Tuesday, June 2

OSCAR: ON THE ROCKET


I’m not sure what possessed Big Dave to offer me the Rocket, as all our shared riding experience involved gravel and lesser road surfaces throughout Waikato and Taranaki. Maybe he wanted revenge for the all the gravel and lumps of mud I’d flung his way.

Perhaps, in the interests of science he wanted a Trail/Adventure riders view on the Trumpy…

My initial impression was that there was a lot of it, no wait a minute – there’s a bit missing.

Where’s the footpegs?

They were hiding, well toward the front of what is certainly the longest bike I’ve ever ridden (2.5m from tip to tail).

The seating position is, um – different - from what I’m used to on my KTM 950 Adventure, but after a very short time, I liked it. It has wide, flat bars which pull back nicely, situating my six foot frame perfectly on the bike. The real eye opener is the fact that this behemoth actually feels balanced and nimble (bearing in mind that this thing is over three hundred kilos dry). Seriously – it is not difficult to control at any speed. Once you’re comfy there’s no embarrassing paddling or wobbling going on at low speeds.

The brakes are fantastic. The binders are firm, but gradual and give me a lot of confidence. I’d like to say something abut the power, but nothing in thirty years of riding trail and enduro bikes has prepared me for 200 Nm of torque at 2,500rpm. The nearest thing to a cogent utterance I could come up with, post ride was “faaaark”.

Heading home, I tried to figure out what it was designed to do (other than to make every other Cruiser on the roads seem puny). I figured that the designers spent quite a bit of time discussing the American market, where the long straight highways would suit this beast. So I concluded that it was designed for a different country than where I live, and a different sort of riding than what I do. I’m also damned sure that I’m not included in any demographic that it was aimed at (I don’t own a leather jacket or pants, for one thing). Having said all that, I decided that Big Dave might not get this back for a while, because I liked it.

I liked it a lot.

It occurred to me that it was about excess. Excess like a 950cc Adventure bike is excessive. No one needs 100hp on the gravel, but I wanted it. Equally nobody needs 2,300cc on the Southern Motorway, but I loved it.

And as someone once said, nothing succeeds like excess.

In the Saturday afternoon traffic on the Southern Motorway I settled into the most direct ride home – it looked like rain and I was neither dressed nor mentally prepared for riding the beast in the rain. So with one eye open for the Gendarmerie, I cruised through the Saturday afternoon traffic like a stately liner, asking for “all ahead full”, and occasionally “flank speed”, as I negotiated my way toward the Waikato.

I peeled off at Rangariri, and discovered that the rain had beaten me here, and frankly the combination of the bad Waikato back roads (lots of big shiny bits of worn seal) and the thought of getting this much mass sideways in the wet was not appealing. So, like the big wuss I was, I carefully cruised the wet road through Huntly and Ngaruawahia and down SH23 to home.

Further consideration would wait for the sun to return.