EICMA: 2015 Triumph Thunderbird Nightstorm and Rocket X

Nov 04, 2014

Black is beautiful. Bigger is better. Those phrases might as well describe the thinking behind the two special-edition motorcycles Triumph unwrapped at the EICMA show.

The Thunderbird Nightstorm and the Limited Edition Rocket X are both distinguished mainly by appearance touches. Both get a blacked-out treatment for the engine and exhausts, and both get special paint jobs.

Thunderbird Nightstorm tank
"Ghost flames" paint on the tank of the Triumph Thunderbird Nightstorm. Triumph photo.

blacked-out engine
Blacked-out engine and exhaust on the Nightstorm. Triumph photo.
Like other Thunderbird cruisers, the Nightstorm is propelled by Triumph's 1699 cc parallel twin that breaks the V-twin cruiser convention. The blacked-out treatment is applied to the engine, exhaust, handlebars, mirrors, control levers and just about everything else. The tank is painted black and then flames and the logo are added in "silver frost."

Triumph also notes that the tank-mounted instruments include "a fashionably small tachometer." See how I'm always behind on what's in fashion?

Triumph says the Nightstorm's MSRP in the United States will be $15,499. And that brings us to the big dog.

Rocket X tank
Rocket X tank. Triumph photo.

Has it really just been 10 years? I still remember when the other manufacturers were incrementally upstaging each other with bigger V-twin cruisers: 1600 cc, then 1800, then — gasp — a 2000 cc V-twin. Then Triumph came along like a college football player doing a cannonball dive into the kiddie pool, swamping the whole tit-for-tat process with a 2.3-liter triple. In terms of torque, at least, it was game over.

Now, a decade later, the Rocket III remains the largest-displacement mass-production motorcycle, and Triumph is celebrating by releasing the Limited Edition Rocket X.

Rocket X paint
Triumph Rocket X rear fender detail. Triumph photo.
Triumph is building 500 numbered editions of this bike, and while the engine will always be the star on any Rocket III, it's the paint that sets the Rocket X apart. Paint specialists 8-Ball created a unique look. First, the tank and fenders are subjected to a grinding effect that leaves patterns in the bare metal. Then six layers of lacquer are applied, combined with a two-stage polishing and curing process.

Rocket X
2015 Triumph Rocket X. Triumph photo.

No word yet from Triumph on price, but the Rocket X should be available in dealerships in March.