2020 Triumph Rocket III Roadster and GT review

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Boog
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2020 Triumph Rocket III Roadster and GT review

Post by Boog » Mon Feb 10, 2020 7:15 pm

Boog’s Review of the 2020 R3R and R3GT: 7 Feb 2020.

Yep, I have not posted anything I awhile due to work travel but this past weekend I got to ride two new bikes and wanted to share my opinion with you all. And even though these are not Urals, they are an interest to me.

A riding brother let me know that Motorcycles of Dulles (MOD) would be hosting a demo ride of the new 2020 R3’s today.
I woke Brahma up, my 2014 R3T and headed off into the cold air; it was 28°F/-2°C when I left the house at 0800. I got to MOD just as they open and found they have five R3s on hand; two were TFCs and already sold. They have one red R3R and two R3GTs; one black and the other silver with black trim.
Bottom line up front (BLUF): this is not a negative review mind you, but I will point out things I did not like that I know others will find to be wonderful.
I first rode the R3GT. I had to ask for help starting it as I could not figure out how. Normal Triumph start sequence is clutch in, bike in neutral if kickstand down or any gear if kick stand up. Then disengage the kill switch if active. The kill switch on Brahma is separate from the starter, but not on this computerized bike. The starter and kill switch are integrated into a single switch. You first hit the top portion to turn the computer on then let it boot up, then press the bottom end to start. The cute little dash lights up and says “Hello Rider”. (The bike is losing points fast at this point), but I digress. Triumph decided that an on/off knob on the side would be good too and instead of having a key, they would use a proximity fob. Yep, Triumph is losing more points with me on that. For some reason I do not trust the so-called security of digital ignition switches. I know it has not helped Harley. And when the battery dies in the fob, so does your fun.
Anyway, also on the right grip is the hazard switch, conveniently colored red. Just above that is a switch with a house on it. I think pressing this tells the bike to go home. I didn’t press it for fear it would leave and I would have to buy the thing then.
Once started, the machine feels powerful and eager to go. I adjust the tiny little mirrors as best I can. They are bar-end mirrors and plenty wide enough to see around me, but they are not as big as Brahma’s. I figure I would get accustomed to them if the bike were mine since I am too lazy to install bigger ones later.
On the left grip is a grey button with an “M” on it. I press it and discover it is for the menu. I do not read or speak ‘emoji’ so it took me a few seconds to figure out the ride modes. The cloud with drops coming out must be ‘Rain Mode’. I am not sure what the straight highway symbol verses the curvy highway symbols mean though. I could not feel any difference when I toggled between the two while riding later. By the way, I do not recommend toggling while riding as you must look at the darn screen to do it. Other bikes with the nanny controls have a simple switch that you can move without looking down. The next symbol is a full-face helmet. I think when you toggle this it means you should wear your helmet maybe due to ludicrous speed or something. Anyway, I did not have time to figure the switches out as we were about to head out. I think Triumph has failed to make it easy to use though.
After you select the mode you want, under the blinker switch is the enter button. Press it to engage your choice.
By the way, Triumph failed again with the horn; it has that baby beep noise. The button is in the normal area just below the blinker switch. The blinkers are self-canceling on both bikes. Unlike the Speed Twin ahead of us, but I digress again.
On a happy note, just inboard of the left grip is a small button for the heated grips. A very wonderful addition on this bike as it had only warmed up to 34°F/1°C as we began our 25 minute little jaunt around the neighborhood.
At the top of the left grip is the cruise controls, I didn’t use them on this ride but I do appreciate this addition for long rides.
On the other side of the left grip (facing oncoming traffic) is the bright/dimmer switch.
So off we go, two R3s being lead by a Scrambler and a Speed Twin. The GT’s transmission is very smooth, especially since it has break-in oil at present. My first inkling is the ease with which the bike moves forward. The power to weight ratio is significantly better than the heavier Brahma I rode in on.
The pegs on this bike are set in the furthest forward position out of three. That is beyond my normal comfort so I would move them to the middle I think. The shift lever is set too low for me too as I had a tough time getting my toe under it to shift up. I believe this is easy to fix by simply rotating the lever up one notch on the spline. No one I asked about this later knew if that was so, but it looks easy enough to do.
Now about the “GO”! Triumph succeeded well in this department as they put several barrels of go power in the engine. Acceleration is immediate and fierce. It demands maturity and if one does not have that, they better be loaded with skill as the beast begs for wide open throttle. Left and right roll is amazingly smooth as well and the bike feels very planted in the curves. Having a sixth gear is also cool. At 65 mph indicated, the RPM showed 2,200. The engine seemed as if it was at idle almost. One thing I am not sure if you would not like is the lack of engine braking as compared to the older R3s. I think the extra gear may not allow this as much or maybe it’s the configuration of the engine. In any case, I over came this with more brake usage.
Now about the “Whoa”! Dang, if you wish to stop, the R3GT will do it right the heck now. The Brembo brakes are phenomenal. They come on with immediacy so do not grab and hand full or stomp the brake pedal. Ease into it and everyone goes home with clean clothes. To say my R3T is subpar in this department is an understatement now that I have experienced this.
As for seeing the speedometer, it is slightly lower in my field of vision than the first generation R3R but much higher than the on R3T. It is easy to glance at it and read your digital velocity. I do not think I would miss the analog speed dial I have on Brahma.
The tiny little bug screen is surely not meant to protect the rider from wind blast so sit back and enjoy the frigid air as it works its way through your jacket and the two liners you have underneath.
Back at MOD, I did a quick full lock left turn in the parking lot as slow as the bike could go and find its manners here to be outstanding. The bike is so light it turns itself.
At full stop, I turned the computer off to shut the bike down. Finding the kickstand was pretty easy, it is a little further aft than my bike.
I had to sit out the next ride to await my turn again. I spoke with several folks about the bike and many find it to be something scary for some reason. A BMW R1600 rider though was unimpressed with the ride saying that he felt every single pebble on the road as he rode the R3R ahead of me. I have never ridden the big Beemer but I do not think the Rocket is rough at all. Then the riders returned.
And now, it’s time for the red Roadster. As I sit upon it, I find the seat to be harder and maybe lower than the R3GT. I am not as comfy on this bike. I still feel planted in it though and that is good with a powerful machine.
The handle bars are lower thus I cannot sit upright like the previous bike. And this bike does not have the heated grip switch, much to my chagrin. I did notice that the red on my jacket shoulders matches the red of the bike though, hmmm.
As for riding it, it has all the oomph I expected but for some reason, I felt the R3GT was faster. I think I may have goofed up the ride mode though and set it to something mom would approve of. Then again, maybe it was just colder on the first ride as this ride was about an hour later and 10 degrees warmer. After the ride though, the rider behind me said he thought I pulled the front tire off the ground a few times though I do not recall such buffoonery. I will say that when the torque hits the rear tire, the bike squats nicely. The R3R is well planted in all the curves and the lean angle is great so far; I did not scrape though I tired.
The pegs on this bike are set directly under the rider. They told me this is the forward position of two on the Roadster. I felt my legs were bent too much here but not sure I would like the pegs further back. I will say that my toe easily got under the shift lever. And I did mention how easy the bike’s transmission shifts right? It is a dream compared to other bikes. The clutch and brake levers are easy to squeeze too.
I watched the other R3 on each ride and was amazed at how much the single sided swing arm moves. The plate holder seems to be alive on its own, judging by the movement. The brake light is far better than the older models too and the blinkers seem to be brighter as well; must be the LEDs.
Once back at MOD, I did another set of parking lot maneuvers and think this bike is well suited for such. I love how lightweight and balanced these are and the ease with which they move.
As I parked the Roadster and sat upright, I felt my lower back was unhappy. This stems from an old injury that makes any position of leaning forward annoying to my lower back. I did not get this on the GT. Too bad the GT does not come with red paint.
I think Triumph should have designated the R3GT as an R3ST for sport touring; not Gran Touring. I have stated in other threads that I wished the GT had bigger panniers than offered. If you want the boxes, they must be bought separate. The GT seems to be more akin to a standard with cosmic power and the Roadster more like a naked sport bike; neither seems to be cruisers at all to me.
Would I buy either, yes! The GT for sure as it fits me better. Ken at MOD tells me that he is certain Triumph will offer a new R3T within the next couple of years though Triumph did not tell him so. I hope they do and I hope the price is more reasonable than $22K for the GT. All these computerized doo-dads are not wanted or needed by me and I hate to pay for things I do not require.
Before I left, I noticed that the Silver GT sold, so it looks as if MOD will not have trouble moving these new monsters.
As I rode away on Brahma, I realized that the R3T still suits me great even if it does not have the power of the new bikes. I feel so much more comfortable on my ride even with its 71K miles. And the amount of room I have for storage cannot be understated.
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2014 Triumph R3T - Brahma
1981 Yamaha XS650SH Project
Dumfries, VA

dale914
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Re: 2020 Triumph Rocket III Roadster and GT review

Post by dale914 » Fri Feb 21, 2020 4:49 am

I've been contemplating replacing my 05 R3 with one of these new ones, but I really like the old one and am thinking of just hot rodding up my old one.
19 Ural Gear Up
05 Triumph Rocket 3
04 Honda CBR F4i
04 Honda Shadow
00 Yamaha VMAX

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BinDerSmokDat
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Re: 2020 Triumph Rocket III Roadster and GT review

Post by BinDerSmokDat » Thu May 21, 2020 12:20 pm

dale914 wrote:
Fri Feb 21, 2020 4:49 am
I've been contemplating replacing my 05 R3 with one of these new ones, but I really like the old one and am thinking of just hot rodding up my old one.
Same here. I think I might hack the R3, then I'll have a dirt rig and a highway rig.
Can't see buying a new one.

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