The original and first Triumph Rocket was launched in 2004. It had ongoing development and changes over the years to the current Rocket III, and now the Limited Edition Rocket X that was launch in 2015 which is the biggest, meanest and baddest version they have made to date.
With only 500 made worldwide, each unit is individually numbered on a billeted aluminium side panel name badge – giving the owner that ultimate status and ride exclusivity that you just don’t get often anymore.
Somehow, though, with this bike it didn’t get the exposure and limelight it could have, and that might be due to the limited nature of its production. I am sure without lifting a finger, Triumph had all 500 accounted for as they made the announcement. And so, the need to advertise and make a spectacle in the media and publications just didn’t happen.
It’s one of those bikes that was known to those that needed to know, and they moved fast and secured their 1 of 500. Five of the Rocket Xs made their way to South Africa, and because I wasn’t a part of the hype in 2015, I missed out. I am fortunate enough to know Rob Milne, the lucky owner of one, and here in the present of 2017 I got my hands on his 451 of 500 for some studio time and a much-anticipated ride.
When the Rocket X arrived at the studio, the first thought that went through my mind was “Wow, it’s massive!”. And at 367kg for a bike, massive is as accurate a description as you will get. With its 2294cc, three-cylinder engine sitting in line with the chassis, the Rocket X is home to the world’s largest production motorcycle engine. Delivering a 221Nm sledgehammer of torque at just 2750rpm, the Rocket X delivers meaty low down torque and acceleration like you have never felt before. But before I get into the ride, I want to just run through how awesome the styling and look is. Even though it’s a big bike, it looks good.
The way that it’s been put together – paintwork and blacked out parts all over, just works so well in creating an overall badass-looking machine. There were, however, a few small cosmetic details that could have been done better, like the lights and indicators. A lot of bikes today have clear or frosted out coverings, and only when the light is on or indicators are active do you see orange or red. On a full blacked out bike, the effort they went through to get that overall look and feel, I feel that the indicators and brake light didn’t get the memo. That said, those aren’t massive issues and can be easily fixed with some Rizoma or Litech aftermarket parts.
The time in studio though was great, and offered a lot of time to take in the visual beauty of the bike and just awe at how massive and planted it looks from all angles. The Rocket X had some very cool asymmetrical features that were catching my eye, features caused by the placement of the three-cylinder engine and what that placement did to the tank as well as the side views of the bike. It was just so interesting to marvel at the build and design, and the more you looked at it, the more you appreciated how unique and beastly it was.
So, in preparation for the days of road tests, I was met with day after day of rain. I put off going out just because I had been told a thing or two about how heavy the Rocket was, and how unwilling it was to turn around slow and or tight bends. When the Sun finally came up, I prepared to set off. Before I test a bike, I like to start them up and let them idle for a while, listen to their sounds and then sit on them to get a feel for their build and seat placement. When I first sat on the bike, I had a slight urge to start my ride with ‘captains log, star date 2035…’ The Rocket X is vastly different from anything I have ridden before, and as long and massive as the wheelbase was, it also just felt so planted and comfortable. As I started riding, I noticed instantly the insane levels of torque, the pull at even one RPM was just mind-blowing.
I haven’t felt low down power like that before, I think the bike has more chance of falling over at low speed than it does stalling. It finds torque right from the start and takes the cruising pleasure off the charts. I didn’t battle as much in traffic circles and tight bends as I thought I was going to, and honestly, it isn’t as hard to manoeuvre as one might think from its visual size and apparent weight. That said, it isn’t a supermotard and you are not going to bob and weave through tight traffic. By build and nature, this bike was made to tour and cruise and it does that in comfort and ease. A long road trip on this bike would be a comfy ride of scenic pleasures. I did find it took some time for me to get used to the size of the bike through traffic, and so, if you happen to own one of these there would be some adjusting to be made if you were going to use it day to day to commute on. However, I even had the same feeling on the X Diavel S.
So, is it practical and conventional? Definitely not. Is it desirable because everything about it is so different and limited? Well yes, and that’s why it is what it is and was made to be so special and sough after.