Triumph Rocket 3 Problems: 6 Known Issues (Explained)

WIth this 2,460cc motor, larger than any production motorcycle on the market, the Triumph Rocket 3 is a speed-demon and a torque monster.

The Rocket 3 signature motor comes in three distinct packages, a sportbike(R), a sport-tourer(GT), and the limited edition TFC.

Owning a bike this powerful is not for the faint of heart, so to help both those in the market for one and the already proud Rocket 3 owners, we scoured the forums to investigate the 6 most common complaints owners of the Rocket 3 express and what they’ve done to keep their Rocket 3s ripping.

Let’s launch into it!

1. ABS Failure

This first section is pertinent to owners of the 2020-2021 Rocket 3 GT, 2020-2021 Rocket 3 R, and 2020 Rocket 3 TFC models.

At the end of 2020, Triumph issued a recall on all three Rocket 3 models due to an Anti-Lock Braking System (ABS).

The main culprit was the ABS modulator; apparently, its performance declined over time because of air entering the brake system.

Apparently, there was the potential of air entering the anti-locking brake system (ABS) modulator during production when the factory filled the rear brake system.

The presence of air in the ABS modulator could cause the rear brake’s performance to degenerate over time, not on all, but some of the Rocket 3’s ABS units.

Degeneration of the rear brake efficiency increases the risk of a crash; this is an important recall.

To mitigate the issue, Triumph notified the owners of Rocket 3s they believed were affected, and Triumph dealers were bleeding the rear brake system, on the house, of course.

If you bought your bike used, be sure to look into your VIN and figure out if your model needs a rear brake bleed or not to get that air out of the ABD system.

2. Faulty Regulator/Rectifier

Triumph estimated that between 2006-and 2009, over 10,000 Triumph Motorcycles left the factory with faulty Regulator/Rectifiers in them.

This resulted in a recall, and although the Rocket 3 wasn’t on the recall list, as only a small number of units were affected, there have been instances where the owners of rocket 3 models manufactured between those years had cause to believe that their Rocket 3 cam fitted with a faulty unit.

To explain why it’s important to put this hazard on Triumph Rocket 3 owners’ map, let’s first consider what the Regulator/Rectifier is and why it’s important.

While cars use an alternator to keep their battery charged, a motorcycle uses a minute charging system that starts with a stator component.

The stator is a coil of wire in the engine case with a spinning magnet to generate an alternate current (AC).  The AC flows through the rectifier/regulator, converting it to DC power at a consistent output.

As engine speed accelerates, the stator generates an increase of power, and if left uncontrolled, it can overburden the battery.

That’s where the rectifier/regulator enters the picture.

The rectifier/regulator is the component responsible for sustaining the appropriate current. If your rectifier is bad, the battery will be damaged.

Triumph has one of the most effective teams of engineers in the biz. They produce machine parts that can be cross-utilized on a horde of motorcycles that vary significantly in style.  The downside to this is that if a part has an issue, the issues span across various Triumph bikes.

It’s important to note that this issue has since been settled.

Triumph is always working on improving its models. They’ve 86’d the common problems such as a faulty regulator/rectifier unit and upgraded all their bikes with a fresh design that solved the problem.

3. Electrical System Failures

In this section, we’ll cover some of the known electrical issues associated with the older version of the Rocket 3, back when it was dubbed the Rocket III, with a Roman numeral.

These issues have since been rectified with upgrades. However, older model owners may still encounter electrical failures, so let’s look at the electrical system problems associated with the older Rocket IIIs.

The Rocket III was notorious for ignition failure.

Riders often complained about their Rocket III turning off unwarranted, sometimes while the bike was in motion, which is an unnerving situation for any rider.

Another chief complaint regarding electrical failure on TriumphRocket IIIs had to do with the instrument panel shitting off in the middle of a ride.

Rider’s would have to kill the bike and turn it back on to get the instruments to power back up.

The culprit of the infamous ignition issue was a faulty ignition switch, but replacing the witch wasn’t enough to solve it.

Triumph mechanics found that the faulty ignition switches’ underlying problem was too much power being routed to the ignition switch.

Triumph mechanics eliminated the issue by installing a bypass relay to detour the excess of power from frying the ignition switch.

Triumph has since upgraded its design on the newer Rocket 3 models.

Another issue with the Rocket III’s ignition resulted in a recall.

Apparently, certain ECU parts were incompatible when the unit was being pushed to its limits, resulting in damage to the injector driver by leading to the injector continuously being on.
This could cause the engine to fail or the fuel injector circuit to malfunction, killing one cylinder’s power.

Triumph recalled the Rocket IIIs that were affected, replaced the ECU, and upgraded all the motors in the newer, Rocket 3 models.

4. Loss Of Oil

There was a short-lived issue on the older Rocket IIIs that resulted in a recall.

Multiple Rocket IIIs were affected with an oil-weep coming from the Drive Unit.
Triumph fixed the problem quickly, but not before a myriad of Rocket III owners experienced the problem first hand, so if you’re the owner of an older Rocket III, you may want to stay vigilant about any odd oil seepage in case your bike is affected.
If ignored, an oil leak from the Final Drive could result in sufficient oil loss.
Without proper lubrication, the bearing could overheat, and the rear wheel could seizure.

Triumph acted fast, though, recalling the affected machines and replacing their final drive units. The newer Rocket 3 models have yet to experience any trends of oil leaks in the Final Drive.

5. Transmission Issues

Here’s another old problem that might surface on a used Rocket III- riders found that something in their transmission was interfering with gear shifting, especially in second gear, apparently.

While sifting through the gears at high speeds, some riders hit what was called a false neutral.

WIth a false neutral, the bike behaves like Neutral even though it is locked into gear; the engine revs up, but the bike doesn’t accelerate.

When the bike slips into false neutral, the rider is forced to bang it to get it into gear.

A few issues with the Rocket IIIs transmission may have caused this behavior, one being a faulty detent spring losing its tension.

Another issue was that the factory installed a few of the output shaft bearings backward on earlier models—this backward installation, denying the bearings oil.

Eventually, Triumph issued dealerships what they called an Update Kit. The Kit included a replacement Detent SPring and a new bearing that came sealed and packed with grease. It prompted Triumph to install these update kits on any Rocket III that had experienced symptoms of these somewhat widespread transmission issues.

If your Rocket III transmission fails, take it to your local Triumph dealer and ask about the update kit.

6. Excess Engine Noise

The Triumph Rocket has a complex engine that intimidates even the most experienced rider. If you’re the owner of an older model, though, you may experience a different noise than the normal Rocket 3 roar.

Most riders have described this noise as paint can rattle, and it’s indicative of a problem that vexed Triumph owners in the early 2000s— a loosening Cam Chain Tensioner.

A worn-out cam chain can lead not only to noises, but it could end up jumping a tooth and throwing the valves out of sync.

Neglected worn-out tensioners can lead to a more expensive fix- the unsynced valves could hit a piston or cause engine damage.

There’s no real way to adjust a cam chain tension back to its necessary tautness once it’s loosened past a certain point.  Over the years, riders have developed a few DIY mods for this. None of them are full-proof, nor are they much more economical than the cost of a brand new tensioner.

The best way to eliminate the noise in a cam chain is to replace it with a new, properly tuned cam chain tensioner.

To be clear, this is is an issue that Triumph has since rectified by updating the design of their cam chain tensioners. Triumph has also designed upgrades for older models.

A lot’s changed since the days of Rocket 3 owners stressing about whether or not their tensioner would loosen, so if you’re rocking an older Rocket 3 and you notice a spray paint can rattle, take your bike to your local Triumph dealership, and they can inspect it and let you know whether or not your Rocket 3 has been fitted with

General Pros And Cons For The Triumph Rocket 3


The Triumph Rocket 3 has an excellent torque that is endless. Hence, you will have a perfect experience while riding, especially at a curve. Also, this bike is extremely comfortable.

The size of this bike is massive.

Also, this bike is stable. This is because of its tubular frame that is made of steel and the dynamics of its steering. Also, the 1695 mm wheelbase makes it stable on the road.

The design of this bike is unique. The accessories on the bike also give you more practical experience while riding.

With a spacious 24-liter tank, the bike can easily approach a range of 200 miles. The seat of the Triumph Rocket 3 is also built to accommodate a variety of riders comfortably. The seat is low and allows for a seamless riding experience.


  • Recurrent engine failure.
  • Faulty regulator rectifier
  • Intermittent electric system failure
  • Incessant loss of oil.
  • Transmission issues.
  • Excess engine noise.

What Do The Reviews Say?

The big Rocket 3 has a few issues that you should be wary of.

For one, there have been so many complaints about the ignition switch. Also, constant flickering with the key after turning the ignition on can cut the ignition out.

Additionally, the rear brake pads are a bit heavy-handed, as well as the rear tires. The clutch is also prone to slips.

Another issue to look out for is that of fluid leaks trapped behind the oil tank. The temperature of the bike is also an issue to look out for.

“You turn the ignition on, and if you fiddle with the key, the ignition can cut out – we’ve had to change quite a few barrels over the years.”


The Triumph Rocket 3 2019 model produces more torque than the previous models and has a powerful engine that makes it stand out. Also, the look of this bike is nothing compared to its predecessors with its upgraded components.

Another fantastic feature of this bike is the reduced weight despite its improved 2500cc engine. The total 88 pounds reduction from the old model makes it lighter with an enhanced engine capacity.

With its adjustable footrest, you can easily tweak it to suit your needs. Additionally, the position of the handlebar has been laid back to accommodate a more suitable posture.

A shortcoming with this bike model is the ground clearance and a little difficulty trying to move it through turns. However, it still has more comfortable steering, which is not expected of a bike of its weight.

Its switchable riding modes and traction controls also make it desirable. Also, the 240 section rear tire and triple exhaust headers give it an impressive pedigree.

All in all, the weight, torque, and power of this bike put it among the top muscle cruiser bikes when it will be released.

“Riding the old Rocket 3 was a lot of fun, but it was an experience dominated by the engine and the weight. ”


What Is The Resale Value Of The Triumph Rocket 3?

Year Mileage (miles) Price ($)
2005 19000 5,2
2006 30000 5,195
2009 13000 6,599
2012 3000 11,499
2014 19500 5,598

NB: These prices are estimated; hence, you could get these models either at an increased or reduced rate. Additionally, the price depends on the mileage on each bike model as well as your location. Also, ensure that the bike is in good shape and suitable for you.

Final Thoughts

The Triumph Rocket 3 has one of the most reliable engines on the market; Triumph is so confident that it has been proactive about rectifying the bugs that designing such a unique powerhouse gave birth to over the years.

Conclusively, check the gears and ignition of any previously used bike you buy, as these are the most common issues with this bike.

This bike’s price is a bit pricey, but when compared with its productivity, it is worth the price.

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ⓘ  The information in this article is based on data from National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) recall reports, consumer complaints submitted to the NHTSA, reliability ratings from J.D. Power, auto review and rating sites such as Edmunds, specialist forums, etc. We analyzed this data to provide insights into the best and worst years for these vehicle models.