Triumph Rocket X: the big bad wolf

22 February, 2015

For well over a century, Triumph has defined ‘iron fist in a velvet glove’ motorcycling — the British, gentlemanly motorbikes contrasting with their brutal, street-thug engines. Texan racer Johnny Allen’s 1956 achievement, hitting an average speed of 214.17mph in a Triumph-powered streamliner, remains to this day one of Triumph’s defining moments in history. The ‘world’s fastest motorcycle’ came through again in 1969, at the Isle of Man Production TT — Malcolm Uphill piloted his Triumph Bonneville to the first-ever Isle of Man lap at speeds in excess of 100mph.

So, how are Triumph faring well into the 21st century? The current Triumph line-up is broad, catering to just about every taste in motorcycle. From their stable, the Rocket III is the king of the jungle in this respect, powered by its giant 2.3-litre, three-cylinder engine, and is celebrating 10 years as the world’s largest-displacement motorcycle in mass production.

That fuel-injected 2.3-litre Triumph Triple is a far cry from the simple power plants of old, boasting double overhead cams, twin-butterfly throttle bodies, and a raft of sensors working with the cutting-edge ECU to actively tailor the torque curve to the gear ratio selected. The mighty engine delivers 163lb·ft of torque as low as 2750rpm, providing sublime acceleration at just about any speed in any gear, always accompanied by the Triumph Triple’s aggressive signature snarl.

To commemorate the Rocket III’s biggest and baddest milestone, Triumph has released a limited run of 500 Rocket X motorcycles. The 2.3-litre engine is obligatory, and the Rocket X also wears a host of aesthetic additions asserting its street dominance. Its paint finish is in a high-gloss jet black against patterned grind-effect stripes, courtesy of premium custom paint specialists 8 Ball. Fittingly, the exhaust has also been blacked out, as have various necessities such as the handlebars, mirrors, and levers.

Triumph has positioned the Rocket X as a perfect middle ground between a cruiser and all-out sports bike, without compromising on either counts. It’s fast, raw, and can see itself around a corner, but does not sacrifice on comfort and refinement — it also looks bloody good to boot. The Triumph Rocket X has an on-sale date later this year, to be confirmed soon.

Travelling companion

It’s easy to see why the Morris Minor Traveller was one of the best-loved variants of the Morris Minor. Introduced in 1953, it was equipped with the same independent torsion bar front suspension, drum brakes, and rack and pinion steering as its saloon sibling but, with their foldable rear seat increasing versatility, many Travellers were used as trade vehicles, says Derek Goddard. Derek and Gail Goddard, the owners of this superbly restored example, have run Morris Minors since before they were married in 1974.
“Our honeymoon vehicle was a blue Morris Minor van — it was a rust bucket,” says Derek.

Super Leicht Gullwing

It’s fair to say that nothing much in the classic Mercedes world gets past Mercedes-Benz Club stalwart Garry Boyce so it wasn’t surprising to learn that around 15 years ago he had sniffed out an extremely rare 300SL lightweight Gullwing as well as a 1958 300SL Roadster hiding away in the Waikato. The cars were not for sale but Garry eventually managed to persuade the owner to allow him and his restoration team to take a look at the Roadster. They discovered a very distressed but largely unmolested car. The car was so original that the body had never been off the chassis, meaning most of the parts and fittings were still present and correct, as they had been fitted by the factory.