Slowest Motorcycle on the Planet

You would think that riding the largest triple on earth with it’s impressive torque and horsepower stats would put you well ahead of the clock and you’d never be late getting anywhere on account of your ride.

But Triumphs have a tendency to make you late, at least if you live in the United States.
Especially Triumphs that stick out like the Rocket III. If I have to stop for fuel or some other mundane reason along my morning or afternoon commute there is almost always someone waiting by my bike when I exit the store wanting to chat.

“What is that thing?”

“Didn’t Triumph go out of business in the 50s?”

“Is that one of them Boss Hoss motorcycles?”

“Is that a v6 out of a car?” (They always assume there must be three pipes exiting the other side as well)

And then there’s the old codgers who know their history and are a joy to have a conversation with:

“Triumph, huh? I had a Bonnie back when I got home from Nam. Best motorbike I ever owned. Lot smaller than that one, though.”

And then I simply must tell them about John Bloor who ascended from running a drywall business to real estate tycoon and then single-handedly engineered Triumph’s glorious come-back.

The rags to riches story of how a non-enthusiast came to buy the oldest continuously producing motorcycle brand in history and turn it from an abandoned factory with a production trickle of less than a hundred Bonnies a year into one of the most successful and largest privately owned vehicle manufacturers EVER is as intriguing to me as the cutting edge and historic diverse bikes themselves.

Then I spin into how they aren’t the best bikes on the planet, but they’re darn close. And how British mechanical engineering seems to be an inscrutable paradox of overkill on quality and good strong chrome plated steel punctuated with disappointing sprinklings of painted and chromed cheap Taiwan plastic in surprising places (like factory mirror housings that break off in your hand when you try to adjust them while riding).

We chat, I learn from the old codgers, and sometimes I learn from a younger enthusiast who knows more than I about the brand, and by the time I break away I’m late for work or dinner.

Triumphs aren’t exactly rare here in Texas, but they are fewer and farther between than Harley Davidsons, Suzukies, Hondas, etc. Sometimes I go for weeks without seeing another one on the road.

Perhaps I should pick up a Victory or Yamaha for when I really need less of a conversation piece to get somewhere in a hurry but have to make a stop or two along the way.

Triumph Rocket III in Chevrolet Arctic Frost White

Not too shabby for my first paint job in about 25 years. Plus using two-by-fours, plastic sheeting, and a floor fan for a paint booth.

Those new Triumph Rocket 3 Roadsters in all gloss or flat black look cool, but Moonshine (formerly “BB”) looks cooler. In fact, she looks downright chilly.

The color is actually Chevrolet Arctic Frost. I had the paint shop pull the codes and mix it to match Robin’s Avalanche. The guy at English Color (how ironic that I went to English Color to get paint for my English bike and only just now realized the coincidence!) in Lewisville was the most customer friendly and helpful sales person I’ve ever dealt with in a place accustomed to working with pros. I walked in as a total amateur but he took the time to explain all the new-fangled paint options and nuances of the HVLP gun to me.

And Just Like That Someone is Gone

“…Things are going to get really dicey here over the next 40-60 days.”

09-30-2011, 09:48 PM

I’d been conversing with Hellfire (forum alias) on a Triumph Rocket III owners discussion board for a while. He was the guy who pointed me to the BF Goodrich tire I’m currently running on the back of my R3.

Today, having neglected the board for a couple of weeks, I logged in to see the top thread titled “Sad News”.

I somehow knew what it was going to be.

Hellfire was gone, and there was a long list of posts expressing shock, grief, and speculation about his passing.

I remembered reading a thread he started about the ending of his marriage and his dismay at having to sell his Rocket III due to resulting financial hardship. It was clear he was depressed, just as most people are at these events. He had recently lost his job, and now he was losing a relationship and most likely the only real stress relief he had available, riding his motorcycle.

Reviewing the various posts he left on the boards it became glaringly obvious that he was having a really rough time. The thread titled, “She wants out, bike got cheaper…” as he tried to find a buyer was heart-wrenching to read for someone whose been through divorce and the loss of a favorite motorcycle.

For many folks it may seem childish that some of us get so emotionally wrapped up in our two-wheelers, but I understand how a guy can get dependent on the sensation of freedom and flight you get on a bike. Riding dissolves a day’s worries and panics as if the wind was blowing away layers of dust.

Folks had offered help, but in every instance the help was conditional and something Hellfire likely believed would be an imposition…pulling up the few stakes he had left and traveling to the home of a person he’d likely never met in person to hook up their garden hose to his meager RV.

“Get to “some state or city” and you can park your RV at my house.” Not likely, too much pride to mooch off cyber friends.

The offers were generous, but they obviously weren’t enough.

Perhaps friends in the real world had offered the same or more, or perhaps the sides of Hellfire not seen in discussion boards had alienated him from any real support that could have been available.

The striking thing is that so many folks did offer for this person to come park his RV at their property. It was as if a group of relatives were chatting with a cousin or nephew across the country.

From the very tiny glimpse into this fellow’s life that I could see in cyber space, he seemed the type that would help anyone else out but would refuse to accept help from others. I think a lot of us guys are that way. It goes against our grain to build up obligation to others, but we love to stack up favors we’ve done for them as proof that we’re good guys.

Hellfire seemed a good sort. I’m sure there were two sides to the story, but half that story has come to a sudden, irrevocable stop.

The guy had plans, he had friends. If only they had known…if only he had asked them.

What combination of things or events was it that he decided it wasn’t worth waking up for one more day?

Whatever it was, I pray he is at peace now, and I pray those he shared with in life will find comfort.

I looked at his profile on the board today. It reads:
Living Legend, Offline