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Common Tread

2021 Triumph Rocket 3 R Black and Rocket 3 GT Triple Black first look

Mar 09, 2021

It seems Triumph’s customers can’t get enough of their limited editions. I suppose that’s the whole point of a limited edition, isn’t it? Say hello to the 2021 Triumph Rocket 3 R Black and Rocket 3 GT Triple Black. Only 1,000 examples of each will be available worldwide, which will include VIN-specific certificates of authenticity.

The base Rocket 3 models (read Mark Gardiner's review here) already feature the world’s largest production motorcycle engine, good for 165 horsepower at 6,000 rpm and 163 foot-pounds of torque at 4,000 rpm. That’s unchanged for the Rocket 3 R Black and Rocket 3 R Triple Black, along with most of the other technical specifications. What separates these two models is purely appearance.

Basically, these are base Rocket 3s with all-black everything, as opposed to the ultra-premium Triumph Factory Custom (TFC) Rockets that launched the newest generation. The Black and Triple Black bikes slot between the base bikes and the sold-out TFCs as a more attainable option for Triumph customers who want something unique. Speaking of those base Rocket 3s, Triumph says the new models are selling twice as well as the 2004-on generation. Unsurprisingly, the United States is the lead market for Rockets, although sales have been growing among European riders who crave big triple power.

Triumph Rocket 3 GT
"Meaner and moodier," says Triumph. Triumph photo.

Triumph hinted at more TFCs to come at the end of the press briefing for the Black and Triple Black bikes, but the next TFCs won’t be Rocket 3s, so if you’re looking to ride a Rocket that nobody else has, these two models will be at the top of your list.

Rocket 3 R Black

The Rocket 3 R Black wears an  all-black matte and gloss paint scheme, which even includes the Triumph badge. They’ve murdered out just about every part, too, including the headers, heat shields, end caps, and valve cover. Crinkle paint is always a nice touch; it’s too bad we don’t see more of it on musclebound bikes like these.

Triumph Rocket 3 R Black
Even the badge is blacked out.Triumph photo.

You get black anodizing on the levers, fork lowers, risers, bar clamps, and just about anything else made of aluminum. Sorry, aluminium. The overall effect, according to Triumph, is a “meaner, moodier Rocket 3 R.”

Rocket 3 GT Triple Black

Why Triple Black for the GT? Triumph explained that the paintwork on this variant is actually three different shades of grey/black. Hinckley claims Rocket 3 sales are pretty well split between the R and the GT, so the differentiated paintwork is intended to further help customers decide between the two bikes.

Triumph Rocket 3 GT Triple Black
The Rocket 3 GT Triple Black gets the most sophisticated paint. Triumph photo.

The Triple Black design looks more mature and refined to my eyes, and that’s in line with Triumph’s positioning of the GT with its bias towards touring and two-up riding.

Triumph Rocket 3 GT Triple Black
Even the GT's pillion rest gets the all-black treatment. Triumph photo.

Triumph sees the Ducati Diavel/XDiavel and larger Harley-Davidsons as their main competitors for this bike. (When asked about the BMW R18, they felt the Beemer was more of a heritage option, and that its handling was not to be compared to the Rocket’s.) The Rocket 3 is literally Triumph’s biggest flex in because-we-can engineering, and these limited editions are expected to sell out in no time. Remember the Street Twin Gold Line Limited Edition from a few weeks back? I have a feeling Triumph will continue to explore limited editions below the TFC level for more of its lineup in the coming years. Stay tuned.

The Rocket 3 R Black and Rocket 3 GT Triple Black will arrive in dealers starting in late April. Triumph says dealers are able to accept deposits on these bikes starting now, however, so if you’re interested, you’d better move quickly.

2021 Triumph Rocket 3 R Black and Rocket 3 GT Triple Black
Price (MSRP) $23,700 R Black; $24,400 GT Triple Black
Engine type Liquid-cooled, inline triple
Displacement 2,458 cc
Bore x stroke 110.2 mm x 85.9 mm
Compression ratio 10.8:1
Torque/horsepower 163 foot/pounds @ 4,000 rpm; 165 @ 6,000 rpm
Transmission Six gears, shaft final drive
Front suspension 47 mm inverted Showa fork; adjustable rebound and compression damping
Rear suspension Showa fully adjustable shock, remote preload adjuster
Front brake Twin 320 mm discs, Brembo M4.30 Stylema four-piston radially mounted monoblock calipers, ABS
Rear brake Single 300 mm disc, Brembo M4.32 four-piston caliper, ABS
Tires front/rear 150/80R17; 240/50R16
Steering head angle/trail 27.9 degrees/5.3 inches
Wheelbase 66 inches
Seat height 30.4 inches (R Black); 29.5 inches (GT Triple Black)
Tank capacity 4.8 U.S. gallons
Dry weight 642 pounds (R Black); 648 pounds (GT Triple Black)