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2010 Triumph Rocket III Roadster Comparison

Wednesday, August 11, 2010
2010 Triumph Rocket III Roadster
The Rocket III Roadster utilizes fatter tires front and rear, with a wider profile to the bike in general compared with the Star.
Braking is another area where the Yamaha gets the edge thanks to higher-spec components. The dual 320mm disc with six-piston caliper fronts make for a terrific bite, with the Brembo master cylinder delivering superior feel at the lever. The rear on the VMAX works well too, also sourcing a Brembo master cylinder.

The Triumph’s four-piston Nissin calipers up front (also squeezing on 320mm discs) do a fine enough job, with the Brembo rear also working well considering what its bringing to a stop. They can’t compete with the Yamaha, however, in feel and stopping power. The Triumph ABS system also threw us off some. While the VMAX ABS cut in is more pronounced, the Nissin Triumph system glitched more than once, with a stiff front lever pulsing and requiring a stomp on the rear pedal to get things sorted out.

2010 Star VMAX
Less than 100 miles on a tank of gas? Put's a damper on the VMAX's fun factor.
2010 Triumph Rocket III Roadster
The Triple's exhaust headers cut a distinctive styling line for a ride that is unique in motorcycling. Triumph has also hit with its black and chrome coloring for the Roadster
Real World Limitations

Neither of these bikes are the best choice for the practical rider or daily commuter. The ridiculously high power stats may snatch the headlines, but real world shortcomings fill up the footnotes. First up is the VMAX, and topping our list of gripes is its delightfully horrible fuel economy and sub-100 mile range.

This time around our VMAX testbike registered 28 mpg efficiency. This improves on the 24 mpg exhibited in our previous test. Credit the hundreds of freeway commuting miles, where reasonable speeds see the Star sip fuel at 30 mpg. Yet our observed efficiency is misleading as the four-gallon tank should easily yield triple-digit range, yet not one rider in our office got beyond 100 miles on a tank with the fuel light flashing frantically at 80 miles, often times sooner. The fact is it’s nigh impossible to ride the VMAX at “reasonable speeds”. Most typical fuel stops were back down in the 22-25 mpg range.

“Probably the biggest complaint about the V-Max is the fuel,” notes Ken. “First of all it only goes maybe about 100 miles on a tank of gas and that is if you are riding fairly mellow. I can’t do that so I averaged about 80-some miles per tank and that’s just silly.”

The VMAX has some more oddities unexpected for a special order bike retailing for $19,500 ($5500 more than the Triumph). Overall the styling is a definite hit, and particular features, like the polished aluminum on the air scoops, ooze quality. But then riders notice things like the front turn signal indicators, which wobble around at speed. The key is another point of contention, being ridiculously huge and not fitting all the way into the key slot, let alone your pocket where it makes the owner look like the Rolling Stones' Sticky Fingers album cover. While the large tach, inset digital speedo and shift light look nifty, the hooded instrument console is difficult to read while at speed. One last complaint, the Yamaha’s kickstand comes down at a strange angle, requiring particular attention at stops.
2010 Star VMAX
The Star VMAX instrumentation features
a prominent tach with inset digital speedo.
2010 Triumph Rocket III Roadster
The Triumph instruments are plain but easy
to read at speed.

The Triumph may snicker as we berate the Star’s range, but it’s not a whole lot better at 30.6 mpg (at least by motorcycle standards). Its larger 6.3-gallon tank should deliver well over 150 miles, but again that’s only with a reasonable throttle hand – something hard to find aboard the Triumph too.

The biggest strike against the Triumph, however, and one we’ve already harped on, is its sheer size. The Roadster’s a behemoth and feels like one. I’m not a diminutive man, but I felt like one trying to muscle the Triumph out of my driveway every morning. Pushing 800-plus lbs backwards and turning around in a 5-point pivot at 7:30 a.m. – that’s too early to break a sweat my friends! Once it gets some momentum the Trumpet commends itself well as lower speeds, but in stop and go traffic there’s another grievance - engine heat

“I cannot believe how much heat radiates from the big Triple when you are riding around in town,” says Ken. “With the headers routed out the right side the riders inside thigh is subjected to serious high heat. When you’re riding around the countryside it never is an issue but in traffic it is a real nuisance.”

Style wise though, the Rocket III Roadster is a looker. Those three exhaust headers on the right side are trademark, something completely unique in the motorcycle world. Sure the radiator is ginormous, but the new dual exhaust looks better than the awkward three-pipe configuration of the original Rocket. As for the blacked out theme, we’ve enjoyed the recent styling trend in the cruiser ranks and the Roadster hits it square on the head. Black and chrome at every angle. It looks fantastic - at least to our monochromatic sensibilities.

2010 Triumph Rocket III Roadster
Two unique rides with power stats to spare but very different personalities. As always, picking a favorite comes down to personal preference.
2010 Triumph Rocket III Roadster
Instrumentation from the dual gauge tach and speedo may be plain, but it’s easy to read. Triumph also added a clock, fuel gauge and gear position indicator on the Roadster. View from the wide mirrors were clear and buzz free. Overall the fit and finish is decent, with a few quibbles, like the cramped space for the key between the ignition and steering head, and we noted the badging on our test unit starting to peel off. As for the $13,999 MSRP, it’s a considerable savings from the VMAX.


As sometimes happens with comparison tests, the differences between the two bikes overshadow the head-to-head performance matchup. This was definitely the case here. Where the VMAX felt heavy and awkward compared to the B-King, it transfers the same fate on the Triumph. Perhaps the only real conclusion we can draw from our two comparos with the VMAX is that it’s a difficult bike to classify, splitting the difference between high-performance sportbike and power crusier.

The Rocket III Roadster, while taking on more traditional performance cruiser qualities, is itself a motorcycling oddity. The biggest engine on the road today, it churns out endless miles of rubber burning fun. We’d love to pit it against fellow cruiser heavyweights, where we suspect it would fair quite well.

It all comes down to horsepower or torque. Take your pick. Either one will bring plenty of grins.

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Glen   October 24, 2011 05:32 PM
Star has sent out yet another recall for this bike. This time the motor won't run wild on its own with a YCCT issue, but will lock up from oil pump failure. What's happening to the quality of Asian imports?
Glen   June 20, 2011 03:14 PM
It's not the price that scares you it's the fact that it can't handle safe enough for the road. I've owned a generation two for a couple of years and only drag the bike. Yes it's fast but when you can't use the thing for weekend rides on the street it just makes it impractical to own.
keith -hacked ecu  December 29, 2010 11:40 AM
brian, did you know that the fly by wire system on the bike has been re-flashed by some guy on-line? yamaha has said that there is a real safty issue with a hacked ecu and will void the owners warrenty if you have him do it. their concern is that the ecu will send false signals causing wide open throttle crashes. they just want to cover their a** as fast as possible and not be connected to the up coming law suits if this goes south and some dies. i've read the guy selling the cheap flash is out at the track with the guy that made the first max famous pushing the illegal reflash for around $450.
Brian -Dealer Concerns  December 28, 2010 04:56 PM
"The circuit resistance of the Accelorator Position Sensor (APS) and Throttle Position Sensor (TPS) in the wire harness may increase due to a defective ground connection between APS/TPS and ECU. Under this condition, incorrect electrical signals may be transmitted to the Electronic Control Unit (ECU) and resulting in unstable engine idle speed and/or display malfunction codes (50 and/or 60)."

In the worst case scenario, the ENGINE IDLE SPEED may become SUSPENDED around 3000rpm WHILE RIDING, even if the THROTTLE TWIST GRIP is RELEASED.

Despite repeated pleas from the public as well as safey organizations, less than 100 will be recalled at this time due to the lack of sales in the US market.

rosco -rocket fuel consumption  December 15, 2010 04:06 AM
I dont know how they work out the fuel consumption for the Triumph.
They claim barely 150 miles per tank.I reguarly get 320klm (200 miles) or more
Even after a long ride at speeds of 150kph,I still get better figures than theirs.
Before I had it remapped and the exhaust changed,it was getting 5% better than now.
ricky -aftermarket tire and backrest  December 12, 2010 08:34 AM
just got my wide wheel kit after waiting for ever! this thing doesn't even match in color or finish! the passenger backrest i bought has a finish that is very poor as well. both aren't made well and are not japanese but chinese parts. i think you get the picture! and to top it all off you need about $1000 in special tools if you do the tire job yourself.
S.Hammer -Who designed this thing??? Tom Cruise??  November 23, 2010 10:37 AM
Just got this bike and am having all kinds of problems. Being 6'1", I feel like I'm riding a tricycle. The air intakes are in the way of my knees making me ride with my legs uncomfortably apart. The handle bars are way to far forward in conjunction with the footpegs that are set like a standard. All the time the seat sits too far back for riders like my buddy who is 5'6". His knees don't hit the intakes but his butt can't fit into the seat's back rest as it should due to not being able to reach the handlebars safely even worse then us taller guys.
Jim -No wide wheel and more  October 19, 2010 01:33 PM
This Star Vmax is a joke. I can't even get half of the aftermarket parts I want here in the USA. The wide wheel kit nobody ever can get because the company that made this part went out of business. All the best accessories are only available if you live in Europe.

Teddy J -V-Max = turnkey R3 = modify  October 4, 2010 06:51 AM
Foreword - I've owned an R3 for a year now so my opinion might be slightly biased. The article described the Max as a turn-key dragster at one point, that description rings true. Stock to stock the Max will blow away an R3 in the 1/4 and even a light to light run, I will not deny that, but one of the key differences is how much potential either of these bikes has. For those who know how to turn a wrench there is a huge untapped pool of power in the R3 where the Max doesn't have much more to give outside of it's stock form (the same being true for all the sport bikes people like to compare these bikes to). Yea yea, I hear you already thinking about the 5-10% you've gotten from remapping the ECU with a PCIII or the exhaust changes etc, but check the R3 engine compression numbers vs the Max or a sport bike. With the same mods of changing the exhaust, breathing, removing engine restrictors (read up on the secondary intake restrictions on the R3) and some ECU tweaks the R3 suddenly is seeing improvements in the 30% range. For less than $6,000 (which would make the R3 the same MSRP as the Max) you can get engine mods to increase the compression ratio and fuel intake on an R3 which take the RWHP to 280 and the torque numbers over 215 lb/ft. And the Triumph redline restrictions are bogus, the R3 can easily go another 1500+ RPM without any problems (thus increasing the max HP). Handling - One of the article writers admits he feels small on the R3 and has problems moving it around, I won't deny the thing is pretty big. But once you learn that you can't gently and effortlessly lean the R3 into a 90mph turn and start pushing the brute around you will find that it handles very well in the twisties, it just some effort on the riders part. "Cruiser" - This is one of my biggest bones of contention in these comparisons. The V-Max is NOT a cruiser, the R3 is. The Max is a standard bike, the idea of turning a Max into a bagger or riding two-up for any length of time is just silly. The R3 is much more flexible as a cruiser, you can bag it, ride comfortably cross-country two-up if you wanted to, or strip it down to a street fighter style even. Much more flexibility and options. I'll also note that the articles fuel economy numbers are WAY off, I'm getting close to 200 miles on a tank (about 35mpg) even with performance mods.
Mike -Buyer Beware  September 29, 2010 03:23 PM
I own a 2010 VMX17 and I urge you not to buy this motorcycle. With more years on more motorcycles then most men have been married, I can truly say this bike is the most unsafe motorcycle I've ever ridden. Rake and rider position make a lethal cocktail if you try to race this bike other then in a strait line. The wide aftermarket tire from Yamaha only amplifies this to its dangerous climax...death. It's to hard to turn at slow speeds even with the stock tire. The stock suspension is too hard as well as it's close gear ratio transmission makes this so called "cruiser" more of a tiring workout then a fun ride. Imagine shifting 4 times before 35mph as you bounce all over the place not being able to turn even slow safely.
Harley Guy -Truth  August 31, 2010 06:11 AM
Why is it when someone doesn't rant or rave about their favorite bike, but just tells the truth someone removes their post?

EAB -To Alan  August 20, 2010 06:44 AM
You must be kidding. Really? There are way too many kids out there with ZX14's, busa's, and other modded liter bikes that would crush these machines. Are they fast? Sure. Are they so fast that you can categorically make such bold statements as "you will LOSE?" Umm, not even close. Besides, you get much below 11 seconds and it falls on the rider, not the bike. Unless you are a 21 year old kid with no fear, I'd probably keep the hyperbole to a minimum. By the way, is there any money behind your talk? Where might you be located? Got a local strip?
AL N. -Sport Bike Riders  August 16, 2010 08:11 AM
All you guys talking about sportbikes WHAT ARE YOU TALKING ABOUT its not a FRIGGIN sportbike its in a class all its own . Utill you ride ride one shut-up and love to meet you on the street for a little light to light you would LOSE you wouldnt be out of second grear and Id be done with you!!!!!!!! Take that to the BANK!
EAB -I already have one  August 13, 2010 05:15 AM
I have something that's handles like a truck and has a 2300cc engine. It's a 2002 Ford Ranger. Seriously, I think anything over 1200cc's is too big so you know how I feel about the Triumph. As far as the V-MAX, eh, not my bag. It's calling card is straight up speed, but it takes all it's got to whip a 600. It won't even sniff the pipes of a good running liter bike in the quarter. But I guess there is a customer or they wouldn't be making them. A fool and their money....
MikeD -@ Craig: Im with U, VMAX Ain't no Cruiser.  August 12, 2010 11:41 PM
I don't CARE how much STAR keeps feeding us how this bike is a "Cruiser"... All i see is a super cool "STANDARD ON STEROIDS".

JayMack: They already did that comparo with the 09 (BLACK) VMAX.
Craig -Cruisers?  August 12, 2010 10:21 PM
How do we classify these two bikes? Traditionally cruisers needed to be slow, heavy, v-twin etc. The fact that a drag bike has cruiser like handling does not qualify it to be a cruiser. So i think the max fits in somewhere between street fighter and drag bike. It is definitely a niche bike and since in my opinion it doesnt fit in anywhere it will unfortunately to its demise be compared to the likes of the B King etc. I think the market has accepted the Rocket 3 as the king of cruisers but that doesnt mean we will all go out and buy one since it doesnt complete the equation. I think the V rod and M109R pushed the boundaries to the limit of what a cruiser should be, so if you dont like conforming or fitting in you need to find 20 K and buy that Max. ITS RAD!
Jay Mack -Chief Thundamelvin  August 12, 2010 07:07 PM
Why not include the B-King then? They are still availabe new as non-currents. I get the impression that the B-King would have been the winner.
P. Fillmore -Not Impressed  August 12, 2010 03:01 PM
Just taking a quick glance at the dyno charts and it is clear these two bikes have no business being compared. Either Triumph just wants to ride on the PR coat tails of the V-Max and get its name out there or Yamaha just wants a bike that’s in their “class” that they can man handle with ease, or maybe both. Either way if the only thing these bikes offer is straight line speed, and really the V-Max is the only one offering it, then why bother with these two bikes; get a Busa, ZX-14, heck even a GSXR 750 will top their ¼ mile and trap speeds. A good running Katana 750 will nip the Triumph in ¼ mile and trap speed. Why deal with all the other baggage like heavy weight, slow handling, long 60 to 0 distances, poor gas mileage, high insurance, insane price tag and so on.

Sure, these other bikes I mentioned are sport bikes and these are cruisers but if they are cruisers then why is their strong selling point rear wheel torque and HP along with straight line speed? The V-Max was king when bikes like ZX-10Rs and Hayabusas did not exist so therefore its performance was exceptional now its performance is mid pack in terms of straight line raw numbers. Seat of the pants giggle factor is also important and these bikes do deliver but $19,500 for some giggles and not much more sure seems over priced when giggles can be had and bought from far better and less expensive bikes.
MikeD -Rigth On...  August 11, 2010 10:32 PM
Yup, u guys nailed it. The main complaint i been reading about on VMAX Forums if fuel economy and how "small" the fuel tank capacity is.
Some people on the boards have sugested that maybe Yamaha should have installed a diferent Maps Switch (Touring, Rain, Sport, etc)...im sure it can be done w/out doubling an already histerical price tag.
I think 4gallons is plenty and that different fuel maps for different moods can resolve such inconvenience.
Then again, others say that u should know better what to xpect out of buying such a fire breather and that people with such kinda of leverage($$$) fuel economy worries should never be on their minds. Guess not...by what i have read on StarVmax.com

The Rocket...I really try to like it (hard to argue against such engine), but it looks so frigging unpolished & agricultural, like a tractor (front tire too big, both wide and tall; fuel tank, who da heck designed that thing?;is like 4 different departments where working for separated on the same project but not knowing about each others common goal but at the end when it was time for the Rocket to come togheter...just so dang mismatched put togheter. Don't care if its all functional, itS WRONG.

If only they could condense the dang thing down to VMAX FITNESS (18" wheels, more streamlined (LESS LUMPS), Aluminium frame, smaller mufflers)...Ahhh , A man can dream. (^_^ )