BSA Rocket 3
success; however, production delays resulted in it not being introduced until the summer of 1968. For four weeks, the Rocket was labelled as the ‘best bike of all time’ but once Honda launched the legendary CB750 – with its five speed gearbox, overhead camshaft, electric start and disc brakes – the Rocket 3 was found wanting. Even though it had very good handling and a high top speed, it struggled to impress customers. The last Rocket 3s were great deal of financial trouble and later that year merged with the Norton Motorcycle Company. Over the course of its seven-year production run, around 28,000 Rocket 3/Tridents were produced. By comparison, around a quarter of a million Honda Goldwing motorcycles were manufactured in the same amount of time. produced in 1973, when BSA shut down their production lines. The company was in a
The BSA Rocket 3 was introduced in the United States during the summer of 1968 in an attempt to see off the increasing waves of successful Japanese motorcycle exports being introduced to the lucrative US market. It is widely considered the first modern superbike and was sold under both the BSA and Triumph – as the Trident – marques respectively. The BSA Rocket 3 and Triumph Trident were basically badged engineered versions of the same bike, the main difference being the manner and angle of the engine
mounting (for further information, please see page 92-93). Whereas the cylinders on the Rocket 3 were canted forward, those on the Trident were vertically mounted. The three-cylinder engine was designed by Bert Hopwood and was based on Edward Turner’s legendary Speed Twin 500cc model of 1937. The aim was to create a truly modern superbike. The Rocket 3 had a 750cc overhead valve engine, which produced 58bhp and had a top speed of 120mph. Had it been released earlier it would have surely been an outstanding
Testers from Cycle Magazine called the
Rocket 3 “an easy bike to ride fast, its good weight distribution making it easy to fling into corners” in March 1970.
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