1969 BSA ROCKET 3 BREAKS NEW GROUND
The irony here is that the mad scientists in the back room at sister-brand Triumph had 3-cylinder prototypes running around since 1965, a full 4 years ahead of Honda. But parent-company BSA dithered. It wasn’t until word leaked out of the mighty 4-cylinder from Japan that they gave the Rocket 3 and its twin, the Triumph Trident the green light. In classically-inept BSA fashion, they trusted the styling of the bikes to an automotive supplier. The result was the very stodgy look, with “shoebox” gas tank, chunky side covers, and those crazy “ray gun” mufflers (aka: “Flash Gordons”). Even worse, the British triples only beat the Honda 750 Four to market by a few weeks. It was better styled, more reliable, and cheaper.
1969 BSA ROCKET 3 IS FAST
Despite everything else, the new Triples were fast, very fast. Faster than the Norton 850 Commando, faster even than the new Honda 750…on a good day. And they quickly began racking up victories on road racing circuits allover the world. Alas it wasn’t enough to stem the tsunami of Japanese bikes or to cure all the other ills that plagued BSA at the close of the 1960s. Today, they are much sought after by collectors. And they are one of the best classic British motorcycles to ride in modern times, with ample power to keep up with just about anything on the road.