Triumph offers biggest bike: 2.3L

SAN ANTONIO, Texas — Triumph Motorcycle has staked its claim to fame as the maker of the largest production motorcycle in the world with the launch of its huge 2,294cc Rocket III cruiser for 2004. The bike is scheduled to be in dealer showrooms next June and is expected to sell for less than $20,000. Company officials said an MSRP has not yet been set.
The announcement at Triumph’s dealer meeting here in August steals some of the thunder from Kawasaki, which planned to announce its new 2053cc Vulcan 2000 to dealers this month at their meeting in Las Vegas.
Triumph’s Rocket III is powered by a triple cylinder engine and uses the same size pistons as the Dodge Viper sportscar. The liquid-cooled, DOHC three cylinder in-line powerplant produces 147 ft. lb. of torque at 1800 rpm and is hung from a tubular steel twin spine frame. The bike has a dry weight of 704 pounds and will be available in Cardinal Red and Jet Black. The big triple generates 140 horsepower at 5750 rpm.
The Rocket III gets up and moves out says Triumph’s Mike Vaughan, noting that it jumps from 0-60 mph in 2.8 seconds, and takes only 7.2 seconds to pop from 0-100 mph.
In an interview with Powersports Business, Vaughan said Triumph’s U.S. managers knew they needed a big cruiser and began talking with owner John Bloor about it in 1999. “We wanted a big cruiser, something that was different from anything currently out there,” recalls Vaughan. “John was amenable to that and went back to the U.K. and began working on it.”
Triumph’s basic target, says Vaughan, was the Honda Valkyrie, but they also knew that Kawasaki would be jumping into the competition soon as well.
“We thought there was going to be a market for the performance cruiser,” Vaughan says, “and we thought it would attract a lot of attention. We wanted to be at the leading edge of it.”
The triple configuration was important, says Vaughan, because it’s become a Triumph signature. “We could have made it a V-twin, but that’s Harley, and everyone wants to be Harley.”
The first build for the Rocket III will be about 1,000 bikes for worldwide distribution with slightly more than half that amount expected to be sent to the U.S. market.
Triumph’s dealer network now includes about 160 dealers, down from about 212 dealers in 2001.
Vaughan says Triumph is comfortable with that number, but is looking to add qualified dealers in key areas across the country. “The key (to success) is the dealer’s commitment to marketing the brand,” says Vaughan. Depending upon the market area, a Triumph dealer can succeed with a stand-alone store by selling 60 to 100 units annually.
The big new Triumph Rocket is another milestone for the small company based in Hinkley, U.K., which bounced back into production only about six months after a disastrous fire at its U.K. manufacturing facility in March 2002.

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