hard saddlebags keyed alike to the ignition and sporting flat bottoms that stand on their own when the bike is being cleaned-a nice touch if your saddlebags have ever toppled over on the driveway. There is, however, another sort of capacity, i.e. "human" capacity in the form of comfort, which translates into how many miles can you cover before the little aches start to tickle your nerve endings. The Rocket III Touring has those areas covered as well. The hand and foot controls are all ergofriendly and infinitely adjustable for just the right feel and freedom of movement. Details such as bushed pivot pins, rubber bump stops and replaceable wear plates (on the outer edge of the rider footboards) all contribute to the feel of a well-thought-out motorcycle.
Another detail (which you'll never look at but will serve you well) is the seat. It's designed using two separate layers of different density foam for comfort, but the real trick is all of the internal seams have been taped to prevent the absorption of water into the foam through the stitching, so the seat will not stay wet for days after getting caught in the rain. The quick-release "look-over" windscreen is standard and excels in its duty to keep the "push" of the wind off of the rider's chest. But best of all, the windscreen doesn't rattle at any speed, even those posted speeds that we attained during our testing.