Triumph 2006 Rocket III review

The 2006 Rocket III is a monument to excess, and that's exactly why we loved it so much.

Brilliant big bike
Not the prettiest model from Triumph

2006 Rocket III: Design

Until I took delivery of the Triumph Rocket III, never before had any motorcycle come close to taking up a whole parking bay in my garage. I reckon if someone broke in not expecting to encounter this beast they would take fright and run a mile. It's a monster, it's a behemoth but it's also beautiful. And the surprises for me don't end there.

Aside from being transported from pit garage to motorhome, in the 21 years I've been with the struggle-and-strife she has never once showed the slightest interest in joining me for a pillion blast of any description. 'Give me a backie up the drive,' 'take me for a ride in the country,' 'I want get on the back of that bike and feel the wind in my hair,' were three phrases I couldn't believe I was hearing. And all because she had finally discovered the 320kg, 2300cc giant of her dreams - the 'Ruccola Tre', as she now calls it.

She's smitten and I love it! Women's minds have always been a mystery to me so I guess this latest revelation should have been no surprise. However, this has also proved to me if you wait long enough there will be a motorcycle out there for absolutely everyone.

If you're sad like me and like cleaning bikes then you'll love the Rocket. From the hefty wheels upwards, the large areas of paintwork and chrome will bring hours of pleasure for those who like to polish - even the little nooks and crannies around the engine are easily accessible. And then there's that enormous tank, the surface area of which must measure at least an acre.

From most angles I find the Rocket's looks very appealing, it's only the rear view that I'm not sure about. While that mental 240-section 16-inch tyre is very impressive, the low-slung seat and mudguard doesn't quite do it for me. The pillion footpegs are also a bit suspect, looking very much like chromed versions of those fitted to my 1981 Yamaha 350LC. On the other hand I particularly like the shiny tacho, speedo and headlights nestled up front. 'Huge', of course, is the theme throughout and two other features that stand out for me are the radiator and rear disc, which without doubt came straight from the latest Scania. Talking of brakes, the front discs and calipers look small and out of proportion but still do a fine job of bringing this great machine to a standstill.

When you first set off, the wide bars and double width-contoured tank almost give the impression you might be riding two bikes welded together side-by-side. Its size and weight may sound intimidating but there's no need to worry. I was pleasantly surprised to find this is a very user-friendly bike. The low seat height and centre of gravity mean wherever you venture you don't have to be the Incredible Hulk to enjoy riding a Rocket.

2006 Rocket III: Handling

Whether you are negotiating mini islands or avoiding pedestrians in town, low speed maneuvering is a doddle, mainly due to an excellent throttle connection. The superb feel for the engine allows you to corner and steer with confidence in the trickiest of traffic. If you don't believe me I can show you a video of my 13-year-old riding it round the garden with me on the pillion. A bit irresponsible maybe, but it underlines just how easy the daddy of cruisers is to master. The comfortable, laid back riding position complements the Rocket's lazy steering geometry making sweeping A roads a joy.

Parking requires some planning, though, as I discovered after stopping on a slight downhill incline against a kerb. Pulling it back uphill is clearly not an option, so either have a permanent pillion or be prepared for embarrassment when you enlist the help of a stranger to get you out of a parking pickle.

No such worries with forward motion however as this gigantic triple will launch you to 100mph before you can say Eddie Stobart then stay there all day long. The powerful motor has a more refined feel than, say, a big Harley but I was disappointed with the five-speed transmission and its clunky gear changes. Rightly or wrongly I was expecting slick shifting like on the Harley V-Rod. That said we are talking here about a bike built to cruise Route 66, not for scooting around town delivering pepperoni pizzas.

Park a sports bike at your local supermarket and no one will give it a second glance. Pull up on a Rocket and you'll have a mix of pensioners, kids and housewives gawping in amazement. More proof of the presence this bike has - with the added benefit of a constant flow of new friends and no more Johnny-no-mates.

Should I buy the 2006 Rocket III?

Many great things have already been written about the Rocket III, with even a few fellow journos claiming it is one of the best bikes ever built. I don't believe big is always best but I'm making an exception with the Rocket III. It may not be the prettiest machine to come from the Leicestershire factory but it has an abundance of character in the looks and riding department.

Best of all it converted my wife to the joys of biking, so that has to be a result in my book!

  • PRICE NEW - £11,999
  • ENGINE CAPACITY - 2294cc
  • POWER - 112.2bhp@5200rpm
  • TORQUE - 135.3lb.ft@3000rpm
  • WEIGHT - 320kg
  • SEAT HEIGHT - 740mm   
  • TOP SPEED - 129.1mph
  • TANK RANGE - 112miles