Setting Up the Rocket 3 GT for Touring
Actually, you can tour on any motorcycle you own. It comes down to what you have and what accommodations you are willing to make. I took a ride from Minneapolis to Seattle and back on a 1965 Yamaha YDS-3 250cc two stroke motorcycle in 1968 – camping. I rode a Honda 450 Street Scrambler from Seattle to Florida in 1971.
Different times, different needs and wants, and different financial resources. I’m just back from a four-day tour that covered 900 miles. Not much in terms of mileage, but we’re after the quality of the miles, not the quantity. This excursion covered a clockwise loop from Seattle over the Cascades on SR20 (referred to as the Swiss Alps of the Northwest), South to Yakima, West to Raymond, and then up and around the Olympic Peninsula. Almost all of it two-lane winding roads through fantastic scenery. Most of the rides I do are four days in length and average 1100-1400 miles. This one was shorter, because that is how long the route was!
This was my first longer ride on the GT – the second one begins July 10th. Here’s what I did to make the trip a wonderful experience.
Optional Triumph Rocket GT saddlebags.
These are terrific. I especially like the little slots the zipper pulls notch into to keep them from flapping. The bags also have combination locks which I have not bothered to set up. They also hold more than you would think from looking at them.
Magnetic tank bag owned for many years.
Viking Bags Axwell Sissy Bar Bag.
Fabulous product. What I like about this bag is the amazing versatility. You can mount it to a sissy bar, as the name implies, or also across the passenger seat, as I did. It comes with various straps and options for mounting. The side portions expand. A clever idea is to pack it with stuff and then zip the sides back in for a narrower and neater appearance. A large semi-circular opening in the top allows easy access. There’s also a rain cover I did not use. I packed everything in plastic bags, and from the slight rain I did encounter the bag appears to be at least water resistant, as are the saddlebags.
There are two male-female plug connections that run under the bag in my application, through the opening in the backrest, and into the rear of the bag on each side. I added a strong bungie cord around the sides as an extra precaution that was not really necessary.
Viking sells all manner of luggage and other motorcycle products. For more info, go to
Viking Bags: https://www.vikingbags.com/motorcycle-saddlebags.htm
Viking Cycle: https://www.vikingcycle.com/collections/motorcycle-vests
And tell them I sent you, as they say! Sorry for the need to tilt your head. I am not savvy enough to rotate the pictures!
Overall: You now have a magnificent steed on which to tour. Do you have as much carrying capacity as a Honda Goldwing, BMW 1600 GT or other large tourer with saddlebags and perhaps a top box? Not at all. How much room do you need? Here’s what I packed:
4-day summer trip packing list -2020
Triumph pants Boots / socks
Underarmor top Neck scarf
T-shirt Rev’It jacket
In saddlebags and Axwell bag:
Socks 2 Jeans/belt
Undies 3 Sweatshirt
Swimsuit Tee-shirts 3
Sunblock Toiletries kit
Vans shoes Tire repair kit
Phone charger Spare gloves 2
First aid kit Compressor/tools
Tobacco kit Rain pants
In Tank Bag:
Water Registration, etc.
Sunglasses Maps/ route sheets
Phone Visor cleaner
Hearing aids Hat
Better yet, with the Axwell bag I was able to stash everything I would need in the evening and to prepare for the next day, and everything I would not need in the saddlebags. This made motel arrival easy. Off with the tank bag and Axwell bag and I am done for the day,
This would also work well for a longer trips I hope to get to. I have a mostly blind cat my neighbor cares for, and I do not want to be gone for weeks at a time while the cat is still with me. Awwww. Anyway, for longer trips I would ride for four days and then take a day of rest to recharge and wash clothes.
The North Cascades Hiway is a treat, especially on a nice day and with virus-reduced traffic. Swooping along at 70mph or so, a park ranger went by in the other direction. His brake lights came on and he slowed to turn around. Uh oh. This surprised me, because if I was speeding it was not by much. As he turned around along came my friend – catching up to me. The ranger chose the fatter fish and my friend got a ticket for 81mph in a 60 zone! I paid for all of the motel room we shared in Wenatchee as partial recompense.
The second day we ran into some wet roads, but no actual rain, until ten minutes after we had checked into the motel in Raymond. Good timing! The third morning featured roads that were drying, and I looked like a road racer with “wet tires” on a drying track as I swooped back and forth to find dry patches – an effort to keep the bike a little cleaner. That worked well.
One thing to plan for on a tour on a Rocket 3, or anywhere for that manner, is that when you are stopped anyone walking by who knows anything about motorcycles, and some who don’t, will want to talk to you about the Rocket 3 GT, or the Axwell bag, etc. Since I used to do this for a living, I find this really enjoyable, and end up promoting Triumph, Viking bags, etc.
Most curious are long-time Harley riders. Most of them, in my experience, are “real” riders who’ve been riding for decades. They are all curious about the Triumph Rocket 3, and I can feel the gears in their head grinding away as I reel off the specs and they begin to realize that the Triumph weighs 100 pounds less, has twice the horsepower, twice the torque, better brakes, better handling, better reliability, better fuel mileage, AND costs thousands less! Then, if prompted further, I reel off the list of tech toys such as tire pressure monitors, heated grips, traction control, ABS brakes, variable instrument displays, ride modes, and on and on, and now their minds are really thinking.
I was also surprised that everyone who spoke to me LOVED the looks of the bike. Everyone. I thought the looks, described by one owner as a cross between the USS Missouri and Flash Gordon’s space ship, would be rejected by some. Evidently not.
If you are a shy person you’ll need to adjust!
And how did the Rocket 3 do? Brilliantly, as I expected, with some welcome surprises. My previous bike was a 2016 Triumph Bonneville T 120 with a Triumph fly screen added. At the end of a long day I could feel the strain in my biceps. Not so with the Rocket, which looks to have less of a windscreen. You know how the wind blast from a big truck on a two-lane road will rock your bike and knock you in the chest? Not on a Rocket 3. Sidewinds a concern? Not on a Rocket 3. Are you worried by expanded metal bridge gratings? Don’t be.
Downsides? Yes, it is awkward and the weight is an issue at very low speeds, but anyone considering a purchase must be aware of that. I am still not comfortable with sloping and uneven pavement at low speeds, but I’ve only been riding it for a month.
MPG was 38-42, depending on what I was doing, but I did not pay much attention to that.
Between the lessened wind pressure and the presence of the Viking Axwell bag, which functioned as a very nice lower back rest, this is the most comfortable bike to ride all day I’ve ever experienced. Are there bikes that are more comfy? I’m sure. Are they as exciting and fun and rewarding to ride? I doubt it.
I liked the low fuel warning system, which gives you at least 50 miles of warning, and counts down the remaining range for you.
At the end of the trip I was home, relaxed, and planning the route for the next one. In ten days.
Ride Safe, Ride Fast, and Ride Often!
Copyright 2020 David PrestonFor more, please visit www.davidpreston.biz