Touring Southeastern Washington on the Triumph Rocket 3 GT

Triumph Rocket 3 GT touring – Southeastern Washington

First of all, if you live anywhere in the Northwest United States, days two and three of this trip, and part of day 4, will be well worth your time, in any order.

Day #1  

Ride to Clarkston in Washington, or Lewiston in Idaho, by a route of your choice. There are several motels in each of varying levels of expense and poshness. We chose the Motel 6 in Clarkston for this trip because, due to virus concerns, it has lots of nearby restaurants and a grocery store where we could obtain food.

Day #2       Clarkston to Elk City to Clarkston 

  1. Find US 12 going toward Lolo Pass.  If you have never ridden Lolo Pass it is sort of a “must ride” for motorcycles, so do that.  We have done it several times and have come up with something better.
  2. Turn right at Kooksia  (fuel?)

3. SLIGHT LEFT onto ID-14.                                

4. End at Elk City, ID  (fuel)                                  64.85 miles

5. Return on ID-14.                                                 41.0 miles

6. Slight LEFT on MT IDAHO GRADE ROAD     9.6 miles  

7. LEFT at STOP on Main Street

8. Grangeville, ID  (food and fuel)

9. RIGHT onto US-95 N.                                        43 miles or so

10. LEFT at “Winchester” sign                 

11.  Continue to WINCHESTER GRADE 

       (Careful – steep, hairpin corners, rough pavement, and no

        guard rails – in other words – awesome!)

12. LEFT at STOP (T) on US 95

13. LEFT at US 12

14. Return to motel                                               

Day #3       Clarkston to Enterprise and return

  1. South from Clarkston on SR 129
  2. Right at Asotin
  3. Pause at Boggan’s Oasis
  4. Into Oregon on Oregon 3
  5. Left at Joseph (fuel)
  6. Left out to Imnaha and return
  7. Return to motel
  8. Optional run up Old Spiral Highway

Day #4                 Clarkston to home

  1. Up and down Old Spiral Highway if you did not do that yesterday.
  2. Return home by your route of choice.  If it works for you, Green Hollow Road north from Colfax is awesome.

Touring on the 2020 Triumph Rocket 3 GT – again.

As in my last report (below a ways), my motorcycle is a totally stock 2020 Triumph Rocket 3 GT purchased from Triumph of Seattle in May of this year.  I added the Triumph accessory saddlebags, and a Viking round bag across the passenger seat for longer trips.  I also have an ancient magnetic tank bag.

Now that I have over 3,000 miles on the Rocket 3 GT, it continues to perform flawlessly.  The only issue, not the bikes fault, is that two of the six bolts holding on the front fender were evidently never installed.  This was taken care of by the dealer.  Should this have happened?  Of course not.  However, motorcycles are designed, built, and maintained by humans, and occasionally stuff happens.  Fixing the problem with a smile and no excuses is all I require, especially as this was not a safety item and caused no harm.

One interesting tidbit of learning is that the instrument will would occasionally flash an orange message that reads “Key fob out of range.”  This is alarming until you know why, and it took some research for me to learn the why.  The little computer widgets deep in the bike’s brain evidently do a search for the key fob every 60 seconds or so.  This is to help you if you leave the fob on a chair or whatever, so if you get that message you can turn around and correct your error easily.  If you stop fifty miles away without the fob, you will qualify for the Olympics as a power lifter by the time you push the bike back.

I would occasionally see this message, and it was alarming, since the fob was in the pocket of my riding pants.  The cure (I think), at least so far, is to make sure the fob is in your pocket toward the outside of your thigh.  You can make your own jokes about what might be obstructing it if stored to the inside of the thigh.

I also found that when the fuel runs low, you will be given about 50 miles to find a gas station. The instrument panel display will change to display your current real time mpg and how many miles to empty, which is a reassuring feature. You certainly have ample warning. This was handy on this trip because, again because of the virus, we could not be sure if gas stations in small towns would be open.  If you change the display in any way this message goes away, so I learned to leave it alone.

I am still not all that comfortable with low speed maneuvers, due to the weight of the bike, my age, and the fact that for over 50 years almost all of the motorcycles I have ridden have not been cruisers and not had the foot controls so far forward.  The Rocket is just fine – the problem is me. As I get more used to it this concern is easing, but bumpy parking lots with potholes and off-camber surfaces are still a concern.

The Rocket 3 is never going to be the comfort cocoon of a Goldwing or other large luxo-tourer with a plush seat and large and adjustable windshield.  It is not meant to be. However, our route home this trip involved about 250 miles of freeway with a 70mph limit that is casually enforced.  With the cruise control set at about 82, I discovered I could lean forward from the waist and my upper body would essentially float on the airflow coming past the windshield, and it was very comfortable.

The handling in both sharp corners and freeway bends is remarkable, and the brakes do a great job.

It is easy to rave about this bike.  In some ways it is utterly ridiculous, and that becomes part of its charm. As long as you do not mind spending time with strangers whenever you are standing next to it, you will love it.

However, I do wonder how long that massive rear tire with last, and how much of a drain on my retirement investments will be required to replace it.

Ride safe, ride fast, and ride often!

Copyright 2020                                        David Preston

About david

I am a 73 year old motorsports nut who lives in Snohomish, Washington. After a 31 year career as an English teacher, I segued into a self-created job in the motorsports business. Now retired, I was involved in customer relations for Ride West BMW in Seattle, after almost 10 years of similar work for the Cycle Barn MotorSports Group. I own, at the current time, a Triumph Rocket 3 (2020) and a 2016 Ford Focus ST. What else would you like to know?
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