By Anandarup Dutta
The daily drive along NH-8, shuttling between Delhi and Manesar in Gurgaon, the traffic snarls, bottle necks at the toll plaza, a dull routine of familiar mundane vistas, uninspiring glass and chrome structures, impatient cars, nothing could shake the monotony reflected in the bored gaze. Or so I thought. Until my eyes engaged with a behemoth called the Triumph Rocket 3 Roadster. Not just I, but all in the vicinity were riveted by this massive 2300 cc cruiser until its dull deep thuds had died down in the distance as it glided away.
The Rocket Series has been around in the American market for the past decade, designed as it was, for the enthusiast whose aspirations rested on the ‘bigger is always better’ module. There have been regular facelifts and versions of the original Rocket roadster, with the “Touring” being released in 2013. But the Rocket Roadster 3 remains the most admired Triumph cruiser, no questions asked. And now it is available in India, with Triumph having brought its entire line-up to regale showrooms across the metros.
Don’t let the Massive Dimensions intimidate you
The very first reaction one has to the Rocket 3 Roadster is its massive dimensions – it boasts of the biggest production motorbike engine – namely a huge 2,294cc, Liquid-Cooled, DOHC, In-Line 3-Cylinder unit. With a wet weight of 367 kgs, it is one of the heaviest bikes on the road. And to most, it looks intimidating and too difficult to handle and manoeuvre. But judging it by its looks would be akin to blasphemy – never mind that it made “only” 120 rear-wheel hp on the dyno test; focus instead on the fact that the Rocket 3 grinds out an unbelievable 140 ft.lb of peak torque at just 3200 rpm. The torque remains above the 1430 ft.lb mark throughout (between 1500 and 3000 rpm) and dips ever so slightly to the 120 mark or below at around 5150 rpm. And considering these specs are on an engine that has a peak of 5800 rpm, which is a mere 650 rpm higher, it is no mean feat for such a heavy bike.
Same as the original for Indian bikers
The Roadster, the only facelift available in India is a remake of the original 2004 Rocket 3. It has the same longitudinal engine keyed to an agile chassis on a rigid tubular steel frame. A shaft drive, an inverted fork, bug headed dual headlights inspired by its cousin, the Speed Triple and fat tubeless tyres are some of the features that have been retained. What’s been added are the dual tone chrome and varnish paints on the massive tank, the antilock brakes and recalibrated dual shock fittings, one muffler on either side rather than both on the right, rearward movement controls at the feet and a larger, more effective liquid cooling radiator – all making the Roadster more suited to rougher and more extensive riding treatment. Significant improvement has been made in terms of torque generated and power too. However this particular claim is subject to road conditions and maintenance.
Quashing the rumour
Certain sections of the media have reported about Triumph’s intention of detuning its higher end bikes to provide for Indian markets. This has resulted in many enthusiasts being caught in a dilemma, if they are actually going to get the ‘real thing’ or some diluted version. We took it upon us to check out the authenticity of these rumours and spoke to Siddharth Varma, Marketing Manager from Triumph India. He said, “None of these rumours is true. We have made it a point to provide for the Indian enthusiast the very same quality that we put forward across the world, without any dilution.”
Dare the Test Ride
A test ride, for those stout of heart, reveals the true nature of this beast. Definitely one of the smoothest engines I have experienced on a cruiser, with an exhaust note that rumbles and pounces making your hair stand on end. If this doesn’t impress you, then the pickup and handling will – it is demonically quick over a quarter mile. The tyres, on account of the huge load on them, grip the road tightly giving that extra burst on every revolution. As you apply the race, the engine roars into extended thunder and the sheer thrust of the engine is enough to impress any enthusiast. One might say the big capacity engine coupled to the huge shaft drive makes the gear shifts noisy; to an enthusiast however, this just adds to the charm.
The Rocket 3 Roadster commands great road presence – its blackened striped tank, the masculine butch engine layout coupled with its stature makes it a head turner. On straight roads, all the rider needs to do is work the ABS and the throttle, the faster the bike runs, the smoother the suspension settles in. The liquid cooling makes it a much more comfortable ride than any air cooled cruiser, for instance, a Harley. There is probably no production bike that accelerates so hard, so easily, so willingly, without even a single downshift, no matter what gear it’s in or how fast it’s revving. It often brings into the question the whole concept of having a gearbox – one may drive around all day at a high gear without even shifting once given suitable road conditions. Even though the engine is massive and heavy, its longitudinal orientation and narrow width allow it to sit way down in the chassis, helping to keep the centre of gravity very low. For a bike with the mass of a big tourer, this bike scoots around corners with surprising ease and takes sharp turns with composure – making this a bike not just for exclusive planned rides on clear smooth roads but a type of fast you can enjoy anytime you want.
Triumph claims to have sold four bikes in the NCR. At an ex-showroom price of Rs 20 lacs, this is surprisingly reasonably priced as well. For those with a need for speed, yet not fond of superbikes, this seems an ideal choice for a cruiser. An ergonomically viable ride, chrome plated beast, this is sure to capture the imaginations of those who’ve grown up on a dose of huge tourers and cruisers on their dorm walls.